There’s no shortage of cheap board computers that you can use to prototype your electronic projects. They usually have all the basics, although you’ll have to connect a breakout board (and all the extra cost that entails) if you want to add cellular connectivity to the mix. The Particle EtherSIM platform wants to streamline that by giving users a board computer with baked-in cellular connectivity at no extra charge.
That’s right, it’s an IoT platform with free cellular broadband, allowing your prototype projects to access the internet at no extra cost. Whether you’re working on a custom weather sensor, an autonomous driving system for your lawn mower, or an internet-connected control system for your mirrorless camera, this thing will let you test your projects without having to spend a small fortune on data charges.
The Particle EtherSIM will include multiple products in the platform for different IoT requirements. The most basic kits include a breadboard, a system-on-a-chip card, and a cellular antenna, with the SIM card and broadband connectivity instantly available as soon as you hook it up to a power source. According to the outfit, each product will allow connectivity for up to 100 devices with no time limit, so you can use a single board to prototype a good variety of projects. This makes it viable for hobbyists who simply want to create custom projects for their own purposes, rather than for actual commercial production, as it eliminates the cumbersome costs that can come with on-the-go internet access.
Different kits in the EtherSIM platform support different internet connectivity, by the way. Some have preinstalled SIM cards that will only work in North America, while others have ones that will only work for Europe. All get access to free 2G, 3G, and LTE internet connections for their region, whichever one is available in your specific location, of course.
The Particle EtherSIM is also available with a global connection. In this configuration, it supports over 350 cellular carriers around the world, so you can use this for your electronic projects regardless of what country you end up in. Even better, it will let you use multiple, overlapping carrier hubs, with the system automatically choosing the best signal and “self-healing” to new networks whenever there are dropouts, making this an impressively reliable and universal solution for internet-connected IoT projects that won’t have access to readily available Wi-Fi. That’s right, all of that with no data charges on top of what you paid for the hardware upfront.
As of now, they currently have six products compatible with the EtherSIM platform, two with North American connectivity, two with European connectivity, and two for global use. Configurations vary for each, of course, although they all do get the full complement of electronic features that you’ll need to develop a variety of IoT projects. None of the boards, by the way, can be used with third-party SIM cards.
You can now order products from Particle’s EtherSIM line of board computer kits. The cheapest kit available for now retails for $55 while the most expensive one costs $103.