SparkFun Adds Cellular to the MicroMod Ecosystem with New Blues Wireless Notecarrier Design

Cellular modem and 10-year connectivity promise comes alongside some big hardware revisions to the MicroMod Main Boards, too.

SparkFun has announced a new connectivity option for MicroMod users, the SparkFun MicroMod Cellular Function Board, which uses a Blues Wireless Notecard as its modem to offer a decade of connectivity at no extra cost, along with two redesigned and updated MicroMod Main Boards.

"The SparkFun Notecarrier Cellular Function Board adds a cellular modem to the MicroMod ecosystem using the Notecard - NOTE-NBGL-500 from Blues Wireless," explains SparkFun's Chris McCarty. "The Notecard is unique among cellular modules as it has a built-in SIM card and includes a 10-year subscription and 500MB of data included in the price. This Function Board comes with nearly everything you'll need to integrate the Notecard into a MicroMod assembly. Simply connect an LTE antenna and a GNSS antenna if you wish to use location data to the U.FL connectors on the Notecard and you're ready to start pumping data to a cloud service of your choice."

SparkFun has brought cellular connectivity to its MicroMod ecosystem, courtesy of a Blues Wireless Notecard.

The card, which acts as a Notecarrier to use Blues Wireless' nomenclature, offers NB-IoT and LTE-M cellular connectivity with a SIM slot, onboard Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) reception for positioning and location tracking, a three-axis accelerometer, and an on-chip temperature sensor — though can't act alone, requiring both a Main Board and a Processor Board to operate.

The new board isn't SparkFun's first foray into cellular connectivity via a Blues Wireless Notecard: back in August 2021 the company launched a Qwiic-connected carrier board for the Notecard, though under its limited-availability SparkX branding. The new MicroMod variant, though, is a fully-fledged product — complete with SparkFun's iconic red PCB finish.

The launch comes shortly after Blues Wireless dropped its subscription pricing model, opting instead to use a consumption-based pricing structure, which only charges you when you're actively using the service. Now, users receive "Consumption Credits" — 5,000 per account, topped up automatically each month — with additional available to purchase for heavier usage.

The modem board comes alongside a major refresh for the SparkFun MicroMod Main Boards, in both Single and Double variants. Designed to host a single Processor Board plus one or two Function boards, the revised Main Boards include a jumper for USB Type-C connector shield isolation, a test point for 5V measurement, a jumper to remove the resistor divider on the battery input for low-power applications, a dedicated voltage regulator for the Qwiic port, the ability to disable the microSD Card socket, control of the 3.3V voltage regulator via a general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pin, and the removal of the 100mA lithium-polymer charging option in favour of a 500mA charge current default.

The SparkFun MicroMod Cellular Function Board is available on the SparkFun store now at $119.95 before volume discounts, including 10 years of connectivity at 5,000 "Consumption Credits" a month. The new Main Boards are also available now, having replaced the original designs, at $15.95 for the Single and $19.95 for the Double. More information is available in the board's hookup guide.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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