SparkFun LoRa Thing Plus - expLoRaBLE

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

  • Northern Mechatronics NM180100 SiP
    • 21 Multifunctional GPIO
      • Up to eight available 14-bit ADC channels
      • Up to twenty-one 16-bit PWM channels
      • Up to two UARTs
      • An available SPI Bus
      • Up to two I2C Buses
  • Thing Plus (or Feather) Form-Factor:
    • Dimensions: 2.3" x 0.9"
    • Two Mounting Holes:
      • 4-40 screw compatible
    • 28 PTH Pins
    • USB-C Connector
    • 2-pin JST Connector for a LiPo Battery (not included)
    • 4-pin JST Qwiic Connector
  • LEDs:
    • PWR - Red 3.3V power indicator
    • CHG - Yellow battery charging indicator
    • 18 - Blue status/test LED (Pin 18)
    • RX - Yellow RX serial communication indicator
    • TX - Green TX serial communication indicator
  • Buttons:
    • 10
    • Reset
  • u.FL Antenna Connector - BLE & RF
  • Compatible with "The Things Network" LoRaWAN

NM180100 SiP General Features:

  • LoRa®:
    • 863-870 MHz (Europe)
    • 902-928 MHZ (US)
    • Maximum Transmit Power +22 dBm
    • Receiver Sensitivity -147.6 dBm
  • Bluetooth® 5 Low Energy:
    • 2.402-2.480 GHz
    • Maximum Transmit Power +2 dBm
    • Receiver Sensitivity -95 dBm
  • Architecture:
    • Ambiq Apollo3 ARM® Cortex® M4 with FPU up to 96MHz
    • Arduino IDE through SparkFun Apollo3 Arduino Core
    • Flash: 1MB on-chip with external flash support
    • RAM: 384 kB
  • Security:
    • ISO 7816 secure interface
    • Secure Key Storage
      • Secure Boot
      • Secure OTA
      • External Flash Inline Encryption/Decryption

SparkFun LoRa Thing Plus - expLoRaBLE Product Help and Resources

Three Quick Tips About Using U.FL

December 28, 2018

Quick tips regarding how to connect, protect, and disconnect U.FL connectors.

SparkFun expLoRaBLE Hookup Guide

February 4, 2021

Check out our latest LoRaWAN development board with Bluetooth capabilities! With this guide, we'll get you passing data to The Things Network in no time.

Sending Sensor Data over LoRa

November 4, 2022

This tutorial will show you how setup a simple peer-to-peer connection to send and receive sensor data using LoRa.

Core Skill: Soldering

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.

1 Soldering

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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Core Skill: Programming

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.

3 Programming

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.
See all skill levels

Core Skill: Electrical Prototyping

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.

2 Electrical Prototyping

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.
See all skill levels


Looking for answers to technical questions?

We welcome your comments and suggestions below. However, if you are looking for solutions to technical questions please see our Technical Assistance page.

  • WimL / about 2 years ago / 1

    How much current does this draw while idle? Or, does anyone have numbers on how long it can last per battery charge with different levels of activity?

  • BamBam / about 3 years ago / 1

    So I bought this development board to use the Qwicc connect system alongside ADXL313 breakout boards, but it seems as if the Sparkfun ADXL313 library is not compatible with this board as the compiler gives a "setDataMode" error can someone point me in the correct direction to make this work?

  • ElephantHat / about 3 years ago / 1

    Is there any example code for setting up the board with Python? And if not are there any plans? It seems like the qwiic devices all have python examples so I would love to use python with the main board as well.

    • santaimpersonator / about 3 years ago / 1

      No this board is not a Qwiic peripheral device; it has a SiP with an Apollo3 microcontroller and SX1262 LoRa module. Currently, the microcontroller itself doesn't support Python.

Customer Reviews

2.3 out of 5

Based on 3 ratings:

Currently viewing all customer reviews.

1 of 1 found this helpful:

Exactly what I needed

Incredibly useful to have ble and lora in the same package.

2 of 2 found this helpful:

Impossibly painful to use

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.

2 of 3 found this helpful:

Can't get it to work

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.