3D Robotics


3689410675?profile=originalHere's a new board for people who want longer range than Xbee can provide. You just treat it as a regular serial port, just like an Xbee, and with the right code it can communicate with anything from a website to a phone. There's no APM code for it yet, but sample code is provided so you can find your own uses. Note that mobile wireless coverage can vary a lot from place to place, and some regions use cell towers that do not propagate to altitudes far above ground level. So your performance will depend a lot on the local networks. But in the right places, this could be really powerful.


"The DroneCell is a cell phone for your robotics/ electronics/ minicomputer/ anything project. Its an all-in-one communication device: communicate via texts, phone calls, or even over the internet. Any device with a TTL UART can communicate with the DroneCell. C libraries are available for download.

* Send and Receive Phone Calls
* Send Text Messages 
* Communicate over the Internet 
* Send and Receive Multimedia Messages ( pictures , text files )


  • LED indication for both network status and power
  • Small footprint (5cm x 4.5cm)
  • Breadboard compatible for easy prototyping
  • 4.5VDC-16VDC power supply input
  • 3.3V or 5V UART Interface (voltage-shifting is done on board)
  • High serial data rate (up to 115200 baud)
  • GPRS communication rate (86.5 kbps downlink) - cellular to server communication
  • CSD (up to 14.4 kbps) - cellular to cellular communication
  • Software configurable baud rate
  • Works with any SIM card
  • Quad band cellular connectivity
  • Internal switch to detect SIM card presence
  • Dial and receive phone calls (however, no microphone or speaker interface setup)
  • Send and receive text messages
  • Send and receive Multimedia Messages
  • Send and receive data to any Internet connected computer
  • Send and receive data over TCP or UDP sockets
  • Super long range (anywhere there is cell reception)
  • High altitude (at least 10,000 feet, up to 30,000 depending on Cell tower)
  • Phonebook entries and storage
  • Software libraries for AVR
  • Real time clock, synced to cellular tower time
  • User set alarms

In stock now for $120.

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  • I'm trying to convince friends they need this so I can get one as payment for my efforts in helpin them xD. I'm interested in using it the highly likely event of my plane crashing and it sending a text to me.
  • Thanks Chris.

    So is anyone else keen?

    I'm keen to take it on, but it would be good to have some help from one or two C wizards as I don't feel I could pull it off on my own.

  • 3D Robotics
    Toby: no current plans for the dev team to add that to the core APM code, but if community members want to take this on as a project, we could work with on integration.
  • Yes, I just had a look at the APM code, I'm not that great with C but it looks well structured and like a TCP transport could be added relatively easily by a competant person. If it used UDP for the downlink, it doesn't matter if the odd packet got lost along the way and if it used TCP for the uplink then that guarantees delivery of any messages that are sent up to the APM?

    The biggest issue is still dealing with IP address changes so a method of dynamic DNS is needed, thankfully someone else has already solved this problem on the Arduino platform and there is code here:


    There are plenty of free PC clients for dynamic DNS so the APM could be coded with an address for your laptop.


    Perhaps to make it simpler, the code could default to using the IMEI of the modem as the DNS name, this means a user wouldn't have to change anything in the code. You would just create a dyndns account and register your IMEI as the hostname. YOURIMEI.dnydns.org and YOURIMEI.gsc.dyndns.org


    @Chris, are there any plans to add this into the core APM code?

    I'm more of a networky person than a coder otherwise I'd order one and have a crack myself. But if someone wrote the code, I'd be happy to write the user documentation.


  • Well, I stand corrected.

    As for telemetry. Could you not just use a TCP connection to a server/base station and send the data as it comes in (if it is noisy then perhaps some sort of queue would be needed?).

  • @kamu nat s just the default configuration on sims in the US. I just spoke to a colleague who said all of the us carriers have public ip apn pools. If you need a public ip that is not nat'd then simply ring your provider and ask for the name of an apn you can use (they may need to add a code to your sim). There may not be a charge for this depending on what provider you use.

    What do we need to do to get this working as a telemetry solution?
    I'm assuming we need to write some code to encapsulate the serial data over an ip connection?
  • 3D Robotics
    Handy for a high altitude balloon....
  • thats unfortunate, here in NZ, GPRS uses public IP addresses, not behind a NAT and fully routable. Same thing in Australia as well.
  • I think Kamu is right, I've tried to connect to a ftp server on a laptop which had a GPRS connection. Also got a dns from dyndns.com, but to no avail. No incoming connections to the ftp server could be established. Someone mentioned that the cell companies might be doing that to protect it's clients.
  • From what I understand Toby, you are not given an internet facing public IP address with GPRS, but are instead behind a NAT. Using a dynamic dns service is impossible.
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