LoPy Tiny IoT Developer Board Runs MicroPython, Supports LoRa, WiFi and Bluetooth (Crowdfunding)

Pycom launched WiPy last year, a WiFi IoT board based on Texas Instruments CC3200 ARM Cortex M4 SoC, and a few months after sending rewards to their Kickstarter backers, they are back on the crowdfunding platform to launch LoPy, another IoT development board that runs MicroPython and offers LoRa, WiFi and Bluetooth LE connectivity.

LoPy Boards, WiPy Board, and Pycom baseboard
LoPy Boards, WiPy Board, and LoPy Expansion Board

LoPy board hardware specifications:

  • SoC – Dual processor @ 160 MHz with WiFi & BLE radio with 400 kB RAM, 1MB flash
  • External Storage – 4MB flash
  • Connectivity
    • 802. 11b/g/n @ 16Mbps with WEP, WPA/WPA2 WiFi security; SSL/TLS support; AES encryption engine.
    • Bluetooth Classic and Low Energy
    • LoRaWAN
      • Semtech LoRa transceiver SX1272 @ 868 MHz (Europe) or 915 MHz (North America).
      • Range – Node: Up to 40km; Nano-Gateway: Up to 5 km
      • Nano Gateway Capacity – Up to 100 nodes.
    • Internal chip antenna and u.fl connectors for external antennas
  • Headers – 2x 14-pin headers for:
    • Up to 24 GPIOs (3.3V tolerant)
    • 2x UART, SPI, I2C
    • DMA, I2S
    • 12-bit ADC and 8-bit DAC.
    • 16-bit and 32-bit timers with PWM.
  • Hash and encryption engines – SHA, MD5, DES, AES
  • Misc – RTC
  • Power Supply – 3.3V to 5.5V
  • Power Consumption
    • Wi-Fi:12 mA in active mode, 5uA in standby
    • LoRa: 3mA in active mode, 39mA during Tx, 14mA during Rx
    • BLE: 8mA in active mode, 2uA in standby.
  • Dimensions – 55mm x 20mm
  • Certifications – EMC, CE, FCC, LoRaWAN

They did not disclose the wireless SoC name, but the specifications look very similar to Espressif ESP32, and ESP8266 should get a proper MicroPython port soon, so at first I thought they could have decided to go with ESP32, even though it’s probably premature even for a Kickstarter project. However, WiFi is said to be limited to 16 Mbps,  one of the pictures indicates a “Cortex-M4 WiFi” is used, and somebody asked whether the chip was ESP32, and they answered that “due to NDA restrictions we can’t give more details about the SoC at this moment”, so it could be also a new Texas Instruments SimpleLink CC3x part with WiFi and Bluetooth. So we’ll have to wait to find out.

LoPy Kit with IP64 enclosure, LoPy Board, antenna, and battery
LoPy Kit with IP64 enclosure, LoPy Board, antenna, and battery (Not available in the Kickstarter campaign, but later).

The board also supports Blynk libraries, can be programmed with Pymakr IDE, and is Microsoft Azure ready. Arduino IDE support is planned as a stretch goal. LoPy can be used as a LoRa node, and as LoRa gateway with up to 100 nodes, so you could easily build your own little IoT network.

LoPy expansion board allows easier development with a USB to serial converter, 3 Female headers, compatible with both LoPy and WiPy board, a LiPo battery charger with JST connector, a microSD card socket, user LED and push button, and various jumpers to enable/disable features. You’ll probably want to include the antenna kit as well, unless you have your own, as it’s not included in the standard pledges.

Setting up a LoRa Connection in Python
Setting up a LoRa Connection in Python

The company has already raised over 58,000 Euros out of their 50,000 Euros target so the project will go ahead. All early bird rewards are gone, but you can still pledge 29 Euros to get a LoPy board, and most will probably want to add 5 Euros to get the LoRa antenna kit too, or simply pledge 48 Euros to get a complete kit with the board, the antenna, and the expansion board. Shipping adds 7 Euros, and delivery is scheduled for August 2016.

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