Notecarriers are available in several form-factors to facilitate rapid prototyping. Depending upon the variant, a Notecarrier may be designed with direct host integration, size optimization, integrated cellular/Wi-Fi and GNSS antennas, or even to be soldered directly into a solution for low-volume production.
Notecarriers are designed to bridge the gap between prototype and production for the Notecard. The Notecard is designed to be socketed directly onto the circuit board using an edge connector socket, along with a customer's MCU, sensors, and controls. While such a model provides a highly modular configuration for the final product, it can make prototyping unnecessarily difficult.
Notecarriers offer breakout connections for the Notecard, as well as circuitry to provide power management, protection and signal amplification.
- Simple. Provides breadboard compatible pins or solderable mask for direct connections.
- Compatible. Level shifters ensure compatibility with 3.3V or 5V equipment.
- Convenient. Powered by a micro-USB connector (requires 2A supply).
- GPS Ready. Models are either active GPS compatible, or feature a built-in antenna to enable GNSS connectivity.
- Notecard Outboard Firmware Update. Capable of updating host firmware, without support from the currently executing host firmware.
The following is a list of Feather-compatible MCUs that we’ve tested and ensured are ready for Notecard Outboard Firmware Update:
- Adafruit STM32F405 Feather Express
- Blues Wireless Swan (version 3 and greater)
Notecarrier-F (CARR-F) is designed for drop-in development with any Adafruit Feather or compatible microcontroller. It includes two female pin headers (12-pin and 16-pin) for directly plugging in a Feather compatible board. It also includes Qwiic/Stemma QT I2C ports for attaching external peripherals to your project. This Notecarrier is also capable of supporting the Notecard's Outboard Firmware Update functionality, which allows you to update the firmware running on your host, without any cooperation of the host firmware.
- Adafruit Feather compatible header socket.
- Notecard edge connector socket and mounting screw receptacle.
- Micro-USB port to power Notecarrier and provide a USB Serial command interface to Notecard.
- Requires an external antenna
- External Nano-SIM slot for additional carrier connectivity.
- JST PH connector for a LiPo battery.
- JST PH connector for a solar panel.
- JST PH connector on for Primary Cell Battery or DC input on V+
- 2x JST SH 3.3V I2C port (Adafruit STEMMA QT and Sparkfun Qwiic compatible).
- I2C Level shifter isolating Notecard power draw from Feather.
- Active/Passive GPS toggle switch
- Ultra low power
- Notecard Outboard Firmware Update enable switch
- LiPo charging circuit.
- PCB Dimensions: 103mm x 51mm
- Center of Mounting Holes: 96mm x 44mm
|Y/N (DIP)||Ultra low power|
|Y/N (DIP)||Notecard Outboard Firmware Update (boot)|
|Y/N (DIP)||Notecard Outboard Firmware Update (reset)|
|Y/N (DIP)||Notecard Outboard Firmware Update (data)|
|Y/N (DIP)||Notecard Outboard Firmware Update (data)|
All Notecarriers can be powered by connecting directly to the Micro-USB port. However, most installations will not have USB power available, so several alternate power options are provided by the various Notecarrier models:
attaching a LiPo battery.
The LiPo battery must be a single-cell 3.7V battery with a 2-pin JST PH connector.
attaching a solar cell (must be accompanied by LiPo).
The solar charging circuit is designed for use with a 4.5-7V solar panel.
applying 2.5-5.5VDC to the
Commonly provided via DC power supply or non-rechargeable battery.
Typical USB ports may only be capable of supplying 500 mA of current, which might not be enough to power Notecard during a cellular connection to a GSM network (which can spike to 2A). In this situation, you're advised to supplement power to your Notecarrier with an external source (e.g. a LiPo battery).
All Notecarrier models are designed to support active GPS, and several Notecarrier models provide built-in antennas ready to be connected to a Cellular Notecard using the included U.FL cables.
