I was looking for a real LoRaWan experimentation on the field, not only a given open field performance where the result do not match the reality.
For this reason, I installed a Kerlink gateway on a friend’s balcony living on a high part of my city. Then I moved a tracker reporting its GPS position on regular basis and day after day I built a map of the area covered by this antenna.
This post details the results of this expermientation
Once you have found the great idea of the year and you want to start implementing your first prototype it is time to choose the right technology. Some would say you should not choose at this step and implement both at end but in my point of view it looks like and economical mistake to do this way. Prototype is to demonstrate and final product. It can request another technology, for sure. But in my point of view the best is to take the right one at the beginning. For most LoRa and Sigfox are both equivalent or for some others one is over the other one, best depends who you ask. In my point of view, if I consider my 2-3 years sigfox experience and my starting experience on LoRa with 1 year background research on it, there is no magic answer. Context of your idea is the keypoint then you have some technical elements to take into account to finalize your decision.
This post will try to illustrate where each of the technology is the best and give you some decision keypoints.
LoRa GPS Tracker
Todays work was to make a simple GPS tracker communicating over LoRaWAN to check the coverage of my LoRaWan gateway in the city. Basically this tracker reports a position per minute to the network. If coverage is good, position will be recorded in the backend. That’s all !
This post details how to do it easily with the low cost and common components : Arduino for the master, Microchip RN2483 for LoRaWan communication and L80 for GPS positioning.
In a try to connect my LoRa gateway to a standard backend, I started to install TheThingsNetwork software stack. Even if I did not finish it because it was not compatible to my gateway protocol, here are my starting notes … May be completed later.
kerlink LoRa gateway
Until the reality of a LoRa public network in France, to test this technology the best way is to have its own LoRaWAN getway. This is a thing done with the kerlink gateway.
This post will detail the first steps to install it and start to communicate.
Microchip RN2483 Lora
The microchip device is in most of the case delivered with a 0.9.5 a version 1 seems to be available even if not downloadable from microchip product webpage.
This link contains a version 1.0 and a java tool that helps to configure the chip with a graphical interface. It is really usefull.
Main problem I found with the tool: it is not possible on a MAC to open the firmware file to load. Other functions are accessible. On W7 it is possible to flash the device :
- Connect the device with bootloader mode check activated
- Select the firmware hex file
- Select 19200 bps as for speed
- Clic … sometime it is short (and not working) sometime it is longer and working
- At end, execute a hard reset and search for the module it should appear.
Actually on May 1st 2016 the current firmware version is 1.0.1 you can get it following this link. This version is the one validated for network operators like Objenious.
Microchip RN2483 Lora
After spending some time reading and writing about LoRa it was a good time to make some real test of this technology.
As actually there is no network for LoRa, as much as I know, in my town, I expected to start a simple LoRa test (point to point and not as part of a WAN). I just bought some RN2483 LoRa module from Microchip online and also get some from Avnet (thank you Guillaume)
The module is easy to solder on a prototype board and get its command over a serial port. I choose to make two modules :
- The first one is connected to a FTDI cable and will stay at home as a basestation
- The second one is connected to an Arduino and will be a mobile device for my test
LoRa is a dedicated network for Internet Of Things and Machine2Machine communications. It is actually the main competitor against SigFox.
As LoRa is actually rising in France with different announce from 2 of the main cellular operators deploying the network, it is a good time to have a post on what it is, how it works and what differs compared with SigFox.