Beaglebone works on $3/mo Plan

I'm pleased to report that an out-of-the-box beaglebone appliance works just fine on a $3/mo. data plan.  This enables the reporting of telemetry from other attached devices directly to web sites or other processes.   The only thing lacking is SMS support to activate the polling of data.



  • Hey, that's a neat setup. I knew devices like the Beaglebone existed, but I hadn't seen something like that put together for remote medical readings.

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  • You've corrected the site to read that as a $9 plan ($6 for the device. $3 for the 100MB), so I just wanted to point that out here as well.

    Also, there's nothing particularly special about Ting's compatibility with the beaglebone. Anything that can boot a linux kernel and load the USB CDC/ACM module (which is what I am assuming this is doing) and then dial out over that virtual serial port to create a PPP connection (just dial #777) will work. Neither the client hardware, nor the telephony hardware is unique here. Roughly the same thing will work with a GSM module as well (like the ones sold on sparkfun), and those are even easier, since they can be directly wired up to a serial port via two pins (none of this virtual serial port emulation stuff) so even a non-ARM microcontroller that only has GPIO could control it. The GSM modules even have SMS, as there is no difference between those and a phone. They're not limited like these data only cards. Sadly I don't know of a similar CDMA based module that's still for sale (some of the older CMDA PCMCIA data cards could receive calls and SMS, but those are hard to find now, probably no longer activateable, and I don't know of any such USB ones, let alone direct serial ones).

    The easy solution though is to have the device just poll a message server. A data connection is quite a bit more flexible than SMS. For example, you could have it wake up from a cron job every XX minutes/hours and check a free email address for new instructions, or log in to an IM service and get any new messages with instructions, etc. A fancy solution would be to poll a server (MSQL, LDAP, etc) to grab "register"-like settings on how it should be operating. There are infinite options. Heck, if you wanted to leave the PPP connection on persistently, you could run a local server on the device side if you wanted and have clients connect to it and give it immediate instructions (that might eat too much battery power though). The options are all there, it's just a matter of design choices and implementation. Cheers.

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