This week saw the return of face-to-face of The Things Conference after long years of virtual events. The Things Conference is the major LoRaWAN ecosystem event. Not as commercial as LoRa Alliance event (even if the conference is a source of revenue for TheThingsIndustry), thanks to the presence of most of the guy’s who are doing the IoT.
This edition has interesting weak signals like the presence of a team from Unabiz (previously Sigfox), some Helium bashing at some time, even if most of the attendees have been participating on The People Network.
It’s a conference I can place on the maturity rising, many talk about use-cases, less about technologies. Lots of workshops where we have been able to implement / test advanced technologies like Lacuna Space communications or Semtech low power tracker.
Here are my through from the really great edition of TheThingsConference2022
Until now, all the Helium data-only hotspot I have been tested where DiY devices. They are not really complicated to manage but they are not ready-to-go, so you need to manually on-role them with a wallet and some complex CLI operation for the non-experts. This SenseCAP M2 is the first one I’m testing, ready-to-go or close to be ready-to-go (that does not means it is the only one existing).
As it is a Data-Only hotspot, it means it does not participate to the Proof of Coverage, as a consequence, there is no related rewards for this device. This device only earn the DC (Data Credit) for transferring the communications, so $1 for 100.000 packets. Before getting question, this have no return on invest in a crypto point of view. This has been made to help supporting professional applications on the Helium network.
The LoRa Radio Node is an AVR Arduino board with a RFM95 LoRa module. This all-in-one LoRa module allows to have a LoRaWan device for a reasonable price around 15€. You need to add a battery (like a LS14500 3,7V battery) on the battery holder for a 4€ extra cost to make it mobile. LiPo option are also available using the power connector. Even if the connectors are looking like grove, they are not compatible so you will have to make your own wiring to connect extensions.
This post is reviewing how to getting started with this board to fire your first LoRaWan frame over The Things Network.
The HopeRF RFM95w module proposes to access LoRa at low cost. Its unitary price is around 4€ on shop like aliexpress. A version with a shield is also existing. Its name is Lora1276-C1 from niceRF. These different transceivers are using Semtech SX1276 chip. It makes this kind of chip interesting for regional low cost LoRaWAN design in association with a MCU. Here we are going to use it with an Arduino platform.
The Adeunis Field Tester is a simple way to make test on a LoRaWan network. The device provide GPS information, temperature and an accelerometer to activate communications.
The device is big but it have a screen and you can have a direct feedback of the transmissions on the screen. It make it good for testing coverage manually. You can also program it to send messages periodically and easily put it in a car to create coverage maps thanks to the embedded GPS.
The following post explains how to set it to use it with TheThingsNetwork (as for any other network by-the-way).
This IoT class is an introduction to IoT and LPWAN, it has been made to be a 2x2h teaching session for engineer school students. This class has been given to I.S.I.M.A. school in Clermont-Ferrand in 2017. This class has been completed by 2 more hours on the backend part for IoT by Daniel Petisme. It has been followed by three industrial conferences.
The content of my class had the following slides (in French):
Introduce why IoT is a revolution compared to M2M and why service matter. Introduce the different phases of a connected object design and the involved technologies. Introduce the challenge, from the technical stand point to the business model considerations.
LPWA networks needs antennas and gateway to receive the device communication and transfer them to a network kernel. You can take a look to my post on the LPWA network architecture for more details.
In the LoRaWan ecosystem we call the first part of this network architecture a gateway. There are different kind of gateway : The network operator gateway with a big and efficient antenna, capable to support external weather like the Kerlink IoT Station and some low costs solution you can deploy at home or within a building (indoor) to cover a local device fleet.
The Kerlink Wirenet iFemtoCell device is a such type of gateway. this post will review how to get start with it and what we can expect in term of coverage.
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