Previously, the Raspberry Pi board could connect to cellular networks only via USB dongles or 3G or 4G LTE HATs that often included GPS as a bonus. Thanks to Waveshare SIM8200EA-M2 5G HAT, users can now connect their Raspberry Pi 4 or other RPI SBC with a 40-pin header to 5G networks. The Raspberry Pi is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 multi-mode multi-band modem that offers 5G/4G/3G cellular connectivity. Even though the device may not look desirable, it does pack a lot of features.
Raspberry Pi – Design and Specifications
The 5G add-on comes as part of a kit with bottom and top acrylic plates, spacers, a cooling fan, and five antennas for cellular and GNSS connectivity. The HAT integrates a SimCOM SIM8200EA-M2 M.2 module. It offers the following specifications:
- Compatibility – Works with Raspberry Pi boards with a 40-pin GPIO extension header
- SIM8200EA-M2 core module based on Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 platform with multi-mode multi-band support
- Supports 5G/4G/3G networks
- SIM card slot compatible with 1.8V / 3V SIM card
- Frequency bands and peak data rate
- GNSS – multi-constellation dual-band positioning: GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo, and QZSS (part of SIM8200EA-M2 module)
- USB – 1x USB3.1 port for testing AT commands ( based on 3GPP TS 27.007, 27.005, and V.25TER), sending messages, cloud communication, making phone calls, getting GNSS positioning data, etc.
- Audio – 3.5mm audio jack for audio operations
- Mics – 2x LED indicators for power and net status, on/off switch, reset button
- Power Supply – 5V/3A via micro USB port
- Dimensions – 85 x 56.7 mm (Compatible with Raspberry Pi HAT form factor)
Availability and Compatibility
The company has assured that the 5G HAT works in most parts of the world, including China, Europe, the Middle East, South America, and North America. It supports both 5G NSA and SA. Further, Waveshare claims that the device works with Windows, Linux, as well as Android. The reason behind it might be that it is controlled via AT commands over the USB 3.1 port.
Shortcomings and Price
There are a few drawbacks to the device currently. It is not possible to make phone calls at the moment since the GNSS is not working. Further, the 5G looks to be encumbered by too many patents that increase the cost of the hardware. The kit costs $399 with all the parts apart from the Raspberry Pi board, which needs to be purchased separately. It is actually a good deal. The cheapest price on the internet right now is $525 on AliExpress.