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Posts Tagged ‘4g’

SixFab Launches Raspberry Pi 3G-4G/LTE Base Shield V2 for $31.20

October 20th, 2017 16 comments

Development boards with 4G LTE are still quite expensive, at least compared to 2G or 3G solutions, with for example Wio LTE GPS Tracker board selling for around $100. So when I saw Sixfab introducing a 3G/4G shield for Raspberry Pi 3 for just $31.20 (pre-orders), I first thought it was an incredible deal.

But I soon realized I missed the “base” word in the name, as the shield just includes the SIM card slot, and mPCIe connector where you can connect Quectel’s UC20-G Mini PCle 3G module or EC25 Mini PCle 4G/LTE Module which adds respectively $59 or $89 to the price. That’s still an interesting HAT board, so let’s have a look.

Raspberry Pi 3 + 3G-4G/LTE Base Shield + Quectel EC25-E 4G Module

Raspberry Pi 3G-4G/LTE Base Shield V2 specifications:

  • Clip-in Mini PCIe socket for:
    • 4G/LTE Module (Quectel EC25) up to 150Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink data rates, GPS/GLONASS
    • 3G Module (Quectel UC20) up to 14.4Mbps downlink and 5.76Mbps uplink, GPS/GLONASS
  • Micro SIM card socket
  • USB – 1x micro USB port
  • Compatible with 40-pin Raspberry Pi header
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port or external 5V source
  • Dimensions – 65 x 55 mm

The new version improves on the first model for the shield by reducing the area by 25%, removing the need for screws for the cellular module, using a micro SIM card socket on the top of the board, a more efficient power circuit, and removing the DC barrel jack.

While the board is mostly designed to be used with Raspberry Pi 3 board, it can also be used standalone with your computer, laptop, or another development board over the micro USB port. A blog post explains how to make a PPP Internet connection with the shield connected to RPi 3, and you can get supports in their forums.

Thanks to Nanik for the tip.

PingPong IoT Development Board Supports Cellular Connectivity, WiFi, Bluetooth, LoRa, Sigfox, and More

October 19th, 2017 No comments

Round Solutions, a supplier of products, services and concepts for industrial M2M and IoT markets, has introduced PingPong IoT development board with either Microchip PIC32MZ running an RTOS, or PIC32MZ DA running Linux, and equipped with a Telit modules for either 2G or 3G cellular + GNSS connectivity.

The board can also support WiFi, Bluetooth, ISM/RF, NFC/RFID, LoRa, Sigfox, Iridium satellite, and serial interface thanks to a range of expansion boards.

PingPong IoT board specifications:

  • MCU / Flash
    • RTOS version – Microchip PIC32MZ 32-bit Microcontroller @ 200 MHz, with 512 KB RAM and 2 MB Flash Memory + 4 MB external memory
    • Linux version – Microchip PIC32MZ DA  (Full specs TBA)
  • Connectivity
    • Cellular connectivity
      • Telit xE910 module with 2G, 3G and/or 4G LTE (coming soon)
      • Data
        • GSM/GPRS – Uplink/Downlink: 9.6 kbps
        • UMTS – Downlink: 384 kbps, Uplink: 384 kbps
        • HSPA+ – Downlink: 42.0 Mbps, Uplink: 5.75 Mbps
        • LTE – Download: 100 Mbps, Uplink: 50 Mbps
      • Frequency Bands (MHz) – 1800, 1900, 2100, 850, 900
      • 2x SIM card slots, SIM on chip
      • u.FL antenna connector
    • GNSS
      • Telit SL869 module for GPS, Glonass, and Galileo E1
      • u.FL antenna connector for GPS
    • 10/100M Ethernet (RJ45)
    • Connectivity stackable expansion boards for
      • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth: with webserver on board
      • Satellite communication: Iridium
      • ISM/RF:433MHz/868MHz/915MHz/2.4GHz
      • NFC/RFID: Protocol EPCglobal Gen 2 (ISO 18000-6C)
      • Sigfox/LoRa: Ultra low power transmitter
  • Other stackable expansion boards:
    • I/O & Serial Board: 10 digital/10 analog/4 frequencies, RS485, RS232
    • Still image and video camera
  • USB – 1x micro USB port
  • I/Os
    • 2x connectors for stackable extension boards with UART, SPI, CAN, I²C
    • 1x CAN interface, 2x analog inputs, 4x 3-state logic inputs, 4x NMOSFET outputs, 1-wire interface
    • 2x current measurement inputs (24-bit resolution)
  • Sensors – Magnetometer, accelerometer
  • Power Supply – 9 to 60V DC
  • Dimensions – 85 x 52 x 23 mm
  • Temperature Range – -40 C to +85 C (industrial grade)
  • Certification CE

