Introducing Two New Boards from Arduino

The Arduino MKR WAN 1300 with onboard LoRa, and the MKR GSM 1400 with global 2G/3G capability.

Alasdair Allan
4 years agoInternet of Things

After the resolution of the protracted legal battles around the Arduino trademark there have been a lot of people waiting to see what the new hardware might be on show at Maker Faire New York over the weekend.

Enter the Arduino MKR WAN 1300 and the MKR GSM 1400.

The MKR WAN 1300 is based around the Microchip SAM D21 micro-controller, which integrates an ARM Cortex-M0+ processor, 256KB Flash memory and 32KB SRAM, and the MuRata CMWZIZZABZ low-power LoRa module. Other features include an operating voltage of 3.3V; 8 digital I/Os; 12 PWM outputs; and UART, SPI and I2C interfaces.

The MKR GSM 1400 is based around the same SAM D21 micro-controller, but with a ublox SARA-U201 HSPA/GSM module which can operate at 800, 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz for global 2G and 3G coverage. I’ve been reliably informed that the new board “works just fine” with the new free Hologram.io developer SIM.

Both boards share the same 67.64 × 25mm form factor as the original MKR1000, and the MKR ZERO and MKR FOX 1200 boards. The board’s design includes the ability to be powered by either two 1.5V AA or AAA batteries or an external 5V input via the USB interface — with automatic switching between the two power sources.

The two boards were announced during Massimo Banzi’s “State of Arduino” talk at Maker Faire New York on Saturday where he talked about everything from the legal troubles, to the new Arduino development environment.

Mirroring the end of the home computer explosion of the 1980’s we’re currently seeing a collapse in the number of form factors of micro-controller boards, with more and more manufacturers imitating the Raspberry Pi and original Arduino form factors. So it’s interesting to see Arduino itself introducing a new form factor at this point in time.

Especially with Massimo explicitly mentioning that he hoped the new form factor would receive support from third-party vendors, and the community, we should probably anticipate that going forward the new MKR format will be the new standard Arduino format.

Perhaps, especially with end of the legal troubles, we should also anticipate a large reduction in the bewildering number of different “official” Arduino boards. At least personally I don’t see much need for Arduino to support more than one (perhaps two) “legacy” form factor boards, one at the entry level and one with added features. The core of the Arduino range can then be built from MKR form-factor boards.

However it turns out the the two new MKR boards wasn’t the only new Arduino hardware to be on show at Maker Faire, John Edgar Park ran across the MKR Relay Shield—this is what I’ve always referred to as a “shield-shield.” With the board going on top, rather than underneath.

Both the MKR WAN 1300 and the MKR GSM 1400 are now available for pre-order on the Arduino Store at €35 and €59.90 respectively on the European store, or $39.00 and $69.00 respectively on the US store.

Alasdair Allan
Scientist, author, hacker, maker, and journalist. Building, breaking, and writing. For hire. You can reach me at 📫 alasdair@babilim.co.uk.
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