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Posts Tagged ‘lora’

433/868/915 MHz LoRa Modules Are Now Selling for $6 and Up

December 29th, 2016 5 comments

Market forecasts for the Internet of Things promise billions of connected device in the years to come, but this won’t happen when LPWAN  connector sensors cost $50 or more, so prices will have to come down. I’ve been told that one company is working on a WiFi + LoRa module that’s going to sell for $5 to $6 sometimes in 2017, but in the meantime, it’s possible to get some LoRa modules for less than $10, albeit limited to 433 MHz frequency not the more common 868 MHz (EU) and 915 MHz (US), thanks to products such as AI-Thinker Ra-02 module.

ai-thinker-ra-02-lora-moduleRa-02 specifications:

  • Chipset – Semtech SX1278 low power long range transceiver
  • Radio
    • 433MHz frequency (420 to 450 MHz range)
    • +20dBm – 10mW constant RF output vs. V supply; up to 300 kbps bitrate
    • Supports FSK, GFSK, MSK, GMSK, LoRa and OOK Modulation Mode
    • 127dB RSSI wave range.
  • I/Os – 16x half through holes with half-duplex SPI communication, GPIO and power signals; 2.0 mm pitch
  • Supply Voltage – 1.8 – 3.7V, default 3.3V
  • Power Consumption – Receive < 10.8mA (LnaBoost closed, Band 1); transmist: < 120mA(+20dBm), sleep: 0.2 uA
  • Dimensions – Estimated 16×16 mm
  • Certifications – FCC/CE
  • Temperature Range – -40 to +85 °C

I could only find the module on a company called Smart Prototyping selling the module for $9 plus shipping ($6.84), which amounts to roughly $15. But you could also get your hands on a pair of two SX1278 modules and spring antennas for $14.85 including shipping on Aliexpress, or about $7 per module.

cheap-lora-moduleThe specifications of this cheaper module are basically the same as the AI-Thinker module. The seller is also promising to send the schematics and program by e-mail. If you look for DRF1278F on the web, you’ll find other websites selling it, for example it can be found on eBay for as low as $5.60 with one antenna and including shipping.

[Update: for 868MHz search for DRF1272F ($8.28), and 868/915 MHz for DRF1276G ($8.68)]

Thanks to Elia for the tip.

Categories: Hardware Tags: a.i. thinker, IoT, lora, lpwan, semtech

Pycom To Sell WiFi, BLE, LoRa and Sigfox OEM Modules for Your Own Hardware Projects

December 19th, 2016 4 comments

Pycom is the company making some relatively popular IoT boards programmable with Python such as WiPy, LoPy, SiPy, and soon FiPy, supporting respectively WiFi+BLE, LoRa+WiFi+BLE, Sigfox+WiFi+BLE, and for the latter all four plus LTE CAT M1/NB1. Those little boards are great for personal projects and/or to experiment, but for those of you who would like to integrated IoT connectivity into your own hardware projects, Pycom will soon launch three OEM module for corresponding to WiPy, SiPy and LoPy connectivity featues with respectively W01, S01 and L01 modules.

sigfox-lora-wifi-ble-oem-modulesKey features:

  • W01 WipY 2.0 OEM Module – Dual network BLE and WiFi – 7.95 Euros
  • L01 LoPy OEM module – LoRa, WiFi and Bluetooth – 14.95 Euros
  • S01 SiPy OEM module – Sigfox, WiFi and Bluetooth; Available in both 14dB (for Europe) and 22dB (outside Europe) version for respectively 14.95 and 19.95 Euros

All three models have basically the same functionality as the full board, but there are missing the voltage regulator, reverse power supply protection, antenna switch, smd antenna, u.fl connectors, reset switch, LED, headers, and a few passive components found on the development boards. The modules will come in an hermetically sealed trays, and are both CE and FCC certified.

The modules will officially launch in April 2017 with a minimum order quantity of 500 units, and a lead time expected to be 8 to 12 weeks. You can find all three modules on Pycom’s OEM products page.

