SparqEE CELLv1.0 Kickstarter to add cellular to Arduino and Raspberry Pi


Mini PCs and microcontrollers like the Raspberry Pi and Arduino, respectively, have spawned a number of add-on modules – or in the case of Arduino, ‘shields’ – that provide new functionality. New startup brand SparqEE is endeavouring to bring cell network access to these devices through a Kickstarter venture to launch its SparqEE CELLv1.0 Kit.

The kit combines a compact cell quad-band GSM/WCDMA transceiver with an optional voltage level translator to give your project cell/data access. The kit can be used with any SIM card from your phone, pre-paid or direct from SparqEE. Additional carrier boards enable the CELLv1.0 to connect to either an Arduino or Raspberry Pi mini PC.

The SparqEE team has made it a two-board module to allow both developers to get access to a compact transceiver but also allow for easy use with other fixed-voltage platforms. For example, it looks like the CELLv1.0 kit runs off 3.3VDC whereas the Arduino tends to prefer 5VDC. The second board provides voltage level translation to enable the kit to work with Arduino boards and not blow up.

sparqee2According to the specs, the CELL kit module uses under 5mA in standby, 75mA typically (without services), under 500mA actual working load and maxes out at 2.3A.

The current minimum available pledge that gets you something is the $79 CELLv1.0 KIT. The $89 pledge option will get you the CELLv1.0 kit plus either a Raspberry Pi or Arduino shield (carrier board). You can check out the Kickstarter campaign or head over to their website, which at time of publishing appeared to be a repeat of their Kickstarter page.

CELLv1.0 isn’t the only GSM shield available for the Arduino with others like the SIMCOM SIM900 quad-band GSM shield available on eBay for under $45.

Still, it’s a great idea and could spawn a whole new range of mobile projects.


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