Sunday, November 26, 2017

FastNet vs. Comsol with the Oyster LoRaWAN

Comsol is a public LoRaWAN network in South Africa. We've been testing it for a while, alongside the other public network FastNet.

Comsol have adopted Actility as their backend network server. Actility is popular around the world. A common network server is appealing to us because one integration into Telematics Guru gets us onto a number of networks around the world.

We're waiting for the DM Software Gods to work through a busy schedule and do a proper integration of TG and Actility. In the meantime, I've written a little test app to receive data from Actility and push it into TG.

A proper integration means supporting all of the uplink message types (there are 3 for the Oyster) and allowing TG to push downlinks to the Oyster. Downlinks allow reconfiguration of Oyster system parameters Over-The-Air.

For now, it's just exciting to see some data in TG from both networks. I'm impressed with their coverage so far. I live in Jo'burg, and we expect the metro to be covered well. The test below is a dog walk along the Sandspruit - next to a river in a significant valley.

This is not a great real-world setup for the Oysters. The devices are set to log very regularly. Because the GPS is on so much, you'd have a flat battery in a couple of months. Our devices are designed to last for years, but with a reasonable number of positions per day - 5 years plus at once per day.

Comsol using Actility:
Here is our afternoon dog walk, recorded by the Oyster LoRaWAN on the Comsol network:
Point History in TG for the dog walk. Lots of points. Almost all that were sent by the Oyster were received by Comsol.
Below is Actility's best guess at where the device is. This is using just the LoRaWAN network, with no knowledge of our GPS coordinates - "LoRa Locate" is the name of this geo-location feature. This probably explains why my coverage is so good. I appear to live 900m from a gateway. We'll do some more testing of this feature with the Guppy LoRaWAN tags...
Actility's best guess at location of the Oyster. 900m off. There's probably a gateway there.
FastNet:
Here is the same walk, with another Oyster LoRaWAN in the other pocket. Less points were heard by the network here, but it's not bad given we were walking in a valley. FastNet doesn't give a LoRaWAN based position estimate, so I can't guess at where their gateway is.
The same dog walk, as heard by FastNet's network.
So there's nothing terribly scientific about these tests. Its just exciting to see:
  1. Both Comsol and FastNet working well with the Oyster in Jo'burg.
  2. Some LoRaWAN data in TG, even if it's just a temporary test. I'm looking forward to the full integration.


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