Rak Wireless is one of the Helium miner provider, currently the main one. This miner is based on a Rapsberry PI 4 but we will see that it’s not the only part in the miner as Helium Blockchain is not about computing but radio communications.
So the Rapsberry Pi is not the most important parts of the machine, it’s the LoRa concentrator, a piece of technology capable to listen simultaneously on 8 different radio channels and decode really low level signals around -139dBm, basically 0.00000000000001 mW of signal power…
In this post we will detail the technical details about this miner and the interesting aspects. I will also detail my installation experience, this one is not especially specific to RAK as the installation process is quite similar with all the different miners.
In term of radio, the different miner are equivalent and in term of processing the power of a Raspberry Pi 3 is good enough to run the blockchain. More over in the coming month the addition of the Validator in the block chain will drastically reduce the number of complex operation inside the miner. As a consequence, the performance is not an important criteria. This is to say, currently the tech specifications are not really important in the miner choice and I won’t detail a lot that part.
STM32-WL is the new ST family supporting LoRa and LoRaWAN in, not a single chip but a single die. I did not yet written on it (busy busy busy) but this technology is really interesting as it resulting on a simplified architecture with less chip in your circuit and at the end a lower power consumption, a lower footprint and a lower cost.
LoRa-E5 from Seeed studio is a module containing a STM32-WL circuit and the associated RF circuitry to simplify design based on such chip. Its public price is $9.9 for the module alone and you can also find different boards using it. This price is in the maker market but a bit high for a such system for mass production. This module contains the stronger STM32WL family chip, chip price is 3.71€ / 1000 on mouser. But the module includes all the circuitry around and facilitate your design.
The module is mainly maker market and comes with software to be immediately used by end-user within an Arduino or equivalent environment. It can also be re-flashed for being used with your own software in it. The cortex M4 in is is stronger than most of the Arduino platform.
My child have a small garden where he has tomatoes, mint, different vegetables and fruits. We want to know when it is the right time to water it.
This was also an opportunity to use my Rak Wisblock kit fro something else than just writing some blog post. I’ve chosen to connect the device over Helium network because I’m making different tests on this network currently but it is also working on TheThingsNetwork the same way. So you can use the network most covering you around.
The data will be displayed on Cayenne Mydevice for getting a quick dashboard for displaying the information. In this blog post I’m going to describe the main steps and the needed hardware to make your own device.
When deploying a LoRaWan network, we need to verify what is the coverage. Eventually before deploying a Hotspot for Helium network we need to find the best place to reach as much peers as possible. A field tester is a simple, mobile, tool to help you decide the best location and monitor the coverage in a zone.
There are many different existing solutions on the market, I have used some of them in the past like the Adeunis field tester. The problem of the existing device is usually the price and the absence of backend application to report the network seen signal. The solutions are usually around 200 – 400€ and I was looking for making something less expensive for makers and hotspot owners.
Thanks to the Seeed Wio Terminal, a low cost Arduino like terminal with a cool TFT screen and buttons, it makes it a nice platform to make a LoRaWan Field tester with a good UI.
When making IoT development, you need to debug on the Field. I’ve been using some serial logger to store information and analyze them after (I’ll post something about it once a day). But sometime you want to watch it in real time. So you need a small terminal you can easily transport with you. Smartphone could be cool and I’m sure we can hack something fun with a BLE connectivity. By the way, what I had in stock for doing a such thing was a Wio Terminal from Seeed.
This device is an Arduino compatible solution including a LCD screen 320×200, some interesting embedded sensors and a lot of IO to play with. The only bad point for me and the design I want to do is the absence of internal battery so you need to power it a different way.
What I need is just a Serial line to print on the LCD screen all what my IoT device want to share. Let see how I did make it.
I wanted to play with my Balena Fin and make the famous Bird-Watcher but unfortunately, the documentation is a bit light to be able to reproduce it simply. So finally, I’ve decided to make a post about this project and the different steps to make it working.
The project is now deployed on a tree at home and waiting for some birds to be photographed.
Spoiler alert: I’ve not been able to capture any bird picture until now with it. The system is technically working but the default IA part seems to not be trained correctly to work in my garden. Birds came and eat, but did not leave me picture.
Short story, I’m updating a Laird gateway connected to my mac book and using the Wifi connection to reach Internet. I need to get the allocated IP to access it using the web UI.
I found two ways (only one working) on Internet:
[~] ping 192.168.2.255
This way, you can get different devices responding to the ping broadcast and list the addresses. I’ve got nothing interesting but it’s good to know.
[~] arp -i bridge100 -a
? (192.168.2.5) at (incomplete) on bridge100 ifscope [bridge]
? (192.168.2.9) at xx:xx:xx:xx:44:dd on bridge100 ifscope [bridge]
? (192.168.2.99) at (incomplete) on bridge100 ifscope [bridge]
Here we have a device responding on 192.168.2.9 where the Laird is.
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