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What is Lora

what is lora

Lora

LoRa is a spread spectrum wireless technology, developed by Semtech Corporation. It has been developed to allow long distance transmission of low rate data. The low rate data is collected by remote field sensors and actuators, and is used for Internet of Things and M2M applications. Lora uses the 868 Mhz unlicensed radio spectrum, in what is known as the ISM (Industrial, Scientific and Medical) bands to wirelessly facilitate low power, wide area data communication between the remote sensors and gateway devices, which connect to the Internet, or other network.

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How to Build a Lorawan Gateway

industry 4.0

What is  Lorawan

First of all, what is Lorawan.  It is a wireless technology that allows small amounts of data to be sent between a remote sensor (such as a river level detector), and the Internet.

Lorawan technology is very efficient at sending the sensor data over long distances, whilst consuming very little power. This means that a the sensor devices can be battery powered, whilst the batteries last for years.

What is a Gateway then

A Lorawan Gateway is the device that receives the wireless signals containing data, that has been transmitted (using Lora wireless technology) from the remote sensors (river level monitoring, air quality etc).

Once the  Gateway has received the  wirelessly transmitted data, the gateway forwards the data onto the Internet.

Gateway connection to the Internet can be via a variety of means, such as Wifi, Ethernet, 3G, 4G, 5G etc.

Building the Gateway

For beginners to building their own gateway, I would recommend joining, or founding a local Things Network .

The Lorawan Gateway that I am going to describe here, is designed to operate on the Things Network, however other lora networks can easily be installed.

The main components that you will need are:-

1) A Concentrator board from IMST of Germany. The Concentrator board is the wireless communications part of the system, responsible for receiving the wireless data signals, from the remote environmental sensors (Air quality sensors etc).

2) A small computer to store the software that controls the Concentrator board. We are going to use the UK designed Raspberry PI 3.

A Micro SD Card, for holding the software used by the Raspberry PI.  A small 4 GB card is fine.

3) A suitable Antenna (or Aerial), with pigtail connecting cable.

4) A suitable 2 Amp rated power supply, with a micro USB connector.

5)  7 Female to Female connecting leads, suitable for raspberry PI.

4) A suitable case, to house the components.

 

The first thing I need to make you aware of is the risk of static electricity, to your IMST ic880a Concentrator and Raspberry PI.

Static can damage the sensitive electronic components, therefore it is advisable to take precautions, such as not touching the board components, and wearing an anti static wrist strap.

The first thing you need to do is to format the micro SD card, that will be fitted to the raspberry PI, to hold the gateway software.

The SD card association has a free piece of software, for Windows PC and Mac, to do this. My card was already formatted, so I skipped this step.

The next step is to burn the actual software that will power your gateway, onto the Raspberry PI.

To do this, I used https://etcher.io/    

I first installed Etcher onto my  linux desktop computer. As most people use Windows PC, or Mac, you will need to find a suitable alternative to Etcher.

I also downloaded the operating system needed to run the Raspberry Pi, which is called Raspbian Stretch Lite , onto my desktop PC.

Put your micro SD card into your computers micro SD card reader. If your computer (like mine) does not have a card reader, then external USB plug in ones can be purchased cheaply (I got mine from my local Asda supermarket for £6).

Fire up Etcher, or whatever card  burning software you prefer, and select the copy of Raspbian Stretch Lite , that you previously downloaded to your PC.

Follow the instructions, and burn the operating system software onto the micro SD card.

Once you have successfully burned your Raspbian Stretch Lite, onto your SD card, insert it into the Raspberry Pi (the slot is on the underside of the Pi).

The next thing to do is to connect your Raspberry Pi to a suitable monitor (I used a TV, that had a HDMI connection), and also connect a USB keyboard, power supply, and mouse.

The power supply should be 5 Volts DC, and Raspberry Pi power supplies are widely available. I used a USB phone charger, with 5 Volts output, and a current rating of 2000mA.

Boot up your Raspberry Pi (connect the power), and you will see lots of computer code scrolling across your screen (if you have done everything successfully, so far).

When the Raspberry Pi asks you for a user name and password, use the following default ones (the  bit after the  ‘ : ‘ ).

Username: Pi

Password: Raspberry

After you have successfully logged in, type:

 sudo raspi-config

Numbered options will now hopefully be on your monitor screen.

Select [5] Interfacing Options, and then P4 SPI

Then select [7] Advanced Options , and then [A1] Expand Filesystem.

You now need to exit the raspi-config utility, either by hitting the ‘CTRL’  and  ‘X’ keys, or by typing sudo reboot

Next you are going to Configure the locales and time zone.

