How to Make a Cheap Single Channel Gateway with an ESP32 LoRa Board

ESP32 to ESP32 LoRa Communication

Actual LoRaWAN gateways based on Semtech SX1301 concentrator  can be pretty expensive,  and even if you take a LoRa gateway design based on Raspberry Pi for indoor placement or experimentation, price is still around $200. A much cheaper way (~$70)  is to use a single channel LoRa gateway, which as the name implies only support one channel, which limits the number of nodes, and forces you to set the nodes at the same frequency as your gateway. Those are not really suitable for commercial offerings, but if you manage your own gateway and nodes that should be usable. If you only plan to implement a network with a dozen nodes or so, you could even use much cheap ESP32 LoRa board like the ESP32 LoRa 1-Channel Gateway sold on Sparkfun for $29.95. Hardware specifications: Connectivity WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 LE via ESP32-WROOM-32 module with integrated PCB antenna LoRa @ 868 / 915 MHz with Hope RFM95W LoRa modem controlled via …

Acer Aspire 3 A315-41G (AMD Ryzen 7 2700U) Laptop – Installing Ubuntu 18.04 and “Hidden” M.2 SSD Socket

Acer Aspire 3 A315G-41 Ubuntu 18.04

Everyday I’m using a tower PC running Ubuntu 18.04 to take care of this blog, but when I travel it’s obviously not so convenient, so a few years ago I bought an  Acer Aspire E5-421G laptop powered by an AMD A4-6210 processor with 4GB RAM, 512GB HDD, and a 14″ display. I installed Ubuntu on the laptop and it works, but with 4GB RAM, it’s not always usable while multitasking. For example I can run Thunderbird and Firefox, but if I ever make a Skype call for example, the system becomes unusable, and I have to close one of the programs. Tasks like video editing are also quite slow on the machine. So since I’m going to travel in a few weeks, I decided I needed a new laptop. My requirements were 8GB RAM,  SSD and HDD support, a 15″ display, the ability to run Ubuntu 18.04, and possibly a processor with a performance close to the AMD FX8350 processor …

Check for Spectre, Meltdown, and L1 Terminal Fault Vulnerabilities with Spectre-meltdown-checker Script

Spectre Meltdown Foreshadow Checker

Yesterday, we wrote a little bit about the new speculative execution vulnerability known as L1 Terminal Fault (L1TF) or Foreshadow, and a reader – MHSadri – pointed to an interesting script that checks for all three speculative execution vulnerabilities, and runs in Linux and BSD (FreeBSD, NetBSD, DragonFlyBSD)  across multiple architectures: Intel x32, AMD64, Arm and ARM64. Other architectures will also work, but mitigation reporting may not be correct. So I tried it on my own machine, a computer running Ubuntu 18.04 on an AMD FX8350 processor. Installation is easy:

The developer recommends to check the script manually first, just for security sake. You can have two way to run it: either directly inside your OS, or via docker which may be a better idea since it would not be able to mess with your system especially I had to run it with sudo to avoid permission issues. Here’s the full output while running the script in a terminal …

How to Build an Orange Pi Zero LoRa Gateway

Armbian LoRa Gateway

LoRa gateways tend to be fairly expensive, especially because of the radio part, but anything that may help lower the cost is probably welcomed. And one way to to do that is to use dirt cheap boards like Orange Pi Zero as Edzelf did, by combining the low cost Arm Linux board ($15 shipped) with Rak wireless RAK831 concentrator module kit ($143) via a custom cable, and a power supply board. All assembled into a metal case. RAK831 communicates with Orange Pi Zero over an SPI connection. While some other Orange Pi boards are suitable for the project, note that Orange Pi Zero Plus lacks a spare SPI interface, and can’t be used with this particular application. A fan was also added for cooling, a well as a USB serial debug board for debugging purpose, but it can be removed once the gateway is in the field. Software-wise, Edzelf installed Armbian 5.38 on the board, and setup the timezone and …

AS923 LoRa GPS Tracking with MatchX MatchBox Gateway and RAK811 LoRa GPS Tracker Board

RAK811 Cayenne LPP Data

Earlier this month, I installed Match MatchBox LoRa outdoor gateway close to the roof, and showed how easy it was easies to setup with MatchX Cloud. Basically, you just register to the cloud, enter the serial number, and the gateway is automatically based on your location. I’m in South East Asia, so the gateway was configured with AS923. I’ve now had time to play with the gateway using Rak Wireless RAK811 LoRa tracker board, and eventually managed to get the tracker location to show up on a map. It was my first experience with LoRaWAN, and I had to learn a lot, and overcome many issues from outdated software development tools, different data formats, and some interoperability issues between all components involved. I’ll document all that in this review, and hopefully it will help others. RAK811 LoRa GPS Tracker Unboxing Before going into LoRa configuration, I’ll show what I got with RAK811 node. It comes with an “IoT Made Easy” …

MatchX MatchBox LoRa Gateway Setup (for AS923) and Installation

Waterproof LoRa Gateway

At the end of last year, I received MatchX Matchbox LoRaWAN gateway, but only quickly checked out the hardware, as I was still unclear about regulations in South East Asia, and did not have any nodes to play with. Understanding Regulations and LoRaWAN Frequency Plans Since then, the government published some notifications about the 920-925 MHz band we are supposed to follow here. It’s in Thai language, and I can’t still read/understand it, but I got some translation help, and some key points include: paragraph 5 : for 920-925MHz non-RFID radio equipment (1) max EIRP not more than 4 watts (2) if EIRP < 50mW, no need for any license (3) if EIRP < 500mW, a license is required for importing, selling, and making your own equipment (4), and you must be in accordance with NBTC technical standard. (5) must not interfere with any licensed application. Interfering equipment must be prevented for any usage. I’ve also learned that LoRaWAN defines frequency …

Flashing Firmware to Rockchip Devices in Linux with rkdeveloptool Open Source Utility

Rockchip rockusb mode

It’s been possible to flash firmware to Rockchip devices in Linux with upgrade_tool command line tool for many years, but the utility is closed-source and only supports “RK Firmware” files that are also used for OTA firmware updates, but not “raw firmware” that you’d flash directly to micro SD cards for example. This week-end as I played with ROC-RK3328-CC board, I encountered some instability issues with micro SD cards, so I instead relied on an eMMC flash module. The only problem was that Firefly Team only releases “raw firmware” files, so I was unable to use upgrade_tool, and instead found out rkdeveloptool  open source utility was used to flash raw firmware images in Firefly’s Wiki. The first step is to connect a male to male USB  Type A cable (like that one on eBay)  between the board and the host computer, and connect a USB power adapter to the board. At least that’s what I had to do here, because …

Visual Studio 2017 with an Embedded Linux Arm Device

This is a non-sponsored guest post written by Marc Goodner: Principal Program Manager, Microsoft, and Jeremias Cordoba: Innovation Engineer, Toradex. Today many embedded devices run some flavor of Linux as their primary operating system. This poses a challenge to developers who run Windows on their development machine. This article explains a new way to use the latest Visual Studio for C++ development on an embedded Arm Devices from a Windows Host PC using containers for the build environment. The device we are deploying to is from the Toradex Colibri Family of System on Modules using the NXP i.MX 6ULL SoC, which features an Arm Cortex A-7. As a demo project we will connect a Bluetooth Sensor with the Toradex Colibri Module. Please note that Visual Studio support for this case is in an early state, you will see improvements from Microsoft and Toradex in the coming months. Prerequisites Colibri i.MX 6ULL with Wi-Fi/BT and an Aster Carrier Board TI SensorTag (Bluetooth low energy) …