Archive for the ‘M2M’ Category

AirPi – It Texts!

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

Well, it’s been longer than expected since my last post about the Snootlab AirPi – which I closed with, “the next step will be to get communication going with a PC, and send & receive text messages…”

So here we go!

I’m using Windows-7 Professional (64-bit). Plug in the AirPi’s USB, and Windows does its thing with installing the drivers:




And, finally:


As the last line says, the AirPi AT Commands can now be accessed on COM23 (the number will vary according to what’s available on the particular PC in question).

The Sierra Wireless SL8082T module on the AirPi supports both standard GSM AT Commands, and proprietary Sierra Wireless commands. The full AT Command set is described in the AT Commands Interface Guide – downloadable from the Sierra Wireless site.

To access the AirPi AT Command interface on the COM port, a terminal application is required – here, I’ll use PuTTY. The default baud rate is 115200.

The first command to try with any modem is always “AT” – it should just reply with “OK“.

Another standard command is “ATI” – which should reply with some identification of the device.

The SL8082T supports the “ATI9” command, which gives some detailed information about the module – see the AT Commands Interface Guide for details.

This is how it all looks in the PuTTY screen:



A couple of other useful commands:

  • AT+COPS? – requests the current network registration state, and the network operator name.
    The reply is something like: +COPS 0,2,23430,2
    In order, those numbers mean:
    0 – the module is currently using automatic operator selection;
    2 – the module is currently using numeric operator format;
    23430 – the current network operator code, T-Mobile UK;
    2 – the module is currently using 3G technology.
  • AT+CNUM – requests the telephone number of the SIM, if available.
    Whether this actually gives a useful answer depends on the SIM – not all SIMs are configured for it.
    When supported, the reply is something like: +CNUM: “”,”07xxxxxx103″,129
    This means:
    “” – if the number had a name associated with it, that would go here;
    “07xxxxxx103” – the phone number (of course I’m not going to post it online!);
    – the phone number is in National format (it’s a UK number).

And now we can actually try sending & receiving a text message; on the left is the PuTTY screen for the AirPi, and my phone to the right:



Sending the text is done in three stages:

  1. at+cmgs=07******122 – tells the AirPi we want to send a text to the given phone number;
  2. When it’s ready to accept the body of the message, the AirPi gives a ‘>‘ prompt, and we can type away. Hit Ctrl+Z to finish the text entry and send the message;
  3. When the message has been successfully sent, the AirPi confirms with +CMGS: 204 and then OK
    The number (204 here) is a reference which changes for each message.

As you can see in the phone screenshot, the message arrived, and I sent back a reply.

The AirPi indicates that a new text message has arrived with the +CMTI: “SM”,1 unsolicited response:
“SM” – indicates that the message has gone into SIM storage (the default);
1 – indicates that it is message number 1 in that storage.

AT+CMGL=”ALL” requests a list of all messages in the current default storage. The reply is:

+CMGL: 1,”REC UNREAD”,”+447******122″,,”14/12/31,16:31:53+00″
And hello to you, too, AirPi!

Which means:
1 – This is message number 1 in the store;
“REC UNREAD” – it’s a received message, and has not yet been read;
“+447******122” – the sender’s phone number;
,, – the phonebook name for the sender’s number would appear here, if available;
“14/12/31,16:31:53+00” – the date & time the message was sent.

And thus we have achieved the goal of sending & receiving text messages using the AirPi.


The AirPi Has Landed!

Monday, January 5th, 2015

This is about the Snootlab AirPi 2G/3G+GPS Shield for Raspberry Pi – not to be confused with the AirPi Raspberry Pi weather station.

I first came across the AirPi when it was announced at the June 2014 Sierra Wireless Developer Day:

Snootlab present AirPi at Sierra Wireless Developer Day 2014

Snootlab present AirPi at Sierra Wireless Developer Day 2014 (with thanks to @vrmvrm for the photo)

It is an add-on board – a “shield” – for the Raspberry Pi featuring a Sierra Wireless SL8082T cellular (2G/3G) module with GPS. The ‘T’ suffix indicates that this module supports the Open AT Framework – allowing a user application to be embedded within the module.

It was a long time in coming, but the production versions eventually went on sale in November, and I was finally able to get my hands on one:

AirPi Kit

AirPi Kit

As shown, a certain amount of self-assembly is required (a fully-assembled option is also available).

Most of the assembly is straightforward, although some instructions on the GPS antenna would have been helpful:

The GPS antenna is supplied with a paper mask on its underside:

AirPi GPS Antenna - As Supplied

AirPi GPS Antenna – As Supplied

This must be removed to reveal the adhesive coating:

AirPi GPS Antenna with Mask Removed

AirPi GPS Antenna with Mask Removed

Noting the correct orientation – as indicated by the AirPi PCB silkscreen – the antenna can then be stuck to the board, and its contact soldered in place (from the underside of the board):

AirPi GPS Antenna Fitted

AirPi GPS Antenna Fitted

And the assembly is complete:

AirPi Completed

AirPi Completed

The next step will be to get communication going with a PC, and send & receive text messages…

Didn’t we have a loverly time the days we went to Paris

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Sierra Wireless Developer Day 2014

Having attended the first (and, I think, only) Wavecom “developer day” back in 2007, and the first Sierra Wireless Developer Days last year, I was very much looking forward to this year’s event.

The event consisted of a private “Experts Day” with invited customers & distributors, followed by a public Developer Day with open registration.

At the Experts Day we were able to have some open & frank discussions with Sierra Wireless staff about our experiences with their products & services.

