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Raspberry Pi HAT does 3G/HSPA, and GNSS too

Apr 20, 2017 — by Eric Brown 2,533 views

Linkwave’s “Pilot” is a Raspberry Pi HAT add-on with a Sierra Wireless HL 3G/HSPA radio, a SIM slot, as well as a GNNS location chip.

Sierra Wireless announced that Linkwave Technologies has released a $101 3G/HSPA wireless add-on for the Raspberry Pi. The Pilot board incorporates a Sierra Wireless HL module for 3G/HSPA cellular data service, plus a 3V micro-SIM lets you load a 3G card of your choice. The board complies with the Raspberry Pi HAT add-on spec, and can be powered separately or directly from the Raspberry Pi 2, 3, or Zero.

Two views of the Pilot with Raspberry Pi
(click images to enlarge)

The Pilot is available with a Sierra HL8548-G model that supports global standards, as well as a European focused HL8518 model. The global “G” model includes a SiRFstar V GNSS module with GPS + GLONASS location and time services. The board also provides USB and serial interfaces.

The Pilot is not the first cellular data add-on board for the Raspberry Pi. For example, Sixfab has a family of five Raspberry Pi IoT Shields for wireless communications that include GPRS, 3G, and 4G shields. There’s also a PiAnywhere HAT available in GPRS, 3G, and 4G versions.


Both Pilot models support HSPA at B1 (2100MHz) / B2 (1900MHz) / B5 (850MHz) / B6 (850MHz) / B8 (900MHz) / B19 (800MHz), as well as EDGE/GPRS at 850/900/1800/1900MHz frequencies. The Pilot also supports WCDMA (UMTS), HSDPA, HSUPA, and HSPA+ 3G protocols.

You can issue simple AT commands to control wireless sessions based on the 3GPP 27.007 standard, says Sierra Wireless. The Pilot communicates with the Raspberry Pi using serial or USB links, with separate channels for control, data and location data. Only a few pins are used, so most of the interfaces are still available via the 40-pin interface.

When used in CDC-ECM mode over USB, the Pilot presents as an Ethernet-like WAN device, which is said to simplify control of data sessions. In this mode, you can use “simple commands” instead of PPP to initiate a session.

The Pilot in standalone mode communicating with another SBC (left) and a Sierra Wireless HL conceptual diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The Pilot can also be used to transfer data to the Sierra Wireless AirVantage IoT Platform using MQTT to provide “a rapidly deployable device-to-cloud architecture,” says Sierra Wireless. The company says the board can also be used in standalone mode to communicate with other development boards, but offered no details except for the image above.

Further information

The Pilot is available for 79 Pounds ($101) before tax or 94.80 pounds ($122) with tax. More information may be found at the Linkwave Technologies Pilot product page.

(advertise here)

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