Ecological field-based sensor: boron 402 or 404x?

Hi all; new user here. I’m an ecologist building out a semi-networked array of sensor devices that will be deployed in the national parks in Newfoundland this summer. Our device design is set and we’re ready to start assembling. However, I have questions regarding the best use for our purposes:

CONTEXT: environmental/climate science research expedition collecting environmental data with an array of DIY environmental sensing devices across multiple parks in Newfoundland. Each device deployed will be ‘in the field’ for as many continuous days as possible before needing to be swapped out for repairs/power/etc. We are prioritizing sites with at least 2 bars of cell coverage (networks: Rogers, Tellus) though it’s certainly spotty in places. Half of these sites will also be under tree canopy. Devices will each be run by a Boron, which will also be regularly sending collected data to Google Sheets via cellular service.

  1. we are deciding between using the boron 402 (deprecated but available wholesale, 2g/3g, NorAm SIM) and the 404x (LTE). Is there a sense in the community/with the Particle team of what the difference in throughput results in, in terms of data transmission speed over cellular?

  2. same vein, we’re using solar-powered battery packs to power these devices. While they’ll be in sleep mode for about 45mins out of every hour, we’re running a tight ship when it comes to power consumption and can’t afford to lose too much ‘space’ there. Assuming that throughput speed is negligibly different between the 402 and the 404x, is there an appreciable difference in power consumption?

Thank you in advance for any insights! I’m not an engineer/computer scientist myself but with this project am collaborating with folks who work on MCU use for device design and have gotten beginner-proficient. I searched the community posts and found a few really relevant conversations but not one that shed light specifically on the utility of 402 vs. 404x, to apply to our use case.

Both the Boron 402 and Boron 404X are LTE Cat M1 only, with no 2G or 3G fallback. Coverage areas are the same in Canada for both devices.

Data transmission speeds are similar, however you’ll be constrained more by the platform features like Particle.publish, which has rate limits that are lower than the cellular throughput speed.

The main difference in power consumption is when the cellular modem is on, and the BRN404X is higher than the BRN402/BRN404. However, if you are using the device to connect infrequently (15 minutes or greater interval) and only publish a small amount of data, the difference is negligible. Using the device when cellular is off, such as for data acquisition and batching data to be sent later, is the same.

The only place where the difference becomes noticeable is if you are using the device with the cellular modem on continuously, or are using wake-on cellular mode, where the device can wake from sleep for data from the cloud. In those two applications, the BRN402/BRN404 will use less power than the BRN404X.

In the United States, the coverage is different because the BRN402 only supports AT&T. The BRN404 adds T-Mobile. The BRN404X will add Verizon, in addition to AT&T and T-Mobile, in a few months.

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Thanks so much, Rick! I’m super appreciative. Specifically for the clarification re: LTE Cat M1 (and no 2g/3g fallback) as I think I must have interpreted the chart on the coverage map documentation. I appreciate your time. I think this answers all my questions; I’m looking through the documentation on the migration to 404x now just to make sure I don’t have any other specs to ask you. Thanks again!

Very open to hearing from community members who’ve encountered the same choice for outdoor applications/data transmission purposes!

@rickkas7 ,

In my experience, the BRN402 can access US Cellular as well as AT&T.

I went through a lot of connection logs as I was thinking the BRN402 could connect to T-Mobile - but I was mistaken.

One thing I learned was that, while AT&T is the most common carrier, there was much more T-Mobile and US Cellular than I expected.

Thanks,

Chip

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OMG, I went to MUN and never thought I’d see a Newfoundland-related question on the board! Those parks are some of the most beautiful places in the world and I hope your device cases are ready for some serious weather.

With your locations, I would suggest a 404x because the antennas are a bit better than those for the 402s along with everything Rick said.

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Wow Colleen, that’s awesome!! Yes I’m actually working with researchers at MUN (and parks canada) and have had nothing but amazing experiences with them / the community in the bio dept there. :slight_smile: And truly GMNP is one of the most stunning places I’ve ever visited; I feel very lucky. (And … yes we’re very much added all the weather-proofing we possibly can!!)

Thanks for your suggestion re: the 404x! After talking with my team yesterday we decided to go that route and I feel good with your validation of that choice. Thanks so much, it’s very appreciated!!

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