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Ice-cold NB-IOT for breakfast - BG96 NBIoT mode, episode 1 - preamble and hardware preparation


test BG96 NBIoT mode using BG96 modem shields




NarrowBand-Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) radio technology standard developed to enable a wide range of devices and services to be connected using cellular telecommunications bands. The NB IoT technology provides improved both indoor and outdoor coverage, supports massive numbers of low throughput devices, low delay sensitivity, ultra-low device cost, low device power consumption and optimized network architecture.

Being massivelly deployed from 2018 and until now, the NB IoT world coverage become significant. You may check the coverage here. Despite in this map, Romania LPWAN coverage is represented only by LTE-M, we can confirm that at September 19'th 2018, Vodafone Romania announced the deployment of their NB IoT network at national level.

Quectel BG96

BG96, the Quectel flagship modem, it's based on Qualcomp chipset and supports both LTE-M and NB IoT technologies, accomplished by 2G fall-back and GNSS capabilities. In our opinion, BG96 it's still on top of NB IoT modems implementations worldwide. have commercially available two shields equipped with BG96: u-GSM by and xyz-mIoT by

u-GSM by

NB IoT modular modem shield u-GSM equipped with BG96, top side u-GSM shield it is the worldwide first [commercially available from 2018-07-18] and most compact modular modem that supports ALL deployed GSM standards [LTE NB IoT / LTE CATM1 / LTE CAT4 / LTE CAT1 / UMTS-3G / GSM-2G] in one unified design!

This amazing u-GSM shield may replace all different modem designs by giving to you the same form factor, same interfaces and same integration approach. Just pick the PN that fits your request and that's all.

This second generation modular modem embeds unique and rare features and was brewed thanks to our team design experience, thanks to the vision of Quectel engineers team and to our customers feedback. Some of those amazing features, that makes u-GSM to be the ultimate, the unique and the unbelievable modem, are listed bellow:
  • Raspberry PI, Beagle Bone Black and ITBPMM embedded interfaces
  • standard, the PCB perfectly fits with Beagle Bone Black but, you can trim the PCB in order to fit the Raspberry PI format, or the ITBPMM format
  • the USB port is available via USB soldering PADS and via USB mini B
  • external SIM support via sordering PADS
  • VIA pads for super-capacitor [or additional capacitor] soldering
  • modem power separation [enables modem advanced sleep mode]
  • solder jumpers for alternate configuration

Following NB IoT tests and guidelines are exemplified using u-GSM shield equipped with Quectel BG96, PN: UGSM219-BG96#UFL.

xyz-mIoT by

ARM0 NB IOT Arduino shield xyz-mIoT equipped with BG96, top side

The very same NB IoT tests may be easy replicated using the xyz-mIoT shield equipped with Quectel BG96, PN: XYZMIOT209#BG96-UFL-xxxxxxx.

At April 08th 2018, R&D Software Solutions srl [] revealed to the public the announcement of the xyz-mIoT by shield - the first, and the most compact, IoT board that combines the versatility of ARM0 micro-controller (Microchip/Atmel ATSAMD21G in Arduino Zero compatible design), the comfortable use of the embedded sensors bundle with connectivity provided by LTE CAT M1 or NB-IoT long-range & low-power modems or legacy 3G / GSM modems.

The xyz-mIoT shield may have up to 5 integrated sensors, as: THS (temperature and humidity sensors) - HDC2010, tVOC & eCO2 (air quality sensor - CO2 total volatile organic compounds- CO2 equivalent) - CCS811 , HALL (magnetic sensor) - DRV5032 sau or IR (infrared sensor) KP-2012P3C , secondary IR (infrared sensor) - KP-2012P3C , TILT (movement vibration sensor) or REED (magnetic sensor) - SW200D.
Embedded sensors that populates the xyz-mIoT shield are dependent on PN ordered - check this and this.