 

The RTOS version uses C/C++ and Python and comes with a USB CDC bootloader, while the Linux version is more versatile with support for Open VPN, IPSEC tunnels for example for IoT gateway / router functionality. The source code is available for both operating system, and the company can also provide ready-made software packages for remote metering, asset tracking, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth gateway, MODbus over TCP, or MODbus RS485.

The board is also compatible with MPLAB Harmony, and can connect to Cumulocity IoT Cloud Platform or Telit m2mAIR Cloud out of the box.

The Linux & 4G versions of the board still appear to be in development, but PingPong IoT 3G/RTOS board is available now, starting at 197 Euros with the board only, and up to 445 Euros with the WiFi/Bluetooth, and RF/ISM add-on boards.

Mictrack MT600 4G GPS Tracker Supports Traccar, OpenGTS, and Other GPS Tracking Platforms

September 19th, 2017 2 comments

Cellular GPS trackers have been around for a few years, but so far mostly 2G or 3G GPS trackers with products like Ping, Particle Asset tracker, and many other models selling on Aliexpress. 4G GPS tracker have been less common. However, recently we’ve seen platforms like Wio LTE and AutoPi that could handle GPS tracking over LTE connectivity, and another alternative would be Mictrack MT600 that ready-to-use solution to track your car or other vehicle with GPS and 4G.

Mictrack MT600 hardware specifications:

  • GNSS
    • U-BLOX7 GPS Chip
    • GPS sensitivity -162dBm
    • Channel – 56
    • Positioning Accuracy – 10m
    • Cold start: 30s; warm start: 15s; hot start: 1s
    • SMA antenna connector
  • Cellular Connectivity
    • Qualcomm 4G LTE chip
    • MT600-A model (North America):
      • 4G FDD LTE: 700/850/1700/1900MHz
      • 3G UMTS: 850/1700/1900MHz
      • GSM: 850/1900MHz
    • MT600-C model (Asia):
      • 4G FDD LTE: 900/1800/2100MHz
      • 4G TDD LTE: 1900/2300/2500/2600MHz
      • 3G UMTS: 900/2100MHz
      • GSM: 900/1800MHz
    • MT600-E (Australia/Asia/Europe)
      • 4G FDD LTE: 800/850/900/1800/2100/2600MHz
      • 3G UMTS: 850/900/2100MHz
      • GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz
    • MT600-J (Japan Only) – 4G FDD LTE: B1/ B3/ B8/ B18/ B19/ B26
    • MT600l-V (Verizon Only) – 4G FDD LTE: 700/1700MHz
    • MT600-AUT (Telstra Only)
      • 4G FDD LTE: 700/850//1800/2100/2600MHz
      • 4G UMTS: 850/2100MHz
    • SMA Antenna connector; SIM card slot
  • Sensors – 3-axis accelerometer sensor, temperature sensor
  • Misc – 4G, GPS and charging LEDs; micro USB port, microphone port, J2 “reserve” connector
  • Input voltage – DC 9V-36V via J1 connector
  • Battery – 700mAh/3.7V for backup
  • Power Consumption – 60mA standby current
  • Dimension – 90 x 70 x x 24 mm
  • Weight – 138g
  • Temperature Range –  -20°C to +70°C
  • Humidity – 5% to 95% non-condensing

MT600 GPS tracker ships with GPS and 4G antennas, a 6-pin power cable, and an SOS button by default, with an optional relay available. The 6-pin cable connected to the car’s battery, the SOS button, ACC (12V) power, and optional to the relay connected to the fuel pump. It’s unclear what the reserve connector, micro USB port, and headphone port are for, since they are not mentioned at all in the user manual, except for the diagram above.

