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Posts Tagged ‘lpwan’

STMicro Introduces STM32 LoRaWAN Discovery Board & I-NUCLEO-LWAN2 STM32 LoRa Expansion Board

February 21st, 2017 1 comment

STMicroelectronics and Mouser have launched two new products with LoRa connectivity: STM32 LoRaWAN Discovery Board with an STM32L072 ARM Cortex M0+ MCU and Semtech SX1276 transceiver, and I-NUCLEO-LRWAN1 STM32 LoRa expansion board for STM32 Nucleo boards with an STM32L052 MCU and Semtech SX1272 radio transceiver.

STM32 LoRaWAN Discovery Board

Click to Enlarge

SigFox Launches Spot’it Low Cost GPS-Free IoT Geolocation Service

February 17th, 2017 2 comments

Asset tracking was traditionally done using a combination of cellular and GPS technology, and LPWAN standards like LoRa & Sigfox promised to lower the cost of communication and hardware while still relying on GPS technology, but Sigfox has just announced Spot’it geolocation service, which will get rid of GPS all together, and instead use radio signal strength analysis and deep learning techniques in order to provide location information both outdoors and indoors.

Key benefits listed by the company include:

  • Lowest-cost IoT location service – Spot’it does not require any additional hardware or software upgrades, and the device does not have to transmit more messages, meaning there is no impact on the solution operating cost for customers.
  • Low energy – Spot’it does not rely on energy intensive GPS technology, nor require additional processing or any more energy than what Sigfox-enabled devices already consume.
  • Enabled through a planetary network – Spot’it is embedded in Sigfox’s global network footprint and represents the first global IoT geolocation offer. This allows the simplification of global supply chain management: once a device is registered into the Sigfox Cloud, the geolocation service is available in all territories where the network is present.
  • Unlike traditional GPS-tracking, Sigfox Spot’it works both indoors and outdoors.

For this to work, you’ll need to be covered by Sigfox’s network in one of the 31 countries currently covered, so coverage is not exactly “global” yet. The service does not need any new hardware, and you can use existing Sigfox modules, which you can get for as low as $2 (in quantities), and track them at low cost. Sigfox has not provided that much details on how they are doing it, but they still explained Spot’it was the first big data based Sigfox server, which relies on their Cloud service analyzing signal strength to determine the location.

So there are still unanswered questions, such as accuracy of the system, and how much the company charges for the geolocation service on top of the network access fee.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: cloud, gps, IoT, lpwan, sigfox

Bttn is a Sigfox Connected IoT Button Going for $2 a month

January 7th, 2017 3 comments

The Button Corporation, a company specializing in… buttons as you may have guess, has introduced a new version of their bttn connected button with Sigfox connectivity in the US. It works a little like Amazon Dash, but mostly targets businesses, offers more features, and works anywhere with a Sigfox network.

sigfox-buttonbttn & bttn mini specifications:

  • Button functions – Short press, long press and “not pressed”
  • LED feedback – Green (positive), red (negative) and yellow (wait)
  • Connectivity – Mobile data (2G GPRS), SIGFOX (868 MHz ETSI / 915MHz for US), or Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/n)
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for charging
  • Power Supply
    • bttn mini – Rechargeable Li-Po battery
    • bttn – 4 x AA alkaline batteries
  • Dimensions – bttn mini: 69mm Ø x 40 mm; bttn: 100 mm Ø x 73 mm
  • Weight – bttn mini: 90 grams; bttn: 190 grams
bttn devices send data to bt.tn cloud server, or for WiFi bttns to a local server, and support HTTP(S), REST API, IFTTT, Zapier, email, SMS, social media, and more. my.bt.tn website allow for remote management,group configuration, and status monitoring, automatic alerts, usage statistics and analytics for your bttns. Companies can also ask the company to customize the bttns with their own logos.
Creating actions at my.bt.tn

Creating actions at my.bt.tn

Some use cases include pressing the button to re-order a product, for example a bttn provided by your heating oil supplier may allow you to press it to get a refill, or bttn could also be used to rate the service at government offices: short press service was good, long press service may need improvement, etc… The system will also monitor the battery level, and send an email once it’s below 15% so that the battery can be replaced or recharged. The battery lasts for about 2000 presses.

The company is now taking pre-order with the service launching in March for $1.99 per month in the US. The press release does not mention it, but bttn is also available in Europe for 1.99 Euros per month right now based on the specs, and information on bttn Sigfox page and the online shop, with more countries and regions to be supported as Sigfox coverage expands around the world. The initial costs is actually 69.00 Euros including a 2-year free subscription to the service.

Categories: Hardware Tags: ces 2017, IoT, lpwan, sigfox

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

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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Click to Enlarge

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.