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 LTE 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 GPRS connectivity.
Notecarrier-Pi (CARR-PI) is designed for drop-in development with a Raspberry Pi or compatible Single Board Computer. This Notecard can be powered by either Raspberry Pi or the built-in Micro-USB port.
- Pre-soldered stackable 40-pin header for plugging directly into a Raspberry Pi and stacking additional Pi hats.
- Notecard edge connector socket and mounting screw receptacle.
- Micro-USB port to power Notecarrier and provide a USB Serial command interface to Notecard.
- External Nano-SIM slot for additional carrier connectivity.
- 1 Grove I2C port for attaching external peripherals to your project.
- DIP switches (shown below) to configure diagnostic serial port, attention pin, and active GPS support.
- Requires user provided U.FL cellular antenna and optional U.FL active GPS antenna.
Due to the power requirements of the Notecard, some Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 models include a current-limiting fuse that will power-cycle the device when the Notecard's modem is on and transmitting. To avoid these issues, we recommend using only Raspberry Pi 4 devices with the Notecard and Notecarrier Pi.
The Micro-USB port on the Notecarrier-Pi is a data-only port and does not provide power to the Notecarrier. Make sure to power your project with a Raspberry Pi, or use an alternate power method, including:
- applying 2.5-5.5VDC to the
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.
All Notecarrier models are designed to support active GPS, and several Notecarrier models provide built-in antennas ready to be connected to Notecard using the included U.FL cables.
The Notecarrier-B and Notecarrier-Pi models do not have integrated GPS antennas,
but support active GPS by providing circuitry to enable bias voltage to be
supplied. This functionality is enabled using the
|Pin Name||Pin Description|
|VACT_GPS_IN||Input for active GPS antenna bias voltage|
|VACT_GPS_OUT||Notecard supplied DC bias voltage for active GPS|
The only pin required to support active GPS is
VACT_GPS_IN, which allows you
to provide a voltage specific to your antenna or application.
unnecessary, but can be connected directly to
VACT_GPS_IN to support an active
GPS antenna that accepts voltages in the 3.3V-4V range*.
The Notecarrier-Pi is built to support either an active or passive GPS antenna, and has a DIP switch to enable you to select your configuration.
VACT_GPS_OUT is only powered when the cellular modem is active.
Notecarrier-Pi is configured as a Pi Hat. As such, the Notecarrier-Pi follows the standard 40-pin Raspberry Pi Model B+ layout.
|Pin #||Pin Name||Dedicated||Description|
|8||AUX_RX||Y/N (DIP)||Auxilliary receive|
|10||AUX_TX||Y/N (DIP)||Auxilliary transmit|
|31||ATTN||Y/N (DIP)||Configurable interrupt signal|
There are three DIP switches are located on the back side of the board. The switches are used to reserve exclusive access to the GPIO pins.
ACTIVE GPS- When turned
ON, 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
OFFif Notecard is used with a passive GPS antenna! However, we recommend an active antenna for best performance.
SERIAL TXRX- When turned
ON, enables serial communication with Notecard via Notecard
AUX_TXvia Raspberry Pi GPIOs 14 and 15 (Pins 8 and 10). Typical applications will use I2C for Notecard interactions, with this AUX serial port providing useful debugging features for developers.
ATTN- When turned
ON, connects Notecard ATTN to Raspberry Pi GPIO 6 (Pin 31).
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.
|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|