Type this in, to set the locales, and follow instruction.

sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales

Next, type this in to set time zone.

sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

The next stage is to update the raspberry Pi software, do this by typing:

sudo apt-get update

Then install any upgrades to the operating system software, by typing sudo apt-get upgrade

Next we are going to install Git , which is needed to be able to download the Things Network software from Github.

Type:

sudo apt-get install git

The next step is to create a user called TTN (the things network).  This user will eventually replace the default raspberry pi user, which we will delete.

sudo adduser ttn

Then:    sudo adduser ttn sudo

Logout, by typing logout

Once you have logged out, log back in using the user name and password that you have just set up, when you added a user.

You can now delete the default Raspberry Pi user, by typing

sudo userdel -rf pi

 

Set the WIFI  SSID and password details, which can be found on the back of your home router / Hub (usually).

To set the WIFI details type

sudo nano /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf 

Once you have typed in the above text, you should see some code on the screen. Add the following to the end of the existing code, making sure that you enter your SSID and password details, in place of the shown text.

network=

{
ssid="The_SSID_of_your_wifi"
psk="Your_wifi_password"

}

Now we are going to clone the installer from Github. This will download the software which runs the gateway, from the Github repository.  Type each of the following three code lines into your Pi, one at a time, hitting the return key after each line of code.

  git clone -b spi https://github.com/ttn-zh/ic880a-gateway.git ~/ic880a-gateway
  cd ~/ic880a-gateway
  sudo ./install.sh spi

Identifying the Gateway

The software will give the gateway the default name of ttn-gateway.

This however may need to be changed, to prevent issues with other Things Network Gateways within wireless range.

Wiring it Up

The next step is to connect the Concentrator board, to the Raspberry Pi, and also connect the antenna.

The components including the antenna should be mounted in a protective box,  and the antenna connected to the Concentrator board.

It is very important that the Concentrator board is not powered up, with no suitable antenna connected, of damage could occur to the board.

Once the antenna is connected, then the next step is to connect the Concentrator to the Raspberry Pi.

Connect using female to female connecting wires, as follows:

iC880a Concentrator pinDescriptionRPi physical pin
21Supply 5V2
22GND6
13Reset22
14SPI CLK23
15MISO21
16MOSI19
17NSS24

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:

It is important that you identify the correct pins, by referring to the manufactures data sheets (Both IMST & Raspberry Pi).

We accept no liability for loss or damage caused, by following these information only instructions.

For help, as to which pin is which on the Concentrator and Raspberry Pi boards, why not get in touch.

I also offer workshop training, where I can train your students to build their own Lorawan Gateways.

@acraigmiles

www.craigmiles.co.uk

Craig Miles (C) 2018 , all images and content, unless stated separately.

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Lincoln Things Network sponsored by Yesway

sensors

Lincoln Things Network  Sponsorship

What is the Things Network

The Things Network is a worldwide crowd funded Internet Of Things Network, which started in Amsterdam.

It consists of sensors, such as air quality sensors that transmit data wirelessly via ‘Gateway’ devices to the Internet Cloud.

It is rapidly expanding around the world, including the UK.

Why do we need this network?

The world is undergoing rapid change in the world of work, and it has been predicted that many jobs will become automated in the coming years.

The Internet Of Things, or IOT for short, along with Virtual Reality & 3D Printing  is part of this new industrial revolution.

It is therefore vitally important that we educate the current and future generations quickly, so we don’t get left behind as a nation.

The Things Network helps educate people, and lets businesses cost effectively develop new IOT products.

Where DoesThe Lincoln Network Cover

The Things Network is based on a wireless technology called LoraWAN.

As with all wireless technologies LoraWAN, which the Things Network runs on is range limited.

One of the great features of LoraWAN technology is that the signal can travel a long distance, using low power.

However as with all wireless technologies, buildings and natural objects in ‘line of sight’, will reduce the signal range.

The Things Network uses devices called ‘Gateways’ to receive the signals transmitted wirelessly from the remote sensors, and puts the data onto the web.

Currently the Lincoln Things Network has planned to install one Gateway near central Lincoln.

This should cover a large area of the City of Lincoln, but other additional Gateways may well be necessary, due to objects, reducing the signal coverage.

When will the Network be live

The components for the first Gateway device for the Lincoln Network has been ordered, and the gateway is currently being constructed.

As the Things Network is essentially a voluntary community effort, we welcome help from schools and local businesses.

Please get involved, as any help is appreciated.

Who is behind the Lincoln things Network

The Lincoln Things Network was initiated by Craig Miles, who can be contacted via the community page at https://www.thethingsnetwork.org/community/lincoln/

Alternatively he can be contacted via his personal website at  www.craigmiles.co.uk

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Security & Emergency Monitoring

innovation

  • Explosive & Hazardous Gases
  • Perimeter Access Control
  • Presence of Liquids
  • Radiation Level Monitoring

The above examples are some of the applications of wireless IOT monitoring possibilities.

