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LTE IoT kits include Raspberry Pi and AWS friendly models

Jan 9, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 3,197 views
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AT&T expanded its Cellular IoT Starter Kit family with an AWS version with a K64F Freedom Board, plus a $59 model that instead lets you bring your own RPi.

AT&T and Avnet announced the $99 AT&T IoT Starter Kit for its LTE cellular networks back in July, and shipped it the following month. Now, the wireless carrier has launched a second, identically priced kit that similarly combines an AT&T LTE modem and an Avnet M14A2A Cellular Shield with a Cortex-M4-based NXP K64F Freedom Board, but also adds support for Amazon Web Services (AWS) in addition to AT&T’s own IoT cloud management service. AT&T also launched a new $59 model that omits the NXP K64F Freedom Board for those users who would rather control the Cellular Shield with a Raspberry Pi.



AT&T IoT Starter Kit Powered by AWS (left) and its core boardset, combining a bottom-mounted NXP FRDM-K64F Freedom Board and an Avnet M14A2A Cellular Shield
(click images to enlarge)

According to RCRWireless News, AT&T and Avnet are also prepping a “lighter” and presumably cheaper version of the original kit. However, the light board has yet to appear on the AT&T product page. The original AT&T announcement mentioned plans to add similar offshoots preconfigured for Microsoft Azure IoT Suite and IBM Watson IoT. These are not yet available on the IoT Starter Kit shopping page, although the original platform is said to support both Microsoft Azure and IBM Bluemix platforms.

The new IoT Starter Kit Powered by AWS appears to offer the same features as the original IoT Starter Kit, but adds built-in AWS support, as well as a microSD card used for security credentials. The kit runs ARM Mbed code on NXP’s FRDM-K64F Freedom Board, which was also one of the first platforms supported by the Zephyr Project. The board, which can be bought for $60 on its own, runs on a 120MHz ARM Cortex-M4 MCU called the Kinetis K64 (MK64FN1M0VLL12) with 1MB flash and 256KB RAM.

The FRDM-K64F Freedom Board is further equipped with an Arduino R3 compatible pinout for shield support. Other features include a 10/100 Ethernet port, a microSD slot, and two micro-USB ports, one of which is a power input. You also get a 6-axis accelerometer/magnetometer, 2x user buttons, a reset button, and an LED.



NXP FRDM-K64F Freedom Board (left) and Avnet M14A2A Cellular Shield
(click images to enlarge)

As with the original, the AWS kit connects the FRDM-K64F Freedom Board to an Avnet M14A2A Cellular Shield via Arduino Shield connectors on both devices, thereby creating a 3.25 x 2 x 1-inch sandwich-board configuration. The $59 LTE IoT Add-on Kit also includes this Avnet Cellular Shield and all other components of the original kit except the FRDM-K64F Freedom Board. Instead, a user-supplied Raspberry Pi SBC plugs into the M14A2A Cellular Shield via the micro-USB port. It’s unclear if Mbed is also running on the Raspberry Pi, using the Mbed client, or if AT&T’s platform has been extended to support Linux.

The M14A2A Cellular Shield, which is available on all the AT&T IoT Starter Kits, is built around a Wistron NeWeb Corp. (WNC) M14A2A LTE Cat-1 modem module. The board further integrates two SMA connectors that support primary and diversity connections. There’s also a 3FF microSIM connector, multiple serial link options to the host controller, and a temperature and humidity sensor.



AT&T IoT Starter Kit block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

All the kits ship with a Pulse LTE Stealth Blade Antenna. This dipole antenna offers 2, 4, and 12 LTE band support. The kit is further equipped with two micro-USB cables.

AT&T adds to this package an AT&T Global SIM card that works in 200+ countries and territories. The card is also separately available for $11.

The SIM card is serviced with a six-month AT&T LTE package that includes 300MB of data and 300 SMS messages for use in the U.S. and Mexico (no roaming). The kit further includes Cisco-curated access to its AT&T Control Center IoT connectivity management platform, including cloud storage “to host, manage and share data across multiple groups,” says AT&T.

The AT&T Iot Starter Kit stack integrates an API for monitoring the network connection and data transfer. It also includes REST APIs with “easy-to-follow documentation and the ability to quickly test APIs without any coding,” says the company. Optionally, developers can use the AT&T Flow Designer software for IoT app development, as well as AT&T’s M2X Data Services.

 
Further information

The AT&T Iot Starter Kit and new IoT Starter Kit Powered by AWS are each available for $99. The new LTE IoT Add-on Kit, which supports the Raspberry Pi, is available for $59. More information on all the products may be found on the AT&T Iot Starter Kit shopping page, and more technical info can be found on Avnet’s AT&T Iot Starter Kit page (PDF).
 

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