NXP Modular IoT Gateway Supports Thread, Zigbee, NFC, Bluetooth and WiFi Connectivity

November 30th, 2016 3 comments

NXP has just announced a modular IoT gateway solution for large node networks (>= 250 nodes) based on Volansys i.MX6UL system-on-module, supporting wireless communications protocols such as Thread, ZigBee, NFC through add-on modules, on top of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1.

nxp-modular-iot-gatewayNXP Modular IoT Gateway specifications:

  • SoM – Volansys i.MX6UL 200-pin SO-DIMM module with:
    • SoC – NXP i.MX 6UL ARM Cortex A7 processor @ 528 MHz
    • System Memory – 256MB to 1GB DDR3L  RAM
    • Storage – 1GB to 4GB NAND flash, optional 4GB to 16GB eMMC flash, EEPROM for device info
    • PMIC, Mbit Ethernet PHY
  • Wireless Connectivity Expansion Modules:
    • PN7120 explorer board for NFC
    • Kinetis KW41 module for Thread support
    • JN5169 module for Zigbee support
    • 2x MikroBUS headers
  • Baseboard connectors / features:
    • Storage – 1x micro SD slot
    • Connectivity – 1x 10/100M Ethernet port, Murata WiFi 802.11 b/g/n & Bluetooth 4.1 + EDR module with external antenna connector
    • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB OTG ports,
    • Debugging – 1x micro-USB port for debugging, JTAG connector
    • Misc – RTC, LEDs, user switch (for power on/off and NFC), and reset pinhole
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A
  • Dimensions & Weight – TBD
  • Certifications – FCC/CE/IC

nxp-iot-gateway-board

So you can select your own i.MX6UL module with the amount of memory and storage needed, and add wireless modules as needed to match your requirements. Volansys is also planning for LoRaWAN and Sigfox modules in the future. Beside the hardware, the gateway and modules all come with various software stack and documentation: A Yocto Linux BSP with drivers, an MQTT client library, a Thread Linux host software SDK, Thread and Zigbee device controller, registration with the cloud, and more. The companies also provide an Android app to manage the gateway, and firmware for Thread Kinetis KW4x end device. Alternative operating systems supported include OpenWRT and Brillo.

nxp-modular-iot-gateway-block-diagram

NXP Modular IoT Gateway is available now for $269 with the default configuration, and you’ll find more details with documentation and datasheets as well as a purchase link on NXP Modular Gateway product page and Volansys website.

Via HackerBoards

39 Euros FiPy Board Supports Sigfox, LoRa, LTE Cat M1/NB1, Bluetooth 4.2, and WiFi (Crowdfunding)

November 24th, 2016 1 comment

Long range LPWAN solutions have just started to hit the market, and there are so many standards such as Sigfox and LoRa that it’s difficult to know who will eventually be the winner, or if different standards will co-exist over the long term, and in a general sense it might not be so easy to decide which one is best suited to your project without experimenting first. Pycom has a solution to this problem, as they’ve made a board similar to LoPy with WiFi, Bluetooth, and LoRa, but instead included 5 long and short range IoT protocols: Sigfox, LoRa, LTE Cat M1 & Cat NB1, Bluetooth, and WiFi.

pycom-fipy-boardPycom FiPy board specifications:

