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Arduino compatible IoT board offers LoRa wireless

Apr 19, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 1,714 views

SODAQ’s “LoRaONE” is a tiny Arduino-compatible board with an Atmel SAMD21 MCU, plus a LoRa radio and a GPS, sensors, micro-USB, and optional Grove add-on.

Dutch embedded firm SODAQ (SOlar powered Data AcQuisition) has almost doubled its $22,740 Kickstarter funding goal for its Arduino compatible LoRaONE SBC, aimed at low-power LoRa wireless applications. The cheapest package left goes for 89 Euros, or about $101, while a 109-Euro ($124) package adds the LoRaONE starter kit, which provides a ONEbase breakout board, a micro-USB cable, an 800mAh battery, and a solar panel. Packages are available through May 14, and units are expected to ship in July.

(click image to enlarge)

The 40 x 25mm LoRaONE board is based on SODAQ’s previous, solar powered Autonomo board. It similarly provides Arduino compatibility by way of a 32-bit, 48MHz, Cortex-M0 ATSAMD21G18 microcontroller from Atmel with 32kB SRAM.

LoRaONE front and back details
(click image to enlarge)

The key difference from the Autonomo is the addition of a LoRa two-way radio transceiver. This radio’s Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) wireless protocol, which offers transfer rates over LoRaWAN networks between 0.3Kbps and 50Kbps, is designed for wireless battery operated Internet of Things communications.

LoRaONE starter kit

SODAQ touts LoRa for being easy to set up, featuring extremely long range, and working in both indoor and outdoor settings. A LoRaWAN gateway can reach LoRa sensor nodes up to 10 kilometers away. You can use LoRaWAN networks operated by telcos, mostly in Europe, or build your own, which would also require a LoRa server in addition to gateways.

With its power-sipping SAMD21 MCU and LoRa chips, the board is designed for remote battery- or solar-powered sensors. SODAQ notes applications including a remote alarm system for bikes or valuables, a panic button for the elderly, or a harbor-wide container-sensing network. The company is working with customers on sensor-laden trash cans and a rhino-tracking network in a Tanzania game park.

LoRaONE in a solar-powered sun-metering device for plants
(click image to enlarge)

The LoRaONE incorporates one of two Microchip LoRa Class A modules: a 433/868MHz RN2483 and a 915MHz RN2903. The 915MHz frequency is most commonly used in the Americas while the 868MHz band is used elsewhere. The board offers LoRa and optional SMA antenna connectors.

The LoRaONE is equipped with 32KB SRAM, 256KB of flash, and a micro-USB port for communicating with a PC, or powering the optional 3.7V, 800mAh LiPo battery. The 3.3V board is further equipped with a solar charge controller for up to 500mA. Like the battery, a solar panel is part of the optional starter kit.

The board features a 3-axis accelerometer, a magnetometer, and a U-blox Eva 7M GPS module, which SODAQ says was the lowest-power GPS it could find. Other features include an LED and a user button, which SODAQ suggests would be useful for wearables.

Interfaces include a 10-bit DAC output, serial debug, and a 14-pin expansion interface. All 14 pins can be used for digital, while 12 can be used for analog and eight support PWM. The array also supports UART, SPI, and TWI (I2C). The starter kit adds a ONEbase extension board that can interface with Seeed’s Grove sensor modules.

Further information

The LoRaONE is available on Kickstarter through May 14 at prices starting at 89 Euros ($101), and is expected to ship in July. More information may be found at the LoRaONE Kickstarter page and the SODAQ website, as well as this Atmel blog announcement.

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