The New Adafruit LoRa Radio Bonnet

Lat year was a breakthrough year for LoRaWAN. It arguably emerged into the lead in the ongoing war between the standards battling to win…

Lat year was a breakthrough year for LoRaWAN. It arguably emerged into the lead in the ongoing war between the standards battling to win out as the low-power, low-bandwidth, and long-range, protocol of choice for the Internet of Things.

It also seems that in the new year the pace doesn’t seem to be slowing down, with the arrival of some new hardware from Adafruit announced yesterday, the LoRa Radio Bonnet for the Raspberry Pi.

Based around a Semtech SX1276 LoRa radio, the Adafruit Bonnet can be tuned for either operating in Europe (at 868MHz) or the United States (at 915MHz), and operates +5 to +20 dBm at up to 100 mW. It draws ~100 mA at peak during transmission, while operating at a lower 30 mA draw during active radio listening.

The board comes with a surface-mount uFL connector, which you can use a connector cable to breakout out to a standard antenna, which should give the radio a range of approximately 2 km (1¼ miles) depending on “obstructions, frequency, antenna, and power output.” Although frankly, if you don’t need to operate at a 2km range, you could probably get away with soldering a short length of wire to the board, it’ll work well enough if you’re setting up a LoRa network in you home or office building.

The Bonnet also comes with a 128×32 OLED display for status and other messages, along with three user-programmable buttons you can use for creating a custom user interface.

Interestingly just like PyCom’s LoRa boards, the Adafruit Bonnet is capable of operating as a single-channel “nano-Gateway,” and Bonnet is fully supported both as a client, or as a gateway, using the Adafruit CircuitPython libraries and there are instructions in how to connect it to The Things Network.

The success of LoRa over the last year or two has been driven by a number of factors, not least of which is the success of The Things Network which, since their Kickstarter campaign back in 2015, have become a major influence on how LoRa has evolved.

However it is the availability of hardware, and the unique ability to roll your own LoRa network without having to rely on a third-party to provide gateway infrastructure, that is probably the major reason why LoRa has emerged into the lead. The new Adafruit LoRa Bonnet is now available and costs $32.50 plus shipping.

Alasdair Allan
Scientist, author, hacker, maker, and journalist. Building, breaking, and writing. For hire. You can reach me at 📫 alasdair@babilim.co.uk.
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