High School Robotics Course using the Particle.io Mesh Devices Blog

FIRST HACK:

Got the Particle Featherwing working as a solid Ethernet, but not a gateway. Not sure how that works, but using my updated HelloMesh code at

The Xenons are now Plug and Play with the Particle Featherwing. the 2 important lines are:



SYSTEM_THREAD(ENABLED);

void setup() {
   
   STARTUP(System.enableFeature(FEATURE_ETHERNET_DETECTION));

}

Even without console confirmation for the Ethernet connection you can test it physically by just shutting down every mesh device except the Xenon in the Featherwing. If it breaths cyan without any other mesh devices nearby it must be using the Ethernet to reach the cloud Mesh.

The only negative with system thread enabled so far is that the LED’s do not flash at exactly the same time, small delay with multiple devices. The positive here is that many Xenons could have a stable Ethernet while testing other things. Once Setup I think the Ethernet Xenons will add a bit of stability, but that will take more testing.

Note: A repeater Xenon can not yet restore an endpoint xenon from either a soft reset or a complete unplug and replug. The Xenons must be completely taken back to where the Argon is. Even an Ethernet connected (non-gateway) Xenon can not presently restart an endpoint Xenon

So happy my Particle Featherwing Hack works at home. I now have a stable mesh network at school and at home.

The new (version 26) Android App trys to force your Xenon with the featherwing to be a gateway and only one gateway is allowed per mesh at the moment. The hack allows a Xenon to have the stability of the Ethernet without being a gateway. My Argon has always worked at home, but the Xenons rarely were stable for more than 30 seconds. With one stable Xenon and the Argon, my home mesh network is completely stable.

Note: No Xenons can as of yet help a flashing green (for more than a second) Xenon get back on the network, that Xenon must still be brought close to an Argon or other gateway. I hope a solution for this is coming soon as that makes the mesh network incredibly fragile and user intensive to restore connectivity.

oops.

.

Oh, too funny.:joy::joy::joy: The new found stability at home has little to do with my Xenon and the Featherwing. The new home stability is totally to do with the version 26 firmware that came out today.

WELL DONE PARTICLE. THE NEW VERSION 26 HAS MADE SOME HOME MESH NETWORKS MUCH BETTER.

Also at home getting much better range than at school. Less concrete and metal. Looks like about 80 to 100 meters, but because the breathing cyan is so stable, it is sometimes hard to tell when you have made 2 separate mesh networks or one network that communicates. I got 150 m from home with the Xenon stable but not talking to the Argon. That is why my Mesh Hello World program is so useful.

Hey @RWB looks like there is code to activate the Antenna. I will try some Antenna range measurements tomorrow

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Busy day already:

Not getting good results for the Argon with a wifi and mesh activated antenna, but everything else today was good.

At Home Argon using wifi and Antenna for wifi only:

  1. Xenon with Antenna activated but not attached 10 m
  2. Xenon default. no Antenna and not activated 40 m
  3. Xenon with Antenna attached and activated 80 m (also re-connects well)

No advantage if the Argon is using Particle Featherwing or activating the mesh Antenna (I think it was worse with Mesh Antenna activated)

At School (Heavy concrete lots of metal, busy wifi, new Ethernet setup. Could get more details if anyone is interested.)

See image. Used the normal Argon setup, but had a Xenon with Antenna activated near the window, Argon in the middle of the classroom.

Basically had good stable connection at about 150 m, did not try any farther.

A very good day with the Mesh devices.:grinning:

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Nice Improvement in range.

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Created a new topic here

By the way I have updated my Mesh Hello World program to include the Antenna

Also talked about the Argon and not to set it with a mesh antenna

I still need to test fully outside, flat land, line of site ranges.

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Who would have thought that to have wifi and mesh working you would need 2 antennas! I kind of messed up on that one. New results and software at

Mesh Hello World

Might as well show the data here as well. 230 m between Argon and Xenon

reconnect at 120 m

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So today I tried an outside, flat, line of sight measurement , but could not get the mesh working with my cellular hotspot. See new topic.

So I had to do something at my house and got similar results to the above 230 m actually got 215 m (With the gateway Argon having both Antenna and the Xenon having the mesh antenna). About the distance of 12 residential homes in my area. (I was walking on my street, with the Argon near the road, up a slight hill.)

