Author Archives: Paul

First steps with Helium IoT network

Helium is a crowdsourced-crypto-blockchain-Iot network working with LoRaWan. With all these trendy name, for sure they had the key elements to raise a large amount of money. That’s great for the development of this technology.

I’ve decided to write about this IoT network after an interesting talk given at the Zurich IoT meetup today (thank you CoVID-19 for making us the opportunity to reach such event, today online, bad things can get positive sometime).

Helium is a crowdsourced network. It means, like for TheThingsNetwork or Amazon Sidewalk, the infrastructure, at least the gateways part (antennas) are provided by anybody, basically you and me. That way the network deployment costs are really limited and the network have no boundaries.

Compared to TTN, Helium network is “crypto-blockchained” basically, the gateway owner are mining different challenges like registering some network change, proving the location of a gateway, cryptocurrency transactions… For this work, for maintaining the network architecture and relaying the messages, the gateway’s owner are earning HNT (Helium Network Tokens) ($2.24 each today).

Compared to TTN where you make it running for free, just because you are convinced about the sharing economy, Helium base its business model on a promise of getting some money back from your investment the gateways (+energy, communications…).

Helium is an IoT network, a LPWAN for being more precise. It relies on LoRaWan standard protocol & gateways. You need to add an Helium miner software on a backend system to make it running.

So they are looking to Uber-ize the telecom domain, at least this is what they are expecting.

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Hacking a thermometer for world health

In a previous post I’ve been presented an idea for creating a kind of satellite solution for watching over pandemic progress over the world using low cost connected thermometers. You can get the details of this idea in my blog post “What IoT can propose against Pandemic“. Basically the proposal is to add an ultra low cost IoT communication feature into a thermometer and report the information when an over heat has been detected. That way we could be able to determine the level of pandemic and its geographical progression over time. So I won’t detail all the business model and financing proposal, you will find all of this in my previous post.

The second step is now to make a prototype of a such device to show how too make it possible. For making this I’ve selected the thermometer you see on the picture above and decided to hack it and connect it to Sigfox network. This thermometer comes from Amazon and cost 14€ but is really like all low cost thermometer we can find.

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Ultra Low cost IoT, a breakthrough to innovation

Ten month ago, I was starting investigating the Ultra Low Cost Iot thanks to Sigfox given access to the experimentation they made in this area. The Ultra Low Cost IoT is defined by manufactured devices under or near the cost of $1.

Such level of price are enabling scalable deployment of devices and mass data capture, more than it has ever been able to made. And basically, it is not a question of device cost, it is a question of scalable use-cases where the higher device cost where a business model killer.

This is basically reducing the price of devices by a factor of 5x to 10x. No miracle, this is also reducing the device capabilities and concerns different use-cases than the one previously designed. In another word, Low Cost IoT is not classical IoT for a lower price, it’s a new IoT area where we find new use-cases, new business model and more generally is source of innovation.

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Transfer UDP over SSH

When you want to transfer some UDP protocol from a remote server not directly accessible from your local host you can use a combination of SSH and socat to make this communication possible.

The application case is, as an exemple, a SNMP communication with a server in a DMZ to get metrics in a local area dashboard. Like in this exemple.

You have an intermediate host where SSH is accessible you can use as a gateway.

1- on the local host (on the left side), create a SSH tunnel with a TCP port forwarding (here 10000).

ssh -L 10000:localhost:10000 **gateway_host_ip**

2- on the gateway host, route the traffic received from the port we have previously associated to the UDP target host:port

socat tcp4-listen:10000,reuseaddr,fork UDP:**target_host_ip**:**udp_port**

3 – on the local host, route the traffic received from the given UDP port to the previously associated TCP port for tunnelling

socat -T15 udp4-recvfrom:**udp_port**,reuseaddr,fork tcp:localhost:10000

That’s it.

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Code optimization with Stm32 Cube IDE

I’m using STM32 Cube IDE suite for STM32 development. This suite is based on Eclipse and GCC and it works quite well. In a recent project I was looking for some optimization I could apply on top of the basic existing settings to reduce the FLASH and RAM size.

In this post I want to share what I found and how it helped me.

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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 !

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LoRaWan solar gateway monitoring

In a previous post, I’ve been introduce my home made LoRaWan solar powered outdoor gateway. I’ve been investigating on the minimal hardware to make it running and reach some interesting result in my garden ;). Now it’s time to deploy the gateway on the field (basically on a roof top) and this means I’ll not be able to continue to learn what how it evolves over time.

For this reason, I’ve made a small project to monitor the main elements I want to track about this gateway:

  • Battery Voltage
  • Battery in & out power
  • 5V powering availability
  • Temperature

For this I’ve selected a simple and LoRaWan all-included Arduino platform I already detailed in a previous post: the LoRa Radio Node. Let’s detail this project now available on github.

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