FAQs

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General

  • Which microcontrollers does the Blues Wireless Notecard support?

    The Notecard is compatible with nearly every microcontroller (MCU) from an 8-bit Arduino to 32-bit ESP32 or STM32. Some popular examples include the Adafruit Huzzah32, STM32 Nucleo, Arduino Nano, ESP32-WROOM, among many others. The Notecard communicates over either I2C or UART, so it acts as a peripheral that can be hooked up by connecting to a product’s existing I2C bus or UART connection.

    It’s also possible to communicate with the Notecard from any embedded language, including compiled languages like C and C++, to interpreted languages like Python and JavaScript.

  • Which cellular networks does the Blues Wireless Notecard utilize?

    Different models of the Blues Wireless Notecard are available that connect to LTE-M, NB-IoT, and Cat-1 networks globally. Connectivity is provided by AT&T and backed by roaming agreements AT&T has with top providers around the world. When LTE-M, NB-IoT, or Cat-1 aren’t available, the Notecard is also supported by UMTS/HSPA+ and GSM/GPRS/EDGE wireless standards.

  • Which countries does the Blues Wireless Notecard support?

    Global coverage is available in 135 countries, with direct support provided by AT&T and backed by roaming agreements with top providers in regions outside of the United States. For a full list, please see our documentation article on Notecard’s supported countries.

  • Which wireless standards are used by the Blues Wireless Notecard?

    Various Notecard models are available that connect to LTE-M, NB-IoT, and Cat-1 networks. In global regions without these capabilities, coverage is also supported by UMTS/HSPA+ and GSM/GPRS/EDGE wireless standards.

  • What is a cellular system-on-module (SoM)?

    A system on module (SoM) is a circuit board that integrates a system function on a single module/device. Unlike a single board computer like the Raspberry Pi or a microcontroller, a SoM generally serves a single special function.

    The Blues Wireless Notecard is a cellular SoM. The Notecard is a secure device-to-cloud data-pump that comes with 500 MB of data and 10 years of cellular service. The Notecard itself is a tiny 30mm x 34mm SoM and ships ready to embed in a project via its m.2 connector. To make prototyping IoT solutions even easier, Blues Wireless also provides a series of expansion boards to host the Notecard called Notecarriers.

  • What is the easiest cellular IoT board to start a project with? How do you add cellular to an IoT project

    The Blues Wireless Notecard, combined with the Notecarrier-AF, is the easiest way to add cellular connectivity to your MCU-based IoT project. Blues Wireless provides a Feather Starter Kit that includes a Adafruit ESP32 HUZZAH to get you started as quickly as possible. Alternatively, if you are invested in the Raspberry Pi platform, you can get started with the Raspberry Pi Starter Kit.

  • How do you perform an OTA device firmware update for ESP32?

    The Blues Wireless Notecard and Notehub cloud service provide developers with an over-the-air (OTA) device firmware update (DFU) mechanism that can be used to update Notecard firmware, or the firmware of a connected microcontroller or microprocessor host.

    Provided the host has the ability to run a custom bootloader or operate across partitions, developers can utilize Notehub.io to upload firmware binaries, and the Notecard to download and deliver those binaries to the host.

    Follow the DFU guide provided on our developer site.

  • What is an MFF2 embedded SIM card?

    The MFF2 UICC embedded SIM used on the Blues Wireless Notecard works in the same manner as a traditional SIM card. However, it is soldered directly onto the Notecard circuit board during manufacturing. This makes the Notecard a perfect option for IoT deployments that are located outdoors (the SIM is protected from corrosion), are in motion (the SIM won’t move out of place), or require a long lifecycle. MFF2 SIM cards are also permanently installed, making them impervious to misuse and therefore more secure.

  • What is a cellular IoT module?

    A cellular IoT module is a system on module (SoM) that integrates a system function (e.g. cellular) on a single module or device. Unlike a single board computer or a microcontroller, a SoM generally serves a single unique function.

    The Blues Wireless Notecard is a cellular IoT module. The Notecard is a secure device-to-cloud data-pump that comes with 500 MB of data and 10 years of cellular service. The Notecard itself is a tiny 30mm x 34mm SoM and ships ready to embed in a project via its m.2 connector. To make things even easier, Blues Wireless also provides a series of expansion boards to host the Notecard called Notecarriers.

