LORIX One LoRaWan gateway review

Yes, I’ve got one of these LoRaWan light saber I was looking for, since a while! For this I really thank you Wifx who helped me to get one. I know this is really unusual for them to work with blogger, so thank you for your trust. So honestly, even if I’ve been sponsored to get the device, I’m really happy to make that gateway test. As I said this gateway is one of my favorite since a while. The reason are a really compact outdoor design. It makes the difference 😉

I did not made a test previously because this have a cost, about 500€, (549CHF) this not much expensive but a bit high regrading my non-profit activity on TheThingsNetwork local deployment.

Now, I’m done telling you my life, we can see what this gateway is proposing !

Unboxing / mounting

The gateway is really compact and everything is contained in a small box. There is different model for Europe (868MHz) and US/AU (915-920MHz). The antenna is optimized for the given zone.

You can connect the gateway directly to a PoE equipment if you have one. It supports passive PoE as most of the gateways of this category.

In case you have the question on how to pass your Ethernet cable to reach the gateway connector. No problem, this is what you missed at first glance.

I’ve been surprised by the SD card slot on the gateway. In fact it have two possible role:

The gateway can boot on it or you can use it to extends the system storage. The internal Flash has 512MB. Good for most of the needs but as it seems we can deploy application on the gateway this size could be a limitation. The SD Card slot allows to fix this.

The gateway consumption is between 1W and 2.8W (the normal use) making it suitable for harvesting powering like with solar panel.

There are two versions of the gateway IP43 and IP65… basically there is no difference between the two. No in fact I’m wrong. Do you see the 3 pre-holes in the bottom of the gateway on the picture ? Drill them and you get the IP43 version. The reason is just a long term risk to get some water inside this part if nothing allows it to move out.

Connectivity

The gateway only propose Ethernet connectivity. By-the-way, there is recommended setup with 4G router from Mikrotik you can connect with. Basically any 4G Ethernet router will work as that way the integration is transparent. Mikrotik have an outdoor PoE router for about 100€ making it a low cost solution.

Gateway Setup (legacy approach)

The gateway offer multiple ways to setup it:

  • The USB serial port (115200/8/N/1) under the port name “GadgetSerial” on Mac. Login / Password as for ssh.
  • The SSH Console on the address attributed by your DHCP with admin/lorix4u default login / password

The gateway I’m testing is setup with a static IP (I was initially expecting it to be DHCP). The initial IP address is 192.168.1.50. You can change this setting following the documentation, editing the /etc/network/interfaces file. (do not forget to sudo vi …).

The gateway is running a Linux so it’s quite easy to configure it following the well done documentation. I will not detail the console way to setup to TTN as the documentation makes it really easy.

What you just need to know is that the gateway is running the legacy packet forwarder (from Semtech) and you need to collect your gateway ID to register it on TTN back-end.

Time to get the Gateway connected to TTN… about 15 minutes after unboxing.

Fresh new gateway setup !

You’re fed up with console setup (you should not for real, console is life), LORIX One now have a fresh new OS with a web setup interface and today, the version 1.0 has just been released ! It’s time to update !

Currently it is not the default interface and you need to install it manually. You first need to identify your gateway version and included memory:

Here we have a version 1.0d2, this is a 512MB version. The installation process is starting here.

The installation process request to install a LORIX programming tool. Unfortunately it works on windows and Linux only. Ok supporting Linux is really great. The flashing process run over the USB connection. You need to connect your cable to the gateway port. When using a VM you will see the device (atlmel Corp At…) once the gateway has been switched in update mode.

The steps are

  1. Install the programming software
  2. Download the firmware and load it into the programming software
  3. Switch the gateway in update mode
  4. The gateway is appearing in the list, Upgrade it!

The new version have a DHCP configuration enabled by default so you do not have to play with the serial link or your network adapter to make the initial configuration. The gateway use mDNS protocol (Multicast DNS) so you can reach it from the lan with the following dns name: http(s)://lorix-one-xxxxxx.local with xxxxxx the 6 digits of the mac address printed on the gateway itself.

Boooom ! welcome in 2020 !

Configure for TTN

I’ve been a bit disappointed to not find the TTN configuration available in the list but I’m testing a beta version. This may be why.

The first step is to go to the LoRa Forwarder Settings to select the right packet forwarder. For TTN we are using the UDP packet forwarder.

Then you need to setup it for TheThingsNetwork : I really appreciate the explanation about the difference between the packet forwarder and technical security details. I’ve never see that on other gateways I’ve been testing.

You need to setup the configuration files like on the terminal but you can make it from the UI … more simple ;). Select the GLOBAL tab and set the server and ports:

    "server_address": "router.eu.thethings.network",
    "serv_port_up": 1700,
    "serv_port_down": 1700,

We are setting up the TTN router endpoint and the UDP ports. You can also setup the gateway GPS position and this will simulate a GPS position in the packet reporting.

The last step is to configure the antenna gain before being able to start the packet forwarder. You select indoor (+2dBi) or outdoor (+4dBi) type of antenna. The transmission power will be adapted to respect the regulation.

Now you can start the packet forwarder.

In my point of view, this configuration for TTN could be a One Click operation instead of 6. Wifx promise me a better integration of the TTN configuration, I hope it will be soon available. But to be honest it is a 30 second setting operation, just easy. The best would be be able to use the BasicStation packet forwarder to connect, but this is not yet supported by TTN. It should arrive by end of the year and if I understand well, the LORIX ONE TTN setting will be simplified onces this will be made and stabilized by TTN.

The gateway upgrade is more simple with LORIX OS as you can make a firmware upgrade from the web ui, remotely. So this kind of feature improvement will be easy and regular with LORIX OS.

LORIX OS monitoring features

The LORIX OS interface allows to quickly monitor the gateway state with different useful features:

  • Software update
  • Resource consumption monitoring
  • Logs display

Basically you don’t really care about the gateway status but as you can extend the gateway use with custom application, these information can be interesting to verify.

The really nice status page is about the LoRaWan statistics where you can see gateway traffic over the packet forwarder.

This is really cool !! Cherry on the cake, you can access these information through an API instead of using the web page. It means you can easily monitor your gateway remotely:

http://10.0.0.175/api/v1/lora/forwarder/udp-packet-forwarder/stats

Conclusion

I’ve been waiting for this gateway for a while before being able to test it and I’m really happy to have been waiting until the release of LORIX OS. This software component is really adding value on the gateway making it more user friendly. I’m now waiting for two things:

  • A full integration with TTN
  • To test a custom development on it, just for the fun.

Thank you Wifx for making this test possible. Now I’ve to find a new roof top to deploy it 😉

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