ILABS’ RP2040 Board Empowers IoT with Wi-Fi, BLE, and Cellular Support

ILABS’ RP2040 Board Empowers IoT with Wi-Fi, BLE, and Cellular Support

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ILABS, a leading European embedded electronics specialist, has unveiled the RP2040 Connectivity Board, a feature-rich development board centered around Raspberry Pi’s cost-effective RP2040 microcontroller unit (MCU). This board is designed to offer comprehensive connectivity solutions for IoT applications, incorporating Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), and even cellular capabilities.

The RP2040 Connectivity Board is an all-in-one solution, integrating a u-blox SARA-R412M module and an Espressif ESP32-C3 coprocessor. This combination enables seamless connectivity options, making it suitable for a wide range of IoT projects. According to ILABS, the board is compatible with Arduino/PlatformIO and caters to both professional and hobbyist users requiring versatile connectivity features.

At its core, the RP2040 Connectivity Board is powered by the Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller, offering dual-core 133MHz Arm Cortex-M0+ processing, 264kB of static RAM (SRAM), and advanced programmable input/output (PIO) blocks. Additionally, it features the Espressif ESP32-C3FN4 for Wi-Fi and BLE connectivity and the u-blox SARA-R412M module for Cat. M1 LTE, NB-IoT, and eGPRS cellular connectivity in areas without Wi-Fi coverage.

The board includes a BConnect port for use with external hardware breakouts, like this "Easy NFC" board. (📷: ILABS)
The board includes a BConnect port for use with external hardware breakouts, like this “Easy NFC” board.

Key features of the board include an 8MB flash chip, a 26-pin general-purpose input/output (GPIO) header with analog inputs, physical reset, and boot-select buttons, a USB Type-C connector for power and data, and optional battery support via an onboard lithium-battery charging circuit. The inclusion of a nano-SIM slot for the u-blox module further enhances its cellular connectivity capabilities.

Key Features of the RP2040 Connectivity board are:

  • High-Performance Microcontroller: Powered by the RP2040 from Raspberry Pi, featuring a dual-core Cortex M0 processor at 133MHz, equipped with 8 MByte of FLASH memory and 264 Kbyte of integrated RAM.

Diverse Connectivity Options:

    • LTE (Cat M1/NB-IoT/eGPRS): Includes the SARA-R412M module for international GSM and LTE-M/NB-IoT coverage, offering robust IoT security and efficient data transfer.
    • WiFi/BLE: Integrated with the ESP32-C3FN4 chip, providing a full range of WiFi and BLE functionalities, including various operating modes and advanced features.
    • USB Type C Interface: Equipped with a modern USB Type C port, ensuring compatibility with contemporary devices and enhanced durability.
    • BConnect interface connector.
  • Built in LiPO battery charger and standardized battery connector

Enhanced Power Efficiency:

  • Low power supply design, enabling lower battery voltage operation and extended battery life.
  • On board battery charger that charges the attached battery with up to 500mA, enabling rapid charging times.

User Interface and Programming:

  • Two accessible buttons for easy reset and UF2 mode activation.
  • Flexible antenna design with options for on-board chip antenna or U.FL connector for external antenna use.

Additional Specifications:

  • Backward Compatibility: Ensures seamless software integration with previous board versions.
  • Nano SIM Card Slot: Supports various prepaid SIM card options, including 1NCE IoT Flat Rate for LTE connectivity.
  • Versatile Application Potential: Ideal for remote monitoring systems, smart connected devices, and other IoT applications.
  • BConnect interface that allows the user to hook up a wide range of peripherals such as NFC readers, accelerometers etc.

Moreover, ILABS has implemented its proprietary BConnect interface, providing a flexible alternative to existing standards like Gove, STEMMA QT, and Qwiic. This interface utilizes flat flexible circuit (FFC) cables and connectors for enhanced versatility. The RP2040 Connectivity Board is equipped with onboard chip antennas for Wi-Fi/BLE radios and includes a U.FL connector for attaching external antennas for GSM/LTE connectivity. Additionally, an antenna detection circuit ensures proper antenna connectivity, enhancing signal reception.

The RP2040 Connectivity Board is now available for purchase on the ILABS store at kr795 (approximately $80), offering a comprehensive solution for IoT enthusiasts and professionals seeking robust connectivity options for their projects.

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