Assistance with hardware solution for fun home project

Hello,

I’m unsure what forum category to put this post into so hopefully some kind soul will point me in the right direction if I’ve made a mistake in where I posted my question.

I have a fun home project in mind and I’m very excited about what I’ve seen on Kickstarter for this SODAQ project. The task I’ve set for myself is to create remote wireless sensor system that runs off battery/solar that will connect into one base unit. Specifically I’m looking to satisfy the following requirements:

Sensor unit:

  • Will use Grove sensors so grove connector will be required.
  • Will Not use wifi for reporting data back to base unit
  • Will need to be powered by battery with the option to charge the batter via solar. Alternatively this sensor unit may also not be in a place where solar is an available option so running on battery for more than 1 year would be ideal (not sure if that’s a big ask or not…but I’ve seen tart wireless sensors being able to run for up to 2 years on button batteries).

Base Unit:

  • Will talk to all remote wireless sensors without using wifi.
  • Will be able to accept data from grove sensors from remote sensors and using an Internet connection (Wifi) will send this collected data to a server for dashboard/alerting purposes.
  • Base unit will be plugged into Mains power but battery backup would be required in case mains power is offline (power failure).
  • I would like this base unit to run Linux as I will be using an agent from a monitoring system I have at home that installs a linux agent. I’ve been looking at using a Pi as my base unit for this reason since it runs Raspbian.

I can’t tell which kit or hardware pieces from SODAQ would fit my project? Any help or assistance you can provide in helping me source the hardware that would work for me from SODAQ would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Hi,

Would you consider LoRaWAN®.
If this would be of interest I can help point you in the right direction regarding the technology.

1 Like

Step 1: Figure out what wireless frequencies are available for public use without license in your country/location.
Almost all countries have 2.4Ghz as unlicensed spectrum. Bluetooth LE works at the same frequency as Wifi but consumes a lot less power.

Step 2. Use an Autonomo as your battery operated sensor, you will need to run tests with your setup/location’s solar radiation levels to figure out if it can last for a year. I’d run some tests in the rains/winter in a location with similar weather/sun.

Step 3: Get something that can speak to your sensors and backhaul that to the Internet via Wifi or 2G/3G, check out https://www.pycom.io/solutions/py-boards/lopy/

1 Like

Hello @Tim_C,

I’m very sorry for such a late reply to your helpful suggestion. I’ve taken a long time to investigate what’s out there for me to use…and oh boy the number of IOT technologies is dizzying to say the least!

I’ve come from considering z-wave (distance between sensors and gateway is terrible but there is a plethora of sensor options off the shelf available) to building my own RF sensor to finally understanding how exciting Lorawan is! I’m very new to the whole IOT marketplace but I’m willing to dive in and learn and I think Lorawan might be the technology I should focus on. But here’s my issues with Lorawan:

  1. Where are all the sensors? I’m not a maker and I don’t mind doing a bit of work to build something but I’m not interested in building all my own sensors with soldering and what not. I’m not seeing any off the shelf sensor solutions for Lorawan…do they not exist?
  2. The furthest I’ll go is to build my own sensor putting together existing systems. This is where I see a great benefit in Grove sensors! My idea is to use a Raspberry Pi, add in a Lorawan Hat and a Grove Pi hat. These 3 items together will make my sensor Lorawan capable to talk to my Lorawan gateway running on a Raspberry Pi. Is this a good solution or are there better, perhaps cheaper and more reliable solutions available to me when using Grove sensors?
  3. I really want to have my data/databoard system on my own server. I know that Lorawan can connect to the Things Network but I really want my own private server to collect my data and report on my dashboard current sensors and have the ability to alert on sensor levels (thresh holds). I’ve been reading up a lot on home automation software and I think OpenHAB or systems like it is perfect for me. But can a Lorawan gateway on my Raspberry Pi send the data it collects to an OpenHAB server? Perhaps using MQTT?