  • How do you access sensor data from a BME680 or BME280 with an STM32 MCU?

    The BME680 is one of the most popular sensors for gathering gas, pressure, humidity, and temperature data. Likewise, the BME280 is a popular alternative that does not include a gas sensor.

    The easiest way to learn how to access sensor data from a BME680 or BME280 is by following one of the Blues Wireless sensor tutorials that use the Notecard to securely relay sensor data to the cloud:

  • Does the Blues Wireless Notecard require a Notecarrier to function?

    No! The Blues Wireless Notecard is a small 30mm x 34mm system on module (SoM) that is able to be embedded in any IoT project on its own via its M.2 edge connector.

    However, Blues Wireless provides a variety of Notecarrier host boards for easily adding cellular connectivity to a new or existing IoT solution for prototyping purposes. The Notecarrier also provides antennae for both the GPS and cellular capabilities of the Notecard.

  • What are the differences between the Blues Wireless Notecard, Notecarrier, and Notehub.io?
    • Notecard: SoM peripheral with a cellular modem, IMU sensor, GPS modem, with an M.2 edge connector.
    • Notecarrier: A prototyping board with cellular and GPS antennae, used to breakout the pins on the Notecard’s M.2 connector.
    • Notehub: A cloud service, used as a backend to connect with the Notecard. Notehub.io securely receives all data and communications created by the Notecard. In turn, Notehub.io can securely sync encrypted data with the cloud application of your choice using VPN tunnels which eliminates the need for traffic to traverse the public Internet.
  • What happens to our data plan if Blues Wireless goes out of business? How do we get our 10 years of data?

    The Notecard device’s data plan continues to function uninterrupted. Data can be collected via the open-source, cloud service “Notehub” (the core functionality upon which our SaaS product, Notehub.io, is built).

Raspberry-Pi

  • Which Raspberry Pi-compatible single-board computers does the Blues Wireless Notecarrier-Pi HAT support?

    The Blues Wireless Notecard and its companion Notecarrier-Pi HAT support virtually any Raspberry Pi-compatible single-board computer (SBC) with a 40-pin male header connector. Some examples of compatible SBCs include the balenaFin, Banana Pi, and the ROCK Pi.

    Note that due to the power requirements of the Notecard, some Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 models include a current-limiting fuse that will power-cycle the device when the Notecard’s modem is on and transmitting. To avoid these issues, we recommend using Raspberry Pi 4 devices with the Notecard and Notecarrier Pi HAT.

  • How do you add cellular network access to a Raspberry Pi?

    The Raspberry Pi (and other compatible single-board computers) provides extensibility for cellular network access via the Pi HAT header connector. To add cellular connectivity to a Raspberry Pi (for instance, to access LTE-M, NB-IoT, or Cat-1 networks) you can use the Raspberry Pi Starter Kit from Blues Wireless. This provides a Notecarrier-Pi HAT and a Notecard. The Notecard is pre-provisioned to securely communicate with the Blues Wireless cloud service, Notehub.io, which allows you to route data to your cloud application of choice.

  • Does the Blues Wireless Notecard System-on-a-Module (SoM) require a Pi HAT for Raspberry Pi integration?

    It is technically feasible to embed a Blues Wireless Notecard on a custom PCB that connects to the Pi HAT connector. However, the Notecarrier-Pi provided by Blues Wireless is a Pi HAT that is works with Raspberry Pi-compatible single-board computers and provides unparalleled ease of use when adding cellular connectivity to a Raspberry Pi.

  • What is the easiest way to connect Raspberry Pi to a cellular network?

    The Blues Wireless Notecard and Notecarrier-Pi HAT is the easiest way to provide cellular access to a Raspberry Pi-compatible single board computer. The Notecard is a secure device-to-cloud data-pump that comes with 500 MB of data and 10 years of cellular service. The Notecard itself is a tiny 30mm x 34mm SoM and ships ready to embed in a project via its m.2 connector. For Raspberry Pi-compatible single board computers, the Blues Wireless Raspberry Pi Starter Kit provides an easy way to add a Notecard to a Raspberry Pi. To get started with a Raspberry Pi and the Notecard, consult the Blues Wireless Raspberry Pi quickstart guide.

  • Does the Blues Wireless Notecard provide a built-in way to measure temperature, shock/impact, voltage, and/or cellular signal strength data, and send the data to the cloud?

