Anyone here tried/using either Dragino LoRa gateway or some other LoRa TTN gateway?


  • Hero Member

    As near as I can tell, it's a kind of grassroots alternative internet access strategy. Out of goodwill you apparently install a LoRa TTN gateway and connect it to your internet. Then anyone (?) within range (which can be fairly far, since it's LoRa) can connect their LoRa nodes with your gateway, as well as any others within range. Initially, there's not much density. If it takes off, though, then it could be considerably meshed. In the town where I live there are around 5 of these gateway points, but none are currently within range of where I live.

    It's not clear to me whether anyone using your TTN network must reciprocate by setting up their own LoRa gateway too. Seems to me that's how it should work, or else there'd be a free-rider problem.

    Anyway, a basic gateway isn't all that expensive. A Dragino gateway with one antenna costs $66 on amazon, and one with two antennas costs $79. There's also a 4 antenna version that's >$200.

    Since TTN supports LoRaWAN, one apparent benefit should be the ability to do OTA firmware updates to your LoRaWAN devices.

    I think if it encouraged others to setup their own TTN gateway that meshed with mine, it might turn out to be a cheap way to ensure redundant/fallback communication to the internet for IoT nodes. That way if my internet connection went down, maybe my IoT traffic could use one of the meshed gateways in range as a fallback until it came up again). So, if you build this field of dreams, and they come, then I presume this fallback would all be free for everyone who participates, aside from the initial gateway cost. And since you'd presumably would want to have an IoT gateway for your LoRa devices anyway (since that's the simplest way, unless you want to build your own Private Network of Everything), the incremental cost probably isn't much.

    I need to look into it further, but it may turn out that all you need is a LoRa transceiver and an inexpensive CPU such as a Raspberry Pi to run the LoraWAN software on. If that turns out to be true, the cost to participate might be even lower.

    Update: from what I've read the Dragino isn't LoRaWAN compliant, but the Raspberry Pi route may be viable.


  • Mod

    I built my own LoRaWAN gateway based on a RAK831 concentrator and a Raspberry Pi. It is connected to TTN. The RAK831 cost was 128 USD when I ordered it.

    Note that to be LoRaWAN compliant, the radio needs to support 8 channels (or more). It is possible to connect a non-compliant Gateway to TTN, but it is frowned upon for several reasons; the clearest reason being that LoRaWAN devices select channel randomly and will therefore loose 7/8=78,5% of their packets if they rely on a single channel gateway.

    The OTA support is experimental. I have done it myself, on a workshop at The Things Conference almost 2 years ago. TTN does NOT currently have support for OTA, and if/when they add it (they need to switch to TTN v3 stack) you will probably need a dedicated gateway and the nodes need to be close to the gateway so the higher LoRa speeds can be used. For city-size or country-size network that won't be feasible, but for your home network it could probably work.

    I really like the idea of sharing gateway coverage. On the other hand, gateways indoors will give crappy coverage. My gateway has less than 100m radius, which is far from the 15km "officially" supported by LoRa (which requires an elevated position and line of sight and my gateway is on 2nd floor indoors with 60cm thick brick walls).

    There are currently 9402 online TTN gateways in the world.

    There are no requirements to operate a gateway to use the network, except the practical: if you want coverage at a particular location you probably need to place a gateway there yourself. There is however a fair use limit of 30 seconds of air time per device per 24 hour.


  • Mod

    Some links that I used:
    https://www.thethingsnetwork.org/forum/t/the-hard-rak831-cafe-part-1/8464/

    https://www.hackster.io/naresh-krish/getting-started-with-the-rak-831-lora-gateway-and-rpi3-e3351d

    https://www.thethingsnetwork.org/labs/story/rak831-lora-gateway-from-package-to-online

    Note that while the RAK831 was a good choice 2 years ago, there may be better concentrator cards available today.

    The best solution to get started is probably https://www.thethingsnetwork.org/docs/gateways/thethingsindoor/ which is available from ~75 EUR. Is is an 8 channel gateway based on our dear esp8266.


  • Hero Member

    @mfalkvidd Are you sure? I'm glad I asked, because from my reading I had thought that FOTA had been baked into the LoRaWAN specification for over a year now: https://lora-alliance.org/in-the-news/lora-alliancetm-enhances-lorawantm-protocol-new-specifications-support-firmware-updates

    You raise a good point about the time/power required to do LoRa FOTA updates though. Maybe doing it on either wi-fi or nRF24L01 would be preferable from an energy point of view, given their higher speeds, even if it meant adding another radio. It would be an interesting comparison that someone should make, if it hasn't already. These days it would be fairly cheap to add the extra radios to handle the case where the node could use them. For those cases where their range wouldn't be good enough, then good or bad, LoRa would be the only option for doing the updates.


  • Hero Member

    @mfalkvidd Regarding the 8 chanels, I had imagined that a node communicating with the base station would pick one of them (whichever one was setup to cost it the least amount of energy) and just stick with that

    At least that's how I would plan to use it. These 8 channel gateways seem like a reasonably good bargain if (?) you get 8 radio's, each configured differently, as part of the deal.

    What you're describing sounds more akin to a kind of frequency hopping.


  • Mod

    @neverdie said in Anyone here tried/using either Dragino LoRa gateway or some other LoRa TTN gateway?:

    @mfalkvidd Regarding the 8 chanels, I had imagined that a node communicating with the base station would pick one of them (whichever one was setup to cost it the least amount of energy) and just stick with that

    At least that's how I would plan to use it. These 8 channel gateways seem like a reasonably good bargain if (?) you get 8 radio's, each configured differently, as part of the deal.

    What you're describing sounds more akin to a kind of frequency hopping.

    You could do that, but then it would no longer be LoRaWAN.


  • Mod

    @neverdie said in Anyone here tried/using either Dragino LoRa gateway or some other LoRa TTN gateway?:

    Are you sure? I'm glad I asked, because from my reading I had thought that FOTA had been baked into the LoRaWAN specification for over a year now: https://lora-alliance.org/in-the-news/lora-alliancetm-enhances-lorawantm-protocol-new-specifications-support-firmware-updates

    I am sure, but I am unable to find a reference. Having it in the spec is not the same as having it implemented in the infrastructure.

    If you deploy your own TTN v3 stack (most of it is open source), you can probably get it to work. I've had on my todo to do this for a long time, but other things have priority. You can also but a commercial license for the commercial version: https://www.thethingsindustries.com/technology/pricing

    So far I have only seen one implementation of fota, and that's by arm, which has a hard requirement that your firmware needs to be built on arm mbed. https://github.com/ARMmbed/mbed-lorawan-update-client


 

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