For help with researching & implementing remote monitoring solutions to improve your business, get in touch.

 

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Smart Metering

IOT

Smart Metering

The Internet of things can monitor the following variables remotely using wireless sensors.

Wireless technologies such as LORA  provide long range low bandwidth communication of the data, back to the ‘gateway’. The gateway is the device that puts the data onto the Internet cloud.

Some things that Smart Metering can monitor include:-

  • Fuel tank levels, such as amount of fuel oil used over a period of time, and levels in the tank.  This can also warn tank owners of fuel theft or leakage.
  • Photo Voltaic (Solar) installations. How much energy is being generated, and which sites are producing how much.
  • Water flow, such as for billing domestic & industrial customers. This can save costs of manually checking meters.
  • Calculation of stock in a silo, for audit & ordering purposes

 

(c) 2016 Craig Miles @ Yesway Ltd  #acraigmiles

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Smart Water Monitoring

innovation

internet of things

Smart Water Monitoring encompasses a number of possible solutions.

Wireless IOT (Internet of Things) technology can monitor the following:-

  • Monitoring of Potable water, such as water quality, flow rate & leak monitoring
  • Chemical leakage detection in rivers
  • Remote monitoring of water quality & safety in Swimming pools
  • Pollution levels in the Sea
  • Water leaks in pipes
  • Flooding of river banks

The data is collected in real time, and can be used to automate counter measures using cloud based processing.

 

[bctt tweet=”Smart Water Monitoring encompasses a number of possible solutions.” username=”yeswayradio”]

We can help you research & implement practical solutions that work for your business. Get in touch!

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Smart Environment

innovation

Smart Environment

The ‘Smart Environment’ means the use of low power wireless sensors to detect changing variables in the environment.

There are three distinct stages of a Smart Environment system, which will be considered in terms of INPUT-PROCESS-OUTPUT.

The input stage is concerned with the gathering of the data source, and getting it to the process part of the system.

In terms of a typical LPWAN, or Low Power Wide Area Network system this might consist of a ‘sensor node’ that measures an environmental parameter, such as the ‘Ph’ of the soil in a field.

The sensor node gathers data and the data is transmitted via a suitable Low Power, Narrow Bandwidth wireless technology, such as Lorawan, Weightless or Sigfox.

At the receiving end of the transmitted data, the data is received by a device called a ‘Gateway’. The job of the gateway is to receive the wireless data signal, and put it onto the internet.

The sensor node, Narrow band Wireless Link, and Gateway device, can all be considered to be part of the INPUT section of the system.

The PROCESS part of the system occurs online, and is where software can be used to make smart automated decisions relating to the environment, based on analysis of the available data received from the INPUT section of the system.

An example of an automated decision, might be a vending machine that sends data onto the internet reporting that the machine is out of salt and vinegar crisps.

The online software would then logically decide a course of action, based on the received data. This is the PROCESS section, capable of automatically carrying out decisions that are normally done by human beings (clerical workers).

The OUTPUT section carries out an instruction, based on the decisions made by the online software, in the cloud, which is based on data from the INPUT section.

In this vending machine example the received data could notify a mobile delivery driver on a screen in his vehicle, to go to the machine and restock it (with salt and vinegar crisps, in this case).

The system could also automatically order new stock, as and when necessary from the crisp manufacturer.

Parameters that could also be monitored and analysed are, which products are the most popular, and if data is sent in real time, what products sell at what time of the day.

Knowing the time of day that a product sells can help marketing departments determine the socio-economic & demographic profiles of users,

How could marketers use this information you might wonder?

If the vending machine was located at a swimming pool, then data from the swimming pools website on class times, could be combined with product purchase data from the vending machine at the pool, to determine what products were most popular when the ‘Women Only’ swim session was on for instance.

Another possible data source could include ticket type sold (adult, child, senior citizen).

 

 

Some other uses of Smart Environment systems include the following examples:-

  • Forest fire detection
  • Early detection of earthquakes
  • Remote Snow level monitoring
  • Air pollution monitoring
  • Landslide & Avalanche protection

This article will be expanded shortly, when we get some more time.

If you would like help with any of the above technologies, get in touch. We are multi-skilled engineers with experience in the marine, land industrial & aerospace industries.

