Boards offer WiFi and NB IoT communications

Two boards from Arduino, the MKR WiFi 1010 and MKR NB 1500, target makers and professional engineers developing industrial IoT applications. The wireless connectivity boards help streamline IoT development, says Arduino.

The MKR WiFi 1010 offers low power consumption and has been designed to speed up and simplify the prototyping of WiFi-based IoT applications. It is also designed to be embedded in production IoT applications that require WiFi connectivity. The board is an evolution of the existing Arduino MKR1000, but is equipped with an ESP32-based module manufactured by u-blox. This delivers 2.4GHz WiFi and Bluetooth communications capability, along with RF and power performance, says Arduino. The ESP32 provides adjustable power output, enabling optimal trade-offs between communication range, data rate and power consumption.

The board is compatible with the Arduino IT cloud, and offers simple migration from other Arduino boards. It uses open-source WiFi firmware, which makes it easy to reprogram for upgrading or to repair any security flaws. Significantly, says Arduino, there are standalone programmable processors, one first based on Arm processor core technology, the second based on a dual-core Espressif IC. This enables the board to distribute its workload across its dual-processor system. Another major feature, says Arduino, is the integration of a secure authentication module – Microchip’s ECC508 – which uses crypto authentication to secure TLS network communications and connections.

The second board is the MKR NB 1500, which employs the new low-power NB-IoT (narrowband IoT) standard, designed to work over cellular/LTE networks. When combined with the Arduino ecosystem, the MKR1500 is appropriate for applications in remote areas, such as on- field monitoring systems and remote-controlled LTE-enabled modules. Designed for global deployment, it supports transmissions via AT&T, T-Mobile USA, Telstra, Verizon over the Cat M1/NB1 deployed bands 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 13, 20 and 28.
The NB-IoT communications technology makes use of existing LTE cellular networks and delivers significantly faster communications than alternative IoT networks such as LoRa and Sigfox, while also having a low impact on battery consumption. In addition, when compared to typical GSM or 3G cellular connectivity, wake up times and connections are much faster, which enables significant power saving, adds Arduino.
Both boards are compatible with the Arduino Uno, Mega and existing MKR boards. Also common to both boards is their MKR footprint, and the range of available interfaces, including I2S, I2C, UART and SPI. Both boards also operate at 3.3V and offer I/O options including 22 digital I/Os – 12 with PWM outputs – and seven analogue inputs.
Both the MKR WiFi 1010 and the MKR NB 1500 will be available for purchase from June 2018.

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