Hologram Nova

Introduction

The Hologram Nova is a global, easy-to-use, and completely open source cellular USB modem available in 2G/3G and 4G LTE Cat-M1 models.

Along with the Nova USB modem, Hologram provides Global IoT SIM cards and Developer Tools to make it super simple for you to bring your cellular solution to life.

The Hologram Nova was originally designed to work with Raspbian on the Raspberry Pi, but it’s unique low-level compatibility allows it to operate with any USB host device that is able to communicate over a standard USB port.

Kit Overview

Each individual Nova order comes with the following components:

Nova Global USB 2G/3G and LTE Cat-M1 Modem Overview

Hologram Nova Board

The Nova was designed with Internet of Things applications in mind. By focusing on doing one task really well and a design that allows for rapid expansion into future cellular technologies, the Nova is the future-proof choice for applying cellular connectivity to your devices.

Here are some of the considerations that went into the design of the Nova:

Hologram Global IoT SIM Card

Hologram Nova Board

The Hologram Nova pairs perfectly with the Hologram Global IoT SIM.

Activating the SIM

Before the Nova can be operational, the SIM must be activated so that it can gain access to the cellular network.

You can use our Connectivity Guide to activate your SIM and connect your Nova to the the Hologram network.

Inserting the SIM

The Nova takes the smallest SIM size cutout (nano SIM).

Once popped out of the full-sized card, insert the SIM into the slot on the bottom of the Nova board, as in the diagram below:

Hologram Nova SIM Insertion

NOTE: Do not insert or remove the SIM while the Nova is plugged in - otherwise, the SIM may become damaged or corrupt.

Quad-band Flexible UFL Antennas

Hologram Nova Antennas

We understand that no two IoT applications are alike, and with that, generally comes the need for custom antenna solutions based on specific signal quality needs. Thus, we’ve designed the Nova to be as compatible as possible with an external UFL antenna port, which should be adaptable to almost any cellular antenna on the market.

Included antennas

To get you started, we’ve shipped the Nova with two different quad-band flexible UFL antennas - either of these antennas should work great for most cellular IoT applications. Both of these antennas operate over all four the 850/900/1900/2100Mhz bands, and connect using a standard UFL antenna connector.

  • The larger, black antenna provides better reception
  • The smaller, yellow antenna has the benefit of fitting inside the enclosure

Attaching the antennas

To attach the antenna, firmly press down the gold UFL connector on top of the corresponding UFL port at the back of the Nova board. You should feel it snap on and feel fairly secure.

Hologram Nova Attach Antennas

Querying signal strength

With the Hologram CLI, you can easily query the current signal strength of the Nova: sudo hologram modem signal

For more on how to get the Hologram CLI and Python SDK installed on your system, see the Quick Start Reference included in your kit.

Transparent Enclosure

The transparent enclosure is not necessary for proper functionality of the Nova, but it may help reduce the chance of damages related to electro static discharge, and it can help secure the antenna to the board.

Specifications

The transparent enclosure is made of a clear polycarbonate material.

Assembly Instructions

Before enclosing the Nova, insert a SIM and connect the antenna.

Hologram Nova Enclosure

The small yellow antenna can be tucked underneath the board and inside the enclosure, as seen below.

There’s also a small cutout in the back of the enclosure that can be used to route an antenna outside of the enclosure.

Hologram Nova Inserting Antennas

LED feedback

The Nova has two clear LEDs for providing feedback around what’s going on inside the modem. A blue LED that represents whether the modem is on or off, and a red LED that indicates the current network status.

For information and LED troubleshooting, see the table below:

Hologram Nova LED Feedback

Hologram Developer Tools and Data Engine

Hologram Nova Developer Tools

Hologram Python SDK and Hologram CLI

The Python SDK and Hologram CLI are both open source and on Github. Since no two IoT applications are alike, we highly encourage community contributions to help expand the functionality of the Python SDK.

