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Posts Tagged ‘lte’

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.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 Delivers Up to 40% Better Performance Over Snapdragon 630, Supports FHD+ Displays

October 18th, 2017 No comments

Qualcomm has announced a new “Mobile Platform” with Snapdragon 636 that combines eight Kryo 260 cores, an Adreno 509 GPU, and X12 LTE modem for “high quality devices with top-level features at a low price point”, which must mean “mid range”.

The new Snapdragon 636 offers an update to Snapdragon 630 / 660 solutions released last year with up to 40% performance boost, 10% faster 3D graphics, and support for ultra-wide FHD+ displays (18:9 aspect ratio).

Key features for Snapdragon 636:

  • CPU – 8x Qualcomm Kryo 260 cores clocked at up to 1.8 GHz
  • GPU – Adreno 509 with support for OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0 full,Vulkan, DX12
  • DSP – Hexagon 680 DSP with All-Ways Aware Technology, Neural Processing Engine SDK, Caffe/Caffe2 and Tensorflow support
  • Memory I/F –  LPDDR4/4X, dual channel up to 1333MHz, 8GB RAM
  • Storage I/F – eMMC and UFS flash
  • Display – Up to 2160×1080 FHD+ resolution; DisplayPort and USB type-C support for external displays
  • Video – Up to 4K @ 30 fps playback and capture; up to 1080p @ 120 fps capture; H.264, H.265, VP9, VP8 codecs
  • Audio – Qualcomm Aqstic audio codec and speaker amplifier; Qualcomm aptX audio playback with support for aptX classic and HD
  • Camera – Up to 24MP single camera, up to 16MP dual camera; Qualcomm Spectra 160 ISP
  • Modem – Snapdragon X12 LTE modem: Cat 12 for downlink (600 Mbps max); Cat 13 for uplink (150 Mbps max)
  • Wireless Connectivity – Dual band 802.11ac 1×1 WiFi, Bluetooth 5
  • Location – GPS, Glanass, BeiDou, Galileo, QZSS and SBAS
  • Security – Qualcomm Mobile Security: smart camera,  application security, Qualcomm processor security
  • Charging – Quick Charge 4 technology

Snapdragon 636 is also pin-to-pin compatible with Snapdragon 630/660, so OEMs will have an easier time upgrading their models.

The Snapdragon 636 Mobile Platform is expected to ship to customers in November 2017. More info on the product page.

UniElec U7621-06 MediaTek MT7621 Router Supports OpenWrt, Padavan, and PandoraBox Firmware

October 13th, 2017 18 comments

UniElec U7621-06 is a router / gateway based on Mediatek MT7621 dual core/Quad Thread processor, and offered either as a board only or complete system with optional WiFi and/or LTE PCIe modules.

While the board is said to run OpenWrt or firmware based on Mediatek Linux SDK , the company also mentions the board runs Breed bootloader that can be used to  upgrade the firmware through a web interface. UniElec claims the router supports alternative firmware such as Padavan or PandoraBox.

UniElec U7621-06 specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek MT7621 dual-core, quad-thread MIPS1004K processor @ up to 880MHz
  • System Memory – 256MB DDR3 (optional 512 MB)
  • Storage – 16MB NOR Flash (optional 8/32/64MB), 1x SATA 3.0 port, 1x micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity – 5x Gigabit Ports (4x LAN, 1x WAN)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Expansion
    • 2x “normal” mPCIe for 802.11ac or 802.11n WiFi module
    • 1x mPCIe connector for LTE or mSATA module
    • 1x 30-pin GPIO connector
  • Debugging – 1x 4-pin Serial Debug Port
  • Misc – Reset buttons, LEDs (power, LAN, LTE, 2x user), watchdog timer
  • Power Supply – [email protected]
  • Power Consumption – 8 Watt (Max)
  • Dimensions – 188.5 x 128.5 x 25 mm (aluminum alloy case)
  • Certifications – CE & FCC Certified, RoHS Compliant
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0ºC to 55ºC or -20-85°C; Storage: -40ºC to 90ºC
  • Humidity – Operating: 5% to 95%, Storage: Max. 90%

There’s a short discussion thread on 4PDA where they should some boot log, and other information (in Russian).

