Libelium’s Waspmote is a board based on Atmel ATmega1281 MCU that interfaces with over 80 sensors, and various wireless communication modules, and targets professional wireless sensor network applications such as irrigation systems, smart metering, smart cities, smartphone detection, building automation, and so on. They have some professional kits for over 3,000 Euros including training, but a more affordable Starter Kit is also available for 199 Euros on Cooking Hacks. But I’m not going to cover Waspmote in details today. I just mention it because of an article on embedded.com mentioning compatibility with a Libelium / Semtech LoRa SX1272 RF module delivering up to 30km range in ideal conditions (and usually 22+ km range in LOS), and about 2km range in urban settings. I previously featured XBee-PRO 900HP RF Module with a 45km range, so the Semtech module is just another option, and it works not only with Waspmote, but also the Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and Intel Galileo boards. and possibly as well with boards featuring a Xbee socket. This type of modules are a good alternative to 3G/4G modules, as you don’t need to pay telcos, and these may be one of the only options in remote area without coverage and for high altitude applications.
Libelium SZ1272 RF module specifications:
- RF Transceiver – Semtech SX1272 Long Range, Low Power RF Transceiver 860-1000MHz with LoRa.
- Frequency Band
- 863-870 MHz (Europe) with 8 channels
- 902-928 MHz (US) with 13 channels
- Transmission Power – 25 mW
- Sensitivity – -134 dBm
- Range – LOS: 21km (13.4miles); NLOS: +2km (1.2miles)
- Data Rate – Programmable bit rate up to 300 kbps
Complete documentation, and results of tests made in Paris and Zaragoza can be found in Waspmote LoRa 868MHz 915MHz SX1272 Networking Guide, and there’s also a tutorial which is especially useful if you want to connect the module to Raspberry Pi, Arduino, or Intel Galileo board.
The module can be purchased for 45 Euros with a 4.5 dBi antenna either at 868 MHz or 915 MHz frequency. A shorter 0 dBi antenna is available for “smart parking” applications. But for the Raspberry Pi, you’d better purchase SX1272 LoRa Shield for Raspberry Pi for 85 Euros which includes all hardware needed, and for Arduino (compatible) boards, you’ll need to add the Multiprotocol Radio Shield for 33 Euros to the module. All these are available on Cooking Hacks website. If you want to try Lora with Waspmote instead, the complete kit sells for 147 Euros. It’s important to always use the antenna, or the module could be destroyed due to RF reflections, “said” the networking guide.