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.
- 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.
The 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.