A Cellular Dev Kit With A Data Plan

After years of futzing around with 433 MHz radios and WiFi, we’re finally seeing a few dev boards that are focused on cellular radio modules. The Konekt Dash is the latest offering that puts a small u-blox SARA cellular module on a board with a small ARM Cortex M4 microcontroller for a complete cellular solution for any project you have in mind. Yes, until we get radios that make sense for an Internet of Things, this is the best you’re going to get.

If the Konekt sounds familiar, you’re right. A few months ago, Spark introduced the Electron, a cellular dev board based on the u-blox SARA-U260 module that includes a SIM with a 1MB of data a month. Practically, it’s not much different from the Konekt, but the Dash and Dash pro offer battery management and a battery connector, two power supplies, and encryption from the board to a server. There are slight differences for about the same price, but that’s what’s great about competition.

The Konekt Dash is now a few days in to a Kickstarter campaign that includes as rewards a board and a SIM with a six months to a year’s worth of data. There are a lot of things that can’t be done with WiFi, Bluetooth, or other radio modules, and if you have something like that in mind, you won’t do better than a Konekt or Spark Electron.

37 thoughts on “A Cellular Dev Kit With A Data Plan

    1. It already is. It has a Crowdfunding tag. You’re welcome to write a greasemonkey script to skip it. Stick it up on hackaday.io when you’re done and I’ll post it to the blog.

      Of course that would require work. Please continue complaining, just don’t expect anything to change.

  1. Greedy Cellular data-plans are just crazy for IoT stuff. Prepaid requires constant recharge or it expires, post-paid has high recurring monthly costs, and there are nasty caps in the cheapest plans. Never mind…

  2. The reason for a dearth of progress in this area isn’t technology related, it’s due to the fact that cellular carriers are some of the greediest scumbags on the planet and there are no reasonable plans that cater to this type of use. Even worse in the U.S. where they never met an International Standard they didn’t like to ignore and are only now unifying back to GSM/LTE like the rest of the world.

    1. It’s not a bad offering in terms of data. You can buy blocks of data from 0.5MB upwards. It’s international and there is no standing monthly fee. Prices start from $0.55/month, 1MB is $0.97/month and 2MB $1.49

  3. My problem is I just want a US GSM Sim that I can buy X meg of data and not have the dang thing expire. I have a couple of projects that only send data when they need to and then it’s a very small amount. But I have to pay $9.95 a month for Cellular extortion to keep the sim alive month after month.

    Let me buy 1GB of data and use it over the next 2 years without extortion to keep it working.

    1. T-Mobile has a ‘BYOD’ Tablet data plan wherein you get 500mb for free each month, with a cost for each additional GB. It doesn’t expire. All you have to do is buy a SIM from the store, stick it in a device they consider ‘not a phone’ and go through the online activation process to select the correct plan. I haven’t done it yet because I don’t have such a device, but I did buy the SIM.

  4. Maybe it’s time for the open-source community to build their own data infrastructure. Or at the very least fund-raise enough capital to convince a cellular carrier to create a special plan like Kindle and the various insurance OBD gizmos are doing.

    1. What you might want to consider, instead of building your own infrastructure, is becoming an MVNO, mobile virtual network operator. Or one of the various other virtual network systems. Buy wholesale data and frequency from the big guys, sell at a price to users.

      My phone is through a local MVNO, price was lower than Verizon when they were unlimited data, the local uses towers from all the providers giving a strong signal everywhere here, unlimited talk/text/data, and so on. And even though they are a regional MVNO, I get free roaming; I’ve used my phone from Florida to Washington. Florida was tough, because there were either so many people in the area or low tower concentration, but the only place in Washington I lost signal was in some of the empty stretches of the high desert.

    1. Having never met any of the moderators, I don’t hate them. I would like to meet some of them, but I don’t have the priority to go to MRRF or HaD gathering type of things. I think [Mike “I’ll buy a vowel” Szczys] lives closest to me (~200 miles?) and even cross that area a couple of times a year, but just passing through.

  5. I’m curious as to what radio service and associated radios,”… make sense for an Internet of Things…”? In the event that discussion is has taking place here on Hackaday I missed or over looked it. Greed has been mentioned in the comments. Interesting in that it’s the greed of those who want some else to provide the service with no ROI equal to any other reasonably safe investment. that is what will hold back the development of a RF based infrastructure to serve an IoT. Such an infrastructure can’t depend on those unwilling to pay 10 bucks a month to access an existing and fairly robust existing cell phone infrastructure, aren’t very likely to support wireless for IoT. I understand 10 bucks is 10 bucks, and with the trend on the fee supported web content, we all are going to have to make choices what is or isn’t worth paying cash for. Personally I haven’t yet seen an IoT item that I couldn’t live without. On turning the tables about greed, sorry I’m calling it as I see it. To return to the question I began with is there any public forum where this is being discussed, to eavesdrop in on?

    1. “Interesting in that it’s the greed of those who want some else to provide the service with no ROI equal to any other reasonably safe investment.”

      It’s called communism. Very popular around these types of blogs. The ‘haves’ who work hard to have are evil and they should be forced to give to the ‘have nots’ that didn’t work for it. But you are wise to recognize it for what it truly is: greed.

      The same people want their web sites free, but complain about the ads and install ad-blockers.

        1. I’m in favor of actual economic communism, as opposed to what we saw in the USSR and China… I don’t consider it a “dirty” word… Sharing resources to advance a cause isn’t a political stance, it’s just more efficient.

          That said, if you think American wireless providers are greedy bastards you need to look North. Lack of competition has made the Canadian market horridly over priced and under-serviced.

    2. Okay I get you about the greed and paying for service thing. However, don’t you agree there should be a plan for say X GB or X MB, that doesn’t fucking expire and require you to constantly spend monthly? I mean, I wouldn’t mind paying a decent amount for my GeeBees if I knew I could use it over say, one to two years.

  6. Doesn’t every cellular data account require a telephone number attached to it? Aren’t telephone numbers in limited supply like IPv4 IP addresses? Why would providers want to inexpensively hand out telephone numbers for devices that hardly even use the system, effectively tying up an otherwise valuable telephone number for nearly no compensation?

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