Good to know about the xyz-mIoT shield equipped with Quectel BG96, PN: XYZMIOT209#BG96-UFL-xxxxxxx - it's still the worldwide only shield that gather together ARM0, sensors, embedded SIM support, LiPO battery charger, GNSS location services, LTE-M, NB IoT and 2G services in such small form-factor and being supported by Arduino programming.

About episodes of this project

* Episode 1 (this one) - hardware setup required in order to run the software.

* Episode 2 - software setup required to run the NB IoT tests. Test the NB IoT network states BG96 detection (ACTIVE, IDLE and PSM) and raw UDP data transsmision.
* Episode 3 - BG96 force disable PSM mode (BG96 used in permanent ACTIVE/IDLE mode - soon available.
* Episode 4 - how to upload sensors data using NB IoT UDP transmission to AllThingsTalk Cloud - soon available.
* Episode 5 ...TBD

Hardware required

  • UGSM219-BG96#UFL [NB IoT second generation modular modem] + Arduino Nano shield (or other Arduino shield) + USB-UART adapter + some 2.54mm pin-headers and connecting wires.
    XYZMIOT209#BG96-UFL-1100100 [ARM0 + BG96 + THS + tVOC + HALL sensors] / XYZMIOT209#BG96-UFL-1100000 [ARM0 + BG96 + THS + HALL sensors] / XYZMIOT209#BG96-UFL-0000000 [ARM0 + BG96, no sensors]
  • GSM embedded antenna with uFL [check xyz-mIoT / u-GSM accesories]
    GSM antenna with SMA plus u.FL to SMA pigtail [check xyz-mIoT / u-GSM accesories]
  • 1 x 1000-2200uF / 6.3V Low ESR capacitor

  • nano-size [4FF] NB IoT SIM card [this test was performed using Vodafone Romania SIM card]

Episode 1 estimated time: 10-15 minutes. The implementation time may vary depending on previous user experience. .

Difficulty: beginner - intermediate.


switch to xyz-mIoT hardware guidelines

Step1 u-GSM BG96 shield hardware preparation - soldering:

BG96 NB IoT mode - u-GSM preparation a. solder the pin header [7 x 2.54mm] to ITBPMM interface pads as in picture up-here.
b. solder the 1000-2200 uF /6.3V Low ESR capacitor to the "super-capacitor VIAS". Keep in mind the capacitor polarity [connect + pole to the Vpad+ VIA and - pole to GND VIA]!
b'. solder LiPO battery connector to the LiPO GND and + pads. Capacitor / LiPO battery connector pads details in image bellow.

BG96 NB IoT mode - u-GSM powering reference


Step2 u-GSM BG96 shield hardware, bring all together:

BG96 NB IoT mode - u-GSM to Arduino Nano wiring
Insert the micro-SIM in his slot [the SIM must have the PIN check procedure removed]. Connect the antenna.
Wire u-GSM and Arduino Nano as detailed in picture up-here. Wiring details, bellow:
u-GSM PAD                           Arduino NANO/UNO
ITBPMM PAD1 - RX(TXD)         D2 (Software Serial RX)
ITBPMM PAD2 - TX(RXD)         D3 (Software Serial TX)
ITBPMM PAD3 - RST                D6
ITBPMM PAD4 - ENA                D7
ITBPMM PAD6 - Vin                 +5V
ITBPMM PAD8 - GND               GND

The bundle can be powered [+5V] via Arduino Nano Vcc and GND pins. Anyway, in order to program the Arduino Nano board, this one must be connected to "USB-UART adapter" board. Observe how to connect to CP2102 board adapter, bellow [only Arduino Nano - CP2102 connection are represented]:
BG96 NB IoT mode - Arduino Nano to CP2102 board wiring

Above wiring guide solve Arduino Nano + u-GSM shield powering directly from the USB. Same wiring can be applied if you use LiPO battery instead 1000uF capacitor.



Well done, boys! Looks like we're have ice-cold sushi for breakfast!... Now the hardware it's ready for the NB IoT tests!







Dragos Iosub & team original how to.





document version 0.953 / 2019-06-28 © R&D Software Solutions srl