Q&A for "Introduction to Nordic Thingy:91" webinar

This blog post contains answers to questions asked during the "Introduction to Nordic Thingy:91" webinar hosted by Nordic Semiconductor 22.08.2019.

You can watch a recording of the webinar here. You can download the slides at the bottom of this post.

We have tried to answer the questions as best as we can, but some are difficult to answer without being able to ask follow-up questions. Redundant questions were discarded. If anything is still unclear please do not comment here, but instead ask your question in the DevZone Q&A section here


Q1: You mention Google remote server support, in addition to AWS, most of the people I am in contact with does not trust Google with their data. What about Azure support. 

While we do not have any Azure support out of the box right now, it should not be all too difficult to set this up yourself. The backend used by the Thingy:91 can be customized to your liking. It is your choice if you want to use AWS, Google or Azure for example. See this blog post for more info. 


Q2: Just a comment, very good you are using Zephyr, it is a nice OS actually developed by Intel but donated to the Linux foundation, no Amazon couplings. 

Thank you for that! 


Q3: Will the application work if the network does not support PSM? 

Yes, sending sensor data works fine with or without PSM mode. The GPS tracking feature, however, requires Power Saving Mode (PSM) to use the GPS + LTE concurrently. If the iBasis SIM card does not work with GPS location tracking, try with a local provider SIM instead. 


Q4: In a hybrid nRF52840 and nRF91 product, do you recommend the main application running on the nRF91 and have the nRF52840 as a simple/dumb/basic slave for BLE/ANT+ connectivity? 

That depends a lot on the usecase. If the main application is LTE, then I would run most of it on the 91 chip & use the 52840 as a BLE connectivity chip, like how we have done in the LTE Gateway example in nRF Connect SDK. I would recommend you ask this question on our Nordic DevZone & explain your use case a bit more in detail. 


Q5: Does it support ZigBee Dotdot? 

The 52840 supports 802.15.4, so you can use the ZigBee DotDot application layer there. 

Q6: Is it possible to run LwM2M over CoAP ? 

We have a CoAP example here & an LwM2M server example here. The LwM2M is running an application layer protocol based on CoAP/UDP. 


Q7: What is the fastest update rate of the GPS onboard the nRF91? 1Hz or greater? 

You have three modes of operation with the onboard GPS (single shot, position fix per fixed interval & continuous tracking). In the continuous tracking mode, you receive a position every second. See this DevZone answer for more info. 


Q8: Where/when can i get a demo unit? 

Now from one of our distributors. You can click "Buy now" on the Nordic Thingy:91 product page.


Q9: How can I get access to the bluetooth unit. is it also accessible via the webportal 

If you are referring to nRF Connect for Cloud, you cannot access the nRF52840 via this now. However, if you look at the LTE Gateway example, you can connect a Thingy:52 via BLE & see the sensor data from that device on the nRF Connect for Cloud.


Q10: Do you suggest updating the nRF52840 application OTA via nRF91 (LTE) or directly using BLE? 

That depends again on the use case. If you are in Bluetooth range to the 52840, it is possible to update the 52840 via BLE. However, if the device is somewhere far away in the mountains, I would suggest an OTA update via the HTTP Application Update example. 


Q11: Can I use the sim card provided with Thingy 91 in Greece? If not is there any alternative ? 

Check the iBasis & GSMA Websites for coverage. If not, see with a local Mobile Network Operator that supports LTE-M1 or NB-IoT. You can also contact your local Nordic regional sales manager, who should be able to help you further. 


Q12: Does the Thingy:91 advertise its sensor data through BLE as well with the default firmware like the Thingy:52? 

Nope, the nRF52840 on the Thingy:91 does not advertise the sensor data right now. However, it is possible to implement this yourself if you wish to do so. The Zephyr HCI UART example might be a good example to start looking at. 


Q13: As I understand the new Asset tracker app supports PSM mode and does it support OTA for the application processor? Can you explain a bit more about PSM mode and what is the current consumption in in sleep while PSM is active. 

Yes, see the HTTP application update example. See this blog post for more info on PSM mode & sleep currents. Also, check out the product specification for more info. 


Q14: How does nRF cloud communicates the PIN/IMEI informations from the SIM to the Thingy:91? I expected this to be configured using Bluetooth from the nRF52840. 

The PIN/IMEI is not related to the SIM card being used. You can use multiple SIM cards on the same Thingy:91 & they all should work given that you have coverage. 


Q15: On behalf of Fractus Antennas, congratulations to the whole team for the Thingy:91 launch! For sure cIoT designers will benefit from it. Nice presentation too :) 

Thank you for that! We appreciate it. 


