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[Dave Akerman]’s interest in high-altitude projects means he is no stranger to long-range wireless communications, for which LoRa is amazingly useful. LoRa is a method of transmitting at relatively low data rates with low power over long distances.

Despite LoRa’s long range, sometimes the transmissions of a device (like a balloon’s landed payload) cannot be received directly because it is too far away, or hidden behind buildings and geography. In these cases a useful solution is [Dave]’s self-contained LoRa repeater. The repeater hardware is simple, and [Dave] says that if one has the parts on hand, it can be built in about an hour.

The device simply re-transmits any telemetry packets it receives, and all that takes is an Arduino Mini Pro and a small LoRa module. A tiny DC-DC converter, battery, and battery charger rounds out the bill of materials to create a small and self-contained unit that can be raised up on a mast, flown on a kite, or carried by a drone.

The repeater’s frequency and other settings can even be reprogrammed (using a small windows program) for maximum flexibility, making the little device invaluable when going hunting for landed payloads like the one [Dave] used to re-create a famous NASA image using a plastic model and a high-altitude balloon. Check out the details on the GitHub repository for the project and start mashing “add to cart” for parts at your favorite reseller.

We are very happy to announce the Arduino PRO Gateway for LoRa!

Combined with Arduino MKR WAN 1300 IoT nodes, it makes an ideal solution for a wide range of applications, like smart agriculture, smart cities and building automation – and many other remote monitoring use cases requiring long range, low power wireless connectivity.

The gateway can be used globally and enables multiple channel management. By supporting advanced features like Listen Before Talk (LBT), it allows users to transmit at higher power on the first free channel, achieving longer ranges than conventional gateways for LoRa. 

Arduino continues its mission of making complex technology easy enough for anyone to use. Customers of the Arduino PRO Gateway will be given exclusive beta access to the Arduino IoT Cloud, which makes installation, provisioning and remote management of the gateway incredibly simple through the popular Arduino Create cloud platform.

The gateway features the advanced Embit EMB-LR1301-mPCIe module, hosted by a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ SBC, in a rugged aluminum enclosure. The gateway comes pre-installed with an optimized packet forwarder and a carrier grade Network server for LoRa WAN that is running on the Arduino Cloud provided by A2A Smart City (part of the A2A Group).

Technical Specifications

  • Chipset: Semtech SX1301
  • Modulation: LoRa Spread Spectrum, FSK, GFSK 868MHz (EU) / 915MHz (US)
  • Number of Channels: 8 LoRa Channels
  • Operating Frequency: 868MHz (EU) / 915MHz (US)
  • Frequency Range: 860MHz to 1020MHz
  • Operating Temperature: -40°C to +85°C
  • RF Output Power: Up to +27dBm
  • Sensitivity: Up to -137dBm
  • Interfaces for the LoRa Module:  mPCIe (SPI / I2C / UART / GPIOs) :
  • Dimensions: 71x40x1mm
  • Operating Voltage: +5V
  • Additional Features:
    • Listen Before Talk (LBT) Capability (for improved transmission power management),
    • On-board uFL antenna connector
    • FPGA support for LoRa Spectral Scan

 

The Arduino Pro Gateway for LoRa (868 MHz , EU version) can be pre-ordered from the Arduino Store.

Our five rounds of Hackaday Prize 2018 challenges have just wrapped up, and we’re looking forward to see where the chips fall in the final ranking. While we’re waiting for the winners to be announced at Hackaday Superconference, it’s fun to take a look back at one of our past winners. Watch [Reinier van der Lee] give the latest updates on his Vinduino project (video also embedded after the break) to a Hackaday Los Angeles meetup earlier this year.

Vinduino started with [Reinier]’s desire to better understand what happens to irrigation water under the surface, measuring soil moisture at different depths. This knowledge informs more efficient use of irrigation water, as we’ve previously covered in more detail. What [Reinier] has been focused on is improving usability of the system by networking the sensors wirelessly versus having to walk up and physically attach a reader unit.

His thought started the same as ours – put them on WiFi! But adding WiFi coverage across his entire vineyard was not going to be cost-effective. After experimenting with various communication schemes, he has settled on LoRa. Designed to trade raw bandwidth for long range with low power requirements, it is a perfect match for a network of soil moisture sensors.

In the video [Reinier] gives an overview of LoRa for those who might be unfamiliar. Followed by results of his experiments integrating LoRa functionality into Vinduino, and ending with a call to action for hackers to help grow the LoRa network. It sounds like he’s become quite the champion for the cause! He’s even giving a hands-on workshop at Supercon where you can build your own LoRa connected sensor. (Get tickets here.)

We’re always happy to see open-source hardware projects like Vinduino succeed, transitioning to a product that solve real world problems. We know there are even more promising ideas out there, which is why Hackaday’s sister company Tindie is funding a Project to Product program to help this year’s winners follow in Vinduino’s footsteps. We look forward to sharing more success stories yet to come.