The Hologram Python SDK is built to abstract out the complicated hardware modem communication and make application development as easy as possible.

Users can reference the Python SDKs examples and tutorials to implement the applications that fit their custom IoT solution.

The Hologram CLI is built upon the Python SDK to showcase how simple and powerful the Python SDK can be.

For more information on Hologram Developer Tools:

Install the Hologram CLI

The Hologram Command Line Interface (CLI) and Python SDK are easily downloadable via curl from your Linux terminal:

curl -L hologram.io/python-install | bash

To update to the latest version:

curl -L hologram.io/python-update | bash

Once installed, you can immediately send data to the Hologram Data Engine:

sudo hologram send "Hello World"

Messages can then be viewed and routed to different destinations at: https://dashboard.hologram.io

Hologram CLI Quick Reference

For a full list of commands:

hologram --help

Send a message:

sudo hologram send -t <topics> <message>

Receive inbound messages (try from the Hologram Dashboard):

sudo hologram receive

Bring up/down an internet connection:

sudo hologram modem connect

sudo hologram modem disconnect

Check signal strength:

sudo hologram modem signal

Check network operator:

sudo hologram modem operator

Get u-blox CellLocate Location:

sudo hologram modem location

Hologram Data Engine

The Python SDK can be configured to talk to any server, but by default, we’ve configured our examples to plug into Hologram Data Engine.

In conjunction with the Hologram Nova, Hologram Global IoT SIM, and Hologram Data Engine - the Python SDK and Hologram CLI are able to leverage the full hardware security authentication that comes with the Hologram Global IoT SIM, right out of the box.

Hologram Data Engine is geared towards providing an optimized and super simple secure hub for your data as it comes in from your edge devices over the cellular network. Once received in Hologram Data Engine, you can easily and securely monitor, debug, and route your data wherever it needs to be.

Hardware Design

The Nova was designed with a slim profile and reliable and robust power supply to drive the u-blox modem.

For detailed specs and designs on the Nova hardware, see the Hologram Nova USB Modem Datasheet.

Cellular Modem

The Nova is powered by the u-blox SARA-U201 - one of the most robust and feature-rich cellular modems on the market. It operates on all four global 2G/3G wireless bands (850/900/1900/2100Mhz), and includes a command set that ensures the utmost connectivity for any sort of cellular IoT application.

There are many cheaper modems out there on the market - we’ve played with most of them, and it has never been worth the time. With u-blox, you get a modem that works, you know what it’s capable of, and you can reliably build a product around it.

  • Robust AT command set manual so you can get as low level as you need to.
  • Updatable firmware capability, for internal bugs or sudden security vulnerabilities in networking standards.
  • Completely isolated TCP/UDP/HTTP networking stack so you don’t have to be at the mercy of your host device’s network manager if you don’t want to. Many times, you want to treat cellular data differently from wifi or ethernet - this gives you ultimate control over that distinction.
  • Multiple interface modes allow you to choose the accessibility that you need for your particular application. Need a virtually plug-and-play experience right out of the box? There’s a mode for that. Need to query signal strength or retrieve an operator list while maintaining an active network connection? There’s a mode for that.
  • Consistent hardware footprints and AT command sets means that future modem technologies (think CAT-M or NB) can be released almost immediately, and will have a virtually seamless transition into your existing product or solution.
  • u-blox’s CellLocate technology can give you an approximate location of your modem, using crowdsourced coordinates from nearby cell towers - without the need for a separate GPS module.

Certifications

The Nova is fully end-certified for the following:

  • FCC
  • PTCRB
  • CE
  • AT&T
  • Verizon

Ordering Information

The Nova is available for purchase from the Hologram store.

Bulk orders for volume pricing, or for only the Nova hardware without any of the accessories, can be made by contacting our sales team.

Community and Support

Check out our tutorials and guides for the current list of supported devices, and don’t be shy to reach out to our community to suggest features or contribute yourself!