smôl ARTIC R2 Hookup Guide

Contributors: PaulZC
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Is your project linked to environmental protection, awareness or study, or to protecting human life? Perhaps you are developing a wildlife tracker, ocean buoy, environmental monitoring system or need to transfer emergency medical information? Do you need to be able to transmit and receive data anywhere? If so, this is the smôl product for you! Our smôl ARTIC R2 allows you to send and receive short bursts of data via the ARGOS satellite network, anywhere on Earth including the Polar regions.

The ARGOS satellite system has been around for quite a while. It was created in 1978 by the French Space Agency (CNES), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), originally as a scientific tool for collecting and relaying meteorological and oceanographic data around the world. Today, ARGOS is revolutionising satellite communication, adding a constellation of 25 nanosatellites to complement the 7 traditional satellites carrying ARGOS instrumentation. The first of these, ANGELS, is already in operation and SparkFun were among the first users to transmit data to ANGELS in October 2020. When the constellation is complete, there will be a maximum of 10-15 minutes between satellite passes.

The ARTIC R2 is an integrated, low-power, small-size ARGOS 2/3/4 single chip transceiver. ARTIC implements a message based wireless interface. For satellite uplink communication, ARTIC will encode, modulate and transmit provided user messages. For downlink communication, ARTIC will lock to the downstream, demodulate and decode and extract the satellite messages. The ARTIC can transmit signals in frequency bands around 400MHz and receive signals in the bands around 466MHz, in accordance with the ARGOS satellite system specifications.

The smôl ARTIC R2 has been tested and certified by Kinéis. Compared to other satellite communication systems, the smôl ARTIC R2 has a much lower current draw and will work with a very simple, very lightweight quarter-wave wire antenna. The ARTIC R2 chipset on our board operates from 3.3V and the on-board flash memory enables fast boot times. If you don’t need the full transmit power, or want to conserve your battery life, you can transmit at reduced power too thanks to opto-isolated gain control.

Our Arduino Library makes it really easy to get up and running with ARGOS. We’ve provided a full set of examples which will let you: configure the ARTIC R2 chipset; predict the next satellite pass; receive allcast and individually-coded messages; transmit messages using ARGOS 2, 3 and 4 encoding. There are dedicated examples for the smôl ARTIC R2.

The ARGOS satellite system is restricted to specific programs and applications. Please check that your project meets these requirements before buying hardware. CLS (France) and the Woods Hole Group (America) will be able to advise if your project meets the requirements. "To meet system use requirements, all programs using Argos have to be related in some way or other to environmental protection, awareness or study, or to protecting human life." Please see our ARGOS ARTIC R2 Communication Guide for more details.