LoRa low-power WAN evaluation kits from Microchip, in distribution

LoRa low-power WAN evaluation kits from Microchip, in distribution

New Products |
By Graham Prophet

LoRa technology, overseen by the LoRa Alliance, targets tracking and monitoring IoT applications with low data rates and a low-duty cycle for a variety of markets such as energy, location, utility infrastructure, environment, agriculture and public safety. Predominantly used for the uplink of sensor data, the bidirectional nature of the communications allows real-time acknowledgement of mission-critical data and downlink control of remote actuator nodes. The technology is capable of securely delivering two-way communication at data rates from 0.3 to 50 kbps, and over distances of up to 2 to 5 km in an urban environment and up to 15 km in a suburban environment.


Using chirped spread-spectrum modulation, in licence-free bands, enables LoRa links to maintain reliable communications over km distances for very low supply currents, with signals “in the noise floor”. With extended range, much of the necessity for mesh networking that is typical of 802.11 derivative schemes is avoided, and point-point or start networks can be used. Three modes of operation are available at increasing levels of supply power, and correspondingly increasing levels of access by node to gateway. The first enables a node to transmit at any time, and its transmission is also a request for a return data ‘slot’ so it receives only after transmitting. The second uses a network beacon to synchronise transmission slots from gateway to node(s), with nodes able to transmit between those times; and the third uses more power as receivers are active all the time the node is not transmitting.


The Microchip kits provide all the required components necessary for a developer to create a low-power LoRaWAN network, including: a LoRaWAN gateway; two Motes, which are LoRaWAN sensors based on Microchip’s RN2483 or RN2903 LoRa modules; and a local LoRaWAN server application.


The two kit variants include: one that is suitable for Europe – the DV164140-1 for the 868 MHz band; and one for North America – the DV164140-2 for the 915 MHz band. In addition, the sensor Motes meet the respective certification requirements of the European R&TTE Directive (DV164140-1) and the FCC (DV164140-2), thereby enabling a significant reduction in the time to market for developers. Providing a longer range than the majority of popular low power wireless technologies, designers using the kits can expect 10 years of battery life using two AAA batteries.


LoRaWAN provides a common protocol that allows smart assets and IoT devices to communicate with one another, and the LoRaWAN specification is also optimised for very low power use, which makes it suitable for wireless battery-powered end-points in an IoT network. In addition, LoRa technology delivers greater resilience to interference as it uses spread spectrum modulation to facilitate excellent data robustness in noisy environments, as well as working through physical barriers.





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