In particular, many of the guests (myself included) had been involved in alpha trials with Legato; so there was a good deal of feedback regarding that experience – with many of the Sierra Wireless Legato team members.

Sierra Wireless Experts Day 2014

We were also treated to some sneak previews of Sierra Wireless’s future intentions for Legato & associated tools and services – and I was glad to be reassured that Open-AT is not slated to be discontinued any time soon.

After the end of the Experts Day, we joined the prelude to the Developer Day – a dinner at the 56th floor restaurant in the Montparnasse Tower, “The Top Of Paris”. We had a great time, with stunning views over Paris as the sun set.

Sierra Wireless Developer Dinner 2014

The Developer Day had about 140 attendees representing customers, partners, network operators, etc; plus Sierra Wireless staff. That was about twice last year’s figure!

The morning consisted of presentations from Sierra Wireless, Wind River, and the Eclipse Foundation M2M. Legato was Sierra Wireless’s topic du jour – and we witnessed the public opening of the Git Hub repository!

During breaks between sessions, and over lunch, there were about a dozen demonstrations from customers, partners (including some from the Experts Day) and Sierra Wireless showcasing various products & services. This was a great opportunity to network, nibble, and see stuff in action.

The afternoon divided into two “tracks”: one “technical” and the other “business”. In some ways it was a shame to have to choose one or the other – but I guess otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to fit everything into just one day!

The afternoon technical track consisted of some tutorial presentations by Sierra Wireless, and some of the demonstrators describing their work

All in all, it was a great event – certainly looking forward to next year!

 Presentations from the Developer Day are available in the Developer Zone on th Sierra Wireless site.

M2M and the Vending Machine

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Vending Machines

Vending Telemetry has been around since long before the term “M2M” was coined.

Vending machines are one of the classic use cases cited in just about any item about M2M!

This is probably because just about everyone is familiar with vending machines,  and also familiar with the frustration of a machine which is broken, or out of stock, or out of change – or all three!

Thus there are clear customer benefits to getting these conditions reported and, thus, rectified as quickly as possible. The whole point of vending machines is that they can operate unattended – so some form of remote monitoring is clearly essential to prompt problem reporting.

In addition to the customer benefits, there are also clear benefits to the machine operators:

  • Up-to-date sales information allows restocking visits to be optimised – so that unnecessary visits are avoided, and sales are not lost due to lack of stock or change;
  • Up-to-date machine status information can help to optimise service and repair visits – and may even enable some problems to be identified before they develop into service-affecting faults.

In these days of tightened budgets and heightened environmental awarness, anything that can reduce unnecessary work and travel has to be a good thing!

Once a communication facility is in place, this also opens up a whole range of new possibilities – such as changeable advertising, cashless payment, etc.

Generally, vending machines don’t come ready-fitted with remote monitoring capability,  so adopting M2M (or “Telemetry”) requires retrofitting some sort of communication device – which is where our extensive experience of  interfacing, control, and communication with embedded microcontrollers comes in.

For some case studies, see:

Didn’t we have a loverly time the day we went to Earl’s Court

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Embedded Live 2010 (formerly the embedded systems show),
Earl’s Court, London, England:

Earl's Court - Embedded Live 2010

I had visited the Embedded Systems Show (as it then was) at the NEC in Birmingham for many years. Attendances had been dwindling of late and, last year, it moved to FIVE in Farnborough (home of the famous Airshow).

This year, the show was under new ownership, rebranded as Embedded Live, and at a new venue – Earl’s Court in London.

We were most grateful to receive a special “opening offer” from UBM, the new organisers, to have a stand in the Connected M2M Devices pavilion at a very favourable introductory rate:

Antronics Ltd

This was our first time exhibiting at a show like this and, I must say, it was a fairly painless experience – thanks to the guys (and gals) at UBM.

We had a reasonable stream of visitors – it was good to meet some old friends, and to make some new contacts.

Special thanks to ARM for providing free drinks on the Wednesday night!

Some people doubt the value of exhibitions in this Web age, but I still think there’s a place for seeing stuff “in the flesh” and meeting real people face-to-face. So I hope next year’s show will be bigger and better…

Our stand

Didn’t we have a loverly time the day we went to Intech…

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Wired Wessex, a local advice, news, support and networking group, held a meeting at the INTECH Science Centre near Winchester on 30 September 2010.

After drinks, nibbles, and networking, Dr Andy Stanford-Clark, IBM Futurist, Distinguished Engineer and Master Inventor, gave an excellent talk entitled, “Innovation for a Smarter Planet”

Andy Stanford-Clark’s “day job” at IBM is with their “Smarter Planet” initiative: – hence the title of his talk! The Big Idea here is instrumenting everyday objects, connnecting them so that they can communicate, and applying intelligence to the resulting data to make things “Smarter” – and, hence, more efficient, greener, etc, etc,…

IBM’s work, of course, does this on a corporate scale; but Andy illustrated his talk with his own “home-made” gadgets controlling and monitoring things in his own house – like the fountain in his pond, and his mousetraps!

It was a very interesting, entertaining, informative and thought-provoking presentation.

This was the first time that Wired Wessex had sought sponsorship for one of their events. After Googling Andy Stanford-Clark, I thought that he seemed to be into just the kinds of things that Antronics Ltd is doing these days – so decided make this our first ever sponsorship deal. I was glad to be joined by my good friend Clive Andrews of Aleka Design as co-sponsor:

Andy Neil, Andy Stanford-Clark, Clive Andrews

The meeting was well attended with plenty of interest in our displays during the networking times:

Antronics Ltd display

I would certainly recommend this to anyone considering such an opportunity.