[bctt tweet=”The ‘Smart Environment’ means the use of low power wireless sensors to detect changing variables in the environment” username=”yeswaylimited”]

 

Author Twitter Name: @acraigmiles

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Smart Cities

smart cities

Things that the Internet of Things can measure around future ‘Smart Cities’ using low power wireless sensors:-

  • Waste Management
  • Smart Roads
  • Smart Parking, ensuring best use of limited space.
  • Structural Health, such as changes in length of bridge wires on a suspension bridge.
  • Mapping Urban Noise pollution. This affects human quality of life, and can affect wildlife as well
  • Smartphone detection.
  • Electromagnetic Field Levels, caused by power lines, radio transmitters etc.
  • Traffic congestion. Smarter traffic management solutions, based on real time data.
  • Smart lighting, such as street lights that go off and one depending on whether they are actually needed at the time.

[bctt tweet=”Things that the Internet of Things can measure around future ‘Smart Cities’ using low power wireless sensors:-” username=”yeswaylimited”]

Smart cities
smart cities

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Retrofitting the Internet of Things to Industry

sensors

Things to Consider When Retrofitting the Internet of Things to Existing Industrial Equipment

 

The Internet of Things, or IOT for short is already known to the public through innovative products, such as body worn fitness monitors, that record and upload data to the internet.

In the industrial sectors, such as manufacturing, new systems are being developed to replace existing infrastructure, to improve efficiency.

However, what about perfectly good existing equipment that you, as a business, do not want to replace. The answer is to retrofit equipment, to make it ‘Smart’.

It is convenient to break down the IOT process in terms of:-

 

Input-Process-Output

 

Therefore retrofitting the Internet of Things….tb continued

 

 

This is the first of our videos on retrofitting the Internet of Things to existing industries, such as factories, agriculture and cities.

Internet of Things
Retrofitting the Internet of Things to Industry
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Product Design for Wireless Marine Monitoring

smart product design

[bctt tweet=”Article about casing design considerations for marine environments.” username=”yeswayradio”]

Developing environmental monitoring systems for the marine environment has additional challenges when compared to designing systems for inland shore side operation.

One reason is the fact that the sea is salty. This means that the casings for the monitoring equipment must not only be watertight, but also be made from a material that will not easily corrode, such as marine grade stainless steel, or plastic (a good resource for more information on marine plastics is here

Ingress Protection (IP) Ratings of ‘off the shelf’ casings should be checked and considered before purchasing an pre-made solution. For example an IP54 gives: Limited protection against dust ingress.
(no harmful deposit), and Protected against splash water from any direction.

Therefore IP54 would not be suitable for a device or product that is going to be submerged for periods of time. IP68 which gives: Totally protected against dust ingress, and Protected against long, durable periods of immersion in water.

marine product design

Choosing to have a custom made casing for your product has a number of advantages:

Firstly, with product branding. Having a custom designed and manufactured casing distinguishes and differentiates your product from the competition, and a well designed casing can give your product competitive advantage.

Secondly, by designing a custom made case you can create a more efficient product.

The reason for this is:

a) Space and weight saving can be achieved by eliminating extra space that is available in a pre-designed casing. This could well have cost savings, due to less materials being used in its manufacture. This is especially true in mass production, due to production economies of scale factors.

b) Greater product usability. The user experience, (or UX experience) is important in all products, but particularly in the marine environment where harsh conditions demand easy handling and operation in challenging conditions. A custom casing can be made easier to hold (for portable equipment), and not drop overboard!

c) Product efficiency. By designing a custom enclosure, it can be made to further protect the electronics within, from dust and moisture.

For example using inspiration from nature, a product casing could incorporate a sloping top (a bit like a pine tree shape, so that water naturally runs down the sides.

This design would have practical advantage over an off the shelf rectangle casing, due to the fact that conventional casings rely on gaskets to seal between the lid and the main casing body. The gaskets can fail due to the harsh environment, and even changes in air pressure, which can create a vacuum or pressure differential between the inside of the case and the outside environment.

Another consideration that needs to be taken into account when developing products for the marine environment is Maintainability.

All electronic parts have what is known as an MTBF, or Mean Time Between Failure. This is a statement by the electronic component, or system manufacturers of  how long their product is likely to last. Therefore the product design should take the MTBF into account.

By analysing the MTBF data for all parts of the design, the ‘weak link’ can be identified. This will be the component with the lowest MTBF.

Once the component, or system part with the lowest MTBF has been identified (by using manufacturers data), the criticality of that component should be considered.

For example, if the component part in question failed, what effect would it have on the operation of the whole system?

A failed indicator lamp may not affect the operation of the equipment, however a failed thyristor or Micro-controller board would stop the design from functioning.

There is always a balance to be struck between design reliability and cost.

For example, you could design a kettle to last 100 years without maintenance, but the cost would be to great for most consumers, and it would be a financial failure for the manufacturer.

I would suggest that the first question to ask is, how long is the equipment that is being designed going to be deployed for?

Article to be continued, and expanded in near future (when I have the time 🙂

(C) 2016 Craig Miles, All Rights Reserved.

Twitter: acraigmiles