6-pin cable connection diagram

It can be controlled / managed through SMS, computer programs, or Yi Tracker mobile app for Android or iOS which will allow you to monitor the real-time position of your car, trip history, alarms for SOS button, low car/backup battery level, towing, high temperature, speeding, and geo-fencing. The company also lists support for camera, door sensor, and fuel sensor but only for ODM partners, which might be the reason why J2 connector and micro USB port exist. The video below explains about the connections without actually showing how to connect it to an actual car, and shows to get started with the tracker using a mobile phone.

The manufacturer claims the “protocol is open” (but does not provide any details), and explains the device is also supported by various third party GPS platforms such as Gurtam, GPSGate, CoryUSGPS, Orange GPS,  OpenGTS and Traccar, with the last two being open source platforms.

Mictrack MT600 is sold on Aliexpress, often under other brands, for $108 shipped and higher. The company has also just released MT550 global 4G GPS tracker using LTE CAT M1/NB1. More info and products can be found on Mictrack website.

Particle E Series is a Family of 2G, 3G, 4G LTE Cellular IoT Modules Optimized for Mass Production

September 7th, 2017 9 comments

Cellular IoT has really taken off this year from the low cost Orange Pi 2G IoT board to 4G GPS Trackers, and global IoT SIM cards. Particle has been in this market for a couple of years, starting with their Electron boards, and the company has just announced the new Particle E series family of industrialized 2G, 3G, and LTE-enabled modules and a development kit.

Key features of Particles E series modules:

  • Cellular Connectivity
    • u-blox SARA modules for cellular connectivity
      • LTE: SARA-R410M
      • 3G: SARA-U201/U260/U270
      • 2G: SARA-G350 (2G)
    • Embedded SIM card, Particle MVNO support in 100+ countries
    • u.FL antenna connector
  • MCU – STM32F205RGT6 120MHz ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller with 1MB flash, 128KB RAM
  • Storage – • Expandable flash memory
  • I/Os – 63-pin surface mountable castellated module with up 30x GPIOs, 12x ADC, 2x DAC, 13x PWM, 3x UART, 2x SPI, 1x I2S, 2x CAN, 1x USB 2.0 (Some signals are multiplexed)
  • Power Supply – 3.88 to 12V input; BQ24195 power management unit and battery charger; MAX17043 fuel gauge
  • Power Consumption (@5V?)
    • Operating current (cellular ON): 180 mA to 250 mA
    • Operating current (cellular OFF): 47 mA to 50 mA
    • Peak current: 800mA (3G), 1800 mA (2G)
    • Sleep Current: 0.8 mA to 2 mA
  • Dimensions – 43 x 36 x 4.6 mm
  • Weight – < 10 grams
  • Temperature Range – -20 to +85°C (extended range)
  • Certifications – FCC, CE, IC wireless certifications, PTCRB (End-Product Certified) & GCF cellular certifications, RoHS

A total of 7 modules are planned to launch by mid 2018 with the naming convention using the first number reserved for the “G” number, the second for local (0) or global (1), and the third being an incremental number:

  • E210 – 2G only – Q4 2017 working worldwide (quad band)
  • E301 – 3G with 2G fallback – Q4 2017 for Americas/Australia (850/1900 MHz)
  • E302 – 3G with 2G fallback – Q4 2017 for Europe, Asia, and Africa (900/1800/2100 MHz)
  • E310 – 3G with 2G fallback – Q4 2017 working worldwide (850/900/1800/1900/2100 MHz)
  • E401 – LTE M1 – Early 2018 for US (LTE B13)
  • E402 – LTE M1 – Early 2018 for North America (LTE B2/4/5/12)
  • E410 – LTE M1/NB1 – Mid 2018 for the global market

Electron Board (Left) and E-Series Eval Kit (Right)

The new modules share the same software development tools, Particle Cloud platform, code and peripherals as Electron prototyping board with the modules running FreeRTOS, supporting  CoAP encrypted messaging, TCP/IP and UDP/IP, GCC toolchain, and various firmware update methods including OTA. E series were created because while Electron board suitable for evaluation, pin-row headers, plastic SIM cards, and USB connectors made it less appropriate for integration into products and mass production.

