LoRaWAN soil moisture solar device using Helium network

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.

Continue reading

Low Cost LoRaWan Field Tester

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.

Continue reading

Use Wio Terminal as a serial logger

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.

Continue reading

Bird watcher with balena Fin (or RaspberryPi)

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.

Continue reading

Tips, get allocated device IP for mac OS X Internet share

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.

What is the real cost of Helium communication ?

Helium network is a crowdsourced network using a blockchain. There are multiple transactions related to the Helium devices communication. Usually, we talk about the message transmission transaction corresponding to a flat cost of 1DC ($0,00001). That said there are some questions:

  • what is a message definition ?
  • what are the other blockchain transaction impacting the communication cost ?

In the post we are going to review the answer to these questions and I’ll propose a spreadsheet to modelize these cost with some example to see the different kind of real message cost you should take into account in your business model.

Continue reading

Make your own private network on top of Helium IoT network

Helium is a multi network server with a decentralized packet routing system. This is really clever and allows anyone to use the public infrastructure as private LoRaWAN compatible network. That way you get benefit of a worldwide coverage and, in the same time, the ability to protect your raw data from anyone looking at them. You can also create some other public network server, as we are doing with Helium-Iot.eu

The objective of a such public service is to offer a shorter route for your European devices and as a consequence a shorter response time for downlink. It also ensure your data to stay in Europe, something important for personal data like tracking, health or for industrial applications.

For a better understanding, let’s take a look at the Helium network architecture:

Helium network architecture

Thanks to the miner components incorporated in the hotspots, the traffic from the devices is directly routed to the right network server. Each of the network servers belongs to a, operator, it can be you or me or any established telecom operator. This is basically really cool !

That’s why we have decided with the company I work for to take a look at this business and launched Helium-IoT.eu. So you can connect your devices to Helium using our console https://console.helium-iot.eu

In the next page of this post I will explain how to become your own operator for making your private network. This is a bit complex operations, so if you want your own network server, as part of our services we are proposing to make it for you and host it. We also have solutions to migrate existing LoRaWan networks to Helium. Just let us know by contacting me with the contact link.

So, let’s be more technical to understand all of this.

Continue reading

BalenaFin – compute module motherboard

The BalenaFin board, made by balena.io is a compact Raspberry Pi compute module 3 mother board.

This kind of setup is really useful when making industrial embedded systems in small to average volume like I did and described in a previous post presenting my solution on waveshare system.

I thank you Balena.io, especially Marc, for giving me the opportunity to test this product. So you understand I did not payed to get that one, but as usual, I’m totally free about what I’m writing about it.

The BalenaFin costs $129 w/o taxes and can be ordered on the balena shop. So, let’s how to use it and get benefit of the balena.io platform.

Continue reading