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Particle.io Ships the Electron, a Small Cellular IoT Board

| by Kevin Farnham on Feb 23, 2016. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

Particle.io has begun shipping the Electron, an Arduino-compatible cellular Internet of Things (IoT) board geared for machine-to-machine (M2M) applications. The Electron enables remote IoT devices to communicate with the cloud in situations where no Wi-Fi connectivity is available, but 2G or 3G mobile wireless connectivity exists. The Electron is a followup to Particle's Photon, a similar device that uses Wi-Fi for communicating.

Each Electron includes a SIM (subscriber identity module) that permits 2G or 3G wireless communication in more than 100 countries. To facilitate getting connected, Particle became a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) for cellular-connected hardware. Through this arrangement, Particle provides the SIM cards for each Electron and manages the cellular connectivity through the Particle dashboard, "giving you the power to control your devices, their SIMs, and the data they consume."

The hardware core of the Electron is the STM32 ARM Cortex M3, a 32-bit Flash microcontroller. Particle highlights the following additional Electron features:

  • Fits in a standard breadboard
  • Software compatible with the Photon
  • FCC/CE/IC/PTCRB certified
  • STM32F205 ARM Cortex M3
  • 1MB Flash, 128K RAM
  • u-blox SARA G350/U260/U270 cellular modem
  • 36 pins total: 28 GPIOs (D0-D13, A0-A13), plus TX/RX, 2 GNDs, VIN, VBAT, WKP, 3V3, RST
  • Board dimensions: 2.0" x 0.8" x 0.3" (0.5" including headers)
  • Open source hardware

Writing in Ars Technica, Sean Gallagher noted:

In addition to using Wiring, the same application framework used by Arduino "sketches," developers can write code for Electron in C, C++, or ARM assembly code to get closer to the metal. There's also Particle.js, an implementation of the Node.js JavaScript framework that runs on Electron and the other Particle hardware tools.

The Particle site outlines the full list of development tools that can be utilized for creating Electron applications. Particle provides documentation on how to set up and use the Electron, how to develop Electron applications, and how to interact with Particle's cloud APIs. The Particle Community is available for asking questions and interacting with other developers who are working with the Electron and other Particle products.

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