Most people who read this blog will know about OpenWrt, but I had never heard about Padavan, nor PandoraBox firmware.

The first is an open source project hosted on Bitbucket that aims to “improve the rt-n56u and other supported devices on the software part, allowing power user to take full control over their hardware”. This refers to ASUS RT-N56U router powered by Mediatek MT7621 SoC. The project is actually just called rt-n56u, and Andy Padavan is the developer.

Padavan 3.4.3.9-099 Web Interface on UniElec U7621-06 – Click to Enlarge

The second is developed by a team of Chinese developer, and support various Mediatek routers. I could not find the source code, but we know it’s based on OpenWrt. You’ll find firmware for over 30 routers and evaluation boards, including PandoraBox-PBR-M1 firmware, that according to screenshots provided on Aliexpress, is the one compatible with UniElec U7621-06.

PandoraBox PBR-M1 Firmware – Click to Enlarge

The router is sold on Aliexpress, with price starting at $41.90 with the board only without WiFi or LTE support, nor enclosure, and up to $124.80 with an MT7615 4×4 802.11ac Wave2 PCIe module, and metal enclosure. Between the two extremes, there are various options for WiFi modules, with or without enclosure. If you need LTE or mSATA, you’d have to source a compatible module separately. The manufacturer’s product page does not have much more information.

Thanks to Danman for the tip

Hologram Unveils Nova 3G USB Dongle and Python SDK; 200 Raspberry Pi Zero W Kits Given Away to Developers

October 6th, 2017 No comments

This summer I discovered Hologram global cellular IoT SIM card, and since they provided free developer samples with 2MB of monthly data includes, I decided to get one to try it out. I received it a few weeks later, and to my surprise it worked, despite my country of residence having some strict requirements with regards to SIM card registration. The SIM card uses roaming, but with a low fixed worldwide pricing, and does not come with a phone number by default, so maybe that’s why I did not have to register.

The company is now back with Nova, an open source hardware cellular modem certified by OSHWA (ID #US000077). It’s basically 2G/3G USB dongle that’s controlled by Hologram Python SDK, specifically suited to Debian systems like Raspberry Pi 3 or BeagleBone Black. Hackster.io is also involved in the launch with a worldwide contest offering 200 free kits comprised of Nova 3G USB dongle and Raspberry Pi Zero W board for the best project ideas leveraging cellular IoT.

Nova will eventually come in three versions

  • 3G (in production now) – Ublox Sara-U201 module;  Global 3G/2G GSM;  GPRS/GSM/UMTS/HSPA: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz;
  • Cat-M1 (November 2017) – Ublox Sara-R404M module; USA LTE Cat M-1; FDD: 13 (Verizon)
  • Cat-M1/NB1 (Q1 2018) – Ublox Sara-R410M-02B module; Global LTE Cat M-1+ NB; FDD: 1,2,3,4,5,8,12,13,17,18,19,20,25,26,28

All should have the same other interfaces and other specs:

 

  • u.FL Antenna Connector
  • Nano SIM card holder
  • UART GPIO Pads
  • USB Serial
  • Network Status LED; Power LED
  • Fully end certified (FCC, PTCRB, CE, and AT&T)
  • Dimensions – 46mm x 19mm x 6mm (Plugged in PCB);  71mm x 23mm x 9mm (w/ case)
  • Weight – 8 grams

The hardware kit includes the dongle, Hologram global IoT SIM card, a transparent enclosure, 2 Quad-band flexible u.FL antennas, and access to Hologram Developer Tools for modem and data management.

 

The dongle can be controlled using Hologram client tool, or Hologram Python SDK requiring ppp and Python 2.7 packages, and will allow you to send SMS, setup data connection, and more. Any SIM card should work, and it’s not tied to Hologram SIM card. While the company claims OSHWA certifications, the number US000077 is not present (empty line) in the OSHWA certification list yet, and so far, they’ve only released the PDF schematics. However, Python SDK is fully open source and released under an MIT license on Github.

More details can be found in the product page, and Nova 3G kit can be purchased now for $49.

