Hologram Nova User Manual

Hologram Nova


The Hologram Nova is a global, easy-to-use, and completely open source cellular USB modem available in global 2G/3G and LTE-M and NB-IoT models.

Along with the Nova USB modem, Hologram provides Global IoT SIM cards and Developer Tools to make it super simple for you to bring your cellular solution to life.

The Hologram Nova was originally designed to work with Raspbian on the Raspberry Pi, but it’s unique low-level compatibility allows it to operate with any USB host device that is able to communicate over a standard USB port.

Kit Overview

Each individual Nova order comes with the following components:

  • Quick Start Guide
  • Nova Global USB 2G/3G Modem
  • Hologram Global IoT SIM Card
  • Quad-band flexible UFL antennas
  • Access to Hologram Developer Tools

Nova Global USB 2G/3G and LTE-M & NB-IoT Modem Overview

Hologram Nova Board

The Nova is designed with Internet of Things applications in mind. Using the u-blox SARA family which has 2G/3G/LTE-M/NB-IoT modules available, the Nova design allows for rapid expansion into future cellular technologies with a single form factor. The Nova is the future-proof choice for applying cellular connectivity to your devices.

Additional Nova Benefits:

  • Slim hardware form factor
  • Powered by u-blox SARA-U201 and SARA-R410
  • Clear LED feedback
  • External UFL antenna port
  • Global 2G/3G and LTE-M/NB-IoT cellular modules
  • Industry-standard certifications

Hologram Global IoT SIM Card

Hologram Nova Board

The Hologram Nova pairs perfectly with the Hologram Global IoT SIM. For additional pricing and coverage details, check our pricing page.

Activating the SIM

Before the Nova can be operational, the SIM must be activated so that it can gain access to the cellular network.

You can use our Connectivity Guide to activate your SIM and connect your Nova to the the Hologram network.

Inserting the SIM

The Nova takes the smallest SIM size cutout (nano SIM).

Once popped out of the full-sized card, insert the SIM into the slot on the bottom of the Nova board, as in the diagram below:

Hologram Nova SIM Insertion

NOTE: Do not insert or remove the SIM while the Nova is plugged in - otherwise, the SIM may become damaged or corrupt.

Flexible UFL Antennas

We understand that no two IoT applications are alike, and with that, generally comes the need for custom antenna solutions based on specific signal quality needs. Thus, we’ve designed the Nova to be as compatible as possible with an external UFL antenna port, which should be adaptable to almost any cellular antenna on the market.

Included Antennas

The Nova ships with flexible UFL antennas. Both Nova models ship with antennas that are rated for global radio access and connect using a standard UFL antenna connector.

  • 3G/2G: 850/900/1900/2100Mhz bands, Sinbon A9702472
  • LTE-M/NB-IoT: Pulse W3907B0100

Attaching the antennas

To attach the antenna, firmly press down the gold UFL connector on top of the corresponding UFL port at the back of the Nova board. You should feel it snap on and feel fairly secure.

Querying signal strength

With the Hologram CLI, you can easily query the current signal strength of the Nova: sudo hologram modem signal

For more on how to get the Hologram CLI and Python SDK installed on your system, see the Quick Start Reference included in your kit.

LED feedback

The Nova has two clear LEDs for providing power and connectivity feedback. A power LED that represents whether the modem is on or off, and a network LED that indicates the current network status.

Note: Nova LTE-M & NB-IoT modem and Nova 3G/2G modem have same placement of LED color indicators but opposite use for power/network indication. Please use below table for reference.

ModelPower LEDNetwork LED
Nova 3G/2GRedBlue
Nova LTE-M & NB-IoTBlueRed

Power LED status indicator (Red – 3G/2G, Blue – LTE-M & NB-IoT)

  • On: USB 5V is connected and the Nova is powered on
  • Off: USB 5V is not connected and the Nova is not powered on (modem may take up to 30s to boot up and power the LED)

Network LED status indicator (Blue – 3G/2G, Red – LTE-M & NB-IoT)

  • On, solid: Nova connected in active data session
  • On, rapid blink: 3G network detected (3G/2G Nova Only)
  • On, double blink: 2G network detected (3G/2G Nova Only)
  • Off: No network detected
    Make sure antenna is securely connected, positioned to receive cell signal and SIM properly inserted. Device can take up to 200s to detect available networks.

Hologram Developer Tools and Data Engine

Hologram Nova Developer Tools

Hologram Python SDK and Hologram CLI

The Python SDK and Hologram CLI are both open source and on Github. Since no two IoT applications are alike, we highly encourage community contributions to help expand the functionality of the Python SDK.

The Hologram Python SDK is built to abstract out the complicated hardware modem communication and make application development as easy as possible.

Users can reference the Python SDKs examples and tutorials to implement the applications that fit their custom IoT solution.

The Hologram CLI is built upon the Python SDK to showcase how simple and powerful the Python SDK can be.

For more information on Hologram Developer Tools:

Install the Hologram CLI

The Hologram Command Line Interface (CLI) and Python SDK are easily downloadable via curl from your Linux terminal:

curl -L hologram.io/python-install | bash

To update to the latest version:

curl -L hologram.io/python-update | bash

Once installed, you can immediately send data to the Hologram Data Engine:

sudo hologram send "Hello World"

Messages can then be viewed and routed to different destinations at: https://dashboard.hologram.io

Hologram CLI Quick Reference

For a full list of commands:

hologram --help

Send a message:

sudo hologram send -t <topics> <message></message></topics>

Receive inbound messages (try from the Hologram Dashboard):

sudo hologram receive

Bring up/down an internet connection:

sudo hologram modem connect
sudo hologram modem disconnect

Check signal strength:

sudo hologram modem signal

Check network operator:

sudo hologram modem operator

Get u-blox CellLocate Location:

sudo hologram modem location

Hologram Data Engine

The Python SDK offers single line commands for communicating with Hologram Data Engine for simple IoT messaging from your device.

In conjunction with the Hologram Nova, Hologram Global IoT SIM, and Hologram Data Engine - the Python SDK and Hologram CLI are able to leverage the full hardware security authentication that comes with the Hologram Global IoT SIM, right out of the box.

Hologram’s Data Engine is a message queue and protocol translation layer designed to route data from your embedded devices to other internet-connected services.

Hardware Design

The Hologram Nova hardware platform is a global, easy-to-use, and completely open source cellular USB modem available in global 2G/3G and LTE-M and NB-IoT models.

For detailed specs and designs on the Nova hardware, see the Hologram Nova USB Modem Datasheet.


The Nova is certified for the following:

  • FCC
  • CE
  • IC
  • AT&T
  • Verizon

Ordering Information

The Nova is available for purchase from the Hologram store.

Bulk orders for volume pricing, or for only the Nova hardware without any of the accessories, can be made by contacting our sales team.

Community and Support

Check out our tutorials and guides for the current list of supported devices, and don’t be shy to reach out to our community to suggest features or contribute yourself!