Over the past few years, we’ve been lucky to see the Raspberry Pi get more and more communication options. It’s no surprise then that there’s been great interest in getting Pi devices onto the mobile data network. SB Components’ PiTalk range does just that, except rather than stopping at just a data-capable device, the PiTalk HAT turns your Pi into a fully-fledged smartphone with voice and SMS support.
This article first appeared in The MagPi 80 and was written by PJ Evans
Just add SIM
The standard-size HAT features a Quetec SoC that adds everything the Pi needs to get on the mobile data network; you only need to provide a micro SIM. Our tests with EE met with failure, but a Vodafone SIM worked first time. As the HAT only uses serial communications, nearly all the GPIO pins remain unused and the HAT has ‘through’ pins for further expansion. SB offers a range of small touchscreens that can be added to create a more phone-like experience.
To get everything running, software is supplied, but this is squarely aimed at the touchscreen. Although we were able to make voice calls, send SMS messages, and transmit data, the interface is poor to unusable without a touchscreen.
It is not an end-user product, but rather something on which other projects can be based.
We were able to find an example project using Python to exchange SMS messages and trigger GPIO pins in response. It’s great for experimenting with smartphone technology, and perfect if you are interested in remote automation.
While let down by a tricky interface, the PiTalk is ideal for makers planning remote monitoring projects. It’s better combined with a touchscreen.