SparqEE: Tiny cellular board compatible with Arduino & Raspberry PI
This little wonder is called the SparqEE Cell and promises to deliver cellular communication to your future projects. It’s just launched via KickStarter by Chris Higgins and the team at SparqEE.
The SparqEE Cell is the size of a matchbox and can communicate at up-to 3.6Mbps thanks to HSDPA. This is by no means the first such cellular development board as several options already exist, but the thing is they are larger and in some case a lot more expensive. It supports data & SMS with worldwide radio support.
It is however the first to support both Arduino and Raspberry PI, with shields and code to support. With it being an open source project I would imagine support for additional boards such as the BeagleBone Black would be possible without too much pain (Thanks to a great maker community!).
It’s quite clear the team really want to embrace this community also -
In the end, we realized that we could minimize the pain for everybody and make cellular as ubiquitous in the development community as Bluetooth and WiFi, eliminating all difficulties!
We are providing a free server to communicate with and even open sourcing everything – the schematics, Eagle files, designs, software, breakouts, etc.
In the Kickstarter presentation the comparison is made between WIFI, Bluetooth and Cellular communication and it’s a good point Chris makes.
Many of our modern projects require wireless communication and thanks to the low-cost of Xbee and the popular Nordic NRF24L01 devices these are often our first consideration. However they’re limited to a relatively short-range which can be a compromise. Of course if cellular was cheaper this would be a more attractive option.
With the small size and competitive pricing of the SparqEE this may be about to change…
They cost from €69 and there are various optional extras available are :
- Shields to connect an Arduino / Raspberry PI
- Power Board
- Relay Board
- Accelerometer Board
- GPS Board
It’s obvious to see where this sits in the maker landscape and the projects it targets. With all the talk and up rise of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT), this is where I see the SparqEE making its biggest impact.
It’s small size makes this the perfect choice. They try to fuel your imagination with a couple of ideas with an Arduino vehicle tracker and a Raspberry PI dog communication device! Oh and a teaser with a UAV.
The idea of using this with remote vehicles is an interesting yet controversial idea. However I can see it being an interesting addition to the high altitude balloon projects, especially due to its size and weight.
Technical Specs -
- Input Voltage: 3.7-5V (Jumper powered from included USB cable or header pins)
- Current Required: <5mA standby, <75mA average working (w/o services), <500mA average working, max 2.3A
- WCDMA/HSDPA 2100/1900/900MHz
- 384Kbps, DL3.6Mbps HSDPA
- GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900MHz
- Serial (UART, From Cellular Board is 1.8V, From Jumper board is any voltage (ex. 3.3V, 5V))
- USB 2.0 interface (power, USART, and modem)
- Windows, Linux, Android drivers available from ZTE
For more information or to secure one for your next project visit their Kickstarter page -