Our five rounds of Hackaday Prize 2018 challenges have just wrapped up, and we’re looking forward to see where the chips fall in the final ranking. While we’re waiting for the winners to be announced at Hackaday Superconference, it’s fun to take a look back at one of our past winners. Watch [Reinier van der Lee] give the latest updates on his Vinduino project (video also embedded after the break) to a Hackaday Los Angeles meetup earlier this year.

Vinduino started with [Reinier]’s desire to better understand what happens to irrigation water under the surface, measuring soil moisture at different depths. This knowledge informs more efficient use of irrigation water, as we’ve previously covered in more detail. What [Reinier] has been focused on is improving usability of the system by networking the sensors wirelessly versus having to walk up and physically attach a reader unit.

His thought started the same as ours – put them on WiFi! But adding WiFi coverage across his entire vineyard was not going to be cost-effective. After experimenting with various communication schemes, he has settled on LoRa. Designed to trade raw bandwidth for long range with low power requirements, it is a perfect match for a network of soil moisture sensors.

In the video [Reinier] gives an overview of LoRa for those who might be unfamiliar. Followed by results of his experiments integrating LoRa functionality into Vinduino, and ending with a call to action for hackers to help grow the LoRa network. It sounds like he’s become quite the champion for the cause! He’s even giving a hands-on workshop at Supercon where you can build your own LoRa connected sensor. (Get tickets here.)

We’re always happy to see open-source hardware projects like Vinduino succeed, transitioning to a product that solve real world problems. We know there are even more promising ideas out there, which is why Hackaday’s sister company Tindie is funding a Project to Product program to help this year’s winners follow in Vinduino’s footsteps. We look forward to sharing more success stories yet to come.

If you are interested in deploying LoRa — the low power long-range wireless technology — you might enjoy [Rui Santos’] project and video about using the ESP32 with the Arduino IDE to implement LoRa. You can see the video below. He uses the RFM95 transceivers with a breakout board, so even if you want to use a different processor, you’ll still find a lot of good information.

In fact, the video is just background on LoRa that doesn’t change regardless of the host computer you are using. Once you have all the parts, getting it to work is fairly simple. There’s a LoRa library by [Sandeep Mistry] that knows how to do most of the work.

Although the project uses an RFM95, it can also work with similar modules such as the RFM96W or RFM98W. There are also ESP32 modules that have compatible transceivers onboard.

This is one of those projects that probably isn’t useful all by itself, but it can really help you get over that hump you always experience when you start using something new. Once you have the demo set up, it should be easy to mutate it into what you really need.

We’ve been talking about LoRa a lot lately. We’ve even seen it commanding drones.

First unveiled over the weekend at World Maker Faire New York, Arduino has introduced a pair of new IoT boards with embedded LoRa and GSM capabilities.

The Arduino MKR WAN 1300 and MKR GSM 1400 are designed to offer a practical and cost-effective solution for developers, makers and enterprises, enabling them to quickly add connectivity to their projects and ease the development of battery-powered IoT edge applications.

Both of the highly compact boards measure just 67.64 x 25mm, together with low power consumption, making them an ideal choice for emerging battery-powered IoT edge devices in the MKR form factor for applications such as environmental monitoring, tracking, agriculture, energy monitoring and home automation.

Offering 32-bit computational power similar to the Arduino MKR ZERO board, the MKR WAN 1300 is based around the Murata LoRa low-power connectivity module and the Microchip SAM D21 microcontroller, which integrates an ARM Cortex-M0+ processor, 256KB Flash memory and 32KB SRAM. The board’s design includes the ability to be powered by either two 1.5V AA or AAA batteries or an external 5V input via the USB interface – with automatic switching between the two power sources.

In addition, the MKR WAN 1300 offers the usual rich set of I/O interfaces expected with an Arduino board, and ease of use via the Arduino IDE software environment for code development and programming. Other features  include an operating voltage of 3.3V; eight digital I/Os; 12 PWM outputs; and UART, SPI and I2C interfaces.

Like the MKR WAN 1300, the Arduino MKR GSM 1400 is based on the SAM D21, but integrates a u-blox module for global 3G communications. The board features automatic power switching, however, it uses either a 3.7V LiPo battery or an external Vin power source delivering 5V to 12V. While the USB port can also be used to supply 5V to the board, the MKR GSM 1400 is able to run with or without the battery connected.

The MKR GSM 1400 provides a rich set of I/O interfaces including: eight digital I/Os; 12 PWM outputs; UART, SPI and I2C interfaces; analog I/O including seven inputs and one output; and eight external interrupt pins.

Both boards are now available for pre-order on the Arduino Store.

