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Hardware

Hardware

Teams attending the challenge are supplied with starter kit containing Sodaq Explorer IoT development board. The board contains programmable microcontroller and LoRa radio interface. There are also interfaces for various expansion options.

The board is compatible with Arduino form-factor, thus basically any Arduino shield can be used, either sensors, actuators or additional communication interfaces, depending on your idea and solution.

No soldering skills needed!

Power

The board is powered with external 5V USB supply. Small rechargeable battery is integrated for stand-alone operations. Solar cells are supported with build-in charging electronics.

For extended period of operation in battery powered mode, use of external USB power-bank is recommended. For most applications, 2000 mAh should be enough, depending on parameters like transmit interval, power consumption of additional electronics, etc.

Processor and memory

The board has 32-bit ARM Cortex M0+ microcontroller running at 48 MHz, making the chip about as powerful as the Intel i386 from mid-80's. Software development is explained in details in the Firmware section.

The controller has 256 kb of integrated Flash for program code and 32 kb of RAM. In addition, there is external serial Flash with 4MB capacity, which can be used for data logging purposes. 

LoRa Radio

LoRa stands for Long Range. Currently the world records is over 700 kilometers link distance from gas balloon with LoRa radio in Belgium to gateway in Poland. In normal urban environments, distances of several kilometers can be achieved easily. The board has integrated circuit board antenna readily available, which can be replaced by external antenna for even longer ranges.

Long distances with low power consumptions comes with downside of having low data capacity. End-devices are expected to transmit data only every now and then, and streaming applications are out of the scope. However, if the end-device has an event to report, it can transmit data immediately and system level latencies are relative low in scale of a second.

The Sodaq board has LoRaWAN compatible radio module RN2483 from Microchip. This module was the first LoRaWAN certified product in the world. Certification testing was performed by Etteplan's accredited test laboratories in Jyväskylä, being the first LoRa Alliance acknowledged test laboratory in the world.  

https://www.microchip.com/pressreleasepage/microchip-s-lora-wireless-module-is-world-s-first-to-pass-lora-alliance-certification

(Espotel is now part of Etteplan)

Bells and whistles

The Sodaq board has a few features readily available to support applications development.

  • Integrated temperature sensor
  • Programmable user button (input)
  • Programmable RGB LED (output)

Extensions

The Sodaq board is electrically and mechanically compatible with Arduino extension headers, thus basically any Arduino compatible extension shields can be used. There are hundreds of different types of shields available in the market, including sensors, actuators and communication interfaces.

There are many shops selling Arduino-compatible hardware extensions (shields *) and other sensor electronics. Here are some examples to get started.

Finnish web shops:

International web shops: