Is Particle right for my project?

New user- in fact I just discovered Particle from an article in Make Magazine.

The project:
have a medical device that I wear and it communicates to my Home Assistant* where I send the data over MQTT to ESP nodes around the house for convenient display.

*Not directly, but through two websites then finally through a REST API into Home Assistant, then by MQTT to me display devices.

I was looking at using LoraWan to send this data to a display in my car, then quit investigaing when I discovered that LoraWan is a one-way data system. So, I put the project aside. Then I read a bit about Particle.

My data consists of ten bytes each minute displayed on an eight-digit, 14-segmant LES array.

Is Particle appropriate for this? In particular the free cellular data plan? Are IOT experimenters encouraged by Particle?

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Hi Steve, and welcome to the community!

totally! I felt very welcome here from day 1.

the free data plan gives you 100K cloud operations per month. In your case have 43.2k cloud operations per month (602430). You are good there.
The free data plan gives you 100 Mb of data (corrected!), and there I am not sure how to calculate your usage. Not sure how to calculate properly the data transmitted in your 0 bytes, but if I do the math the other way around, you have around 2kb (kilo bytes) per transmission (100Mb/30/24/60).

All this above is valid considering you have only this device in that account, then you are ok.

Please validate my math, but first pass looks good.
Cheers,
Gustavo.

EDIT: corrected Mb allocated per month, thanks @no1089

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Thanks for the reply.
So, from a projected data load, I am good. (I could shave some of the data because it is the time, which I can see from my watch or GPS.)

Now, the unasked question. What product should I be looking at? The project that got me thinking about using “Particle mentions the article Boron LTE microcontroller, CAT M1 version”.

I could cut the data rate a lot considering that the car is in the garage most of the time, so there would be no need to transmit the data when I detect the car in the garage.

Also, what language does the IDE use? (I haven’t looked at it yet).

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100Mb of data :slight_smile: But the focus remains on Data Ops as you’d be hard pushed to reach that with most projects.

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@SteveMann ,

Wanted to echo @gusgonnet comment on feeling welcome and supported in this community and by Particle. I started building on Particle 5 years ago and have never looked back.

If you are looking to send data in the house, you could consider the Argon which communicates via WiFi. However, if you are looking for something that can easily be put to use by others with no need for them to configure communications, Boron / B-Series is the way to go. This is the platform I use most.

As to the exact model, there are two main considerations, geography (US, Europe, Asia, etc) and form factor Boron - larger easer to get started and B-Series - more compact but a little more on you for your final design.

Good luck and please keep the conversation going if we can help.

Chip

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All Particle development is done in C/C++, similar to Arduino, via the Web IDE, the Particle CLI or the Particle Workbench VSCode extension. The DeviceOS has a RICH set of built-in functions that normally take numerous add-on libraries in the Arduino world.

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If you go with a Boron (or B-series) they come with cellular and bluetooth connectivity.
There is the latest version of the DeviceOs (the OS the chip runs) that has codedPhy bluetooth that can send information up to 100 meters.
So you might use cellular when the car is on the road, and bluetooh when it’s parked home.
Oh - maybe you have no need at all to send data when the car is parked home…

Please keep the questions coming!
Look above at all the people that stopped by to hep. :slight_smile:

Best,
Gustavo.

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To add to @gusgonnet’s ideas, you could also use bluetooth to detect a simple BLE beacon in the garage so the device knows it’s at home!

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Thanks. The data at this time is almost entirely a few bytes a minute to the car. If it were from the car I could have used LoraWan. (The original plan).

Now I know how a newbie in the Arduino world feels.

So, if I understand what I read- In order to get the data sent to my car, I would need two Boron units? One at the server and the other on the car.

Would a pair of “Boron LTE CAT-M1 (NorAm) Starter Kit with EtherSIM” be a good start?

And, what is EtherSIM?

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Hey Steve,

I understand your medical device needs to broadcast the info to other devices around you.
If you are at home, this device can either use WiFi or Bluetooth for broadcasting it, as you mention you have done already with MQTT and home assistant.