But as mentioned in the introduction, if you have a great project idea, you could also get the kit for free, and possibly another “grand prize” (Apple Watch Series 3)once the project is completed. The contest is opened worldwide (except to US sanctioned countries) with the following timeline:

  • Submit your proposal by October 27, 2017
  • Best project ideas will be selected, and be sent their kit within around 14 days
  • Build and submit your project to Hackster.io by January 5, 2018
  • 8 Grand Prize winners will be announced on January 8, 2018 for four categories: gateway, asset tracking, remote controlling, and remote monitoring.

There are already 135 participants. Good luck!

 

Google Introduces Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL Smartphones running Android 8.0 on Snapdragon 835 SoC

October 5th, 2017 2 comments

When Google introduced Nexus brand, it aimed to provide affordable yet decently spec’d Android smartphone. The Nexus has now been deprecated, Google left the low/mid range market, leaving other fills the void, and instead launch the Pixel brand for premium devices.

The company announced several new hardware devices yesterday, including two new Pixel smartphones: Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, both powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, and running the latest Android 8.0 Oreo.

Pixel 2

Both phones share most of the same specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with 4x Kryo 280 “performance” cores @ 2.35GHz, 4x Kryo 280 “efficiency” cores @ 1.90GHz, Adreno 540 GPU, security module
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR4x
  • Storage – 64GB or 128GB flash
  • Display
    • Pixel 2 – 5.0″ always-on AMOLED display with 1920×1080 resolution (16:9 aspect ratio); 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 5
    • Pixel 2 XL – 6.0″ always-on pOLED display with 2880×1440 resolution (18:9 aspect ratio) ; 3D Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  • Cellular Connectivity
    • Built-in eSIM chip+ single Nano SIM slot
    • GSM/EDGE: Quad-band (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
    • UMTS/HSPA+/HSDPA: Bands 1/2/4/5/8
    • CDMA EVDO Rev A: BC0/BC1/BC10
    • FDD-LTE : Bands 1*/2*/3*/4*/5/7*/8/12/13/17/20/25/26/28/29/30/32/66*; TD-LTE: Bands 38*/40/41; * = bands that support 4×4 MIMO
    • Supports up to CAT 15 (800Mbps DL / 75Mbps UL), 3x DL CA, 4×4 MIMO, 256-QAM DL and 64-QAM UL depending on carrier support
  • Other Wireless Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac 2×2 MIMO WiFi, Bluetooth 5 + LE, NFC, GPS + GLONASS
  • Camera – 12.2 MP rear camera with auto-focus, OIS and EIS, up to 4K @ 30fps / 720p @ 240 fps video recording; 8MP front-facing camera up to 1080p30 video recording
  • USB – 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 type C port (Google did not bother mentioning about data or DisplayPort support)
  • Sensors – Active Edge, Proximity / Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer / Gyrometer, Magnetometer, Pixel Imprint(Back-mounted fingerprint sensor), Barometer, Hall effect sensor, Android Sensor Hub, advanced x-axis haptics for sharper/defined response
  • Battery
    • Pixel 2 – 2,700 mAh battery with up to 7 hours of go with a 15-minute charge
    • Pixel 2 XL – 3,520 mAh battery with up to 7 hours of go with a 15-minute charge
  • Dimensions / Weight
    • Pixel 2 – 145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8 mm / 143 grams
    • Pixel 2 XL – 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm / 175 grams
  • Case – Aluminum unibody with hybrid coating, IP67 ingress protection rating

The phone come with a USB-C charger, a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone adapter (since no 3.5mm audio jack), a quick start guide, and a quick switch adapter. Not too many new things here, except for the embedded SIM (eSIM) that was never used in a phone previously and to initially work with Project Fi, Active Edge (squeeze your phone to start Google Assistant, similar to HTC Edge Sense), and the not-so-common pOLED (Plastic OLED) display found in the XL version. The camera must be really good through, as DxOMark rated the Pixel 2 camera with a score of 98, making it the best mobile camera so far. Google further explains that the camera leverages computational photography and machine learning (ML) capabilities.

Pixel 2 XL

Software and support is probably what make the phones stand part, with the latest Android 8.0 OS from Google, including “an exclusive preview of Google Lens”, which will automatically be able to recognize objects, landmarks, books, movies, etc… scan business cards to adds them to contact list, etc… The company also boasts improvement with Google Assistant, which can now start by squeezing the edges of your phone, and has become smarter with more features such as routines like “good night” to turn off light, set alarms. and put your phone to sleep.

