Waveshare's BG95-M3 Zero Puts a Python-Powered Quectel Cellular Module in a Raspberry Pi Zero Format

Featuring a familiar-looking and HAT-compatible 40-pin GPIO header, this dev board blends Python with cellular capabilities for the IoT.

Embedded and hobbyist electronics specialist Waveshare has launched an Internet of Things (IoT) development board based around Quectel's BG95-M3 low-power wide-area (LPWA) module — in a Raspberry Pi Zero-inspired form factor and driven by a MicroPython fork dubbed QuecPyton.

"The BG95-M3 Zero development board is equipped with [the] BG95-M3 module, which is a multi-mode LPWA module supporting LTE Cat M1/LTE Cat NB2/EGPRS [cellular]," Waveshare explains of its new launch. "It is 3GPP Rel-14 compliant and offers maximum data rate of 588kbps downlink and 1,119kbps uplink under LTE Cat M1."

The compact Quectel BG95-M3 on which Waveshare's development board, brought to our attention by CNX Software, is based offers a design tailored for ultra-low power consumption — including low-power RAM and flash memories integrated directly into the baseband processor, an Arm Cortex-A7 running the ThreadX real-time operating system (RTOS). In addition to global cellular connectivity on LTE, LTE-FDD, and 2G networks, the module also includes a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver with GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BDS, and QZSS constellation support.

This has then been mounted on a carrier board that closely mimics the design of the Raspberry Pi Zero range of single-board computers, complete with 40-pin general-purpose input/output (GPIO) header — though lacking, naturally, the HDMI capabilities. There's a single USB Type-C connector for data and power, antenna connectors, a nano-SIM slot, and a battery connector — though Waveshare warns that the gadget does not support simultaneous USB and battery power.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the board is its firmware: a fork of MicroPython Quectel calls QuecPython. Supported using the company's QPYcom development platform, or through plugins for Thonny or Visual Studio Code, QuecPython is designed to be more accessible for those just getting started in cellular module development — with "the biggest advantage" of the language, in Quectel's own words, being "its simplicity."

The BG95-M3 Zero development board is available on Waveshare's store at $54.99 before volume discounts.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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