This week’s EYE ON NPI (video) is easy-peesy-lemon-squeezy, the simplest way to add LTE cellular data connectivity to your product or project with Blues Wireless Notecard Cellular Modem System-on-Module.
These M.2 cards come with 4 different cellular module types for global coverage on the LTE Cat 1 or Cat 1M (with backup CDMA and GPRS options). Each card slides into one of many different add-on boards that make connectivity to a Feather or Raspberry Pi foolproof.
Blues Wireless‘ Notecard is a tiny 30 mm x 35 mm SoM device-to-cloud data pump. A Notecard purchase includes 500 MB of data that is usable over 10 years with the ability to top-up as needed. Connectivity is globally available in 136+ countries. The Notecard features an m.2 connector for embedding the user’s board. As an embeddable SoM, the Notecard can be used with any microcontroller (MCU) for greenfield and retrofit projects using the user’s design or one of Blues Wireless’ custom-designed Notecarriers.
With two lines of code, users can send data to the cloud in minutes without complex device registration or provisioning required. With a powerful JSON-based API, the Notecard can be programmed over USB or controlled from the preferred MCU or single-board computer (SBC) using one of Blues Wireless’ open-source firmware libraries. Connect from the preferred host to the Notecard using Serial or I2C. The Notecard is designed to work with a cloud service for ingesting and processing device data. Notehub.io provides secure device connectivity, project, and fleet management, as well as simple routing to third-party cloud services. Alternatively, the user can host their device service based on Blues Wireless’ open-source reference implementation.
The Notecards use Quectel cellular modules, which are low cost and have been used for many years so they’re very reliable. Depending on your location, you may not have LTE coverage yet (or LTE Cat M/M1) so do check your coverage maps and rollout plans – there’s versions with GPRS (2G) and CDMA (3G) backup capabilities. The cellular plan itself is handled by Blues and is handled by AT&T, so no external SIM is required – although there is a insert spot for one if desired. Each module is bundled with a 10 year, 500MB cellular plan, which can be customized if needed. 500MB doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you’re using MQTT for sending data reports, where each packet is only a couple-hundred bytes max, it will last a long time. Check AT&T’s coverage map to know which module you’ll need to use for your area.
We particularly like the M.2 module design idea – it makes insertion very easy and doesn’t allow for flipped boards or bent pins. Swapping out different modules can be done in a post-manufacturing step or as an add-on upgrade situation. It also means as cellular networks are upgraded and retired (which happens every 5~10 years!) the module can be changed over. If you need to source an M2 connector – Digi-Key has tons of those in stock too, just make sure you get E-key type. These contacts are under a dollar a piece and come on tape-and-reel for easy pick and placing.
The modules are designed for end-use cases. While prototyping you may want to use their handy “Notecarrier” breakout boards. Each one can use any of the Notecards, so just mix and match as desired. There are ones for battery usage, Raspberry Pi HAT, and Feather breakout.
And best of all, Blues Wireless Notecards and carriers are in stock right now at Digi-Key! Pick up any combo you need to start prototyping your design immediately. You can get started with Blues’ tutorials and code snippets – they promise you’ll be sending data in under 30 minutes. Order today and you can be sending data over cellular by tomorrow morning.
See on DigiKey.com at https://www.digikey.com/short/zwqw75pj
See the manufacturer video below.