Sensecap is one of the Helium miner official hardware. This one has been made in collaboration with Seeed a big hardware maker and provider.
The production and distribution has started on July 2021 and that solution is really promising to help solving the shortage issues currently seen in the Helium market. As a reminder, Helium growth has been from 15.000 hotspots to 100,000 hotspot in less than 8 months. In a period of global shortage in semi-conductor market it is quite challenging for the hardware provider and the current estimates are about 200,000 – 400,000 back orders.
Sensecap coming batch of 10,000 and more units are really welcome, with the promise of selling produced only devices instead of pre-orders. It sounds like a good choice now days.
So let’s review the technical part of the Sensecap miner.
Even if you think it is the first time you heard about Kineis, you are basically wrong in some ways ! This company is a recent “Startup”, existing since June 2019 but for real, they are managing an IoT offer based on top the famous and quite experienced Argos system, started in 1978 and now operating more the 22.000 devices running application like animal tracking, ocean safety and many scientific programs. The service is running over the 8 satellites currently in orbit, making Kineis the most advanced satellite IoT solution commercially available as of today.
Thanks to the polar orbit of the satellites, the whole earth is covered, no white zone, no blind spots from pole to pole, ocean to desert, device are communicating from everywhere, autonomously.
This blog post is the first of a series made with the help of Kineis to introduce you the technology and my experience with it. As usual, there is no sponsoring for these blog posts but a close work with Kineis as the offer is only open to business companies currently.
Companies like Exotic Systems, Arribada or Advanced Tracking, have already started to make products using Kineis network for asset tracking applications mainly.
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.
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.
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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