The company has also introduced an E Series evaluation kit working globally with the following specifications:

  • Module – Particle E310 3G with 2G fallback
  • Breakout Board with
    • 2x micro USB port for flashing and serial communications
    • SMA antenna connector
    • 1x female expansion header, 2x Grove connectors
    • Misc – MODE and RESET buttons, Charge and status LEDs
    • Power – Li-Po battery connector,  power barrel jack
  • Battery –  2,000 mAh Li-Po battery
  • Antenna – Taoglas penta-band antenna (u.FL), SMA to u.FL adapter for connecting external SMA antennas
  • 1x Grove temperature sensor
  • 1x USB Micro cable
  • Pinout reference card

The kit will come with three months of Particle’s 1MB monthly data plan upon eSIM activation. Data plan pricing depends on the country of operation and number of nodes, but for reference, for up to 100 nodes in the US, you’d pay $2.99 per month/device including 1MB data, plus $0.99 per extra MB.

Pricing information has not been publicly disclosed for the module, but you can purchase E series development kit for $99.99, or $249 with 3 extra spare E310 modules. Visit Particle E-Series product page for further details.

Wio LTE GPS Tracker Board Comes with a 4G Modem, Supports Espruino Firmware (JavaScript Programming)

September 6th, 2017 6 comments

Seeed Studio launched Wio GPS tracker with a 2G GSM module a few months ago, and while it should work in some countries, others are phasing out 2G networks, and only support 3G or 4G. The company has now launched an update with Wio LTE board with the same form factor, and most of the same features except they replaced the 2G/Bluetooth/GNSS module with a 4G LTE/GNSS module, and Atmel SAMD21 ARM Cortex M0+ microcontroller by an STMicro STM32 ARM Cortex-M4F MCU.

Wio LTE board specifications:

  • MCU – STMicro STM32F405RG ARM Cortex M4F MCU @ 168 MHz with 1MB flash, 192+4KB SRAM
  • Storage – micro SD slot
  • Connectivity via Quectel EC21-A (America) module
    • LTE Cat.1 modem:
      • FDD LTE: B2/B4/B12 WCDMA: B2/B4/B5
      • AT Command: 3GPP TS27.007 and enhanced AT Commands
      • Data – LTE-FDD Max 10Mbps(DL) Max 5Mbps (UL)
      • NanoSIM card
      • 2x u.FL antenna connectors
    • GNSS – GPS/BeiDou/GLONASS/Galileo/QZSS with 1x u.FL GNSS antenna connector
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack with mic and stereo audio
  • Expansion – 6x Grove Connectors (2x Digital, 2x Analog, 1x UART, 1x I2C)
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for power and firmware update
  • Misc – RGB LED, LTE power button, MCU reset button
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port, 2-pin JST 1.0 header for battery
  • Dimensions – 54.7mm x 48.2mm

When I reviewed Wio GPS Tracker, the instructions provided to use with the Arduino IDE did not work very well. So let’s hope they will come up with a better and up-to-date getting started guide for Wio LTE board in their Wiki. Alternatively, the new board also supports Espruino for JavaScript programming for the I/Os, micro SD card, 4G, SMS, and GPS, and shown in Espruino Wio LTE page.

Seeed Studio is now taking pre-order for Wio LTE US Version for $97.50 plus shipping. Quectel also has other EC21 modules like EC21-E (EMEA, Korea, Thailand, India), EC21-AUT (Australia), and others, so I’d expect Seeed Studio to also launch variants of Wio LTE board that work in other countries.

AutoPi is a 4G & GPS OBD-II Dongle Based on Raspberry Pi Zero W Board (Crowdfunding)

September 1st, 2017 8 comments

We’ve previously cover Macchina M2 OBD-II dongle based on an Arduino compatible MCU, and with 4G LTE support for the maker market, and iWave Systems OBD-II dongle with 4G LTE and LTE running Linux on NXP i.MX6 for the B2B market, but so far I had not seen an hackable OBD-II dongle running Linux for the maker market. AutoPi dongle fills that void as it is based on Raspberry Pi Zero W board, runs Raspbian with Autopi software (AutoPi Core), supports 4G LTE, GPS, etc,.. and connects to your car’s OBD-II socket.

