Conexio Stratus Pro – A battery-powered nRF9161 development kit with LTE IoT, DECT NR+, GNSS connectivity (Crowdfunding)

Conexio Stratus Pro is a tiny IoT development kit based on Nordic Semi nRF9161 system-in-package (SiP) with LTE-M/NB-IoT, DECT NR+, and GNSS connectivity and designed to create battery-powered cellular-connected electronic projects and products such as asset trackers, environmental monitors, smart meters, and industrial automation devices.

Just like the previous generation Conexio Startus board based on the Nordic Semi nRF9160 cellular IoT SiP, the new Conexio Stratus Pro board supports solar energy harvesting and comes with a Feather form factor and Qwiic connector for each expansion.

Conexio Stratus Pro nRF9161 IoT development kit

Conexio Stratus Pro specifications:

  • System-in-package – Nordic Semi nRF9161 SiP
    • MCU – Arm Cortex-M33 clocked at 64 MHz with 1 MB Flash pre-programmed MCUBoot bootloader, 256 KB RAM
    • Modem
      • Transceiver and baseband
      • 3GPP LTE release 14 LTE-M/NB-IoT support
      • DECT NR+ ready
      • GPS/GNSS receiver
      • RF Transceiver for global coverage supporting bands: B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B8, B12, B13, B17, B18, B19, B20, B25, B26, B28, B65 (new), B66, and B85 (new)
  • Storage – 16 KBit I2C EEPROM memory (24CW160T)
  • SIM support – 4FF Nano SIM, optional eSIM, or software SIM
  • Antennas
    • 1x U.FL for LTE-M/NB-IoT antenna
    • 1x U.FL for passive GPS antenna
  • Cellular Data
    • 500 MB of cellular data
    • 250 SMS messages
    • Valid for 10 years, can be reloaded or moved to a new plan
    • Service available in 100+ countries (LTE + NB-IoT)
  • USB – 1x USB Type-C port for USB-to-Serial, DFU, application firmware programming and debugging, battery charging
  • Sensors
    • STMicro LIS2DH 3-axis accelerometer
    • Battery fuel gauge (enabled by nPM1300 PMIC)
  • Expansion
    • Feather-compatible header with 28 programmable GPIO pins
    • QWIIC connector for external peripherals such as a small camera for ML applications
  • Debugging
    • Supports J-Link and CMSIS-DAP-based programmers
    • 10-pin (1.27 mm pitch) mini SWD/JTAG pin connector
  • Misc
    • 2x push buttons (1x reset, 1x programmable)
    • Programmable LED
  • Power Management
    • Voltage Range – 1.8 to 5.5V
    • 2-pin JST connector for LiPo battery
    • Output voltages (via headers) – 1.8V, 3.3V, 5V (VUSB), VBAT
    • SPDT slide switch for turning Stratus Pro on or off
    • Quiescent current of entire board < 9 μA
    • PMIC – Nordic nPM1300
      • 800 mA battery charger
      • Dual 200 mA buck DC/DC regulator
    • Charging IC – Texas Instruments BQ25185
      • Charge inputs: 3V to 18V
      • Supports Li-ion, Li-Poly, and LiFePO4 battery chemistries
  • Dimensions – 66.04 x 25.40 mm
Conexio Stratus Pro pinout diagram
Pinout diagram

While the hardware by itself is interesting, the company also made sure it is ready-to-use out of the box and versatile thanks to integration with a range of software platforms. The board notably comes preloaded with 500 MB of mobile data and 250 SMS messages, valid for 10 years with coverage in more than 100 countries worldwide.

The Conexio Stratus Pro board comes preprogrammed with the open-source MCUBoot bootloader and the company provides a Visual Studio Code Plugin that allows developers to create projects with nRF Connect SDK and Zephyr RTOS with built-in templates. The board works with several cloud platforms including Edge Impulse, Golioth, and Memfault to provide machine learning (e.g. for predictive maintenance), over-the-air (OTA) upgrades, and remote device management solutions. The Status Pro can also connected to the Datacake low-code IoT platform for easy data visualization and dashboard creation. You’ll find documentation to get started on the company’s website and additional resources such as the schematics and firmware on GitHub.

Conexio Stratus Pro comparison table
Comparison table provided by Conexio

Conexio compares the Stratus Pro to other cellular IoT boards in the table above, but strangely, the comparison does not include the company’s earlier Stratus board, maybe because it is phased out…

The company has just launched the Startus Pro nRF9161 IoT development kit on Crowd Supply with a $5,000 funding goal.  Rewards start at $83 for the early bird discount, and the regular price (on Crowd Supply) is $89. Shipping adds $8 to the US, and $18 to the rest of the world, and backers should expect deliveries to start by the beginning of September 2024.

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