3G Custom PCB Development


Recently my companies focus has shifted over to cellular, as such we’re considering designing a custom PCB based on the STM32F205 series micro and U270/280 blox module (as used on the Electron). We’d like to leverage the great work Particle has put into this ecosystem and as such would like to run the Particle electron firmware, and use the cloud etc.
I’ve been watching the discussion over here which as some excellent information regarding compliance. However a lot of the information pertains to using the actual electron module and leveraging existing modular approval etc. This is still a possibility for us but probably not ideal due to size constraints and future mass production issues.

I’m interested to know if many other companies are going down this path, if so can they help with some of these questions?

  • I assume Particle has put in substantial time gaining approval from Telcos for the use of the Blox module on their networks? Will this approval need to be redone, or can we just drop in a SIM and assume it’s all good because we’re using the same hardware.

  • It seems that unless using the same Taoglas antenna that at least some intentional radiator testing will be required even for the Electron. If unable to leverage the Electrons modular approval, does anyone have experience regarding the testing requirements for a custom PCB?

Probably more questions but I’ll leave it at that for now, any help would be much appreciated!

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@will are you able to add any notes here? I assume installing the bootloader via JTAG will be straight forward on a fresh STM32F205xx? I saw instructions in the firmware repo for the Core but not for the photon/electron

Hey there. I’m cc’ing @Charlie_K into this conversation since he is one of our Customer Advocates and can help to schedule a call to provide you with information about scaling on the Particle platform.

To answer your question–yes, it is straightforward to flash a fresh STMF205 with new firmware. Instructions are located in the firmware repository under the “Releases” page

Regarding certification, here are some quick notes:

  • If you are using our hardware and SIM card and an antenna with equal or lesser gain than our, no additional FCC intentional radiator or PTCRB certification (i.e. the hard and expensive testing) is required.
  • If you are not using the Taoglas antenna, you will only have to re-do intentional radiator testing if you are using an antenna with gain that is greater than the Taoglas antenna.

Hi @will

Thanks for your answer, @Charlie_K I’ll email you as it might be good to have a Skype call to go over a few questions.

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Hello @Charlie_K

I still haven’t received a response from you via Skype, still really interested to have a chat about your roadmap…