Google Pixel 2 will sell for $649 or $749 with respectively 64 GB or 128GB storage, and Pixel 2 XL for $849 or $949. Visit Google Phones page for further details.

Mediatek MT6739 Launched for Entry-Level 4G Smartphones with 18:9 Displays

September 30th, 2017 4 comments

India Mobile Congress 2017 took place in New Delhi this week, and at the event, Mediatek officially launched Helio P23 processor (in India), as well as a new MT6739 SoC with a quad core Cortex A53 processor, Imagination PowerVR GE8100 GPU, an a LTE Cat.4/5 modem for entry level 4G LTE smartphones.

Mediatek MT6739 specifications:

  • CPU –  4x ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked up to 1.5GHz
  • GPU – Imagination PowerVR GE8100 GPU @ 570 MHz with
  • System Memory – LPDDR3-667MHz up to 3GB
  • Storage – eMMC 5.1 Flash
  • Display – up to 1440 x 720 (18:9 aspect ratio)
  • Camera – 13MP, dual camera supported
  • Video Decoding – 1080p @ 30FPS, H.264/HEVC
  • Video Encoding – 1080p @ 30FPS, H.264
  • Modem – 4G LTE Cat. 4 DL / Cat. 5 UL (FDD/TDD) up to 150Mbps download, 50Mbps upload, CDMA2000, L+G, L+W/L+L DSDS, eMBMS, HPUE, 600MHz band supported; Dual VolTE
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, FM, GPS+Glonass / GPS+Beidou

Phones based on Mediatek MT6739 are expected by the end of the year in India, and the rest of the world. More details on the product page.

TECHBASE Moduino X Series Industrial IoT Modules / Endpoints are Based on ESP32 WiSoC

September 27th, 2017 3 comments

We’ve previously covered TECHBASE ModBerry industrial IoT gateways leveraging Raspberry Pi 3, FriendlyELEC NanoPi M1 Plus, or AAEON’s UP Linux boards. The company has now launched Moduino X series modules powered by Espressif ESP32 WiFi + Bluetooth SoC to be used as end points together with their ModBerry gateways.

Moduino X1

Two models have been developed so far, namely Moduino X1 and X2, with the following specifications:

  • Wireless Module – ESP32-WROVER with ESP32 dual-core Tensilica LX6 processor @ 240 MHz, 4MB pSRAM (512KB as option), 4MB SPI flash;
  • External Storage – X2 only: micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity
    • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi up to 16 Mbps + Bluetooth 4.2 LE with u.FL antenna connector
    • X2 only: 10/100M Ethernet
    • Options: LoRa (Semtech SX1272); Sigfox (TI CC1125); LTE Cat M1/NB1; Zigbee
  • Serial – 2x RS-232/485
  • Display – Optional 0.96″ OLED display with 128×64 resolution
  • Expansion I/Os
    • 4x Digital I/O (0 ~ 3V)
    • 2x Analog Input:
    • A2 Only: 2x analog output (optional)
    • A2 only: support for Techbase ExCard add-on modules for extr RS-232/485 ports, Ethernet ports, PCIe slots, analog input and output, digital I/Os, relays, M-Bus interface, etc…
  • Battery – Optional battery power support (A1 only); optional UPS function with LiPo battery or Supercapacitor
  • Power Supply -5V DC
  • Dimensions
    • A1 – ABS: 90 x 36 x 32 mm (LxWxH); Aluminum: 95 x 35 x 41 mm (LxWxH)
    • A2 – ABS: 90 x 71 x 32 mm (LxWxH); Aluminum: 95 x 71 x 41 mm (LxWxH)

Moduino A1 consumes less than A2, and can be powered by batteries only, but both models can use battery as UPS. The modules support Espressif ESP-IDF SDK, Zephyr Project, Arduino programming, MicroPython, Mongoose OS, and more, and would typically be used as meters & sensor nodes capable of reporting temperature, humidity, pressure, acceleration, & light with attached sensors. More sensors are being developed by the company.

Moduino X2 (right)

Moduino X1 & X2 appear to be available now, but you’d need to contact the company to get price information. Visit Moduino X series product page for more details.

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.