IoT Clinic #1 - The Digital Playground Kit

Once upon a time long range deployments depended on things like the SIM 900 GSM/GPRS modem. These days though there are various LPWAN (low-power wide-area network) radio protocols available. For an idea of where LPWAN fits into the range of wireless technology protocols see the following image:

Digital Playgound Kit us using LoRa a proprietary radio protocol stack by SEMTECH which is coordinated by the LoRa Alliance.

Many of the boards we’ve looked at use the Semtech SX1276 Long Modem mounted onto a RFM95W LoRa Module. Adafruit have a breakout board with the module on: Adafruit RFM95W LoRa Radio Transceiver Breakout - 868 or 915 MHz - RadioFruit which might be used with something like the Arduino Pro Mini.

For LoRaWAN while the LoRa bit is in the SX1276, the WAN bit has to run in software on the development board microcontroller. For Arduino this is typically the Arduino-LMIC library, but note that this isn’t a full LoRaWAN stack.

A step up from the SX1276 would be the Microchip RN2483 which runs a full LoRaWAN stack in silicon. One board that has this module on it is the SODAQ One.

We also have an Arduino MKR WAN 1300 for people to see.

The main boards we will be using for the Year of IoT though will be:

The Things Network UNO which can be used with the Arduino IDE.

And the:

Adafruit Feather M0 with RFM95 LoRa Radio - 900MHz - RadioFruit board which can be used with both the Arduino IDE and CircuitPython.

The development boards all use Grove connectors to allow for ease of use, a plethora of sensors using these connectors are available from places like Seed Studio.

We’ve also found a feather compatible breakout board with Grove connectors the Seeed Studio Grove Starter Kit for Particle Mesh.

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Off The Shelf Devices

Rob also showed an off the shelf LoRa ESM 5k which has the following specification:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Light
  • Acceleration
  • PIR motion sensor (optional)
  • NFC for easy configuration
  • Size : 60x35x20mm
  • Accuracy: ± 0.5°C, ±2%rh, ±100mg
  • Resolution: 0.1°C, 0.1%rh, 15.6mg
  • Approx. range: 5km*
  • Battery life: 10 years**
  • Channel planes for US902-928, EU863-870, AS923, AU915-928, KR920-923
  • 3.6V 1/2AA lithium battery

And the cheaper Dragino LoRa Sensor Node-LSN50