  • SoC – Espressif ESP32 dual core Tensilica L108 processors @ up to 160 MHz with BT 4.2 and WiFi
  • System Memory – 4MB RAM
  • Storage – 8MB flash memory
  • Connectivity
    • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n @ 16 Mbps up to 1 km range & Bluetooth 4.2 with common u.FL antenna connector and chip antenna
    • LoRa and Sigfox transceiver
      • common u.FL antenna connector, RF switch
      • Lora
        • 868 MHz (Europe) at +14dBm maximum
        • 915 MHz (North and South America, Australia and New Zealand) at +20dBm maximum
        • Node range up to 40 km, nano-gateway range up to 22 km (max 100 nodes).
        • Power Consumption – 10mA Rx, 28mA Tx
      • Sigfox
        • Maximum Tx power – +14dBm (Europe), +22dBm (America), +22dBm (Australia and New Zealand)
        • Node range up to 50km
        • Operating Frequencies
          • RCZ1 – 868MHz (Europe)
          • RCZ2 – 902MHz (US, Canada and Mexico)
          • RCZ3 – (Japan and Korea)
          • RCZ4 – 920 – 922MHz (ANZ, Latin America and S-E Asia)
        • Power Consumption
          • Sigfox (Europe) – 17mA in Rx mode, 47mA in Tx mode and 0.5uA in standby
          • Sigfox (Australia, New Zealand and South America) – 24mA in Rx mode, 257 mA in Tx mode and 0.5uA in standby
    • Cellular LTE CAT M1/NB1 transceiver
      • u.FL antenna connector and nano SIM socket
      • Operating frequencies – 34 bands supported from 699 to 2690MHz
      • 3GPP Release 13 LTE Advanced Pro
      • Peak power estimations – Tx current = 420mA peak @ 1.5Watt Rx current = 330mA peak @ 1.2Watt
  • Expansion – 2x 14 pin headers with UART, 2x SPI, 2x I2C, I2S, SDIO, 8x 12-bit ADC, 2x 8-bit DACs, up to 16 PWMs, up to 22 GPIOs
  • Misc – WS2812 RGB LED, reset switch, 32 KHz RTC (in SoC)
  • Dimensions – 55 x 20 x 3.5 mm
  • Temperature Range – -40 to 85 degrees Celsius
  • Certifications – CE, FCC,  Sigfox network certification, LoRa Alliance certification, LTE-M CAT M1/NB1 cellular –  global networks

fipy-lte-cat-module-sim-card

FiPy name is most probably derived from Five IoT protocols, and microPython support. As the board is compatible with WiPy, LoPy and SiPy you can use the usual Pymakr IDE and Pymate Mobile app to write your program and control the board. The company has also introduced two new add-on boards:

  • PySense board with an ambient light sensor, a barometric pressure sensor, a humidity sensor, a 3-axis 12-bit accelerometer, and a temperature sensor, as well as a micro SD card, a micro USB port, and a LiPo battery charger
  • PyTrack board with a GNSS + Glonass GPS and a 3-axis accelerometer, as well as a micro SD card, a micro USB port, and a LiPo battery charger. This can be very useful to track moving assets such as cars or bicycles.
sigfox-lora-wifi-bluetooth-board-lte

FiPy and PyTrack

The project has just launched on Kickstarter as already surpassed its 25,000 Euros funding target. Most early bird rewards are gone, but you can pledge 39 Euros for FiPy board,  59 Euros (Early bird) for PySense Kit, 65 Euros (Early bird) for PyTrack kit, optionally adding 7 Euros for a Sigfox/Lora antenna, and 7 Euros more for an LTE-M cellular antenna. Shipping adds 8 to 25 Euros depending on the selected rewards, and delivery is scheduled for April 2017. Just a warning for users who are not based in the US or Europe: please make sure you comply with your country regulations, especially in terms of frequency used, as such nodes will have multiple kilometers range, and you may not want to break the law, and possibly get a visit from your local police or military…

Badgerboard Arduino Compatible LoRa Board Goes for $43 and Up (Crowdfunding)

November 22nd, 2016 6 comments

Here comes one more LoRa board to play with. Badgerboard combines an Arduino compatible Atmel/Microchip AVR MCU with a Microchip RN2483 or RN2903 module in a breadboard compatible board powered via  micro USB port or an external battery.

badgerboardBadgerboard specifications:

  • MCU – Atmel ATmega32U4 MCU
  • Connectivity – LoRaWAN via Microchip RN2483 (EU – 868MHz) / RN2903 (US – 915 MHz) modem with SMA connector and antenna
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for power and programming
  • Expansion – 2x 18-pin unpopulated headers with SPI, I2C, 13x GPIOs, 6x 10-bit ADC, 3.3V and GND signals; open drain output for relays up to 24V 100 mA
  • Sensors – STM HTS221 temperature and humidity sensor
  • Misc – Reset button; user and Tx/Rx LEDs; power on/off switch
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port, or Li-Ion/ Li-Po battery via JST connector
  • Dimensions – 56 x 26 mm

cheap-lora-board

The board can be programmed with the Arduino IDE and “tested and verified libraries for LoRaWAN communication”. You’ll find some code samples and libraries, pinout diagram and the board’s datasheet on Badgerboard.io website.

