The SparkFun expLoRaBLE Thing Plus is a Feather-footprint development board with the NM180100 system in package (SiP), from Northern Mechatronics. Thanks to the NM180100, as well as the Ambiq Apollo3 microcontroller and the Semtech SX1262 LoRa transceiver, this Thing Plus is a highly integrated LoRa® module supporting both 868MHz and 915MHz bands and Bluetooth® Low Energy. On top of all else, the expLoRaBLE Thing Plus utilizes our handy Qwiic Connect System which means no soldering or shields are required to connect it to the rest of your system!
The NM180100 SiP includes a Semtech SX1262 LoRa module paired with the Apollo3 MCU, which is used in the SparkFun Artemis Module. This provides the board with compatibility in the Arduino IDE, through our Apollo3 Arduino core. With both the BLE and LoRa capabilities of the expLoRaBLE you will be able to operate as a Bluetooth enabled LoRa node.
You won't have to worry about how to hook up an appropriate antenna, either. The SparkFun expLoRaBLE Thing Plus has been equipped with a simple U.FL connector. With the U.FL you will have your choice of BLE and RF antennas to chose from but, personally, we recommend our Wide Band 4G LTE Internal FPC Antenna.
The SparkFun Qwiic Connect System is an ecosystem of I2C sensors, actuators, shields and cables that make prototyping faster and less prone to error. All Qwiic-enabled boards use a common 1mm pitch, 4-pin JST connector. This reduces the amount of required PCB space, and polarized connections mean you can’t hook it up wrong.
SparkFun LoRa Thing Plus - expLoRaBLE Features
PWR- Red 3.3V power indicator
CHG- Yellow battery charging indicator
18- Blue status/test LED (
RX- Yellow RX serial communication indicator
TX- Green TX serial communication indicator
NM180100 SiP General Features:
This skill defines how difficult the soldering is on a particular product. It might be a couple simple solder joints, or require special reflow tools.
Skill Level: Noob - Some basic soldering is required, but it is limited to a just a few pins, basic through-hole soldering, and couple (if any) polarized components. A basic soldering iron is all you should need.
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If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.
Skill Level: Competent - The toolchain for programming is a bit more complex and will examples may not be explicitly provided for you. You will be required to have a fundamental knowledge of programming and be required to provide your own code. You may need to modify existing libraries or code to work with your specific hardware. Sensor and hardware interfaces will be SPI or I2C.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
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Based on 3 ratings:
The lack of documentation is astounding. I've gotten the Apollo stuff for the Arduino IDE loaded, as well as the libraries. I tried to compile the sample code, but it returns a status of invalid radio. There are two others in the forum that have the same problem, with no apparent solution. I bought two of these boards, and feel I wasted my money.
I bought two cheap Chinese boards (for half the price) and had them up and running very quickly. They actually had better documentation.
I used the sample code from the hookup guide, even verified the pins used to connect to the radio.
Hi there, is this the forum post you are referring to?
If so, please use our example code included in the hookup guide (see boxes at the top of that section). The examples included with the library aren't compatible with the board due to how the MCU pins were connected to the LoRa module in the SiP. The pin connections need to be declared as shown in our example code and as listed in the hardware section of the hookup guide.
Incredibly useful to have ble and lora in the same package.
I found this thing to be effectively unusable because of a seemingly endless array of software problems and incompatibilities. There were Arduino IDE issues, compiler issues, various issues with standard libraries, etc. I also found that I was unable to upload code with a lipo plugged in. I've never had so much trouble getting a board to work. Next time I'll be using a better supported processor and just connecting a separate radio module.