Playing with LoRaWan

I’ve been interested in replacing my environmental sensor network that ran on an older communications protocol with a LoRaWan gateway and a set of button-battery sensors. Just today I started that journey using a couple of the excellent Pycom LoPy boards. This will give me the capability to measure things, and connect to a gateway using a single-channel LoRa environment.

Although I will register this with The Things Network, as it is initially not a true multi-channel gateway it probably is wise to limit it as a private gateway and not as an open public one, since the actual throughput and channels will be limited.

I’ve looked on AliExpress and there are other gateways available, although not cheap enough to consider as a impulse purchase. Some of these are based on the SX1276 and some on the SX1301. One seller even had a convoluted explanation why they still used the SX1276 rather than the multi-channel SX1301 but written in a very stilted Chinese-English hybrid and as it quickly descended into a dialogue with a block of cheese so I abandoned trying to think it through. Apparently the SX1301 needs to be front-ended by a couple of other radio-handling chips so likely is more difficult for OEM board manufacturers to build, so perhaps it may be best to avoid them until the prices drop on the multi-channel LoRaWAN gateways.

Instead I have gone with one from RAK Wireless married to a Raspberry Pi with a daughter board, and just working through the strange Reverse Polarity SMA connectors which they need to use for FCC certification so that I can glue my antenna on the outside wall.

Packets are streaming through from my PySense node so things look good for a deployment using this model.

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