Nordic Automation Systems (NAS), the company behind the project, has experience with other wireless products based on Bluetooth Low Energy, ANT+, and IEEE 802.15.4 based protocols (6LoWPAN / ZigBee), and launched the project on Kickstarter aiming to raise 135,000 NOK (~$15,800) to fund mass production. Early bird rewards start at 365 NOK (~$43) and include the board, female and make pin headers, and an SMA antenna. Other rewards including multiple quantities of the basic kit, some kits with extra external sensors, up to Badgerboard Megapack for 5x boards with antennas, an outdoor gateway and 1-year NAS IoThub service for 12,270 NOK (~$1440 US). Shipping is included in the price, and delivery is scheduled for December 2016/January 2017 depending on the reward.

A Closer Look at Ingenu RPMA Alternative to LoRa or Sigfox LPWAN Standards & RPMA Development Kit

November 20th, 2016 6 comments

I’ve recently started to write a bit more about long range LPWAN standards for IoT applications, especially LoRa and Sigfox, as commercial networks are being launched, and relatively low cost hardware platforms are being introduced to the market. There are also other highly expected standards such as Weightless and LTE Cat M that will bring more competition to the market. Ingenu RPMA (Random Phase Multiple Access) is another available standard that’s been in deployment for a while, and based on an earlier comparison of  long range LPWAN standards, it comes with long range, supports up to 384,000 nodes per “sector”, operates in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz ISM band, and offers high combined uplink and downlink bandwidth than competitors. Ingenu recently contacted me and provided some more details and information about their technology and development kit.

One of the documents includes an “independent analysis completed by ABI Research, Inc.” comparing features of Sigfox, LoRa, EC-GSM-IoT, MB-IoT, LTE Cat-M1,  and RPMA.

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All standards can have node powered by a battery for over 10 years, but based on that table RPMA does seems to have some advantages in terms of coverage, capacity, throughput, security level, scalability, and mobility support.

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Those charts are extracted from the Ingenu’s marketing documents, so they’ll obviously show RPMA in a positive light. However it does seems that if you have lots of nodes, and bandwidth requirements higher than what can be delivered by LoRa or Sigfox, RPMA appears to be a potentially better solution. The 2.4 GHz band is normally quite busy, so I wonder if there could be some limitations here, and some countries may also have restrictions on the emitted power. RPMA deployments started in 2011, so they already have an installed base on several continents for industrial, agricultural, and security applications, which includes 38 Private Networks as well as the “Machine Network” in North & South America, EMEA, and APAC regions.

ingenu-rpma-networksSupport in the Asia Pacific regions is certainly a plus, as this week a French company wanted to send me their Sigfox & LoRa sensors kits for evaluation, but they had nothing working in South East Asia, so it will be for a little later.

The company can provide RPMA devkit to their customers in order to get started and evaluate the technology.

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Ingenu RPMA development kit key features and specifications:

  • MCU – NXP Kinetis K20 ARM Cortex-M4 MCU @ 50 MHz
  • Connectivity
    • nanoNode RPMA radio module (NODE103)
      • Wireless Frequency – 2.4 GHZ ISM
      • Bandwidth – 1 MHz
      • Modulation – Dynamic Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (D-DSSS)
      • Access Point Capacity – Up to 64,000 nodes in star topology
      • Typical Power – Tx: 800 mW; Rx: 250 mW
    • u-Blox GPS module
  • Expansion – Header with analog & digital GPIOs and UART
  • Debugging – JTAG header, UART for serial debugging
  • Battery Life – Up to 20+ years
  • Power Supply – 5V/1A power supply to DC jack (J204), 2.2 to 3.6V DC batteries to J201 header
  • Dimensions – 107 x 68 x 13 mm
  • Temperature Range – 0°C to 85°C
  • Certifications – FCC, IC, ETSI, and others (pending) for some specific countries

The rACM (reference Application Communication Module) tools are used to control the kit, and since they are written in Python it will work on Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. Communication occurs over a REST API or Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) open standard messaging protocol, and devices can be managed through a platform called Intellect. Quick Start Guides are also provided to customers to show how to set up pulse meters, UART, GPIO, and more…

rpma-intellect

You’d use the devkit with RPMA networks such as the Machine Network. You can check network coverage on Ingenu to find out if it is available in your location. If there’s no network in your location, but a network is expected soon, you can still evaluate RPMA technology by getting an Exploration Kit with two RPMA devkits and a rental RPMA access point. The latter gives some clue about about the use cases for RPMA, as while you can get one or two ~50 Euros LoRa nodes connected it to a LoRaWAN network or setup P2P communication, RPMA apparently requires an access point that expensive enough that it has to be rented. So RPMA is likely most suitable and cost effective for larger scale IoT deployments, and not for smaller or hobbyist’s projects.

