mrt 312017
 

If your are used to learning stuff without there being a clear manual available, without a teacher that gives you a step by step breakdown of what to do, like when you like to experiment and play with electronics or ict, then you know how frustrating the process of trial and error can be to get something to work. And how rewording it is when it does work in the end.

There are limits however. And LoRaWan in combination with The Things Network (TTN) is really testing my limits with this regard. Because it turns out it is really tough to get it to sort of work, even though it looked easy at first, and I am not sure anymore whether this is good and a way to learn all the ins and outs of LoRaWAN and TTN or whether it just is not worth it (yet).

So, what is the current situation?

  1. On Monday I wrote about connecting the Marvin node to KPN, that worked surprisingly good and was easy to do. Connecting the LoPy as a node to KPN was just as easy. But since KPN is a paid solution and I don’t have a use-case that warrants that amount of money, I kept on looking.
  2. On Tuesday I wrote about setting up a single channel gateway for TTN. That worked also, but only for half a day. At the moment, I understand it sort of was surprising that it worked at all, though online information isn’t always very clear whether failure is by design or by accident, in particular because that info was from before I got the gateway online. Currently, that gateway shows as connected in the TTN console, but no data has been transferred by it since it disconnected Tuesday evening.
  3. Yesterday, there was a live broadcast by Alex from Pycom where he was going to explain how you can use the LoPy as a “Nano Gateway” for TTN. If you watch it, you’ll see that even for Alex, getting the LoPy acting as a gateway is not easy and not something that he could totally do from start to finish during a livestream. I tried to follow the steps that Alex outlines, wasted a couple of hours last night and by the looks of it by accident, the gateway started to accept broadcasts by both the second LoPy and the Marvin node. However…
  4. The LoPy Nano Gateway still is online, data from both of the nodes is being displayed in the console page for the gateway (see image), but not always and none of that data (except for the first few hours) is displayed at the data page for the nodes. So basically I now have a functioning gateway and still no data from the nodes.

Give up or go on?

Personally I don’t have any use-case for nodes that need to be in a location where there is no WiFi. Yes, WiFi uses a lot of battery power, but for the more battery sensitive stuff, 433Mhz transmission also works, and I have got plenty of those lying around.
Yes, I know that Single Channel Gateways or Nano Gateways are not LoRaWAN compliant. So, I cannot blame TTN if they don’t (fully) support them. And nobody is forcing me to use their free infrastructure.
But I am someone that would be willing to spend the couple of hundred euros needed to put a gateway on my house, either by building one for 200 euros or buying one for 400 euros, but with this little succes (and love) in a test setup, that is not going to happen. Because I really don’t know if spending that money would fix all the current problems.

So for now, my home village will have to do without TTN capabilities. I did post a question on the Pycom forum, maybe Alex can shed some light on the problems, maybe he has suggestions, other than that, I don’t know what to test for now.
If someone has a spare gateway lying around that he wants to borrow or donate to get Deurne (NL) on the TTN map, let me know!

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