You may not have heard of LoRa, but chances are you’re familiar with the Internet of Things— and LoRa is poised to change IoT. It’s a wireless technology that’s used for tasks such as automatic meter reading, smart parking, and livestock tracking. What makes it so sought after is its ability to send packets over long distances without using much power. This makes it ideal for sending small amounts of data to devices that are far away. But of course there’s a catch, and the catch with LoRa is setting these devices is a challenge. Steven Osborn of Third Venture Inc. wants to make things easier with the LoStik.
The LoStik is an open source USB dongle that plugs into any computer or device and lets you work with the LoRa network. It’s capable of acting as a USB host and features an ASCII interface. Using the RN2903/RN2483 system on module (SOM), it can be employed in packet and LoRaWAN modes making it compatible with The Things Network. Plus, it has a range of up to 15 kilometers in suburban areas.
If you prefer Linux or working with boards like Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone, the LoStik works on those as well. It connects via USB, so you don’t have to use your Raspberry Pi GPIO pins. Designed with tinkerers and makers in mind, IoT integrators can use the device to test and configure networks without the need to carry around development board, wire, adapters, etc. As Osborn points out, LoRa is already being used by various industries, like vineyards to track weather conditions, railways to detect freezing of railway switches, and pest control for things like connected mousetraps.
A look at the specifications:
- USB — USB 2.0 port
- LoRa Connectivity
- Microchip RN2903–915 MHz for US, Canada, South America and Australia
- Microchip RN2483–868 MHz for Europe
- Receiver Sensitivity — Down to -146 dBm
- TX Power — Adjustable up to +18.5 dBm
- Range — Up to 15 km coverage in suburban and up to 5km coverage in urban areas
- Misc — 2X user LEDs
- Power Consumption — 140 ma typical TX, 20 ma idle (with power LED)
- Dimensions — 80 mm x 25 mm x 12 mm (without antenna)
For those interested, the LoStik is available for pre-order now on Crowd Source for $39, while the hardware and software sources are available on the project’s GitHub repository. Though it’s handy for anyone who wants to easily connect to the LoRa network, it’s not the only dongle of its kind around. The creator even compared it to GlobalSat LD-50H and iFrogLab LoRa USB. While the LoStik is pretty cheap, you can still purchase Bluepill STM32 + SX127x module for only $15 plus shipping on Tindie.