The Arduino board MKR1310 is the new revision of the MKR1300 board dedicated to LoRaWan. This board is a SAMD21 Arduino board with a Murata ABZ module based on a STM32 with an SX1276 transceiver. Basically a bit outdated and expensive modem now.
After using this board for some teaching project, it’s a good time to make a feedback about it as many things need to be improved on that board to get benefit of it.
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
Some time ago, a twitter thread made the community react about the amount of $6600 of communications consumption on the Helium network. This thread was full of approximations in order to present negatively the growth of the Helium network. But it is also an opportunity to take stock of the development of the use of the network. We will see in this article who operates the Helium decentralized network, what are the current data volumes and what are the associated financial metrics.
In short, we cannot talk about Nova Labs’ revenue with respect to direct communication costs because these costs are associated with different third parties offering the packet routing service. We cannot rely on this cost to estimate an associated business volume because there are many indirect costs as I have already specified in my blog post analyzing the running costs of a Helium router/console. Finally, regarding a long period where gamers found a way to earn a few dollars on the back of Nova Labs, involving many ancillary costs, distorted the data for June. You will understand all this in the rest of the article.
The Helium router (aka console) is the LoRaWan network server. In a previous post I described how to setup a Helium router / console. In this post I will give you some details of what you can see in the grafana monitoring dashboard and this will help you to understand better how the network works to process the LoRaWan packets. We are going to detail what is an offer, a packet and the different monitoring information we can get from the router.
Helium is an open network, decentralized, there is a wide range of option you can do as a user, like creating your own private router to have your devices encrypted end-to-end. You can also make your LoRaWan traffic to be routed from Helium network to your own network when you are a LoRaWan network provider. Let’s take the exemple of a Telco with a LoRaWan network, let’s name it B’telco and imagine B’telco have an existing network in France. Imagine they want to extends their coverage worldwide, eventually reduce their local cost by removing some redundancy in the cities. In a such case, they can roam traffic over helium.
This means that the data of B’telco devices will be acquired by helium router, exactly as a Helium data, and then it will be routed to B’telco network server transparently. That way, the customer will have a better coverage and the B’telco cost for this worldwide extension will be really low.
In this blog post, I’ll explain how this roaming feature works and what is needed to deploy it.
Recently, on Linkedin, I reacted on a publication that is looking like this one. I’m used to react on LPWAN publication when they are comparing technologies as this one. Comparing apples with eggs and usually meaningless. This one was particularly interesting me because, most of the content is non-sense and scientifically subject to discussion. I’ll detail it in this blog post.
It’s really interesting the way it has been made and also the way the author publish it, react on it on Linkedin and what objectif is serves : capture people in a world where the truth is adapted to make you think only one of the technologies serves all the possible use-cases and all the others are the worst existing. The purpose is to sell you some books and services. This is really looking like the way flat hearth believers, radio waves danger believers and other groups do to find adepts and to sell goods to them. It’s really funny to see and discuss.
As the Author of the original document above considers his slide as “art” you can’t use, copy, cut (even if he published it online on social network) I have made my own one and simplify it to not entering in the expecting promotion this guy is looking for and to troll on the social networks. The curve you see are the exact copy of the original one. These data seems to come from a university work and are needed to be debunked. I just not mention the highlighted technologies other than Sigfox and LoRaWan because they are the one the slide tries to discredit and we will see how that’s wrong.
I do not identify the original author of that “artistic work” because I consider the scientific aspect of that “work” so bad that it discredit too much this person, its student and the associated university, that I don’t want to discredit these people directly. As I did on Linked-in but the author has immediately identify itself to start its promotion.
As I did not had access to the full study, sources of these graph, I can’t tell if the initial work quality that as been done is bad or if the context of the experience is explained. May be the original document explains different conclusions, so I’ll try to not judge too much the original work that has been done. I’ll judge what the author of the slide gave to us, as a single slide with pseudo-scientific information and a fake conclusion. Apparently, if you are ready to pay for the book / register… , you can get more details, thing I do not want to do to feed the troll.
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.
In a previous blog post about 18 month ago, I designed my first Low Cost LoRaWAN Solar Gateway. This year, I did some updates to create a new version to support Helium Data-Only Hotspot (basically it works for any LoRaWAN networks like TheThingsNetwork).
In this version, I’m using a RAK wisegate Lite gateway, it is a bit more power consuming than the TTIG but can work on any LoRaWAN network. I’ve also changed the outdoor enclosure to get a larger and single battery.
You will also see that I’ve been updated the monitoring dashboard to get something better and free of charge. Two of them are in production. One is already deployed as an upgrade of the 1st one and the second one is in the testing phase. The First version has been on the field for more than a year. It has been offline about 10 days during that year, due to the weather conditions. This is a service level of 98,29% from its start until now. With the larger battery I’m expecting to resolve some of the small service interruption I’ve issued during last winter.
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