The Astronode Product Portfolio

By Kersten Heins | 25 April 2022

4 min read

Astrocast IoT hardware

As a one-stop-shopping approach for customers, all major elements are offered by Astrocast including IoT hardware components, services and and subscription plans.  

IoT Hardware components

  • Heart of each customer IoT device is the satellite modem. Astronode S is a 38-pin multi-chip SMD module including an STM32 CPU, UART interface, some GPIO (Reset, Wake-up, Event) and a proprietary ASIC with RF circuitry and an antenna interface.
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Astronode S, a compact surface mount module for highly integrated, battery powered IoT systems
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Astronode Patch Antenna, a compact ceramic patch antenna optimized for operation on the Astrocast network
  • Another hardware option is the fully integrated Astronode S+ board which is a ready-to-use solution. It is based on the Astronode-S module with a PCB-mounted patch antenna and an industrial grade board-to-cable for host connection within the IoT device. All design data incl. Gerber files are available as a starting point for custom designs.
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Astronode S+, a certified industrial satellite communication device, ready to install and connect
  • The Astronode DevKit includes an evaluation board and can be used for “indoor” software development using WiFi instead of satellite for IoT data transmission. It allows to simulate operation of the IoT ecosystem incl. communication link via backend Astrocast API.
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Astronode DevKit, everything you need to develop a solution with the Astrocast IoT network
  • As a network service provider for real operation and final deployment, Astrocast offers several Satellite IoT data plans (x USD for x kB per device). 

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The Astronode Network Interface 

From a customer IoT device design perspective, the satellite modem hardware is based on an Astronode S module – to be controlled by the device host CPU using a 2-wire TX/RX UART interface. For this purpose, the Astronode API provides a comprehensive command set for modem control and data management. In fact, the customer IoT device does not have to deal with timing details of satellite communication.

Instead, the Astronode module will handle all required tasks independently from the IoT device. In particular, the whole satellite detection and uplink/downlink data transmission process will be managed by the Astronode module. As soon as new IoT uplink data has been loaded into the payload queue, the Astronode S module is enforced to send it as soon as possible.  

Most of the time, the Astronode modem is either in deep sleep mode consuming only 500nA (typ.) or in sleep mode with an average power consumption of 5µA. As soon as the buffer has been filled with uplink data, Astronode activity status will enter satellite detection mode waiting for the next contact opportunity window. While still remaining in sleep mode most of the time, peak consumption for each detection attempt (i.e., within each window) is 50 mA for a duration of 50 msec.

In order to minimize power consumption, the Astronode S can also handle the next transmission wake-up time on its own, based on the ephemeris data it receives from a satellite during each contact. Once a satellite has been detected, a transmission event will start. All device communication is secured with a unique AES-256 encryption key inside each Astronode S module. 

Standard uplink payload per transmission is up to 160 bytes. In addition, 8 bytes of geolocation data can be added, if available. For this purpose, cooperation of an additional GNSS receiver will be required which is not part of the Astronode solution, but the Astronode Patch Antenna supports GNSS reception and can be shared with the GNSS receiver for this purpose.   

The Astronode API offers several configuration parameters which can be used by the customer IoT device to finetune power consumption and latency. This makes sense particularly if the actual satellite constellation has grown and for battery powered IoT devices. More details are described in the Astronode S Low-Energy Guidelines, which also provides directions on how to determine the overall power consumption resp. required battery capacity. 

Taking IoT Assets further with Astrocast

To take your IoT strategy further and unlock the power of your assets, discover Astrocast’s flexible SatIoT service by joining the Astropreneur Program today.

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