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.
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:
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.
Announced during TheThingsConference 2021 this January, TheThingsNetwork console is upgrading to v3. In fact it is really more than a simple update because this consist in merging TheThingsNetwork and TheThingsIndustrie in a common environment. This upgrade is really different than a traditional upgrade because it has an impact on any gateways and any devices ; a big impact anyone needs to manage. Here are some of the currently known impacts on the networks and the different components:
Traffic from v2 is routed to v3 but v3 is not routed to v2
Gateway are not migrated automatically
LoRa Application/Integration needs to be re-created in v3 to communicate over v3
Device LoRaWan session needs to be refreshed
Coverage map are lost
Gateways using gRPC protocol (TTN Packet forwarder won’t relay V3 traffic over V2)
… some more to be discovered
As the Network is managed by many different people, and not really planned and organized by TheThingsIndustry, we are going to have disconnections and fields operations to make all of this back to life.
It concerns the TTN Initiators (people deploying the network) but also the TTN users because they need to update Applications and restart/rejoin devices once the V2 has disappeared.
The currently know planning for Europe is (Other countries not yet planned)
April 2021 – v2 console will be read-only (you won’t be able to add devices / gateways)
September 2021 – v2 infrastructure will be switched off, no more communication on it
This blog post details my advises and experience of the migration. As I’ll do it in different waves for practical reason, this post will be updated. So please come back and refresh all along the months of February-March 2021 to get the updates, content and advice will be updated according to my progress.
Personal current advice about migration: START INVESTIGATING SINGLE DEVICE MIGRATION
I had some difficulties to migrate my first device and this has been solved by upgrading the gateway and redefining it in the TTNv2 backend. Discovering such situation earlier is important to get on time for upgrading. I recommend to start migrating 1 device to identify such situation. Migrating more than a device could still means impossible ways for some of your devices to communicate through v2 infrastructure. But it will help to prepare your infrastructure for migration.
New year, new edition of TheThingsConference, the main LPWan event now.
As this event is a big community event including industries, silicon providers, service providers, operator, integrator… It’s a big opportunity for all these people to meet altogether. 2021 due to covid-19 pandemic is online as most of the IoT events currently. Question were, how will be the quality, how will be the interaction within the community ?
TheThingsConference already had a virtual event in 2020 some month after the yearly physical conference and basically it has been a success. It also has been a good training or this 2021 event. As a consequence the event quality (platform, keynote video, talk video) have a really good quality. They basically taken benefit of the new capabilities of the recorded video like to play with a 3D device in the middle of the scene. So that really cool.
They have also taken into account the different time-shift and replaying all the conferences on different slots to allows people to follow it on normal hour. That’s great a better than the previous edition (a 24h non stop event… fun but difficult). The conference is taking place on a whole week
Interaction between the community, at least over the chat is really good and this is also a success… I’ll complete that post all along the conference but we can start seing what has been announced during the keynote.
RAK is one of the most famous LoRaWan gateway manufacturer in the hacker space as they have made HAT for raspberry Pi since a while.
I’m not a big fan of RPI based gateways as I do not want to manage RaspiOS and Rpi hardware and really prefer to have an all in one product well integrated when deploying Gateways. So the Wisgate solution is a better choice in my point of view and it has taken time before I decided to buy one of them.
I’ve bought this one for my next project of LoRaWan solar gateway as I want this one to be fully autonomous, including a 4G connectivity. I have multiple candidate gateways for this like the Kerlink iFemToCell evolution and this Wisgate Edge. The Wisgate price is lower at $249 compared to 325€ for the Kerlink. For this reason, and the fact I already tested the iFemToCell some years ago, my first choice has been on the RAK gateway.
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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