You’ll get some more details about the hardware and software, as well as interesting case studies about existing implementations, on the Get Started page, or by directly downloading the Starter Pack with hardware design files, software tools, REST & AMQP source code examples, and documentation.

GR-LoRa is a Reverse-Engineered Open Source Implementation of LoRa PHY

November 15th, 2016 8 comments

LPWAN standards such as LoRa or Sigfox allow you to transmit data over long distance, at ultra low power (up to 10 years on a AA battery), and for free if your use your own network (P2P or gateway), or a few dollars per years if you go through a network provider. The low cost is possible since those standards rely on 900 MHz ISM bands, meaning nobody has to pay millions of dollars to the government to obtain a license fee. Matt Knight looked at LoRa, and while Level 2 and 3 of the protocol (LoRaWan) has public documentation, Level 1 (LoRa PHY) is proprietary and the standard is proprietary.

microchip-rm2903-ettus-b210-sdrSo he decided to reverse-engineer LoRa PHY using Microchip RN2903 based LoRa Technology Mote and Ettus B210 USB software defined radio, and software packages and tools such as Python and GNU Radio to successfully deliver GR-LoRa open source “GNU Radio OOT module implementing the LoRa PHY”.  He presented his work at GNU Radio Conference 2016 on September 15, and the video is worth a watch. He first explains why LPWAN IoT standards are awesome, the motivation about reverse-engineering work (mostly security), the hurdle (e.g. lies in documentation), the results, and work to be done.

You’ll find the presentation and the research paper on Github.

Thanks to Emanuele for the tip.

Marvin is a Plug and Play, Arduino Compatible, LoRa USB IoT Development Board (Crowdfunding)

November 11th, 2016 9 comments

LoRa appears to be one of the most popular LPWAN standards so far, with hobbyist development boards such as LoPy or LoRaONE, and we’ll soon have at least one more choice thanks to Marvin, a LoRa development board with a full size USB port.

marvin-loraMarvin board specifications:

  • MCU – Atmel/Microchip ATmega32u AVR MCU (same as Arduino Leonardo board)
  • Connectivity – LoRa via Microchip RN2483; Supports both 868 MHz and 433 MHz frequency bands, on-board antenna
  • USB – 1x USB, 1x micro USB port for power and programming
  • Debugging – USB, and ISP header
  • Expansion – 5x Grove connectors
  • Power Supply – 5V via USB port
  • Dimensions – N/A, but similar to USB flash drive

The board can be programmed with the Arduino IDE, and they mention IBM Bluemix platform, and Node-RED, but overall details about documentation and software are scarce right now. One of the advantage of this form factor is that you can program it directly into your computer, and once you’re done you can plug it into a power bank easily without having to bother with any cables in the process.

lora-sensorsThe board is based on  RN2483 chip with 868 & 434 MHz frequency bands, so it will work in many countries in Europe, but it won’t work with LoRa networks in the US, Japan, New Zealand, etc.. where other frequency bands are used. You could use two Marvin for points to points communication in those countries, but you’d have to make sure 868 Mhz is not used by something else… LoRA is designed for low power long range communication for IoT project, and if you send messages of about 50 bytes at around 5000bit/sec, you’d be able to send about 300 messages per day. The LOS range is about 10 to 20 km.

The project been launched on Kickstarter yesterday, and the developers have already surpassed their 10,000 Euros funding target with close to 16,000 Euros raised so far. All 60 Euros early bird rewards are gone, but you can still get the board for 70 Euros, as well as full suitcases with some Grove sensors and multiple Marvin boards. Most rewards will only ship to Europe, probably due to limitations discussed above, but somehow if you order a Marvin development suitcase (825 Euros) it will ship anywhere in the world. Shipping is included in the pledge, and delivery is scheduled for February 2017.