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Got my cell hotspot working.

Found a line of sight location. Left my Antenna Xenon with battery pack on a pole Antenna Vertical and started walking with my Hotspot enabled Argon with both Antenna and of course carrying my cell phone. Got a whopping 520 m with good signal. At 550 m I lost the signal. Had to walk back to within about 150 m to reconnect. This was a beautiful, crisp cold sunny morning. Probably very different results on different days.

line-of-sight03

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the experience of not reconnecting until within ~150 meters is interesting.

I would like to see this with a node in between the Argon and the Xenon to see how the range is then and how quickly the 2nd Xenon reconnects after you get out past the middle Xenon’s range.

For my tests I have found the disconcerting issue that a repeater can not reconnect an Endpoint that has been fully rebooted (powered off) The xenon has to go back to the gateway. This is a bug, that should eventually get fixed.

Google Group openThread-users

As long as the Xenon is not reset or powered down it would be interesting to see if the distances can be doubled each time.

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Yea, it better be a bug :wink:

Looking forward to more of your range testing.

In the future, I’m going to test the XBee3 Modules the same as you also just to see how they compare range wise.

This video series has some really good comparisons between the types of Mesh protocols.

Interesting that it is labelled Silicon Labs Thread and not OpenThread.

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Found a good Mesh article also. I’m using Digimesh.

XBee does have some Thread 🧵 based radios but they have removed just about all Google indexed links to Thread links they used to have on their website.

They have been working with Thread for 2-3 years so not sure why they have removed everything related to Thread on their website.

https://www.mouser.com/new/digi-international/digi-xbee-s2d-modules/

Trying to organize distance measurements. Found this old link that is relevant

I would really like a thread just about mesh distances, however the one that seems relevant

at Mesh distance between devices

was closed by @will in Feb, 2018

Any chance we can re-open this or should I just start a new one.

This image says it all, for me. Outside, Line of Sight distances are dramatically better than anything I get inside the home of School for an Argon connecting to a Xenon.

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thing is if it will not reconnect until you are within ~150 meter then getting transmission at any distant above that is somewhat hollow achievement even though interesting. i’m wondering if the reconnect sequence requires more current than those batteries could provide to either device or both. hopefully though it was just a fluke they would not reconnect at distance over ~150 meters.

Reconnecting is going to take time, it’s cold outside and I am quickly walking back to the Argon Gateway. Most likely the results are skewed in favor of the shorter distance. I really should walk back 20 meters then wait 2 minutes, then walk another 20 meters etc, until it connects, but as I said its cold.

If you see the maximum range as 100% and you consistently lose the connection at 120%, for an installation you are not going to put your Xenons at 100% probably more like at 75%. Note that I had reconnection at about 50% of the range, but a better number is probably 75% if I was willing to wait.

Unfortunately all these distances depend on your situation. Even in the same building the results may vary a fair bit. This might be a career for someone. A company that sets up-time as the highest priority may choose a 50% distance whereas someone who could fly a Boron equipped drone around the business once a day might go with a cheaper arrangement of the 100% distance. (You could also walk around the business with an Argon and a cell phone hotspot.)

So if a business that had a 100% distance at 33.3 m and had a lot that was 100 m x 100 m using the poor connection approach the lot could be covered with 4 Mesh devices as in the diagram. However it might need some method to reconnect devices that become unconnected.

Note: Diagram updated after @peekay123 suggestion

At 75 % max distance would need 9 devices.

but if that same business wanted great up-time with the devices maybe they used the 50% distance then they need 25 devices to cover the entire lot as in the following diagram.

The coverage decisions has a huge effect on the number of devices to purchase. And I am only researching a single connection between a Xenon and an Argon. The entire situation becomes much more complex with a true mesh.

Will be interesting to see what coverage is needed with actual businesses.

I started a new thread called

Which has my summary chart

Using the ideas of Business-Home-LineOfSight here are my results averaged over several days. Using this concept:

Business/School: concrete floors, lots of metal framing/school lockers, Busy Wifi
Home: wood, a few walls, private Wifi, windows
LineOfSight: Outside, both devices can directly see each other

@rocksetta, see my post here: