TLDR;

The short version: Australia has turned off its 2G network. From my research, it seems that this modem requires a 2G connection to operate. When inserting a Vodafone sim, the modem is unable to register itself on the network. I have tested that it works on a phone without issue...
Can anyone confirm that I am right?

Introduction

I am currently busy with an IOT project where I need to set up a few remote LORA gateways. The gateways will be built using a Raspberry Pi Zero W and RAK2245 Pi-HAT which utilise all the pin headers of the RPI. I do require a mobile internet connection, so I chose the GSM/GPRS/GNSS/Bluetooth 3.0 HAT which I purchased on AliExpress. The module can be connected to the RPI via header pins, but most importantly it supports a connection via USB.

Preparing the sd card for Raspbian

Download the latest version of Rasbian form here: https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/. At the time of writing its Rasbian Buster. I like the lite version so I downloaded Raspberry Pi OS (32-bit) Lite Minimal image based on Debian Buster.

Unzip the downloaded package and write the contained *.img file to the sd card. This can be done using several different applications like:

I like Rufus, so select the image, select the correct drive letter for the sd card, and press start. Make sure you have selected the correct drive letter as all data on the selected device will be overwritten. Your configuration should look something like this:
Rufus

The writing process will take a few minutes. The RPI Zero requires a mini HDMI to HDMI adapter which I don't have. If you do have one you can ignore the next section for headless configuration.

Raspbian Setup for headless boot

I don't have an adapter to connect the RPI Zero HDMI output to a monitor, so to configure the RPI Zero for headless boot we need to:

  • Enable SSH
  • Provide the connection information to connect to our WIFI hotspot

Enable SSH

To enable ssh we need to add a file to the boot partition of the newly created sd card. If like me, after writing the image, you do not see the partition automatically mounted, you may need to manually set up a drive letter mapping.

Assuming you are on Windows, press the Windows key + x. In the popup menu, select Disk Management. My sd card was located at the bottom of the list:
DiskManagement

Right-click on the boot partition and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.... Assign an unused drive letter to the partition. I choose G.
ChangeDriveLetter

Once the drive letter is applied, the boot drive (in my case drive G: should open up with its content.BootDriveContents

In this folder create a file called ssh. Note it has not file extension.
ssh

That is it for ssh. When the RPI boots ssh will be enabled. Next is connecting to the local WIFI hotspot

Connect to the local WIFI Hotspot

Create a new file in the boot partition called wpa_supplicant.conf. The contents of this file should be as follows:

country=AU
ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev
update_config=1
network={
	ssid="MyWiFiNetwork"
	psk="aVeryStrongPassword"
	key_mgmt=WPA-PSK
}

Make the following edits:

  • Change the country to your specific location
  • Change the SSID to the name of your WIFI network
  • Change the psk to the password for your network

With these changes complete we are now ready to boot the RPI Zero W.

Powering up the RPI Zero W

Insert the newly configured sd card into your RPI Zero W. Power the device using a good 5V power supply that can supply at least 2A. If all is well the LED at the bottom of the RPI should light up.
PiZeroBoot
To connect to the raspberry pi via ssh we are going to use Putty. On Linux, you can just connect directly via ssh. Open Putty and in the address type in raspberrypi
Putty
The first time you connect you will get a Putty Security Alert dialog that will ask you about the host key. Click on the yes button to add the key and to proceed to the login prompt. For the user log in as pi with password raspbian.
RPILogin
If you are unable to connect to your RPI via the hostname, you will have to login to your WIFI router to lookup the device IP address and connect with that.

We are now ready to install the required software.

Install the Required HAT software

Step 1: Update RPI Zero

Execute the following commands to update your RPI:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

RPIUpdate
Once the update has completed lets install the required software:

500

So, Australia no longer supports 2G networks so I am unable to proceed any further. Should probably have checked that before buying this modem. I'll keep this article as a warning to others...