The IoT is everywhere. Connecting everything to the Internet is an inevitable future. But, it’s also very useful for all us makers and engineers. Envision sensors, your devices, anywhere in the world — but connected. One of the technologies helping to make that possible is LoRa, a wireless communication method that sends small amounts of data over very long distances using long-range radio and low power.
With hopes of bringing LoRa to the masses, the Pi Supply team has launched a new lineup on Kickstarter that takes advantage of today’s big name development boards — like Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and micro:bit. Slap a board onto your platform of choice and get immediate 15 kilometers of connectivity for small packet data.
As long as your device can connect to a LoRa gateway, you have access. Better yet, The Things Network is providing constant coverage via public networks — that means no WiFi codes or mobile subscriptions. What’s more, it’s free! (For the community at least.)
The hardware comes in two frequencies, 868MHz and 915MHz, which will depend on your location — EU and rest of the world, respectively.
LoRa gateways receive data from nodes and connect them, and any others in the area, to a LoRaWAN network like The Things Network mentioned above. You can also set up your own LoRa gateway to give you and others access when coverage is not available.
Pi Supply’s IoT LoRa Gateway HAT utilizes a RAK833 mPCIe LoRa gateway concentrator module, which is based on Semtech’s SX1301 LoRa chip and features a fully LoRaWAN-compliant gateway listening on eight channels simultaneously.
LoRa nodes attach to your development board of choice for sending data. Pi Supply has a few LoRa node options, including a RAK811-equipped pHAT and micro:bit add-on, which are touted as “low power” (50mA during transmissions), capable of reading analog sensors, and use different and external antennas.
While the campaign suggests environmental, factory production line, and smart home use cases, applications are only limited by imagination. I can see a collection of sensors being placed all around machines to monitor every aspect of their performance, or used to monitor patients’ health in a medical setting.
Free and open, the LoRaWAN network is going to continue growing in big ways, at least in my opinion. And now Pi Supply’s IoT LoRa boards offer an easy way to get started.