SAMD21 LoRa development board with GPS


Michael Krumpus designed and built a SAMD21 development board with LoRa radio module and GPS receiver, that is available on GitHub:

I’ve been doing some LoRa projects lately in order to learn as much as I can about this exciting new radio technology (see this LoRa mesh networking project and this LoRa weather station). ATmega328-based Moteino modules work great for a lot of projects, but I wanted a LoRa node with more processing power, more memory, and an onboard GPS receiver. The ATmega328 is just too constrained with memory — I’ve outgrown it. I really wanted a LoRa board with an ARM Cortex microcontroller like the SAMD21. This is the microcontroller used on the Arduino Zero. So, my ideal board is a SAMD21 with LoRa radio module and GPS receiver, all programmable with the Arduino IDE.
But, where is such a board? I could not find one so I decided to design and make one myself.

More details on Project Lab.

Particle sensor with LoRa


Mare published a new build:

Particle sensors could be cheap and easy to use. Disadvantage of lowest cost PM sensors is lack of “calibration”. The best method to measure particle content dispensed in the air is to collect the air sample and analyse it off-line in the laboratory with proper equipment (not cheap at all). Optical particle counting sensors use the light scattering method to detect and count particles in the operating concentration range in a given environment. A laser light source illuminates a particle as it is pulled through the detection chamber. As particles pass through the laser beam, the light source becomes obscured and is recorded on the photo or light detector. The light is then analyzed and converted to an electrical signal providing particulate size and quantity to predict concentrations in real time.

See the full post on Mare & Gal Electronics blog.

LoraDunchy Arduino Nano pin-compatibile LoRa module with power management


Mare writes:

Lora board with Arduino nano compatibile pinout and simple battery management
Small board with arduino nano compatibile pinout with power management and Murata ABZ LoRa module with STM32L0 microcontroller
-LoRa module: Murata ABZ
-Single cell LiPo cell charger on-board with charging signal internally connected to PA11 (via jumper)
-Buck/Boost switching power supply for delivering stable 3,3V regardless of the batterz voltage
-Battery fuel gauge on-board to control the real status of the battery

See the full post on Mare & Gal Electronics blog and the GitHub repository here.

LoRa module in DIL form


Mare writes:

Murata produces LoRa module CMWX1ZZABZ-xxx based on SX1276 transceiver and STM32L072CZ microcontroller. The soldering of the LGA module is not very hobby-friendly. I constructed small breakout PCB for this module with additional buck/boost switcher and place for SMA connector. The transceiver features the LoRa®long-range modem, providing ultra-long-range spread spectrum communication and high interference immunity, minimizing current consumption. Since CMWX1ZZABZ-091 is an “open” module, it is possible to access all STM32L072 peripherals such as ADC, 16-bit timer, LP-UART, I2C, SPI and USB 2.0 FS (supporting BCD and LPM), which are not used internally by SX1276.

More details on Mare & Gal Electronics site. Project files are available at Github.

Multisensor LoRa device


Mare published a new build:

The described device is nearly matchbox-sized board (50 x 24 mm) packed with sensors. Auxilary board is 10x50mm with additional sensors. The module is developed around the Murata ABZ LoRa module, which integrates STM32L072 and samtech SX1276 in tiny 12.5 x 11.6 x 1.76 mm package.

More details at Mare & Gal Electronics.

Weekly Roundup #21 – New Maker Products

This week’s Weekly Roundup we’re seeing another mish-mash of stuff; from power monitoring, to LoRa, to SODIMM based SBCs. Oh, I’ve also added an index in the YouTube description so you can look things up quickly. Kickstarter ESP Everywhere First up a Kickstarter from the Make/100 initiative. This attempts to put an ESP8266 on your

CES17: Arduino Unveils LoRa Modules For The Internet Of Things

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.


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

Mexican Highschoolers Launch 30 High Altitude Balloons

No matter whether you call them “picosatellites” or “high altitude balloons” or “spaceblimps”, launching your own electronics package into the air, collecting some high-altitude photos and data, and then picking the thing back up is a lot of fun. It’s also educational and inspirational. We’re guessing that 264 students from 30 high schools in Aguascalientes Mexico have new background screens on their laptops today thanks to the CatSat program (translated here by robots, and there’s also a video to check out below).

imagen_1The package on each balloon was roughly similar — consisting of an Arduino with a custom shield, a GPS, accelerometer, temperature/humidity sensor, and a LoRA radio unit. (Full details on the technical page of the wiki — it looks like a great general-purpose setup.) Armed with this basic platform, the schools added cameras or built intricate capsules, or otherwise customized their payload, and then it was time to launch.

It must have been really fun to watch them go up, one after the other. And you can hardly overestimate how many young engineers or hackers an experience like this will create.

Thanks to [Andrés Sabas] for the tip, via El Heraldo.

Filed under: misc hacks, wireless hacks

Building A LoRa PHY With SDR

The Internet of Things is terrible when it’s your toaster. The real fun happens when you have hundreds or thousands of sensors sending data back to a base station every day. That requires low power, and that means LPWAN, the Low Power Wide Area Network.

There are a lot of options for LPWAN, but few are a perfect fit. LoRa is one of the rare exceptions, offering years of operation on a single AA cell, and range measured in miles. Layers two and three of LoRa are available as public documentation, but until now layer one has been patented and proprietary. At the GNU Radio Conference, [Matt Knight] gave a talk on reverse engineering the LoRa PHY with a software defined radio. Now, LoRa is open to everyone, and anyone can decode the chirps transmitted from these tiny, low power devices.

The work presented at the GNU Radio Conference builds upon an earlier talk given a this year’s DEF CON wireless village. This time, though, there’s a complete, open source solution for a LoRa PHY. The experimental setup consisted of a Microchip RN2903 module, and an Ettus B210 SDR, Python, GNURadio, and Baudline. The end result is a GNU Radio module implementing the LoRa PHY.

Until now, the MAC and network layer of LoRa were completely open. The PHY, however, was closed. Chip makers like to sell chips, it seems. Now, equipped only with an SDR, it’s possible to read LoRa chips, listen in on what they’re doing, and uncover one of the most interesting bits about the Internet of Things.

Filed under: wireless hacks