AutoPi dongle specifications:

  • SoC – Broadcom BCM2835 ARN11 Core processor @ up to 1 GHz
  • System Memory – 512MB LPDDR2 SRAM
  • Storage – 8GB micro SD card
  • Cellular Connectivity
    • 4G Cat 1 modem with 3G/EDGE fallback working worldwide (but region locked)
    • 4G bands – Region specific
    • 3G fallback (WCDMA) – B1, B2, B4, B5, B8
    • EDGE fallback – B3, B8; quad band
    • micro SIM card slot
  • GNSS – Integrated GPS + A-GPS
  • Wireless Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Video – mini HDMI output up to 1080p60
  • Audio – Built-in speakers
  • Car Interface
    • STN-2120 OBD-II, SW-CAN, MS-CAN to UART Interpreter IC
    • Supported Protocols: ISO 15765-4, ISO 14230-4, ISO 9141-2, SAE J1850 VPW, SAE J1850 PWM, SW-CAN, MS-CAN, ISO 15765, ISO 11898 (raw), K-Line, L-Line
  • Expansion – 18x unused GPIO pins
  • Sensors – 3-axis accelerometer
  • Power Supply – Via OBD-2 interface; built-in power management to avoid draining the car’s battery
  • Dimensions – 90 x 45 x 25 mm

The dongle comes pre-assembled with an OBD extension/relocation cable, a case with all electronics including RPi0 W, a micro SD card with AutoPi Core, and some Velcro strips.

Setup is pretty easy with 5 steps:

  1. Insert your micro SD card
  2. Insert the dongle into your vehicle’s OBD-II port
  3. Connect to AutoPi WiFi access point
  4. Configure the device with APN string and AutoPi key
  5. Connect to AutoPi cloud

The cloud platform allows you to remotely monitor your car, and the customizable dashboard gives access to an history of trips, car data, OBD commands, IFTTT, custom Python code development, terminal access, and a REST API is also available to develop your own web app.

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A lot of different features are possible thanks to AutoPi dongle and cloud platform, such as voice commands to control windows and aircon in your car, theft detection and tracking, remote start, crash detection with SMS alerts, auto lock/unlock from a smart device, and so on. All is supposed to be done securely, but the company did not provide that many details about that critical part for a such system.

AutoPi’s developers  have launched a Kickstarter campaign aiming to raise at least DKK 475,000 (~$76,000). If you live in Europe, you can pledge ~205 Euros to get an AutoPi from the batch to be delivered in January 2018, others can pledge ~$261 to get a sample from the second batch in March 2018. Note the software will improve overtime, and while all models will be upgradeable, AutoPi dongle with the fully implemented firmware and software will be delivered in the third batch and beyond starting from May 2018. Shipping adds ~$9.60 to Europe, and ~$14.4 to the rest of the world. You may want to visit AutoPi.io website for many more details about the solution.

Checking out Hologram’s Developer SIM Card for Worldwide IoT Projects

August 20th, 2017 5 comments

Hologram is a service that offers 2G/3G/4G cellular connectivity for the Internet of Things via a SIM card that works in over 170  countries, and with pricing starting at $0.40 per month. In order to promote their services, the company offers a free developer SIM card which I ordered when I first wrote about the service last month. I was pleased and surprised they would sent it to Asia for free, and I got the card in a bubble envelop.

The back of the card includes a 18 to 22 digit SIM card number and bar code, that we’ll need to use for activation, and a link that redirects to https://hologram.io/docs/.

I planned to try the card with Wio GPS tracker board which requires a nano SIM card, and there are convenient cutouts to convert the SIM card to micro SIM or nano SIM card formats.

Before using the card in your board, you’ll need to activate it by logging into the dashboard with email and password you used to purchase the SIM card.

You can then click on Activate your first SIM to get the activation page.

