The Raspberry Pi and other low-cost, board-based computers are becoming increasingly popular amongst developers and hobbyists, thanks to the Internet of Things revolution. Users are easily able to experiment with IoT projects by connecting to a network using wired or wireless connections – whether this is through the simple use of an Ethernet cable, or with complementary accessories such as the Raspberry Pi’s Wi-Fi adapter dongle.
However, users requiring access to internet data on the go would benefit from an add-on that provides the ability to browse the web effectively, send SMS, and transfer data using a mobile network connection – especially if it is readily available as per the Raspberry Pi HAT specification.
When looking at forums and talking to Raspberry Pi users at events, we found that there were repeated requests for a product that added a 2G/3G/4G connection to the Raspberry Pi, as they were finding it hard to source a reliable add-on that would allow for data and SMS capability. We decided to develop a device that allows hobbyists and developers to create IoT projects on the go - and so, the PiloT was created.
What is the PiloT?
The PiloT is a WAN communications board which provides a 3G / HSPA wireless interface for the Raspberry Pi. The PiloT features an on-board Sierra Wireless HL Series module teamed with a SIM card of the user’s choice, as well as a GNSS solution, which is used to provide location and time information.
How does it work?
The PiloT uses a small number of I/Os; the remainder are passed through on the 40-pin headers for use by other applications. Simple AT commands are used to control and monitor sessions on the Sierra Wireless HL Series module.
The PiloT is able to communicate with the Raspberry Pi using serial or USB communications, with separate channels for control, data and location data. It can be powered by the Raspberry Pi, or a separate power supply can be used.
When used in CDC-ECM mode over USB, the PiloT presents as an Ethernet-like WAN device, simplifying control of data sessions. In this mode, PPP is not required; a simple command initiates the session. The PiloT can also be used to transfer data to the Sierra Wireless AirVantage service using MQTT from a Raspberry Pi; offering a rapidly deployable device-to-cloud architecture.
Who is it aimed at?
Whilst the PiloT is suitable for use in business applications by users looking to integrate the PiloT into IoT projects, it is also ideal for hobbyists, developers and educators alike. The PiloT allows for the transformation of a number of applications on the Raspberry Pi and other development boards by providing communications out in the field rather than tethering the user to Wi-Fi or Ethernet, allowing for another level of creative and practical opportunity and enhancing the convenience of everyday tasks.
Is it compatible with all Raspberry Pi variants?
The PiloT is compatible with the Raspberry Pi 2, 3 and Zero, and can also be used in standalone mode to provide communications to other development boards.
Does the PiloT offer 4G connectivity?
A 4G version (with 2G fallback) of the PiloT will be available for purchase very soon - keep checking our ecommerce site for stock!
How well does it work?
We manually build and test every single PiloT HAT so we are sure that our customers receive a high quality product, and we constantly ensure that PiloT users have access to manually written and checked up-to-date user guides for the relevant PiloT variant. We have taken the PiloT to a variety of events – from large exhibitions to small conferences; demonstrating its capabilities with a heart rate monitor sending information using a mobile network connection, communicating accurate heart rate readings, along with accurate time to within around a second, and location information up to around 20 metres. The PiloT runs at roughly 5Mbps downlink and 2Mbps uplink, and the 3G and 4G variants fall back to 2G in areas where data is limited.
Can I use the PiloT to receive location and time information?
The HL8548-G variant of the PiloT provides a GNSS engine which is based on SiRF V technology GNSS data can be transferred over serial or USB interfaces providing accurate location information for your application It can also be used to provide accurate time
Where can I get one?