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RP2040-Based Board Equipped with Integrated LTE-Modem and WiFi/BLE Chip

Mar 10, 2024 — by Giorgio Mendoza 555 views

ILABS has introduced the RP2040 Connectivity Board, featuring the Raspberry Pi Pico chip. This all-in-one IoT solution integrates LTE, Wi-Fi, and BLE, offering versatility for various IoT projects. Its compatibility with Arduino and PlatformIO platforms suits both professional and hobbyist users.

At its heart, the RP2040 Connectivity Board boasts a high-performance microcontroller – the RP2040 from Raspberry Pi. This includes a dual-core Cortex M0 processor clocked at 133MHz, coupled with 8 MB of FLASH memory and 264 Kb of integrated RAM.

— ADVERTISEMENT —


The RP2040 Connectivity Board incorporates the SARA-R412M series module, enabling LTE (Cat M1/NB-IoT) communication with broad coverage capabilities. Advertised for mission-critical IoT tasks with advanced security features, including a root of trust and robust encryption systems.

It connects to the RP2040 via a hardware serial port, supporting high-speed data transfers. The board also includes a cellular antenna that connects through a U.FL connector, allowing for easy installation.


RP2040 Connectivity Board pinout
(click image to enlarge)

To connect to an LTE network and transfer data, the board requires a nano SIM card. Users have the option to use their own SIM card or use the 1NCE prepaid cards. The 1NCE IoT Flat Rate offers 120 months of connectivity for a one-time fee of 150 SEK (~$14.70), with no hidden costs according to ILABS. This plan includes 500 MB of data at speeds up to 1Mbit/s, 250 SMS, and global coverage in over 130 countries across all mobile standards including 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE-M, and NB-IoT. 

The provided SIM card is for evaluation purposes; for extended use and access to additional features like the top-up option and APIs, users are encouraged to contact 1NCE directly.


SARA-R412M block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

Featuring Espressif’s ESP32-C3FN4 chip, this board provides robust Wi-Fi and BLE connectivity, including support for various Wi-Fi modes and Bluetooth LE, with Bluetooth 5 and mesh capabilities. The chip, based on a RISC-V microcontroller core, is equipped with 4MB of flash and 408KB of SRAM. With the pre-installed ESP-AT interpreter, it offers a range of functionalities, from basic network protocols to more advanced features such as integrated web and MQTT server capabilities.

The board is designed for power efficiency with a low-power supply and an onboard battery charger capable of 500mA charging, enabling quick charge times and prolonged battery life for portable use. User interaction is streamlined with two accessible buttons for reset and UF2 mode, complemented by a versatile antenna design that supports both onboard and external antennas.


ILABS RP2040 Connectivity Board
(click image to enlarge)

Equipped with a USB Type-C interface, a BConnect interface connector for peripherals, and a built-in LiPO battery charger, this board enhances connectivity and power management. It also includes a 26-pin expansion header, facilitating the connection of various sensors and devices increasing its application range. 

Programming is made user-friendly through Arduino compatibility, with comprehensive guidance available on Earle F. Philhower’s GitHub page and ILABS’ instruction pages.

Further Information

The RP2040 Connectivity Board is priced at kr 795.00, approximately equivalent to $77.79.

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