MicroLink GSM - tiny, Arduino compatible, rapid prototyping
MicroLink GSM - tiny, Arduino compatible, rapid prototyping
Tiny self-contained board that can do automation, alerts, cellular data, phone calls, SMS text messages, and more - USB plug & play
Tiny self-contained board that can do automation, alerts, cellular data, phone calls, SMS text messages, and more - USB plug & play Read more
In addition to GSM and Arduino compatibility, the on-board USB and battery charging capabilities also give the capacity to implement professional quality wireless remote-monitoring and remote-control – all with USB Plug & Play simplicity.
You get the latest SIM800H quad band GSM module on board with an ATmega328 microcontroller, so you’re able to monitor and control nearly anything, anywhere – all with the freedom and immediate usability of an Arduino compatible.
Tiny size, only 50 mm x 32 mm
With a tiny size of 50 by 32 millimetres, it’s about a third of the size of a credit card.
Includes battery management/charging
You have the option to use any standard 3.7 Volt Lithium Ion Polymer (LiPo) battery. The battery is automatically charged when USB is connected. The battery voltage can be checked at any time from a remote location.
Includes a multi-region quad-band antenna
There’s a gold-plated micro IPEX u.FL plug-in antenna connector – which plugs onto the included multi-region quad-band PCB antenna. It's quad-band, so it works world-wide.
USB paired with genuine FTDI chip
The genuine FTDI USB chip ensures consistent and reliable Plug & Play. No separate installation or configuration is required. In addition, an Arduino boot-loader is pre-installed – so you can upload programs and use the Serial Monitor via USB – it works automatically with the standard Arduino application, out of the box.
There’s a high quality sim-card slot on the back
The high-quality sim-card connecter has gold plated contacts, and uses the “push-in, push-out” method, one of the preferred methods used in high quality consumer devices.
Atmega328 microcontroller, same as Arduino UNO
The ATmega328, widely known as the ‘mega328’, is the same microcontroller that’s used in the Arduino UNO – and compatible with all of the Arduino sketches, tutorials and online Arduino resources. Complete working example sketches will be freely available online for download. The pre-installed Arduino boot-loader means you can plug it in, select UNO in your standard Arduino application, and upload sketches, as easily as an UNO.
Arduino-style digital and analog pins
Thirteen Arduino-compatible digital and analog pins are free to use, including any of the sensors and actuators already available for Arduino. A LED is connected to pin D13, same as the Arduino UNO.
You can implement audio
A small 0.5W 8 Ohm speaker can be directly connected to the Speaker pins. (An example is Digi-Key Part Number 433-1102-ND.)
A tiny 2.2K electret condenser microphone can be directly connected to the microphone pins. (An example is Digi-Key Part Number 102-1732-ND.)
Control and monitor from your phone using SMS
Each MicroLink comes with an SMS sketch pre-loaded – so you get the capacity to do remote monitoring and remote control, using SMS text messages, out of the box.
- First, you send an SMS text message to the MicroLink from your phone
- It immediately sends an SMS text message reply directly to your phone, giving you options and status information
- You can then monitor and control nearly anything, from your phone, from nearly anywhere in the world!
The simplicity and reliability of GSM communications gives you an extremely valuable rapid-prototyping tool for an enormous range of projects. The ability to use GSM can offer substantial advantages over Bluetooth and WIFI.
Project Ideas include:
- Gas Sensors
- Motion detectors
- Sound detectors
- Car alarms with SMS alerts
- Call from a phone to monitor environments and listen to sounds
- Irrigation sensing/control
- Monitor temperature/environment in remote location
- Control automatic-door/light/anything from remote location
- Built environment sensor
- Heart-rate/breathing/fall-detection sensor/alert
- Letterbox monitor
- Make a complete, working, “home-made” phone.
There are two types: Standard and Extra Flash
The Extra Flash type has extra memory – an additional 4 MB 104MHZ SPI FLASH chip, which is attached to the back. The extra chip enables extra data-logging, and over-the-air wireless reprogramming. The ability to upload programs over-the-air will be particularly useful in circumstances where continuous physical access is problematic. Examples where over-the-air re-programming may be useful include:
- Deployed in other suburbs/dwellings
- Placed inside devices/toys/appliances
- Deployed in the field/industrial installations
- Already given/sold to customers
- Deployed in remote locations.
The Extra Flash option, however, uses an additional 4 microcontroller pins for the connections to the flash chip, and consumes more power.
Ultra-low power consumption
Devices designed for ultra-low power consumption typically employ duty cycles with very high ratios of sleep time compared to active time. Hence sleep-power-consumption can be a key determinant of expected battery life. The Extra Flash sleeps at 11 µA, and the Standard sleeps at a very low 6 µA. A standard implementation that sends data every 48 hours could last more than year on a coin-cell battery.
Nothing else on the market has the same capabilities
The initial design originated from a genuine need - the key attributes of very-small size, GSM, ultra-low power consumption and USB give an incredibly useful, versatile and valuable tool that can be used for a broad range of tasks.
Ideal learning tool – self-education, or classroom
During trials with a small number of beginner-level users, the users were immediately able to control things from their mobile phones using SMS messages. Newbies and experts alike can all expect to learn more about key concepts related to GSM, microcontrollers, embedded communications devices and the internet of things. For most learning activities and projects, if it can be done with an Arduino UNO, it can also be done with a MicroLink – in most cases, with greater functionality, and with greater levels of inspiration, creativity and eagerness – in part because learners can communicate with their project directly from their phones.
Capacity to connect directly to websites
You also get the capacity to connect to websites, including your own websites, or websites belonging to third parties. You can send email, download web-pages upload data, and send alerts using the web.
The first units will be dispatched before Christmas
The very fast dispatch timeline is achievable because the design has already been prototyped through many iterations, and the design has already been extensively tested. A key goal of the Kickstarter is simply to reduce costs by enabling larger volume production.
Express couriers or express post will be used for all international destinations where needed to enable shipping within 14 days. It is expected that shipping will be completed within 14 days for the majority of destinations world wide.
- Atmel Atmega328P microcontroller – same as Arduino UNO
- Latest generation SIM800H module (850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
- Genuine FTDI USB chip
- Interrupt pins available
- An LED is connected to pin D13, same as the Arduino UNO
- Gold plated IPEX u.Fl antenna connector
- Quad-band multi-region antenna included
- Accepts standard sized SIM card
- 6 uA sleep current (Extra Flash: 11 uA)
- Approx. 10 mA typical processing current
- Approx. 400 mA net peak momentary current during GSM events
- Can be powered and programmed by USB Micro USB
- UART (Serial), SPI, and I2C peripherals
- Atmega328P talks with SIM800H using AT commands (easy, reliable)
- 0.1 inch pitch pins - can fit on a standard breadboard.
Optional Arduino-style headers
The 8-pack and the 10-pack each include a couple of MicroLinks with Arduino-style headers attached. The Lab/Teacher 10-pack includes 8 with headers attached, to suit the needs of teachers and bulk-users.
Risks and challenges
The main challenge relates to the promise to dispatch the first units before Christmas. However, this goal should be easily achievable because (a) the existing design has already been extensively tested, and (b) production of the first units can start before the end of the campaign.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (41 days)