Environment sensors

As mentioned in the last post I’ve been experimenting again with my LoRa setup and have got my RAK831 gateway running again. Previously I’d used the excellent Balena containerised device control, but the image I was using with it seemed to stop working with the RAK device so I swapped over to using the full tool-chain supplied by RAK themselves and built from their new generic git repository. This worked well and my gateway is live again on The Things Network.

I also purchased and installed the excellent Things Network Indoor Gateway at my work location, and this is running well using the building’s WiFi for back-haul. I’ll distribute environment sensors with the facility manager’s permission around the campus to start measuring conditions such as temperature, humidity, frost levels and external gates opening.

Closed source LoRa device for temperature, humidity measurement

I also found and have started experimenting with the Dragino series of LoRa sensors – I’d have to comment that as a Chinese manufacturer they seem more experienced with producing for a world-wide market, and devices are relatively low priced for mass consumption. The sensors such as the LDS01 and LWL01 easily fit what I need without being in the hundreds of euros bracket. While using development platforms such as the Pycom LoPy or Adafruit Feather devices is better for code development, they do require cases and batteries for waterproofing and field-hardening which take cost and effort to make. A manufacturer can source these in bulk to reduce cost and test before shipping.

I will continue with the Pycom devices for the simple reason that I like tinkering with code, and they are fun to understand the internals of IoT. I also need them for things that do not have a LoRa component such as my remote weather station and my gateway tracking.

These Dragino devices work well and I have started looking at setting up a dashboard for my devices, once they are installed. So far I have looked at:

  • MyDevices, inventors of the Cayenne IoT format which is helpfully produced and consumed by some devices and dashboards.
  • DataCake, a useful European data provider that has a large library of devices already coded into their dashboard.
  • ThingsBoard, DevicePilot, and others are only a Google search away
  • … or self-host using the NodeRED dashboard, my preferred solution if I can get space on my work’s infrastructure for a virtual image.
NodeRED dashboard

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