IoT – exploration of LoRaWAN – part 2

At IoT – exploration of LoRaWAN – part 1 details were given of first steps in a LoRaWAN project.

This article documents some MCU boards used for prototyping solutions.

The Arduino Zero concept was chosen for a modern module supported by the Arduino IDE and with ample memory resources for the LoRaWAN protocol stack and application code and memory requirements.

The boards tested are ‘basic’ Zero boards using the Atmel SAMD21G18 MCU. None of the three boards discussed here had the ‘PRO’ EDBG chip / ‘Programming USB’ port, they had only the ‘Native USB’ port.

Wemos SAMD21 Arduino form

Above is the module under test. Continue reading IoT – exploration of LoRaWAN – part 2

Dragino LG02 review

This article reviews the Dragino LG02 LoRa ‘gateway’.

Above is a pic of the supplied device, and notably it is supplied without the external WiFi antenna shown in the manufacturer’s literature and seller’s web shop.

Above is a close up of the case with the plastic plug removed from the ANT-3 hole, there is not connector, the device does not have provision to install the external WiFi antenna and presumably has an internal antenna though we might expect that has reduced range. Continue reading Dragino LG02 review

ESP8266 IoT BME280 temperature, humidity and pressure

This article documents a project with the Espressif ESP8266.

This project is based on ESP8266 IoT DHT22 temperature and humidity – evolution 3, but uses the Bosch BME280 temperature, humidity and pressure sensor. The BME280 has been around for a couple of years, but recently, modules using the chip have become available on eBay for a couple of dollars.

The objective is a module that will take periodic temperature, humidity atmospheric pressure (barometer) measurements, and in this evolution publish them using a RESTful API.

The example platform used in this article is a Wemos D1Pro. In this case, the D1Pro is configured for an external antenna, and a modification is made to the board to add a 1N34A diode for the deep sleep reset circuit (NodeMCU devkit V1 deep sleep). A right angle header on the top of the board (as seen) and another on the underside on the opposite edge to get GND, +3.3, D3 and D4 for the BME280 sensor. There is less than $25 in parts in the pic above. Continue reading ESP8266 IoT BME280 temperature, humidity and pressure

IoT – exploration of LoRaWAN – part 1

Several of my IoT projects use WiFi, and its range is quite limited, too short to be practical for some projects.

There are several alternatives, but the emerging LoRaWAN concept looks interesting and is worth a visit. LoRaWAN is capable of up to 20km range under ideal conditions, km range should be reliable in most cases.

The first trial is to adapt an existing project functional requirement to LoRaWAN connectivity.

Above is a block diagram of the working trial. Continue reading IoT – exploration of LoRaWAN – part 1

Australian amateur radio licensing reform (2018)

It has become clear that ACMA intends to progress the WIA’s initial actions to partially integrate the qualifications requirement for issue of an amateur radio licence into the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).

The AQF is the national policy for regulated qualifications in  Australian education and training. It incorporates the qualifications from each education and training sector into a single comprehensive national qualifications framework. The AQF was introduced in 1995 to underpin the national system of qualifications in Australia encompassing higher education, vocational education and training and schools.

That push on integration includes the use of Registered Training Organisations (RTO) for assessments, RTOs are an element of the Vocational Education and Training Sector (VETS).

The definition of Vocational Education and Training can be taken from

Vocational education and training

Designed to deliver workplace-specific skills and knowledge, vocational education and training (VET) covers a wide range of careers and industries, including trade and office work, retail, hospitality and technology.

So, the WIA and ACMA have over a couple of decades acted to integrate amateur radio qualifications in the AQF to some extent, and current actions are intended to perform assessments within the VETS (ie by VETS qualified assessors under an RTO). Continue reading Australian amateur radio licensing reform (2018)

IoT water tank telemetry project – part 3

Battery trials

The project continues, albeit slowly.

Some inexpensive DC-DC boost converters have been very slow from China, though multiply source, they have not yet arrived.

An older module which was on hand has enabled progress of reliability and battery trials.

Above is the current prototype. The module on the white plug in cable is a 4-20mA simulator set to 20mA for maximum drain during battery trials. The module at upper right of the pic is a TP4056 batter charger and 1S protection board for the 2000mAh LiPo. The PV array (partially obscured) is capable of 80mA of charge current in full sunlight. The prototype includes a red LED drawing 1mA, an additional 24mAh load per day. Continue reading IoT water tank telemetry project – part 3

IoT water tank telemetry project – part 2

Calibration of the 4-20mA input

This article is a tutorial on calibrating the 4-20mA input which is designed for flexibility that is achieved through exploitation of the calibration.

The input device for this tutorial is a Pt100 RTD temperature sensor and inexpensive Chinese Pt100 – 4-20mA converter (loosely) calibrated for -50-150°. The Pt100, the converter, the load resistor, the divider resistors on the MCU board, and the MCu voltage reference all introduce error which is compensated in this end to end calibration procedure.

For this demonstration, two scenarios are measured:

  1. probe in still air whose temperature is captured with an accurate thermometer; and
  2. probe in boiling water whose temperature is calculated from known altitude and barometric pressure.

Another option would be to use a container of water filled with ice to obtain close to 0° for scenario 1… you don’t need a triple point cell for the end system stability and accuracy.

Temperature of boiling water

Using Calculate cooking time for soft boiled egg :

No, we are not boiling an egg, but the results include the temperature of the boiling water under current altitude and pressure. Continue reading IoT water tank telemetry project – part 2

IoT water tank telemetry project – part 1

This is the first in a series of articles describing a simple maker / DIY IoT water tank telemetry system.

Design criteria

  • capture water depth, temperature and relative humidity;
  • IoT connectivity;
  • solar / battery powered;
  • wireless connection;
  • use existing inexpensive electronic modules.

Design choices made initially:

  • 4-20mA water pressure sensor for depth measurement;
  • ESP8266 Wemos D1 mini pro for the MCU and wireless elements;
  • NodeMCU / Lua software environment;
  • external antenna for improved WiFi range;
  • 6V 100mA PV array;
  • module with TP4056 batter charger and cell protection chip;
  • 2500mAh 18650 cell;
  • AM2320 temperature and humidity sensor;
  • bipolar transistor switch for boost converter;
  • Thingspeak RESTful interface for data accumulation and presentation.

Block diagram

Above is a block diagram showing the major system components. Almost all of the electronics is on easily obtained low cost electronic modules source from eBay, assembled on a Veroboard backplane. Continue reading IoT water tank telemetry project – part 1

ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor – EV3 – 5V display

ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor – EV3 documented an evolved design for a real power display using emontx3 / emonhub / mqtt. This article documents an adaptation to use a 5V display module (for higher brightness). The ESP8266 is not 5V tolerant, so a logic level converter is needed.


The remote power display uses a Wemos D1Pro module, a common 5V 4 digit 14.2mm seven segment LED module with 74HC595 shift register per digit, and a common 3V/5V logic level converter between them.

Above, the Wemos D1Pro prototype with wires attached to the HSPI and power pins. A 1k pull=down resistor is soldered between the D8 and GND pins under the D1Pro board. Continue reading ESP8266 remote power display for energy monitor – EV3 – 5V display