Now, if you want to broadcast this info while you are driving, maybe Bluetooth can help here. You are in the car, the receiver display is in the car, then there might be no need for cellular.

Could it be?

@SteveMann ,

I may not fully understand your solution but, if your data requirements are low, the Boron may be an excellent choice. It can communicate via cellular and Bluetooth so, if you are in the car, you may be able to send data via bluetoother.

EtherSIM is Particle’s cellular connectivity package. They are a MVNO (Mobile virtual network operator) and EtherSIM enables you to consume cellular services without having to worry about what cellular provider (AT&T, others) are providing the service. This is a very big deal if you have any plans to deliver a solution internationally.

Thanks,

Chip

No. Maybe I didn’t explain the Rube Goldberg path that the data currently takes.
The device is a Continuous Glucose Meter (CGM).
The CGM communicates with my phone via BLE.
The phone sends the data to the manufacturers website.
A second website receives this data via a REST API.
I can finally get this data into my Home Assistant via another REST API.

Before that last step, I have no direct access to the data or an API to get the data. (Well, not completely true- I can get the API from the manufacturers website but I have to get a developers license, which is more complex than getting an Amazon Developers license)

I built a display device using a Wemos D1 Mini and some 14-segment LED displays. These are scattered around the house to display the time and my blood glucose. The devices receive the data over WiFi using MQTT.

I am basically lazy. These displays give me (and my wife) a near real-time display of my blood glucose at a glance. I can get the same data from my phone or my watch, but having the number available at a glance is… Well for a better word, cool. (I should mention that I am retired and IOT and Arduino gadgets are my hobby.)

My next gadget was to be an in-dash display of these numbers, so that I don’t have to pull out my phone or fiddle with my watch to determine if I should stop for a meal or snack soon. This is where Particle comes in because the LoraWan protocol doesn’t allow for pushing data.

Still feasible?

love it

one way or another, yes.
Now we need to discuss how many steps we add to the contraction :hammer_and_wrench: :crazy_face:

If the info is already in Home Assistant, you can push it to a Particle device with an https request, like explained here via a Particle cloud function (explained here).

This particle function will make sure the data is pushed to your cellular device (this is part of Particle’s magic!) and then the cellular device can drive the display you want.

If all that above is correct, this might be what you need:

Maybe your end device can look like this?

or this?

or this?

what do you think?

EDIT: Particle community: if I’m wrong somewhere, please correct me

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That last photo would be exactly what I am building. (In fact I get my 14-segment displays from Adafruit on an I2C board.)

Here is what my in-home device looks like:

This one is sitting on top of one of my monitors. I have another in my basement workshop area and a third in my family room near the TV.

Just for fun when someone visits and they don’t know what the second number is, I tell them it’s my blood pressure if it’s below 100, my IQ in real time if it’s over 150, and in-between, I tell them it’s the outside temperature in Celsius. Only one person challenged me on the OAT in Celsius. No one has doubted the IQ.

I appreciate the input. I will order a Boron and Featherwing display soon, but my wife has me on higher priority projects right now. I am building a Monster Box for Halloween.

I’ll probably be back after Halloween with programming questions…

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way to go and see you soon

Hi @SteveMann -

Well… you got a lot of very good feedback, I guess all I can add from my side is “Welcome to Particle!” :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Maybe to echo what everyone has been saying, I am sure either Argon or Boron will meet your needs. Of course Argon consumes less power due to the absence of the cellular modem, but all depends on your use case. I am sure you will be be happy with Particle. Similar to @chipmc experience, I move to Particle a couple of years ago and have never looked back. Great products, service and a very helpful lot of people in the forum!

ps: IMHO If you are starting out with Particle, my advice would be Gen 3 (Boron / Argon) over B-series. Will be ‘easier’ to get going :wink: B-series is great… but a bit more involved.

Regards, Friedl.

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Not to get too off topic but what is a Monster Box? I love Halloween and that sounds like something fun!

It’s a box with a monster inside. In this case, a fire-breathing dragon.

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Very cool!