Solinius Sparrow: Cellular IoT with Global Connectivity
Solinius Sparrow: Cellular IoT with Global Connectivity

This project has already launched.

Sparrow comes ready with 256-bit TLS encryption, over-the-air updates, and all the ready-made commands you would need to incorporate 2G IoT into your product, work space, or hacked project. All of our code and documentation will be open-source, available on Github. We are purposely IDE agnostic, so you can use whatever works best for you.

 

What's in the Box? (hint: everything you need to get building!)

  • Solinius Sparrow 2G (see tech specs below)
  • SIM800L 2G GSM Breakout
  • u.Fl Antenna
  • Breadboard
  • Hologram Global M2M SIM
  • Data – $5 of cellular data included
  • Access to our open source firmware including: over the air (OTA) update capabilities, 256-bit encryption, hundreds of abstracted SIM800L commands

Why'd we build the Sparrow?

We were frustrated with all the 2G IoT dev boards out there. The other options are just: 

  • Too expensive - or had recurring (non-data) charges
  • Built primarily for newbies
  • Require additional peripherals (like an Arduino or Beagleboard)
  • Tied to a bloated proprietary infrastructure or cloud network

We wanted a cellular board that would easily scale. We couldn't find one, so we made one.

What makes the Sparrow fly? 

  • Build – Seamlessly build on top of our open-source, abstracted SIM800 functions. No need to mess around with the shoddily translated docs, use ours.
  • Deploy – Where? Anywhere.
  • Connect – Connect over the 2G network to gather your sensor data or perform over-the-air updates.
  • Secure – TLS 1.2 encrypted, keeping your personal data safe from prying eyes.

The programming interface: ISP pogo pads (or 2x3 header).

Lanugage: C/C++

 

Why a Sparrow?

Lightweight, global, quick, efficient. Need we say more?

Rufous-Tailed Weaver (Photo by Lee R. Berger) 
Rufous-Tailed Weaver (Photo by Lee R. Berger)

Data?

Yeah, we got data. And so do you - each Sparrow ordered will come with $5 of data included. We’ve partnered with Hologram (of Kickstarter fame!), formerly Konekt, to bring global access to your fingertips. Each sparrow flies to your door step with a hologram SIM ready to go (but a reminder: any SIM with M2M/data connectivity will do with some easy APN setting changes). With over 350 carriers in 160+ countries, where ever you intend to deploy, Solinius and Hologram are here for you. Why Hologram? Because we use them too! Using Sparrow’s technology, Solinius operates our own IoT products in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. We challenge you to find harsher environments. T-Mobile has made a commitment to keep 2G services in the US running through 2020, so don’t fret if you’re developing for the United States; Good ‘ole Johnny Legere’s got your back. 

Hologram's Global Coverage Map 
Hologram's Global Coverage Map

 

Use Hologram’s dashboard to activate, track, and manage your deployed IoT devices – a service Solinius uses and trusts on a daily basis. 

Hologram Dashboard 
Hologram Dashboard

With each Sparrow, we’ll throw in $5 of totally free data. 

Enough to: 

  • Pop your toaster 730 times
  • Check your pool's water temp 1000 times in one day
  • Gather intermittent solar panel voltage and current data for a month

...just to name a few.

After you’ve spent your first $5 on our dime, it still won’t break the bank. Hologram just rolled out new pricing. Click here to read their blog post on it. The greatest thing? For our smallest users, the first MB of data per month is completely free. Just like us, they're looking to scaled deployments, making it easier and more affordable to deploy hundreds of devices globally.

Impact 

Solinius is a Public Benefit Corporation. Remember that Silicon Valley scene about “Making the World a Better Place”? Well we actually are. 

Solinius' deployed charge controller in DRC 
Solinius' deployed charge controller in DRC

The money garnered from Sparrow goes directly to Solinius’ Ugandan projects, where we’re building the most advanced deployed network of financed solar kits. 

Mt. Elgon Self Help Community Project in Mbale, Uganda 
Mt. Elgon Self Help Community Project in Mbale, Uganda

 Rules we live by:

  • Provide clean, reliable electricity 
  • Give back to the communities we operate in by providing jobs and sourcing local materials.

That's just one of the reasons why we’ve partnered with mid-western, Chicago based, Hologram.

Be local and make a global impact. Build on!  

Rewards

 

 

 

Team

Nick and Jay in Mbale, Uganda with Caleb 
Nick and Jay in Mbale, Uganda with Caleb

 

(L to R:) Nick, Jay, Ben 
(L to R:) Nick, Jay, Ben

Jay Murray, CEO - Solinius' dry witted team builder, vision provider, and driver of growth. Previous work with SLA 3D printer and EV product development. Firm believer in using business to benefit others.

Nick Faughey, CTO - Code slinger, champion of network infrastructure, security, and code deployment.

Ben Stutz, Hardware Architect - Time and time again, designing robust and reliable circuitry. Previous work on supercapacitors and EV product development.

Specifications

General Specifications

  • 2G GSM
  • Over the air firmware updates with factory backup
  • 256-bit TLS 1.2 Encryption
  • Breadboard compatible
  • Support for vendor-agnostic cloud MQTT endpoints
  • TCP and HTTPS client libraries
  • Language: C/C++
  • ISP Programming Header

Technical Specifications

  • 8-bit ATmega1284 14.7456Mhz
  • 128KB of Flash Memory, 16KB of RAM
  • 10 bit A/D resolution 
  • SimCom SIM800L GSM
  • 4KB EEPROM
  • 1MB of external flash memory
  • 5-15V DC supply voltage via 2.1mm barrel jack
  • 27 GPIO
  • 8 Analog to Digital I/O pins
  • UART, SPI, I2C
  • 2G Range: Global
Sparrow Pinout 
Sparrow Pinout

Progress

The team has completed development of the physical board and we are currently in the process of completing our library. Commands used for our in-house IoT operations have been completed and we are well on our way to abstracting the remainder of usable codes. We will not be abstracting the commands pertaining to speaker/call operations, but we would be happy to have contributors submit those following our open-source release!

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