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Arduino shows off LoRa gateway and node shields

May 20, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 3,813 views
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Arduino is prepping a “LoRa Gateway Kit” to bring LoRa wireless to its Linux-driven Arduino Tian, plus a “LoRa Node Kit” for the Arduino Primo.

At the Maker Faire Bay Area, Arduino showcased its new Arduino LoRa Gateway and LoRa Node shields that run on Arduino boards. Due to arrive later this year, the boards will be offered in a LoRa Gateway Shield Kit for the Linino Linux-enabled Arduino Tian, and a LoRa Node Shield Kit designed for the Arduino Primo or other Arduinos with at least 32KB of flash.



Arduino LoRa Gateway Shield (left) and LoRa Node Shield
(click images to enlarge)

The LoRa gateway shield can communicate on multiple channels at the same time, and bridge traffic to a backhaul network. As a default, the gateway shields connect via The Things Network, which is comprised of more than 4,000 members in over 60 countries who are “building a global Internet of Things data network for LoRa-enabled endpoints,” says Arduino.

The LoRa shields will be compatible with the LoRaWAN wireless protocol specification standardized by the LoRa Alliance. The IoT-oriented LoRa is principally used by telco-operated LoRaWAN networks.

The power-efficient LoRa technology, which was designed to work well on battery-powered Arduino boards, offers ultra-long range spread spectrum communication of up to 10 kilometers. It also provides high interference immunity, and can work in both indoor and outdoor settings.



LoRa network architecture
(click images to enlarge; source: Arduino whitepaper)

Both Arduino LoRa shields are built with LoRa silicon from Semtech, the semiconductor company that developed the LoRa wireless standard. The Gateway Shield uses Semtech’s SX1301 LoRa baseband chip, while the Node Shield integrates Semtech’s SX1276 LoRa chip. The gateway aggregates communications from nodes, and sends them on to a LoRa server using the UDP protocol. The Arduino Gateway Shield can also be used for implementing a Linux-based LoRa server. The LoRa shields have a recommended power input of 9V at 2A.


Additional views of the LoRa Gateway Shield (left) and LoRa Node Shield
(click images to enlarge)

Both shields can send and receive LoRa packets, and share the same 68.6 x 53.4mm dimensions. The node shield is available with 6x Tinkerkit connectors for adding sensors and actuators. The photo suggests the gateway shield supports GPS and battery add-ons.


LoRa Gateway Shield with metal RF shielding removed, exposing the components within
(click image to enlarge)

The Arduino Tian runs the OpenWrt-based Linino Linux on an Atheros AR9432, and also offers a 32-bit Atmel MCU. In addition to providing WiFi, the Tian adds a Qualcomm CSR8510 chip for Bluetooth EDR/BLE 4.0a support. Other features include Ethernet, micro-USB, 20x DIO, 12x PWM, and 6x analog pins.

The Arduino Primo differs from previous Arduino boards in that it doesn’t run its sketches on the Atmega32 MCU. Instead it taps the beefier, ARM Cortex-M4F MPU embedded within the IoT-oriented, Nordic Semiconductor nRF52 wireless SoC that implements BLE, NFC, and IR communications. A separate Espressif ESP8266 chip handles WiFi.

Other LoRa-ready devices include Dragino’s LoRa Gateways, which combine OpenWrt-on-Atheros AR9331 with Arduino-on-ATMega328P components, and incorporate the same Semtec SX1276 LoRa chips found in Arduino’s LoRa Node shield. There’s also an Arduino-compatible SODAQ LoRaONE SBC.

 
Other Arduino announcements at Maker Faire


Arduino Cinque

Also at Maker Faire Bay Area, Arduino and SiFive unveiled an Arduino compatible Arduino Cinque board that runs on SiFive’s RISC-V architecture FE310 SoC. Based on SiFive’s Arduino compatible HiFive1 board, the Arduino Cinque adds an ESP32 wireless SoC for WiFi and Bluetooth.

In other Maker Faire announcements, Arduino announced the release of the open source Snap4Arduino blocks-based coding platform. This modification of the Snap! (formerly BYOB) visual programming language is designed for kindergarten through college computer education.

Arduino also gave an update on the Arduino Foundation, which was announced last October when the two feuding Arduino organizations announced their reunification. The Arduino Foundation’s main role is to maintain a unified IDE. The Foundation offers “a way to formalize the process, and give developers direct ‘ownership’ in the process,” says Arduino.

 
Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the Arduino LoRa shields or kits. More information should eventually appear at Arduino.cc.
 

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