Looking for a low-cost way to send and receive data messages via satellite? This is it! With a clear view of the sky, the Satellite Transceiver Breakout - Swarm M138 allows you to send and receive short messages. It works anywhere in the world, including the polar regions, far beyond the reach of WiFi and Cellular networks. It is perfect for a variety of low-bandwidth use cases: from connecting people and tracking vehicles, ships, or packages to relaying sensor data for agriculture, energy, and industrial IoT applications. The built-in GNSS receiver makes it perfect for many tracking applications.
At the heart of our product is a Swarm M138 satellite modem. This is a Mini-PCI Express Card containing both the satellite modem and a very capable GNSS receiver, all in one integrated package! It can operate from a wide range of supply voltages: 3.0V Min; 5.0V Max. Its standard 3.3V CMOS serial UART interface and NMEA-style command set makes it easy to integrate into your project. Our board includes both a USB-C interface (for power and/or serial data) and a full set of breakout pins. Want to plug it into your laptop or Raspberry Pi and use it to communicate out in the field? You can absolutely do that! We've written a Python3 PyQt5 GUI to get you started. Full details are available in the hookup guide and in the product repo. Want to connect it to your Arduino microcontroller board? You can absolutely do that too! Our Swarm Arduino Library makes that easy.
Our kit contains everything you need to get started:
See below for our recommended extras.
Want to know more? Click the button below to open our hook-up guide:
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: Experienced - You will require a firm understanding of programming, the programming toolchain, and may have to make decisions on programming software or language. You may need to decipher a proprietary or specialized communication protocol. A logic analyzer might be necessary.
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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: Competent - You will be required to reference a datasheet or schematic to know how to use a component. Your knowledge of a datasheet will only require basic features like power requirements, pinouts, or communications type. Also, you may need a power supply that?s greater than 12V or more than 1A worth of current.
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Based on 7 ratings:
1 of 1 found this helpful:
The NMEA message format is really easy to use, the checksum requirement took a bit to figure out but once you get the hang of it its easy to integrate in to whatever you are using to send your data over cellular or otherwise. Power draw is low so operation using solar is a reality. This offering is the perfect replacement for cellular and Iridium.
4 of 4 found this helpful:
I rarely take the time to post any reviews but when the email arrived from SparkFun suggesting a review, I thought my experiences thus far might be helpful since this is a brand new product.
I have a lot of experience with satellite comms, both up & down. I also have done quite a bit with LoRa, both terrestrial & via satellite.
There are two aspects to this product: The performance of the device itself and also the usefulness of the SWARM constellation.
Since SWARM's constellation does not provide anything near 100% sky coverage, I had very low expectations. I was in for a very pleasant surprise... I've posted dozens & dozens of messages in the M138's uplink queue and naturally if there's not a satellite overhead, the message does not arrive immediately. But I was amazed that the vast majority arrive within a few minutes of being queued and in a couple of instances, the SAME minute. Very impressive.
As for the M138 device itself, it's really cool that you can interface with it via USB from a Raspberry Pi (or any computer w/ Python installed) -or- with an Arduino device (provided it has more than one hardware serial interface such as the Arduino 'Due'). For simple interactive 'live' testing, the python GUI is a lot of fun. But to use the M138 to uplink telemetry from sensors, etc., of course the Arduino is the platform of choice. Works great! I have the reading from a simple voltage sensor uplinking via the SWARM constellation once per hour and it's pulled into Node Red using the API syntax that SWARM provides on the web dashboard that you log into to manage your device(s). I'm NOT a programmer, so I was seriously grateful for the excellent support that was provided on SparkFun's Github repository.
One IMPORTANT note - my testing has shown that the antenna MUST be at least a couple of meters above everything around it. My initial install a meter above the low corner of my roof led to VERY poor performance. Thankfully I didn't just toss the device... moving the antenna a few meters above other obstructions made all the difference in the world. Don't repeat my initial mistake!
So, all-in-all, this has gone way beyond my expectations for a fun, experimental platform & overall end-to-end solution. Everyone's experience will vary, of course, depending on their intended use for the product & familiarity with programming the platform (python or Arduino) that they choose to use. Good luck!
1 of 1 found this helpful:
First of all, I take my hat off to Paul's comprehensive work on the Breakout - Swarm M138. Part of my work is using wireless sensor networks for remote environmental data logging for precision irrigation scheduling. I have been a enthusiastic user of Iridium ( Sparkfun RockBlock) and cellular netwroks for years. They have been very reliable remote data logging systems but SWARM's very economical and reliable data plan is very attractive despite the data latency. Getting data to cloud data bases from SWARM is a lot simpler than Iridium system as well, I purchased two Evaluation kits from SWARM and 5 sparkfun Breakout kits. With the help of Paul's excellent Arduino library and SWARM's circuit python libraries I was able to test different examples and get all of them running without issues. As some of the reviewers pointed out the location of the sensor node (antenna) is critical. I also found that very low (RSSI -106) is not necessarily a trouble-free communication. Sometimes I was able to get them working with high RSSI -92 but not able to communicate with -106 RSSI. My advice to users of SWARM is not to get discouraged if you have initial setting up problems due to poor antenna locations. All the best, I do not know how I ended up with 4 star rating it was supposed to be 10 stars :-) Jagath