    The Blues Wireless Notecard includes onboard temperature and accelerometer sensors that are accessible via the Notecard API. Temperature and voltage is captured every 5 minutes, and reported with the JSON included in every sync operation. Shock/impact detection can be reported by enabling the built-in IMU sensor (card.motion API), then querying it to enhance your data with “shock/impact” information. In addition, cellular signal strength data is included with the card.wireless API.

Routing and Transferring Data

  • How do you route or transfer IoT data to AWS?

    The Blues Wireless cloud service Notehub natively supports secure routing of IoT data to AWS. A complete routing guide for AWS IoT Analytics is available on the Blues Wireless developer portal. AWS IoT Analytics is a secure, scalable IoT app platform that allows you to manage IoT devices, create dashboards and visualizations, and more.

  • How do you route or transfer IoT data to Microsoft Azure?

    The Blues Wireless cloud service Notehub natively supports secure routing of IoT data to Microsoft Azure. A complete routing guide for Azure IoT Central is available on the Blues Wireless developer portal. Azure IoT Central is a secure, scalable IoT app platform that allows you to manage IoT devices, create dashboards and visualizations, and more.

  • How do you route or transfer IoT data to Datacake?

    The Blues Wireless cloud service Notehub natively supports secure routing of IoT data to Datacake. A complete routing guide for Datacake is available on the Blues Wireless developer portal. Datacake is a low-code platform for creating cloud-based IoT applications and reporting dashboards.

  • How do you route or transfer IoT data to Google Cloud Platform?

    The Blues Wireless cloud service Notehub natively supports secure routing of IoT data to Google Cloud Platform (GCP). A complete routing guide for Google Cloud Functions is available on the Blues Wireless developer portal. Google Cloud Platform is a secure, scalable app platform that allows you to manage IoT devices, create dashboards and visualizations, and more.

  • How do you route or transfer IoT data to Initial State?

    The Blues Wireless cloud service Notehub natively supports secure routing of IoT data to Initial State. A complete routing guide for Initial State is available on the Blues Wireless developer portal. Initial State is a data streaming and visualization tool that’s easy to set-up and configure for IoT applications.

  • How do you route or transfer IoT data to ThingSpeak?

    The Blues Wireless cloud service Notehub natively supports secure routing of IoT data to ThingSpeak. A complete routing guide for ThingSpeak is available on the Blues Wireless developer portal. ThingSpeak is a simple IoT analytics tool from MathWorks that provides simple dashboards and built-in visualizations for your projects.

  • How do you route or transfer IoT data to Ubidots?

    The Blues Wireless cloud service Notehub natively supports secure routing of IoT data to Ubidots. A complete routing guide for Ubidots is available on the Blues Wireless developer portal. Ubidots provides data collection, analysis, and visualization tooling for connected IoT projects.

  • How do you route IoT data to Twilio for sending SMS notifications?

    The Blues Wireless cloud service Notehub natively supports secure routing of IoT data to Twilio (e.g. for email or SMS notifications). A complete routing guide for Twilio SMS is available on the Blues Wireless developer portal. Twilio’s SMS API allows you to add messaging capabilities to your cloud applications. You can send SMS messages, track the delivery of sent messages, and view message history.

  • How do you route or transfer IoT data with Azure Functions?

    The Blues Wireless cloud service Notehub natively supports secure routing of IoT data with Azure Functions. A complete routing guide for Azure Functions is available on the Blues Wireless developer portal. Azure Functions is a cloud service that provides the infrastructure and resources to run your cloud applications on Microsoft Azure.

  • How do you route or transfer IoT data with the ThingWorx API?

    The Blues Wireless cloud service Notehub natively supports secure routing of IoT data with the ThingWorx API. A complete routing guide for ThingWorx is available on the Blues Wireless developer portal. The ThingWorx platform is a complete, end-to-end technology platform designed for the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

  • How do you route or transfer IoT data to a cloud service with MQTT?

    The Blues Wireless cloud service Notehub natively supports secure routing of IoT data via the MQTT protocol. A complete routing guide for MQTT is available on the Blues Wireless developer portal. MQTT stands for “Message Queuing Telemetry Transport” and is a lightweight, publish-subscribe network protocol that transports messages between IoT devices. MQTT is ideal for connecting remote devices with a small code footprint and minimal network bandwidth.

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