Raspberry Pi Zero HAT compatible Quectel BG95-M3 Zero cellular IoT board runs QuecPython MicroPython firmware

Waveshare BG95-M3 Zero is a Raspberry Pi Zero-sized SBC based on Quectel BG95-M3 cellular IoT module with LTE Cat M1 (eMTC), LTE Cat NB2 (NB-IoT), and eGPRS connectivity as well as GNSS. The board supports Raspberry Pi HATs and ships with Quectel’s QuecPython MicroPython firmware for easier programming.

We’ve previously covered various SBCs and Raspberry Pi HATs based on Quectel modules for cellular IoT and GNSS connectivity with the likes of Olimex NB-IoT-Devkit (with a BC66 module), S-2Connect Creo evaluation kit, Sixfab 5G Modem HAT, and others. Olimex BC66 board supports Arduino programming, but most of the other boards rely on a host processor. Waveshare’s BG95-M3 Zero is a standalone SBC offering compatibility with Raspberry Pi Zero (p)HATs, and Quectel also developed its own MicroPython firmware called QuecPython that works with several of their modules, including the BG95-M3.

Quectel BG95-M3 Zero SBC with QuecPython MicroPython firmware

BG95-M3 Zero specifications:

  • Cellular IoT Module – Quectel BG95-M3
    • CPU – Arm Cortex-A7 processor running ThreadX RTOS
    • Connectivity
      • LTE Cat M1 (eMTC) and Cat NB2 (NB-IoT) with 2G/eGPRS fallback
      • 3GPP Rel-14 compliant
      • Bands (Global coverage)
        • LTE – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 66, 85
        • 2G – 2, 3, 5, 8
        • LTE-FDD
          • Cat M1: B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B8, B12, B13, B18, B19, B20, B25, B26, B27, B28, B66, B85
          • Cat NB2: B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B8, B12, B13, B18, B19, B20, B25, B28, B66, B71, B85
        • LTE-TDD – N/A
        • 2G GSM / GPRS / EDGE – 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
      • Max Downlink/Uplink speeds
        • Cat M1 – DL: 588Kbps; UL: 1119Kbps
        • Cat NB2 – DL: 127 Kbps; UL: 158.5 Kbps
        • Cat NB1 – DL: 32 Kbps; UL: 70 Kbps
      • Ultra-low power consumption with built-in MCP
      • GNSS – GPS, GLONASS, BDS, Galileo, QZSS
  • Onboard NanoSIM card slot with support for 1.8V SIM cards
  • Antenna – 3x u.FL antenna connectors, 2x for cellular, 1x for GNSS
  • USB – USB Type-C port for power and programming
  • Expansion – 40-pin GPIO header compatible with most Raspberry Pi HATs
  • Misc
    • PWK (Power Key), PON (PSM wake-up), and BOOT buttons
    • 5x status LEDs  for SIM CHK, NET, PSM, PWR, and PWM
  • Power Supply – 5V via USB-C port
  • Dimensions – About 65 x 30mm (Raspberry Pi Zero form factor)

Quectel QuecPython board description

Development is done through the QPYcom program to debug the code, analyze the logs, transfer files, flash the firmware, and “merge the firmware”.  Sadly QPYcom is only available for Windows, and the company recommends disabling your antivirus before installation…! You’ll find more details and instructions to get started in the Wiki.

It’s apparently possible to use plugins for the Thonny IDE or Microsoft VSCode to program the Quectel BG95-M3 module with MicroPython, so you don’t necessarily need a Windows machine, but it’s not documented in the wiki. I could find the former on the official QuecPython account on GitHub.

 

BG95-M3 Zero pinout diagram
Blurry BG95-M3 Zero pinout diagram courtesy of Waveshare

Waveshare sells the BG95-M3 Zero SBC on Aliexpress for $65.31 plus shipping, but you’ll also find it on Amazon for about $70. It’s not the only QuecPython and Raspberry Pi HAT-compatible board from Waveshare as the company also sells the larger “EC200U-EU C4-P01” for Europe, Middle East, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil, and the “EC200U-AU”  for Australia and Latin America. Besides the larger size, the EC200U boards support  LTE Cat 1 (not eMCT/NB-IoT) with 2G fallback and add WiFi 4 and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, as well as an MIPI DSI connector for a display and an a connector for an SPI camera.

Cellular IoT BG95 M3 Raspberry Pi Zero board wth relay HAT
BG95-M3 Zero SBC with Raspberry Pi pHAT
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