Migrate Helium Miner hardware

Helium is a crowdsourced / blockchain IoT network running on hardware like raspberryPi. You can more details on this blog post describing Helium network. Sometime you can have to move you miner from one hardware to another and this task needs to be executed shortly because you stop the IoT communication during this step. Here how I did proceed for my miner.

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RAK WisBlock – a kind of industrial Arduino

RAK is a company specialized in IoT hardware, particularly in the LoRaWan domain. They are well known for their LoRaWan concentrators working with raspberryPi.

Since a couple of month they have launched a new family of device, the Wisblock. This is a kind of Arduino solution with a MCU part (running a NRF chip with a LoRa transceiver) and different sensors you can connect to it to make an IoT device. That’s a really simplified way to see the solution as in fact the architecture is really different.

At first, the solution is based on a motherboard where you can plug different type of modules. You can have multiple additional sensors both side of the motherboard. We are also going to see that the way all of this is connected is industrial and can be use for prototypes, medium scale field deployment and finished product. That’s the main difference with a classical Arduino board.

The unit price of a solution with a GPS, MCU, Accelerometer is about $50, nothing really expensive for prototyping, a bit too high for a field experimentation, really high for an end product but apparently you can negotiate that price when you have a certain volume.

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IoT Antenna matching with Atyune

Recurrent step when making an IoT device, the antenna matching is a key activity to get the right radio performance for your device. You radio strip and antenna must be tuned to match a 50 Ohm impedance. For doing this I’m using a miniVNA Tiny Vector Network Analyzer (until a switch to my Rigol Spectrum Analyzer) as described on the previously linked post.

The impact of a correct antenna matching has been addressed in an old post on this blog also.

Currently, to tune my antennas, I’m also using the Atyune tool. This tool is free and really good to make the tuning but also to get a better understanding of what you are doing. Let’s see how to proceed.

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IoT overview 2020 update

Traditional update of my teaching support on IoT. This year I’ve addressed my speak to larger and different audiences. As a consequence I publish a totally renewed slide-deck with 203 slides. I’ve improved the IoT business model description, use-cases and technology area. I also detailed the platform side of the IoT solutions.

Feel free to reuse this content for your own conference and speak. I’m available for conference, talk … let me know.

The full PDF is available on the following link.

Embedded product with Raspberry Pi Compute Module

Raspberry Pi is a good solution for creating low-cost, powerful embedded devices when you have no need of self powered solution.

I had to create a such device recently to make a programming machine for my IoT devices. I was looking for a compact solution, powered with PoE, industrial grade, able to run a Java program and host a custom HAT with my home-made chip programmer.

Here you see a picture of the first prototype of this product with the different components visible: The green board is a Rapsberry Pi compute module CM3+ with 16GB eMMc flash drive. The blue motherboard is a Waveshare PoE board for CM3+. The Black board is my custom HAT hosting the programming solution based on a STM32.

In this post, I’ll detail a bit these different components and the way they are configured to illustrate how to easily make a such system alive.

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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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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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