Our friends at Particle are well-known for their IoT-focused development boards, sensors, and architecture. Their ecosystem of software and open source hardware is designed to be affordable enough for hobbyists, and powerful enough for industrial solutions. Now they’re expanding their product line with three new mesh network-enabled boards that are sure to expand that functionality while also lowering overall cost.
Particle Mesh consists of three boards: the Argon, the Boron, and the Xenon. Each of these is integrated with onboard mesh network hardware for local communication with other Particle Mesh boards, along with additional wireless connectivity for reaching the outside world. All three of them even adhere to Adafruit’s Feather form factor and pinout, so they can be used with all of the fantastic 50+ FeatherWing hardware accessories.
The Argon combines that mesh functionality with WiFi, so that that it can act as both a node in the mesh network and as a gateway to the cloud. The retail price will be just $19 ($15 for pre-order), but don’t let that fool you — it’s very capable. It has both an ESP32 and a Nordic nRF52840 SoC, which gives it great connectivity and a powerful 64MHz ARM Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor, with 1MB flash and 256kB RAM. It also has LiPo-charging circuitry, and 20 GPIO pins.
If you want your mesh network to connect to the internet through an LTE, 2G, or 3G gateway, you can step up to the Boron for just $20 more ($15 on pre-order). Just like the Argon, it has a Nordic nRF52840, LiPo circuitry, and 20 GPIO pins. But, it replaces the ESP32 with a pair of u-blox SARA R410 LTE modems for a wide range of cellular-connectivity options.
Finally, you can flesh out your mesh network with the Xenon. In most use cases, you’ll only need one gateway to put the internet in your IoT system — that’s the beauty of a mesh network. So, the Xenon has just the Nordic nRF52840 SoC, with mesh and BLE communication. Like the Argon and Boron, it has 20 GPIO pins and LiPo functionality, but is priced at a very reasonable $12 ($9 pre-order).
All three of the boards can, of course, be programmed like any other development board. They can be used to monitor a variety of sensors, control hardware like motors and solenoids, and drive displays. Programming is handled by either Particle’s web or desktop-based IDE, and can be configured with their CLI.
While all of this capability and functionality is useful in a wide range of cases, it has been designed specifically for IoT applications. To make that easier and more affordable than ever, Particle is offering a 3MB cellular Device Cloud plan for just $2.99 per month. In addition to simple a simple data connection, that gives you access to the entire Particle Cloud platform as well.
Particle Cloud gets your devices online, and gives you the ability to manage them remotely and to monitor the data being collected by those gadgets. Over-the-air software updates also allow you to safely push updates to the boards. Put all of this hardware and software together, and you’ve got a robust infrastructure for creating truly powerful IoT mesh networks.