If you want to wirelessly communicate between devices, WiFi and Bluetooth are obvious choices. But there’s also the ISM (industrial, scientific, and medical) band that you use. There are inexpensive modules like the SX1278 that can handle this for you using LoRa modulation, but they haven’t been handy to use with an Arduino. [Jan] noticed the same thing and set out to build a shield that allowed an Arduino to communicate using LoRa. You can find the design data on GitHub. [Jan] calls it the LoRenz shield.

According to [Jan], the boards cost about $20 to $30 each to make, and most of that cost was in having PC boards shipped. LoRa lets you trade data rate for bandwidth, but typical data rates are fairly modest. As for range, that depends on a lot of factors, too, but we’ve seen ranges quoted in terms of miles.

Depending on where you live, there may be legal restrictions on how you use a radio like the SX1278. You should understand your local laws before you buy into using the ISM bands. We aren’t sure it would be wise, but the board can coexist with three other similar shields. So you could get 4 radios going on one Arduino if you had too and could manage the power, RF, and other issues involved. The breakout board the module uses has an antenna connector, so depending on your local laws, you could get a good bit of range out of one of these.

[Jan] promises a post on the library that makes it all work shortly, but you can find the code on GitHub now. If you look at the code in the examples directory, it seems pretty easy. You’d have to sling some software, but the SX1278 can support other modes in addition to LoRA including FSK and other data modulation techniques.

We’ve seen other LoRa shields, but not many. If you are interested in other wireless technologies, we’ve talked about them quite a bit. If you want a basic introduction to LoRa, [Andreas Spiess’] video below is a good place to start.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, wireless hacks

Pets bring an untold amount of joy into our lives, but unfortunately they aren’t allowed to go everywhere that humans are. Of course this makes sense in many situations, but if you’d like to take your dog with you wherever you go, this means occasionally leaving poochie in the car. Along with leaving the sunroof and windows open, this project’s author also came up with a transmitter and receiver to monitor the temperature inside of the car with a series of LED pulses.

The car unit consists of an Arduino Mega, along with a temperature sensor and LoRa transciever. The receiver takes this wireless information, which can be reliably read at a range of 250 meters (820 feet) in an urban environment, and gives the user a series of blinks to assure Max’s (the dog) human that he’s not overheating!

You can find the entire build’s write-up here, or check out its code on GitHub.

WiFi and Bluetooth were never meant to be the radios used by a billion Internet of Things hats, umbrellas, irrigation systems, or any other device that makes a worldwide network of things interesting. The best radio for IoT is something lightweight which operates in the sub-Gigahertz range, doesn’t need a lot of bandwidth, and doesn’t suck down the power like WiFi. For the last few years, a new low-power wireless communication standard has been coming on the scene, and now this protocol — LoRa — will soon be available in an Arduino form factor.

The Primo, and NRF

primocore2 primocore1 arduino-primo

It’s not LoRa, but the Arduino Primo line is based on the ESP8266 WiFi chip and a Nordic nRF52832 for Bluetooth. The Primo comes in the ever-familiar Arduino form factor, but it isn’t meant to be an ‘Internet of Things’ device. Instead, it’s a microcontroller for devices that need to be on the Internet.

Also on display at CES this year is the Primo Core which we first saw at BAMF back in May. It’s a board barely larger than a US quarter that has a few tricks up its sleeve. The Primo Core is built around the nRF52832, and adds humidity, temperature, 3-axis magnetometer and a 3-axis accelerometer to a square inch of fiberglass.

The Primo Core has a few mechanical tricks up its sleeve. Those castellated pins around the circumference can be soldered to the Alice Pad, a breakout board that adds a USB port and LiPo battery charger.

LoRa

nodeshield2 gateway-shield nodeshield

Also on deck at the Arduino suite were two LoRa shields. In collobration with Semtech, Arduino will be releasing the pair of LoRa shields later this year. The first, the Node Shield, is about as simple as it can get — it’s simply a shield with a LoRa radio and a few connectors. The second, the Gateway Shield, does what it says on the tin: it’s designed to be a gateway from other Arduino devices (Ethernet or WiFi, for example) to a Node shield. The boards weren’t completely populated, but from what I could see, the Gateway shield is significantly more capable with support for a GPS chipset and antenna.

A partnership with Cayenne and MyDevices

Of course, the Internet of Things is worthless if you can’t manage it easily. Arduino has struck up a partnership with MyDevices to turn a bunch of low-bandwidth radio and serial connections into something easy to use. Already, we’ve seen a few builds and projects using MyDevices, but the demos I was shown were extremely easy to understand, even if there were far too many devices in the room.

All of this is great news if you’re working on the next great Internet of Things thing. The Primo Core is one of the smallest wireless microcontroller devices I’ve seen, and the addition of LoRa Arduino shields means we may actually see useful low-bandwidth networks in the very near future.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, news


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