DevBoard Watch: Arduino MKR adds SigFox for IoT comms


DevBoard Watch: Arduino MKR adds SigFox for IoT commsTo be specific, programmed via the Arduino IDE, the MKRFOX1200 is based on the Atmel SAMD21 32-bit Cortex-M0+ microcontroller and a ATA8520 SigFox module.

It has a similar form factor (67 x 25mm) as the previous MKR1000 and MKRZero boards.

Note that the first version of the MKRFOX1200 is compatible with SigFox Radio Configuration Zone 1 (868MHz, 14dBm), meaning it is only supported in network-covered regions of Europe, the Middle East, and South Africa.

There’s more online on getting started with the new board.

The Arduino team writes:

The design includes the ability to power the board using two 1.5V AA or AAA batteries or external 5V. Switching from one source to the other is done automatically. A good 32 bit computational power similar to the Zero board, the usual rich set of I/O interfaces, low power SigFox communication and the ease of use of the Arduino Software (IDE) for code development and programming.

Unboxing the SigFox friendly MKRFOX1200All these features make this board the preferred choice for the emerging IoT battery-powered projects in a compact form factor. The USB port can be used to supply power (5V) to the board. The Arduino MKRFOX1200 is able to run with or without the batteries connected and has limited power consumption.

Also be warned that unlike most Arduino & Genuino boards, the MKRFOX1200 runs at 3.3V – applying voltages higher than 3.3V to any I/O pin could damage the board. While output to 5V digital devices is possible, warns Arduino, bidirectional communication with 5V devices needs proper level shifting.

Specification

Microcontroller SAMD21 Cortex-M0+ 32bit low power ARM MCU
Board Power Supply (USB/VIN) 5V
Supported Batteries(*) 2x AA or AAA
Circuit Operating Voltage 3.3V
Digital I/O Pins 8
PWM Pins 12 (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, A3 – or 18 -, A4 -or 19)
UART 1
SPI 1
I2C 1
Analog Input Pins 7 (ADC 8/10/12 bit)
Analog Output Pins 1 (DAC 10 bit)
External Interrupts 8 (0, 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, A1 -or 16-, A2 – or 17)
DC Current per I/O Pin 7 mA
Flash Memory 256 KB
SRAM 32 KB
EEPROM no
Clock Speed 32.768 kHz (RTC), 48 MHz
LED_BUILTIN 6
Full-Speed USB Device and embedded Host
LED_BUILTIN 6
Antenna power 2dB
Carrier frequency 868 MHz
Working region EU
Length 67.64 mm
Width 25 mm
Weight 32 gr.

 

Priced at €35.00, it is available from the Arduino store online.

Data

In terms of data, purchase of the MKRFOX1200 price includes a subscription to the SigFox network for two years.

The plan will be automatically activated after the fourth message has been sent. You can send up to 140 messages per day. Antenna The MKRFOX1200 is shipped with a GSM antenna that can be attached to the board with the micro UFL connector. If you want to change the antenna please check that it can accept frequencies in the SigFox’s range (868 Mhz).

You will need, of course, to check you can access Sigfox coverage in your own area.

Antenna

The MKRFOX1200 is shipped with a GSM antenna that can be attached to the board with the micro UFL connector.

If you want to change the antenna please check that it can accept frequencies in the SigFox’s range (868 Mhz), says Arduino.

Arduino MKRFOX 1200

SigFox

It can be hard to keep up with all IoT developments, but Sigfox has gained significant traction in the competitive area of low-power comms, such as could underpin the communications of all these Things.

Recently for example, Ireland was “SigFox-enabled for IoT” as it and Irish telecoms firm VT Networks rolled out a long-range low data rate IoT network.

Remote nodes on SigFox networks, which are low data rate and ultra-narrowband, are expected to run for over 10 years on two AA cells.

Applications are expected in water metering, building security, smoke alarms, tracking stolen farm assets, farm gate opening sensors, machine monitoring.

And both Atmel and Microchip are selling RF transceivers supporting the company’s wide area wireless protocol, intended for use with IoT and machine-to-machine comms.

See also IoT reference design brings ARM and open source tools to SigFox nodes, offered by French M2M specialist éolane.



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