|Pin Name||Direction||Usage||Usage||Direction||Pin Name|
|F_3V3||OUT||3.3V Feather Regulator||Active-high reset||IN||F_NRST|
|N_VUSB||IN/OUT||Access to VUSB pin of the USB port||Module enable||IN||F_EN|
|VBAT||IN/OUT||Access to battery voltage||I2C data request interface||IN/OUT||F_SDA|
|VMAIN||OUT||Access to operating voltage (N_VUSB, VBAT or V+)||I2C clock request interface||IN/OUT||F_SCL|
|N_VIO||OUT||Reference voltage for digital I/O||Digital I/O pin 5||IN/OUT||F_D5|
|SOLAR||IN||4.5-7V solar charging circuit||Digital I/O pin 6||IN/OUT||F_D6|
|V+||IN||2.5-5.5V, <8uA idle, <500mA typical, 2A surge max (GPRS)||Digital I/O pin 9||IN/OUT||F_D9|
|GND||IN||Ground||Digital I/O pin 10||IN/OUT||F_D10|
|N_EN||IN||>1.1v will power on the module, used for main product ON/OFF and for when product is being shipped to ensure that there is no communications attempted. If USB is active as power source, this pin is ignored, else it is required to be tied high or low.||Digital I/O pin 11||IN/OUT||F_D11|
|N_NRST||IN||>0.8v pulse will cause hard-reset of the module. This pin is internally pulled low, so NC is acceptable.||Digital I/O pin 12||IN/OUT||F_D12|
|GND||IN||Ground||Digital I/O pin 13||IN/OUT||F_D13|
|N_SCL||IN/OUT||I2C clock request interface||ST ||IN||F_B0|
|N_SDA||IN/OUT||I2C data request interface||UART serial transmit request interface||OUT||F_TX|
|ATTN||OUT||Configurable interrupt signal||UART serial receive request interface||IN||F_RX|
|AUX_EN||IN/OUT||API-selectable modes of operation||SPI Main In Secondary Out||IN||F_MISO|
|AUX_RX||IN/OUT||API-selectable modes of operation||SPI Main Out Secondary In||OUT||F_MOSI|
|AUX_TX||IN/OUT||API-selectable modes of operation||SPI clock||OUT||F_SCK|
|AUX1||IN/OUT||API-selectable modes of operation||Analog input pin 5||IN||F_A5|
|AUX2||IN/OUT||API-selectable modes of operation||Analog input pin 4||IN||F_A4|
|AUX3||IN/OUT||API-selectable modes of operation||Analog input pin 3||IN||F_A3|
|AUX4||IN/OUT||API-selectable modes of operation||Analog input pin 2||IN||F_A2|
|N_RX||IN||UART serial receive request interface||Analog input pin 1||IN||F_A1|
|N_TX||OUT||UART serial transmit request interface||Analog input pin 0||IN||F_A0|
|GND||IN||Ground||Analog REFerence voltage (max input voltage)||IN||F_AREF|
There are three DIP switches are located on the face of the board. The switches are used to reserve exclusive access to the GPIO pins.
GPS ANT- When switched
ACTIVE, applies 3.9VDC to the center conductor of the Notecard GPS antenna connector to power the low-noise amplifier (LNA) of an active GPS antenna. This switch must be
PASSIVEif Notecard is used with a closed-loop, passive GPS antenna! An active antenna is recommended for best performance.
DFU- When switched
ON, enables Notecard Outboard Firmware Update with a compatible MCU via the Feather's
F_NRST. This completely isolates the pins from the external headers, so it is important to note based on the peripherals you use in your design.
Feather PWR- When switched
ON, connects the
ENpin of the 3.6V regulator to
N_VIOto keep power all the time. When in the
SWITCHEDposition connects the
ENpin of the 3.6V regulator to the
ATTNpin on the notecard for low power scenarios.
Actual values may vary based on local conditions such as atmospheric conditions and distance to the cell tower.
Open source hardware designs for all Notecarriers are maintained in the note-hardware GitHub repository.
Visit Blues Hardware Terms & Conditions.
|Ray Ozzie||2019-2020||Document drafted|
|John Wiedey||2020||Various improvements|
|Sean Taylor||2020||Various improvements|
|Zachary J. Fields||01 OCT 2020||Updated information and translated to markdown|
|Brandon Satrom||04 JAN 2021||Added link to design resources|
|Greg Wolff||13 JAN 2021||Added BAT pin information to Notecarrier AF datasheet|
|Brandon Satrom||07 APR 2022||Added Notecarrier-A information|
|Zachary J. Fields||20 JUL 2022||Added Notecarrier-F information|
|Zachary J. Fields||24 OCT 2022||Added Notecarrier-B v2 information|
|Rob Lauer||28 OCT 2022||Added versioning for Notecarrier-B v1/v2|
|TJ VanToll||05 JAN 2023||Added Notecard Outboard Firmware Update information|
|Rob Lauer||28 FEB 2023||Re-labeling Notecarrier-B as "Basic"|
|Rob Lauer||01 MAR 2023||Added PCB/Mounting Hole Dimensions|
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