MicroMod Update Tool Hookup Guide

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Contributors: PaulZC, El Duderino
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Introduction

Introducing the SparkFun MicroMod Update Tool! This simple little board allows you to interact directly with the SARA-R5 LTE-M / NB-IoT module on the MicroMod Asset Tracker Carrier Board via the module's UART.

SparkFun MicroMod Update Tool

SparkFun MicroMod Update Tool

DEV-17725
$4.95

The MicroMod Asset Tracker Carrier Board provides you with a toolkit to monitor and track the location of your assets. Do you want to know where your assets are at all times? Or maybe you just want an update if an asset is moved? If so, this is the product for you!

Built around the u-blox SARA-R510M8S module, the asset tracker offers Secure Cloud LTE-M and NB-IoT data communication for multi-regional use and has an integrated u-blox M8 GNSS receiver for accurate positioning information. The SARA-R5 supports many different forms of data communication from full TCP/IP sockets and packet switched data, through HTTP Get/Put/Post, FTP (the SARA has a built-in file system), Ping, to good old SMS text messaging!

The Update Tool is not a full MicroMod Processor Board, it is much simpler than that. It has a CH340C USB-Serial converter on it which gives you full access to all eight pins of the SARA-R5's UART interface via the Asset Tracker’s USB-C connector. Think of it as a bridge from USB to serial.

Why is this a good idea? Well, for a start - as the name suggests - it is an ideal way to upgrade the SARA-R5’s firmware should you need to. The Update Tool also makes it simple to communicate directly with the SARA using u-blox’s sophisticated m-center cellular evaluation software. If you’re familiar with u-center, u-blox’s GNSS evaluation software, you’ll know how excellent their software is. m-center is every bit as good.

The Update Tool features eight pairs of Plated Through Hole connections for the UART signals. You can use these to connect directly to the SARA UART using 3.3V signals if you want to. The split pads on the rear of the Tool can be opened to isolate the CH340C completely; the pins nearest the M.2 will link straight to the SARA UART.

Required Materials

In order to follow along with this tutorial, you'll want to have the following items.

The Asset Tracker Firmware Update Tool, as the name suggests, is designed to work with the MicroMod Asset Tracker Carrier Board. The Update Tool along with a Hologram eUICC SIM Card are included with the Asset Tracker:

SparkFun MicroMod Asset Tracker Carrier Board

SparkFun MicroMod Asset Tracker Carrier Board

DEV-17272
$149.95

You'll also need a USB-C cable to connect the Carrier to your computer. Below are some options for USB cables:

USB 2.0 Cable A to C - 3 Foot

CAB-15092
Retired
Reversible USB A to C Cable - 0.8m

Reversible USB A to C Cable - 0.8m

CAB-15425
$4.95
1
USB 3.1 Cable A to C - 3 Foot

USB 3.1 Cable A to C - 3 Foot

CAB-14743
$4.95
3
Reversible USB A to C Cable - 2m

Reversible USB A to C Cable - 2m

CAB-15424
$7.95

Optional Extras

If you want to manipulate the UART connections on the Update Tool we recommend soldering a set of headers to your board. Below are a few options:

Break Away Headers - Straight

Break Away Headers - Straight

PRT-00116
$1.50
20
Header - 2x8 (Male, 0.1")

Header - 2x8 (Male, 0.1")

PRT-13156
$0.95

If you wish to use the Update Tool to interact directly with the SARA-R5 module on your Asset Tracker and do not have these items already, you may also need LTE and GNSS antennas:

GNSS Multi-Band Magnetic Mount Antenna - 5m (SMA)

GNSS Multi-Band Magnetic Mount Antenna - 5m (SMA)

GPS-15192
$67.95
1
LTE Hinged External Antenna - 698MHz-2.7GHz, SMA Male

LTE Hinged External Antenna - 698MHz-2.7GHz, SMA Male

CEL-16432
$6.95

Suggested Reading

If you aren't familiar with the MicroMod ecosystem, we recommend reading here for an overview:

MicroMod Logo
MicroMod Ecosystem

We also recommend reading through the following tutorials if you are not familiar with the concepts covered in them:

Serial Communication

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

How to Work with Jumper Pads and PCB Traces

Handling PCB jumper pads and traces is an essential skill. Learn how to cut a PCB trace, add a solder jumper between pads to reroute connections, and repair a trace with the green wire method if a trace is damaged.

How to Install CH340 Drivers

How to install CH340 drivers (if you need them) on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Getting Started with MicroMod

Dive into the world of MicroMod - a compact interface to connect a microcontroller to various peripherals via the M.2 Connector!