Some weeks ago a tweet by Manolis Nikiforakis (@niki511) with the #ESP8266 hashtag drew my attention. Manolis had just received a “smart lamp” branded by Ai-Thinker, the AiLight. Yes, the same Ai-Thinker that has sold millions of ESP8266 based modules. Chances were it had an ESP8266 microcontroller inside. Too good not to buy one and take a look at the inside.
I actually bought two because you never know. And they arrived last Thursday. It took me less that 1 minute to open one of the boxes, pop out the cap and take a look at the inside just to see what I already knew. Time to play 🙂
Lately I’ve been quite busy with the ESPurna firmware. It’s growing bigger and gaining some momentum. It’s really fulfilling to see other people using it and reporting back. But at the same time it’s very time consuming. Last Saturday I released version 1.5.0 with some new functionalities and bug fixes and I decided to use some of my free time over the weekend to work on a project that’s been waiting for a month in the shelf.
A few weeks ago I was playing with the Sonoff TH and I wrote a post about its sensor interface and the possibility of using lots of different digital sensors, including I2C sensors since the board can be easily hacked to export 2 digital pins over that interface.
And having I2C not only increases the number of potentially usable sensors but also opens the possibility of using I2C Analog to Digital converters to overpass the lack of analog inputs in the device. Here it comes the Texas Instruments ADC121 (datasheet), an 12-bit precision ADC with I2C support priced 2.74€ in quantities of 1.
Last December Itead Studio updated their Home Automation product line with a new and different product. The main difference is that it doesn’t have a relay and it’s mainly sensors and no actuator (if we don’t define a notifying LED as an actuator). The Sonoff SC is a sensor station that packs a DHT11 temperature and humidity sensor, a GM55 LDR, an electret microphone with an amplifier circuit and a Sharp GP2Y1010AU0F [Aliexpress] dust sensor in a fancy case that looks like it was originally meant for a speaker.
The device is packs an ESP8266 as expected and is compatible with the eWeLink app. But, such a collection of sensors, with 3 of them having analog interfaces, cannot be run from the single-ADC ESP8266 so Itead has thrown in a good old ATMega328P to drive the sensors and report the Espressif with the data.
I’m working on a project were I have to build a network of battery powered sensors over a territory the size of a small town.The sensors will monitor power consumption, temperature and humidity in energy poor households. Often the families in that situation can’t afford an internet connection at home so WiFi is out of question. GPRS would be an option but lately other radio technologies have come to my interest.
I’m a core member of The Things Network Community in Catalunya. LoRa is one such technologies. The (soon) availability of affordable gateways and the open nature of the software stack (from gateway firmware to backends to handlers) make it a great candidate to build an open, libre wireless sensor network that can cover large territories with few gateways.
Someday soon I’ll talk about the gateways, backends and so. Now I’m focusing on nodes. The idea is very similar to my previous post about a Moteino energy monitor node with an RFM69 radio, but using a LoRa radio and LoRaWan protocol instead. There are several options here. The cheaper and more common is to use a HopeRF RFM9X LoRa module and implement the LoRaWan specification in code. There are already libraries for arduino and alike that implement the LoraMAC specification almost at 100%. But for my first try I used another approach.
Microchip is selling a serial module that implements the full LoRaWan stack and communicates with your favourite uC through serial. The Microchip RN2483 (in the EU) is very easy to use and it’s price is not very different from HopeRF modules (both are about 15 euros at DigiKey). It’s the same module that the people at The Things Network have used for their The Things Uno prototyping platform (and Arduino Uno with a RN2483 module).
Question is: is the RN2483 a good choice for a battery powered LoRaWan node?
November was a busy month and the Sonoff Dual that IteadStudio kindly sent me to review was bored in a box waiting for some free time. But it was just fair that another board that has been waiting in the boards-to-review box for longer had it’s chance to have some fresh air too. So here we have the Itead Studio Sonoff Dual and the Electrodragon ESP Relay Board face to face.