In the first part of the page, you’ll need to type your SIM card number, and select your data plan between developer, pay-as-you-go, or monthly.

The second part of the page will allow you to select the zone with zone 1 being cheaper buy supporting less countries, and zone 2 supporting all countries shown above. It will show the cost summary, in my case $0.00 since I’m using the developer plan, and you can click on Activate to complete registration. That’s it, no requirement for ID card or passport copy, or anything.

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You’re newly registered SIM card will then show up the list of devices.

I tried two Arduino samples with Wio GPS tracker:

  1. Send SMS (MC20_SMSSend.ino)
  2. Download text file over GPRS / HTTP (MC20_GPRSHTTP.ino)

The first failed without error, and the second requires you to change the APN to hologram (See line 2):

But the program also failed with QIOPEN AT command failure (ERROR:QIOPEN) when trying to establish a TCP connection. Roaming needs to be enabled, but I could find a way to do so, and I did not have much luck already with my own SIM card during Wio GPS review possibly to the 2G limitation of the board, so I decided to try another option. Hologram has a tutorial with Raspberry Pi and a 3G USB dongle, but I did not want to purchase a dongle that I would not use regularly, so I decided to try the card with my phone, even though it’s definitely not the use case for it.

So I replace my current SIM card with hologram SIM card in my phone, and immediately I could see a 4G connection was established with the notification showing a “Local Telco”|Hologram message, and the local Telco changing between at least two different companies during my review.

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I then tried to send an SMS to a local number using the internal format with country code, and it was successful from my side, but the other phone never received anything, even after several attempts and enabling roaming.

I went back the Hologram Dashboard in my web browser and send an SMS via the web interface and it worked nicely with the SMS coming from a number in the UK (+44), but you can already spoof any number using the dashboard or SMS API.

Going into Configuration part of the dashboard, I discovered the SIM card did not come with phone number by default, which may explain why I could not send SMS in the first place. But you can purchase a US phone number for $1.00, and various prices for numbers from some other countries, but note that option is not available for number from all countries, for example you can’t currently get a number from Framce or Thailand. Here’s what the page says about getting a phone number:

A phone number allows you to easily send an SMS to your device from another SMS-compatible device. Phone numbers are NOT necessary to deliver an SMS via API calls or via the Dashboard – they basically enable you to send an SMS to your device directly from another cell phone.

The main reason to purchase a phone number is if you want to send an SMS from a phone to your device instead of using the Dashboard or API.

Note that the device will be able to respond back to your SMS but the response may show up as being from a different number. This is a special, internal number that your phone may not be able to SMS directly so you should send all messages to the purchased phone number. This is something that we’re working with our carrier partners to improve in the near future.

Beside SMS, you can also use the SIM card for data, and to do so you have to configure hologram APN in your device without username/password, and enable roaming.

Click to Enlarge

I could do this easily in my Android phone. The company also mention to enable DHCP, but I did not have that option in my phone and it was not needed. Finally, I enabled data connection in my phone, and created a small text files on my server to download it over a cellular data connection. I did so, because you have to remember your free monthly data is limited to 1MB, and the average webpage is now 3MB… The text in the file reads “Hologram GPRS Success”, but it was actually done over an LTE data connection.

It might also be a good idea to disable auto-sync, if you plan to test the SIM card in your phone, as background traffic is not negligible with 586KB of data transfered over a few seconds. The Usage Reports in the dashboard is not updated in real-time at all, as I took the screenshot below after 5 hours, and no activity was registered at all.

But checking out the data after and the usage report seemed correct.

So in summary I was able to receive SMS from the dashboard, and setup a cellular data connection to access the web, but for some reasons, I was unable to send SMS using the SIM card, maybe because I did not purchase a phone number. If you live in a country with strict regulations for local SIM cards such as providing an ID card copy and/or proof of address, it looks like it is not needed with Hologram SIM card, because it’s a foreign SIM card that works with roaming, in the same way that tourists would use their phones while in vacation in a foreign country.