Q16: No support for IAR or Keil?

Nope, but you get SEGGER Embedded Studio for free :)


Q17: Hello, is possible to provide list of the countries, where CATM and/or NB-IoT is working? In case of working I mean that there is coverage existing (like 30%,50% etc of the country area)

See the GSMA website. Also, check out the iBasis website. That depends on your local Mobile Network Operator. Telia & Telenor have great coverage maps for the regions they support. Not sure how it is for your country.


Q18: Is nRF9160 really NB2 compliant, it was mentioned on the presentation? Only NB1 mentioned on newest firmware. 

The nRF9160 SiP is 3GPP LTE release 14 Cat-NB2 compliant (but the current modem firmware supports NB1). 


Q19: Is this automotive qualified? 

It is not.


Q20: Can you explain the features of the power management block? Can I use it for energy harvesting? 

No, you cannot use it directly for energy harvesting. See the nRF91 product specification for more information related to the power management block. 


Q21: Does this have a eUICC in it? 

The Nordic Thingy:91 has a Nano/4FF SIM card slot and is bundled with an eSIM from iBasis. The nRF9160 LTE modem supports eSIM/eUICC, it provides power to the SIM and handles all communication automatically.  


Q22: I assume you have separate antennas for GPS and LTE, not like the eval board? 

No, it uses the same antenna for the GPS & LTE. However, you can connect an external GPS antenna if you wish to do so. 


Q23: How is the performance of the onboard antenna for GPS use? Sensitivity? Performance? 

The nRF91 GPS receiver has an acquisition sensitivity for cold & hot starts of -142 & -145 dBM respectively. The tracking sensitivity is -151 dBm. See the nRF91 Product Specification for more info.


Q24: Can you please also tell us about Thingy91 power consumption as well? 

See the blog post. This depends a lot on which sensors are activated. Also, the asset tracker right now is not power optimized. However, it is possible to optimize the power consumption drastically by looking at the blog post, sending data less frequently & turning off some of the sensors that you do not require for your use case. 


Q25: Why 840 not 811 for BLE? The 811 has a newer radio and one should really put the application in one CPU (the M33) 

Even though the nRF52811 SoC is newer, we wanted to include our flagship SoC, the nRF52840. We believe this SoC covers more use-cases compared to the nRF52811, because of its advanced features and extensive memory. You can of course select the nRF52811 for your design :)

Q26: Does it satisfy minimum 18 dBm transmission requirement by cell provider in USA

Yes, it has maximum output power 23 dBm. 


Q27: Will you share the presentation? 

Yes, the presentation is available at the bottom of this blog post.

Q28: What protocol does the default firmware use to connect to the nRF cloud? Is it easy to modify the firmware to connect the device to a custom backend? 

MQTT with TLS. Yes, it is quite easy. See this blog post for inspiration for how you can connect a 9160 DK to the Google Cloud for example 


Q29: How about power consumption 

See this blog post.


Q30: 移动性和功耗怎样? = What about mobility and power consumption? 

See this youtube video about mobility. See this blog post


Q31: Can you provide Schematics and Eagle files for the board? 

See this link. We provide Altium files, not Eagle files unfortunately.


Q32: Do a SW SDK exists? 

Yes, the hex files are provided here & the FW is located in the nRF Connect SDK master branch. 


Q33: When is it available?

Now from one of our distributors. You can click "Buy now" on the Nordic Thingy:91 product page.


Q34: When will it be available to test? And to bit for smaker POC Customer cases? Thanks in advance! 

You can test it now! If you are looking for a smaller PoC, we do not have one currently. However, due to the small size of the nRF9160 SiP, you can naturally shrink the form quite significantly if needed. 


Q35: How to get Thingy:91 connected to a specific mobile network provider? 1) Where can I find information about the local networks supported by iBasis and the configuration parameters needed ? (AT commends?) e.g.: Does iBasis support NB-IOT from A1 Telekom in Austria? 2) When I receive a eSIM from my local mobile network provider: Which parameters do I need to configure?  

You can use an AT command to connect to a specific mobile network provider. You can also use the bandlock command to only search on a few specific bands in your location. The Thingy:91 does not support eSIMs unfortunately. Please consider using the nRF91 DK instead. Regarding configuration parameters, this depends a lot on the mobile network operator (e.g. Telenor in Norway does not require any configuration parameters AFAIK). 

Again, if anything is still unclear please do not comment here, but instead ask your question in the DevZone Q&A section here.

Introduction to the Nordic Thingy_91 Prototyping Platform_share.pdf
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