This series is intended for developers and hackers looking to test out a LoRaWAN network using MultiTech’s Conduit and mDot RF modules. The Things Network has an extensive forum and support for public gateways and nodes in Europe, but little documentation exists for those wanting to test a private network in the US.
This is the first post in a four-part guide which covers:
- Configuring the Conduit & Starter Kit
- Node-RED & Bypassing IBM Bluemix
- Programming MultiTech Developer Kit & Adding Sensors
- Using the mDot, xbee shield, and Arduino
Configuring the Conduit & Starter Kit
Hardware & Software Requirements
We purchased a MultiConnect Conduit Starter Kit (MTCDT-STARTER-KIT-915) to test out the our first LoRaWAN use case. The starter kit is not cheap (~$900), but I recommend it if you want to test the capabilities of LoRaWAN right away as the network tester is pre-configured out of the box.
However, if you do want to only buy the essentials, you can separately purchase a Conduit gateway, LoRa gateway accessory MultiConnect mCard (MTAC-LORA-915), MultiConnect mDot Developer Kit (MTUDK2-ST-MDOT), some 915 MHz LoRa Antennas, and MultiConnect mDot Long-Range RF Module (MTDOT-915-X1P-SMA-1).
On the software side, I am using macOS, but a Windows or Linux computer with ethernet, USB, and terminal-like application (e.g. PuTTY) should suffice.
Configuring the Conduit
Although MultiTech will provide you with a quickstart guide, the guide on the Things Network forum is more extensive. If you purchased a starter kit, you will have an AEP version, in which you can follow the instructions here. Otherwise, you can read the directions to configure the mLinux model here.
Several comments about the AEP configuration steps:
- After the initial setup, the documentation directs you to change the access configuration. However, if you have already allowed WAN access for HTTPS and SSH, then you can just hit Save and Restart to complete the setup process.
- Although it is not required, you can upgrade the firmware to 1.3.3 to fix Node-Red being disabled sometimes.
- If you want to test out a public LoRaWAN network, you can proceed with TTN Configuration. If not, you can skip that step and make note of your Network Name and Passphrase under Setup → LoRa Network Server. This should match the serial number of your mDot box.
This should complete your setup process. If you have the mDot box, you can power it on, select LoRa Demo and start to send data to IBM Bluemix. The official MultiTech guide does a great job walking you through the steps, but in case you run into some problems (like I did) you can keep reading. Otherwise, skip to part II of this series to start forwarding data to any cloud service you want.
Finding the New IP Address Assigned by DHCP
If you followed the TTN setup process, you will lose access to the web UI (initially set to 192.168.2.1) after you reset the gateway. To find the IP address that the network assigned your gateway, you can use the following options:
- The best and easiest method: Access the network router’s admin page and find the IP address.
- Use ifconfig in the terminal or Network Settings to find the subnet mask. Replace any 0 values with 255 in the subnet mask and ping the network. So for example, if the IP address is 192.168.1.151, ping 192.168.1.255 in the terminal and try a list of those networks that you get a response back from.
- If you have a small network (in-home or office with only a few connections), chances are that DHCP has issued an IP address close to the one that your laptop has received. So if your ethernet IP address shows, 10.0.0.24, try 10.0.0.23 or 25 and see if you can access the MultiTech login page.
- Macworld article suggests using the arp -a command, but that only works if the Mac has already probed the host. Instead use homebrew or equivalent software to download nmap. You can issue nmap -sP <your-ip-address start/end> to populate the arp -a table and find the assigned IP address.
mDot Box Not Joining the Gateway
For some reason, one of the mDot boxes was not configured correctly, so it could not join the gateway. You will see this if the mDot Box gets stuck in “Joining Network” phase with the attempts count (the number next to A=) keeps increasing.
To fix this, you need to use either a Micro Developer Kit (MDK) or a UDK2. You can follow the instructions here, keeping in mind that the name and phrase mentioned on the guide should be same as the LoRa network settings you noted above.
For Mac users, to connect to a new TTY/COM port at 115200 bps, you can issue the following commands in the terminal.
This will list the serial connections available to you. Let’s say one of the options was /dev/tty.usbmodem14221. Then to connect to it:
screen /dev/tty.usbmodem14221 115200
Now you can issue all the AT commands to set up the network. After saving by issuing AT&W command, you can exit the program by typing Control+A then Control+\ .