LTE Cat M1/NB-IoT Shield Hookup Guide

Pages
Contributors: jimblom
Favorited Favorite 2

Introduction

The SparkFun LTE Cat M1/NB-IoT Shield equips your Arduino or Arduino-compatible microcontroller with access to data networks across the globe. It adds wireless, high-bandwidth cellular functionality to your IoT project while maintaining low power consumption and a small footprint.

SparkFun LTE CAT M1/NB-IoT Shield - SARA-R4

SparkFun LTE CAT M1/NB-IoT Shield - SARA-R4

CEL-14997
$79.95
2

You can either purchase the SparkFun LTE Cat M1/NB-IoT Shield individually, as in the link above, or packaged with a Hologram SIM card. The Hologram SIM card provides global connectivity on an extremely reasonable pricing model. They also provide software tools like cloud data and SMS messaging and webhooks for routing data from your cell shield to popular web services.

SparkFun LTE CAT M1/NB-IoT Shield - SARA-R4 (with Hologram SIM Card)

SparkFun LTE CAT M1/NB-IoT Shield - SARA-R4 (with Hologram SIM Card)

CEL-15087
$84.95
3

At the heart of the LTE Cat M1/NB-IoT shield is a u-blox SARA-R410M-02B LTE Cat M1/NB-IoT modem. Cat M1 (Category M1) and NB-IoT (Narrowband IoT) are both Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies that are designed to provide cellular communication to small IoT devices. They operate on LTE network bands just like most smartphones, and should be supported by most cellular network carriers.

The u-blox module commmunicates over a UART via a simple AT command set. We've provided a library to help you get started with everything from sending SMS text messages to communicating with servers over a TCP/IP connection.

Both the module and library support an I2C GPS interface, so you can plug in a u-blox GPS module and start remotely tracking your project.

Required Materials

In addition to the shield itself, we recommend the following items to follow along with this tutorial. You may not need everything though depending on what you have. Add it to your cart, read through the guide, and adjust the cart as necessary.

Arduino or Arduino-Compatible Development Board -- The LTE Cat M1/NB-IoT Shield is primarily designed to work as a...shield. It should be compatible with most Arduino-type development boards, including the Arduino Uno, SparkFun RedBoard, SparkFun BlackBoard, and SAMD21 Dev Breakout.

SparkFun RedBoard - Programmed with Arduino

SparkFun RedBoard - Programmed with Arduino

DEV-13975
$19.95
45
Arduino Uno - R3 SMD

Arduino Uno - R3 SMD

DEV-11224
$22.95
22
SparkFun SAMD21 Dev Breakout

SparkFun SAMD21 Dev Breakout

DEV-13672
$25.95
7

SparkFun BlackBoard

SPX-14669
5 Retired

The shield can also be used as a breakout board for the u-blox SARA-R4 module, in which case nearly any microcontroller development board with a free UART should work. You can even use the shield's USB interface with a Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi Zero or, really, any Windows/Mac/Linux device with a free USB port.

Headers -- To connect the shield to your Arduino you'll need to solder headers into it. We recommend the stackable R3 headers, but male headers can also do the trick.

Female Headers

Female Headers

PRT-00115
$1.50
7
Arduino Stackable Header Kit - R3

Arduino Stackable Header Kit - R3

PRT-11417
$1.50
12

Soldering Tools -- You'll also need soldering tools to connect the headers to your shield. A basic soldering iron and solder should be enough.

Soldering Iron - 60W (Adjustable Temperature)

Soldering Iron - 60W (Adjustable Temperature)

TOL-14456
$14.95
7
Solder Lead Free - 15-gram Tube

Solder Lead Free - 15-gram Tube

TOL-09163
$3.50
2

SIM card -- A nano SIM card will be required to provide connectivity for the LTE CAT-M1 Shield's u-blox module. If you've purchased the Hologram/SparkFun LTE Shield Combo, then you're all set. Otherwise, there are a variety of connectivity suppliers including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Optional Materials

In addition to those required items, these bits and pieces can help add functionality to your LTE Shield, so you can take it even further:

LiPo Battery -- The LTE Shield includes a LiPo battery charger. This LiPo can be used to power both your Arduino and the shield simultaneously. Any of the below batteries should work with the shield:

Lithium Ion Battery - 2Ah

Lithium Ion Battery - 2Ah

PRT-13855
$12.95
6
Lithium Ion Battery - 850mAh

Lithium Ion Battery - 850mAh

PRT-13854
$9.95
2
Lithium Ion Battery - 1Ah

Lithium Ion Battery - 1Ah

PRT-13813
$9.95
7
Lithium Ion Battery - 6Ah

Lithium Ion Battery - 6Ah

PRT-13856
$29.95
6

Micro-B USB cable -- The shield's SARA-R4 module supports a USB interface, which can be used for both power and a communication interface. A micro-B USB cable isn't required, but may be helpful if you want to power your project via USB or give the SARA-R4 module's USB interface a spin.

USB micro-B Cable - 6 Foot

USB micro-B Cable - 6 Foot

CAB-10215
$4.95
12

SparkFun Rugged microB Cable - 1m

CAB-14742
USB Micro-B Cable - 6"

USB Micro-B Cable - 6"

CAB-13244
$1.95
3
SparkFun Traveler microB Cable - 1m

SparkFun Traveler microB Cable - 1m

CAB-14741
$3.95

Suggested Viewing

Suggested Reading

This tutorial builds on a variety of electronics, programming, and engineering concepts. If any of the subjects of these tutorials sound foreign to you, consider checking them out before continuing on:

Serial Communication

Asynchronous serial communication concepts: packets, signal levels, baud rates, UARTs and more!

Installing an Arduino Library

How do I install a custom Arduino library? It's easy! This tutorial will go over how to install an Arduino library using the Arduino Library Manager. For libraries not linked with the Arduino IDE, we will also go over manually installing an Arduino library.

Arduino Shields

All things Arduino Shields. What they are and how to assemble them.

Logic Levels

Learn the difference between 3.3V and 5V devices and logic levels.

Three Quick Tips About Using U.FL

Quick tips regarding how to connect, protect, and disconnect U.FL connectors.

If you aren't familiar with the Qwiic system, we also recommend reading here for an overview.

Qwiic Connect System
Qwiic Connect System