When I ordered the card there was a coupon – now expired – for free shipping, so I got it completely for free. However, I’ve been told another LOSANTHIGH5 coupon is now working for free shipping and $3 credit, and you can still get the free developer SIM card for evaluation. Now, I should think about getting a3G or 4G capable IoT board…

Categories: Hardware, Testing Tags: 2g, 3G, 4g, cellular, hologram, IoT, lte, review

Videostrong VS-RD-RK3399 Development Board Review – Part 1: Unboxing, Kit Assembly, SDK and Documentation

August 18th, 2017 8 comments

Videostrong VS-RD-RK3399 development board is a full-featured development based on Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor with up to 4GB RAM, and 32GB eMMC flash, and plenty of I/Os. The company has sent me a sample, and after getting some trouble going through customs with questions like “what is a development board?” and “is it a board for TV boxes or computers?”, I finally got hold of the parcel. Today, I’ll check out the board and its accessories, show how to assemble it, and since the company shared more info about documentation and software, quickly go over what’s available.

Videostrong VS-RD-RK3399 Development Kit Unboxing

The board was in a bland carton box, which is fine since it’s not a consumer product, with a stick showing I got the 4GB LPDDR3 / 32GB eMMC flash version. There’s also a board using 2GB/16GB configuration.


The package includes the board, bottom and top acrylic plates for the “case”, some spacers, WiFi and Bluetooth antenna, USB 3.0 type A to USB type C cable, a user’s manual detailing the board’s specifications and pinout diagram…

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… and a 12V/2A power adapter and EU, US, and UK plug adapters.

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I also took some closer photos of the development board, and it will only report new information that I have not already written in the announcement post.  First, the eMMC flash is Samsung KLMBG4WEBD-B031, the cheapest 32GB eMMC flash from the company, but still with acceptable performance: 246/46 MB/s R/W speed, and 6K/5K R/W IOPS.

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There are many USB ports in the board’s design, and this is done via Genesys Logic GL850G USB 2.0 hub chip, while the audio codec is Realtek ALC5640.

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The back of the board includes an mPCIe slot for a 4G LTE card, and a MIPI DSI connector.

VS-RD-RK3399 Kit Assembly

The assembly of the kit is mostly straightforward for may be a little confusing at the beginning. First, we’ll need to remove the protection on the acrylic plates, and use the bottom one with the 6 ventilation lines, and tighten the small and medium spacers around the base, with the small ones facing down. I thought it was a good idea to connect the u.FL to SMA cable for the antenna at this stage, but they come off those easily, it’s better to do it later.

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Then we’ll place the main board on top of the medium spacer, and tighten the longer spacers on top. Once it’s done we can remove nuts from the SMA connector, insert the antenna cables on the right and middle hole in the top acrylic, and screw the nuts back to keep the cables in place.

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We can now connect the antenna cables the ANT0 (for Bluetooth), and ANT1 (for WiFi) u.FL connectors on the board, place the top cover with the two opening aligned over the MIPI CSI connectors, and tighten it with the four remaining nuts we have, before completing the assembly by installing the two antennas.

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VS-RD-RK3399 Board SDK and Documentation

When I asked about Android/Linux software development kit, and documentation last week, the company had nothing to offer, saying the SDK will be provided via a link… Today, they gave me that link on MEGA with most of what is needed for development.

The download is too big for a free MEGA account, unless you are really patient, but you should be able to download everything using megaupload tools in a terminal.

I haven’t completed the download yet, and I’ll look into details during the next part of the review, but we can see 6 main directories:

  • VS-RD-RK3399-linuxSDK – The Linux SDK
  • VS-RD-android7.1-SDK – Android Nougat SDK
  • VS-RD Software image – Android firmware, apparently no Linux OS (yet)
  • VS-RD Software datasheet – Linux, Android, Dual OS documentation
  • VS-RD Hardware – Parts datasheet, RK3399 TRM, LCD datasheet (No schematics apparently)
  • DevelopmentTool – Various tools for development like AndroidTool, DriverAssistant, etc…

If you are interesting in the platform, you can purchase it by contacting Videostrong via Alibaba.

[Update: Part 2 of VS-RD-RK3399 / Mecool VS-RK3399 board: Checking Out Debian and Linux SDK for VideoStrong VS-RD-RK3399 Board]