Any ideas on how I can achieve what I’ve laid out as my early requirements would be greatly appreciated!

Hi @Strykar,

Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve been looking at Autonomo and also at the Sodaq One…not sure which would work best for me. I really like the options that all the Grove sensors give me so being able to attach a grove sensor to a board to run on battery would be a strong requirement for me. Not sure if that’s even possible.

Thanks All for any suggestions or direction you can point me to in finding how I start my IOT journey.

Hello @greavette

I happy to help you and it seems I can give you a bit of guidance.

You can give me a call on 0478751630 and we can chat through some of your Q’s.

Tim.

Hello @Tim_C,

Wow! Thanks for replying to my thread even after I had abandoned it for too long. :smile:

I really appreciate your help here but I live in Canada and won’t be calling you long distance. Not sure how I can send private messages through the SODAQ forum either so perhaps we can keep the answers here if you don’t mind so we can share and let others learn from my questions as well. Let me know what you think?

Perhaps you can give me a bit of background on yourself. Are you a seller of Lorawan equipment or selling the setup of Lorawan? I think I read elselwhere in the forum that you have a makerspace in Australia you are a part of. Do you work for SODAQ or are you able to suggest other hardware with regards to Lorawan?

Thanks!

Hi Forum,

I’ve come a long way with my requirements and I’m hoping you can help me with how I can build my first sensor(s) using Sodaq. I have some Grove Temperature Sensors and I really like the plethora of choices that Grove provides so I’d like to stick to a solution using Grove as the sensor type and attaching Grove Sensors to a base product if I can.

I definitely want to use Lorawan. I like the fact that it has the distance to connect many sensors to one gateway. My plan is to build a Lorawan Gateway from one of my Raspberry Pi 3’s and I’ll be connecting this into TTN. But the hard part has been finding off the shelf sensors to use with Lorawan. Unlike other transport protocols where there are markets of sensors already available (ie: z-wave), I’m not finding a market for sensors that communicate over Lorawan. So I’m hoping I can build a reasonably priced sensor(s) with the following qualities:

  • Must use Lorawan
  • Must have Grove connectors
  • Can be plugged into mains power but if I could run this grove sensor of a battery for at maybe a year that would be ideal.
  • Have the option of adding a solar panel if mains power is not readily nearby.
  • I would like to keep the size of this sensor as small as possible.

@Strykar had mentioned Autonomo. This sounds like it has what I need…but how does it work?

  1. It looks like I can attach a Grove Shield to an Autonomo. Do I need to add code to the Autonomo before it will recognize the Grove?
  2. What if I put in place a Grove sensor attached to an Autonomo and I want to add at a later date another grove sensor to this grove shield…do I need to plug the Autonomo back into my computer again before the second Grove sensor can be used?
  3. I want to get a year or more out of the battery running the Autonomo. Can I add mains power to the Autonomo where the battery will be a UPS in case mains power fails? Can I add a larger battery to the Autonomo to get a longer time this wireless sensor will run on battery?
  4. Can I adjust how often the Autonomo will send data back to my gateway thereby conserving power?
  5. How big will this wireless sensor get? Sounds like I need the Autonomo, Bee Socket Lorawan, battery and Grove sensor(s). This sounds large. Are there any case designs out there to house all this?
  6. Are there other options for me to use that would be cheaper/smaller instead of Autonomo?

Any information you can give me would greatly help me move forward with my project.

Thank you.

Hi Forum,

I’m hoping I can bump this post in hopes that someone can point me in the right direction. Perhaps @Strykar or @Tim_C can still provide input?

I really like the plethora of sensors provided by grove and would like to build ontop of that system to build various node sensors on a Lorawan network talking to a things network gateway. Is Autonomo the best way for me to build each lora node? I’m having a very hard time finding Lora sensors that give me the options like the grove sensors so I’m hoping that someone within the SODAQ community can assist by pointing me in the right direction on which SODAQ hardware would suit my needs.

Thank you.