This fall my Measure Your City sensor hub fell out of a tree during a storm. It seemed to be damaged, so I put it aside until I could think how or when to reinstate it. Later on I noticed from the log files that it seemed to have stopped working before it fell from the tree but I did not think it important. A few weeks ago I handed the sensor hub in with the team of Measure Your City that does repairs. It turns out the sensor hub was fully functional except for …. the batteries.
The problem was the firmware using too much battery power. Which is problematic given the stated aim of these LoRa sensors, to work on low power for a long time.
With a firmware upgrade and fresh batteries, the sensor hub is now back in action. The past day I’ve used it to measure the relative humidity in various rooms around the house as we suspected it might be too dry (it was, around 30-35% humidity). As there are 2 similar sensor hubs nearby, we are not without info on current outside conditions. I’ll reinstate the sensor hub outside again this weekend.
Meanwhile my own sensor hub as well as the two others a street away, use my recently installed The Things Network gateway to transport the data to the Measure Your City back-end. The gateway also sees several other sensors sending data through the gateway, although I don’t know what type of sensors those are.
Screenshot of the data passing through the gateway. The device in the first line is my own sensor hub.
After receiving the hardware for The Things Network, I now activated the gateway. I had first planned to run up a Cat6 to the top floor but I couldn’t successfully get the cable through the empty conduit that was available for that. Deciding not to wait until I get a cable through the conduit, I connected the Gateway to an ethernet port on the Netgear Orbi satellite that is installed on the top floor. This means it has a steady internet connection, even if not directly wired to the router yet.
The first few messages were sent, so now that ‘hello world’ is behind me, I am curious to see if there will be any traffic my gateway sees passing by.
A little over 2 years ago I backed a Kickstarter project The Things Network. It’s an order of magnitude cheaper version of a gateway for a LoRa (long range) network, for internet of things sensors etc. The fascinating thing about this The Things Network gateway is that it provides an infrastructure for very little money. With just 2 or 3 of these your entire city becomes your sandbox for IoT experiments. Usually it’s the other way around: you have cheap prototypes but to scale you need expensive infrastructure (a prototype car is fun, but also having to roll out a road system isn’t.) Now you are just as easy rolling out the infrastructure, as well as your prototypes.
It took a long time to arrive. The original team I think learned the hard way that setting up production and supply chains for hardware from scratch has a quite different dynamic compared to software development. This is not a new lesson for Kickstarter projects either. So the hardware which should have been delivered in June 2016 took until January 2018, some 18 months of delay. But now it’s here.
In the mean time I’ve co-initiated an IoT community in Enschede (community site here), before moving house to Amersfoort where another group is active. Here in Amersfoort I participated in the Measure Your City project, by placing a IoT sensor hub in my garden. With the hardware now arrived, I can’t wait to start experimenting. My gateway will come on-line as soon as I have run up a Cat 6 cable to our attic space, and can then help support the Measure Your City network, and any other projects that might take place in the vicinity.
The Things Network goodies arriving today: a gateway (shown), 4 uno’s (sensor platforms) and 2 nodes (prototyping platforms)