LoRaWAN Gateway & Mapper Plus Application for Adastral Park’s Suffolk Coastal District

The Things Network Gateway has in recent years showcased how LoRa is one of the most innovative emerging technologies in the industry. The project involved us creating a new prototype that could be deployed at the LoRaWAN Gateway at Adastral Park’s Suffolk Coastal District and assisted in the revolution of new, emerging technologies as part of the Things Data Network.

Client: The Things Network Gateway
Industry: IoT

At a Glance

  • The product was designed and deployed at the LoRaWAN Gateway at The Things Network Conference at Suffolk Coastal
  • We created a prototype LoRaWAN handset integration and custom web service.
  • We deployed more LoRaWAN gateways across the Suffolk area with our trusted community partners.
This is a fantastic example of collaboration across our cluster, the LoRaWAN network will bring together all the vital components needed to begin creating a smart city, and Coderus is a pioneer by setting up The Things Gateway at Adastral Park.
Nicky Daniels
Head of Innovation Martlesham

The Challenge

Coderus needed to design a new Android application for the Internet of Things Network Mapper, that allows all IoT devices to connect across a large perimeter while using as little battery life as possible.

With an end aim to showcase some of the technologies Coderus was utilising at The Things Conference in October 2018, our team challenged ourselves to design, develop and show a series of demos that highlight some of the most innovative usages of LoRA.

For this, we had to incorporate a variety of mobile integration features that would enable the connectivities that the idea of smart cities promises to its users.

The Methodology

First, we wanted to put up a gateway that we could use to help assess the overall importance and performance of our application. So we partnered with Comms Unite and implemented The Things Gateway at the Suffolk Coastal District in September 2018. Centred at Adastral Park, the gateway one of only four Things Network Gateways in Suffolk and the only main gateway in East Ipswich to date.

Once set up, the team began investigating what LoRa was, using an Espressif ESP32 LoRa board along with an SX1276 board, which acted as a node. These were then coupled with an RFM95 shield on a Raspberry Pi to function as a single channel gateway. Using a Raspberry Pi allowed us to start running, implementing and experimenting with the new technology. This helped us assess and understand how we could create an application that was different with a unique USP.

In our analysis, we found that a well-known TTN Mapper Android app didn’t contain some essential information required for troubleshooting any issues. One example was that there was no indication as to whether the device had failed to send a message or if the message had been lost in translation. We also knew that our app also needed to consolidate several SMART mobile integration features.

With this as well as other new features in mind, the Coderus team set out to develop a full end-to-end LoRaWAN mobile app solution that would be ready for the Things Network Conference in October 2018. This included a web service within the TTN network, which included necessary web components such as HTTP. REST API and a mobile application that integrated elements of hardware. The application would be used to show live tracking of the app user, as well as any previously sent locations and supporting APIs.

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The Tech_

  • We created two Android applications written in Java and Kotlin code.
  • One application showed the current status of each mapping point as well as controlled the connected hardware.
  • The other application would allow messages to be sent to The Things cloud via MQTT to be sent down to the LoRa Nodes.
  • We used a Microchip Android Open Accessory AOA board integration along with custom firmware.This required a custom implementation of the LoRa stack to be included with the firmware.
  • We used an RFM95 Shield to allow transmissions from the app that we created.
  • We used HopeRF RFM95 Shield as a gateway and a node.
  • Using a Raspberry Pi we built a local web server that would show the current status of the mapping by connecting to The Things Cloud to receive published locations of both the mappers and the gateways themselves. This was written using Node.js.
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The Results

With a fast, efficient team behind the project and deadline to hit, we are proud to say that we managed to complete the project ready for The Things Network Conference.

We created two applications that connect to the LoRa node itself and work in coordination to show users when they are in and out of range of a gateway and if users are at the limit of range. The main principle is that they show users when and if they are at the limit of range because if they weren’t they wouldn’t receive the message. In previous apps, users could only send out a message and not be sure if it actually sent. With our app, users get a message back that confirms it was received. The benefit of our app is that users can also use it to improve a gateway as it tests signal strength in order to help with configuration and antenna positioning.

The gateway as well, which opened on 13th September, has enabled businesses within a 10-km range to log in to the LoraWAN network via the gateway and try and test the uses of this new technology for free.

The conference presented us with the opportunity to receive product feedback and provide commercial solutions that will lead the way for more projects in the future.

Coderus has now started working on various other projects using LoRaWAN technology and is proving to be very popular in the industry.

The Things Network Conference Suffolk Coastal Gateway

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