Request Sensor Data From Your MKR GSM 1400 via SMS

Learn how to record data from the MKR ENV Shield, and setup an application that allows phones to retrieve data from it via SMS.


In this tutorial, we will focus on retrieving environmental data over the GSM network, using the MKR GSM 1400 and MKR ENV shield. We will set it up so that when a phone sends an SMS to the board, it will read the sensors on the shield, and reply to the sender with a list of the sensor data inside an SMS.


The goals of this project are:

  • Set up a simple data request over GSM.
  • Read the sensors on the MKR ENV shield.
  • Listen for incoming texts, and if we get a request, reply with the sensor data to the sender's number.

Hardware & Software Needed

Requesting Data over GSM

Practically speaking, the setup we will create is very basic:

  • An SMS containing a specific keyword, which we name data, is sent to the board.
  • The board checks if the content of the SMS is equal to data.
  • If it is a match, the board reads the sensors on the MKR ENV shield, and replies with a text message to the sender.
  • The text message contains sensor data a description of what type of data it is.

Requesting data from the board.
Requesting data from the board.

The SMS request method is quite practical, easy to setup and as it operates within the GSM, there is almost always coverage, even in more rural parts.


Simple circuit with board and antenna.
Simple circuit with board and antenna.

Programming the Board

We will now get to the programming part of this tutorial.

1. First, let's make sure we have the drivers installed. If we are using the Web Editor, we do not need to install anything. If we are using an offline editor, we need to install it manually. This can be done by navigating to Tools > Board > Board Manager.... Here we need to look for the Arduino SAMD boards (32-bits ARM Cortex M0+) and install it.

2. Now, we need to install the libraries needed. If we are using the Web Editor, there is no need to install anything. If we are using an offline editor, simply go to Tools > Manage libraries.., and search for MKRGSM and Arduino_MKRENV and install them.

3. We can now take a look at some of the core functions of this sketch:

  • GSM gsmAccess - base class for all GSM functions.
  • GSM_SMS sms - base class for all GSM functions for SMS.
  • gsmAccess.begin(pin) - connects to the GSM network with the pin number as a parameter, e.g. 0123.
  • sms.available()
  • sms.remoteNumber(number, 20) - retrieves a sender's number.
  • equals() - function that checks if a string is exactly the same as string2.
  • sms.beginSMS(number); - creates an SMS for a specific number.
  • sms.print(message); - prints the content of the SMS.
  • sms.endSMS() - sends the SMS.
  • sms.flush() - deletes the message from the modem memory.
  • ENV.begin() - initializes the Arduino_MKRENV library.
  • ENV.readSensor() - retrieves sensor data from the MKR ENV shield. Replace readSensor with for example readTemperature.

The sketch can be found in the snippet below. Upload the sketch to the board.

#include <MKRGSM.h> #include <Arduino_MKRENV.h> #include "arduino_secrets.h" // Please enter your sensitive data in the Secret tab or arduino_secrets.h // PIN Number const char PINNUMBER[] = "YOUR_PIN"; // initialize the library instances GSM gsmAccess; GSM_SMS sms; String message; String data_request = "data"; //used for comparison //variables for sensor data double temperature; double humidity; double pressure; double uva; double uvb; // Array to hold the number a SMS is retrieved from char senderNumber[20]; void setup() { // initialize serial communications and wait for port to open: Serial.begin(9600); pinMode(LED_BUILTIN, OUTPUT); while (!Serial) { ; // wait for serial port to connect. Needed for native USB port only } if (!ENV.begin()) { Serial.println("Failed to initialize MKR ENV shield!"); while (1); } Serial.println("SMS environmental data request"); // connection state bool connected = false; // Start GSM connection while (!connected) { if (gsmAccess.begin(PINNUMBER) == GSM_READY) { connected = true; } else { Serial.println("Not connected"); delay(1000); } } Serial.println("GSM initialized"); Serial.println("Waiting for messages"); Serial.println(); } void loop() { int c; // If there are any SMS available() if (sms.available()) { //only read sensors if a request comes in temperature = ENV.readTemperature(); humidity = ENV.readHumidity(); pressure = ENV.readPressure(); uva = ENV.readUVA(); uvb = ENV.readUVB(); Serial.println("Request from:"); // Get remote number sms.remoteNumber(senderNumber, 20); Serial.println(senderNumber); Serial.print("Message: "); // Read message bytes and print them while ((c = != -1) { Serial.print((char)c); //print incoming message to the "message" string message += (char)c; } //print empty line to separate incoming message from LED status message Serial.println(); //if incoming message is exactly "ON", turn on LED if (message.equals(data_request)) { Serial.println("Data has been requested."); Serial.println(); //begin constructing an SMS containing sensor data sms.beginSMS(senderNumber); sms.print("temp: "); sms.print(temperature); sms.print(", humidity: "); sms.print(humidity); sms.print(", pressure: "); sms.print(pressure); sms.print(", uva: "); sms.print(uva); sms.print(", uvb: "); sms.print(uvb); //send the SMS sms.endSMS(); //print the data in the Serial Monitor Serial.print("temp: "); Serial.println(temperature); Serial.print("humidity: "); Serial.println(humidity); Serial.print("pressure: "); Serial.println(pressure); Serial.print("uva: "); Serial.println(uva); Serial.print("uvb: "); Serial.println(uvb); Serial.println(); Serial.print("Above environmental data sent to: "); Serial.println(senderNumber); } Serial.println("\nEND OF MESSAGE"); // Delete message from modem memory sms.flush(); // Clear message string message = ""; Serial.println("MESSAGE DELETED"); Serial.println(); } delay(1000); }

Testing It Out

After we have successfully uploaded the code to the board, open the Serial Monitor. We should now see the text "SMS environmental data request" followed by "Waiting for messages". This means it is working, and we can now send a data request to the MKR GSM 1400 board, from our phone.

Waiting for messages.
Waiting for messages.

Now we need to create a new SMS that only contains the phrase data. This needs to be case sensitive, and can't include any spaces etc, because we are using the equal() function. This function compares one string to the other, and if it is an exact match, it will trigger the rest of the code.

If the incoming message is exactly data, the program will first read the sensors and then construct a reply, containing all sensor data. It is then sent to the number which requested it (the sender).

Request received, environmental data sent back to requester.
Request received, environmental data sent back to requester.

We should now get a reply on the phone that we sent the request from, which lists the sensor data!


If the code is not working, there are some common issues we can troubleshoot:

  • We have not installed the MKRGSM library.
  • We have entered the wrong pin number.
  • We are out of coverage (no signal).
  • We have tried to send a request to the wrong number.
  • SIM card may not be activated.
  • The request is not properly made. Remember that we need to send data. If we send Data or DATA, it will not work.


In this tutorial, we have created a very basic setup for requesting environmental data, using the MKR GSM 1400 board and the MKR ENV shield. The request, using the GSM_SMS class, simply allows anyone on a phone to send the phrase data to a board, and receives a list of environmental data freshly recorded. This setup can be very useful for projects that are used in rural parts, where e.g. Wi-Fi is not available.

Feel free to explore the MKRGSM library further, and try out some of the many cool functions in this library.

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