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New Goblin 2 Development Board takes a leaf out of the Adafruit FONA

3/1/2017 | By Maker.io Staff

Just recently Verse Technology based in Mexico have released an Internet of Things development board called the “Goblin 2”. You may think that you have seen this board before, well you have sort of. The Goblin 2 closely resembles the current Adafruit FONA boards utilising the same GSM module for IoT connectivity, however the Goblin adds the popular ATmega328p microcontroller (MCU). I’m eager to find out what the major differences are between the boards as looking at them side-by-side I would say they are the same thing.

The Goblin 2 board has built-in Dual-band HSDPA and quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE connectivity and on top of that has a high accuracy 16-channel GPS module built-in. At the heart of the Goblin 2 is the SIMCom SIM5320 which has so many features, too many to list but you can find further information on the SIMCom website.

Image of SIM5320 Module

SIM5320 Module

Not only does the Goblin 2 have a very sophisticated sim module but also features an ATmega328p microcontroller. This allows users to program the board using the Arduino IDE and also the Atmel Studio. Verse Technology has also become a member of the Arduino AtHeart program, which is designed for makers and companies wanting to make their products easily recognisable based on Arduino technology.

What I like most about this board is the built-in power management system. Not only can the board be powered by micro USB but it also has a battery connector for lithium-ion batteries and can be charged using a solar panel. The board can convert voltage up to 24V allowing it to be placed in almost any scenario.

Image of Built-in Power Management

Built-in Power Management

Goblin 2 Vs Adafruit FONA

Let’s take a closer look at these boards side-by-side as one of these boards is considerably more expensive than the other:

 Goblin 2  Adafruit FONA 3G
 Cellular Module:  SIM5320A  SIM5320A
 Microcontroller:  Jackson  94
 Power:  Doe  80
 GPS:  16 Channel  16 Channel
 Antenna:  External  External
 Headset Compatible:  Optional  Built-in 4-pole jack
 Dimension:  65.5x82.2mm  50x46mm
 Price:  $187  $79.95

Looking at both the specification for the boards there isn’t really much difference with the exception of the Goblin 2 board has an ATmega328p microcontroller and the ability to connect a solar cell for power. However, I’m not too sure it warrants a $100 price hike unless I’m missing something else. The Adafruit FONA board was designed to be used as a module that could connect to a number of other microcontroller boards for IoT connectivity. Goblin 2 also claims that it can be used in conjunction with other Arduino shields however you cannot see the shield footprint on the top side of the board and they certainly do not share any images of the underside of the board, which is disappointing. Despite these facts the Goblin 2 board has the ability to connect to industrial sensors using RS485, hence the 24V DC pinout.

Image of RS485 Industrial Sensors

RS485 Industrial Sensors

Summary

I might be being a bit critical of the Goblin 2 but for me the additional features compared to the FONA cannot justify the high price for this board. However, to include everything on one board including the Arduino microcontroller and a solar cell input is a great feature to have especially when deployed into remote locations. I’d certainly be interested to see how the power management side of things performs and whether it could be self-sustaining for long periods of time.