Particle Mesh is shipping: everything you need to know


#1

Originally published at: https://blog.particle.io/2018/10/23/particle-mesh-is-shipping-everything-you-need-to-know/

This Friday, at long last, we’re shipping Particle Mesh!

Over the last five years, Particle has shipped over 500,000 devices to more than 160,000 engineers and 8,500 businesses who trust our technology to help solve some of their most important problems. Through working alongside those customers, we’ve gained invaluable experience on the true challenges of building and deploying IoT products.

We’ve invested all those insights into the creation of Particle Mesh, our third generation of IoT hardware and the most ambitious project in Particle’s history. All our new development kits come supercharged with local mesh networking out of the box, benefit from Particle’s growing ecosystem of tools for IoT developers and administrators, and improve on our previous generation of hardware products in almost every way imaginable.

There’s a lot of content here, so I’ll start with the tip of the iceberg.

Particle Mesh highlights

  • Every Particle Mesh device can create and join wireless mesh networks that enable robust, low-power, device-to-device communications.

  • A new Feather form factor that enables compatibility with an entire ecosystem of hardware accessories from our friends at Adafruit.

  • Support for cutting edge IoT connectivity standards like Thread (all devices), Bluetooth 5 (all devices), and LTE-M1 (Boron LTE).

  • A brand-new Bluetooth-based device setup process that makes configuring devices and networks simple and straightforward.

  • End-to-end integration with Particle’s Device OS, Device Cloud, Console, IoT Rules Engine, and IDEs.


Hardware Changes

Hardware support for new connectivity protocols

Our third generation of hardware supports a much greater set of connectivity options than have ever been available previously via Particle. Together, they essentially double the number of ways that product creators can connect a Particle device to the Internet.
  • All Particle Mesh devices support 802.15.4 Thread mesh networking with OpenThread.
  • All Particle Mesh devices support Bluetooth 5 which features higher data throughput, longer range, and improved coexistence.
  • The Boron supports LTE CAT M1, a new cellular standard for IoT devices which provides enhanced battery life, improved signal penetration, and lower hardware costs.
  • The Ethernet FeatherWing adds Ethernet connectivity, which technically isn’t a wireless protocol, but adds a critical backbone of industrial-grade reliability in environments that need it most.

An upgraded ARM processor

All our new Particle Mesh dev kits are powered by the nRF52840 which contains a modern, Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor with 1MB of onboard flash and 256KB RAM. The new processor also supports hardware accelerated floating point unit (FPU) calculations and cryptography, as well as a bunch of new fancy hardware security features (ARM TrustZone CryptoCell security module).

Feather form factor

All our new development kits feature the Adafruit Feather form factor, which makes Particle Mesh hardware immediately compatible with an ecosystem of dozens of hardware accessories, including displays, relays, LED drivers, environmental sensors, power accessories, and more. Additionally, it means that every Particle Mesh device supports direct Li-Po power and charge management via the onboard JST connector.

Upgraded flash memory

We upgraded the flash memory available on each Particle Mesh device by adding a whopping 4MB of external flash which can be used for data logging, firmware backups, and future feature development. The flash is QSPI compatible and supports XIP (execution in place), enabling you to run executable code from external flash in addition to simply reading and writing to memory.

JTAG standard connectors for debugging

All Particle Mesh hardware includes mini-JTAG standard connectors which are compatible with our brand new Particle Debugger. Although not available at the launch of Particle Mesh, JTAG programming and step-through debugging will be supported natively with Particle Workbench, significantly improving the capabilities of the development tools available to professional engineers building products with Particle Mesh hardware.

External antenna connectors for improved RF performance

Want to get more range out of your mesh network? Every Particle Mesh device includes u.FL antenna connectors which make it easy to attach a high-gain mesh, Wi-Fi, or cellular antenna for improved RF performance when it matters most.

Firmware

New primitives for local mesh communications

We’ve added two new Particle primitives, Mesh.publish() and Mesh.subscribe(), which mirror the functionality of Particle.publish() and Particle.subscribe(), but within the scope of a local mesh network. This means that the Particle Device OS now officially supports local communications between endpoints in a Mesh network, a critical feature to enable development of low power, low latency, and downtime-resilient IoT systems.

Support for firmware OTA for endpoints in a mesh network

In addition to supporting local network communication primitives, we also built out firmware OTA (“over the air”) update support from the Cloud for both Device OS firmware as well as customer applications. OTA updates are enabled by the Mesh gateway and give every Mesh endpoint all of the same networking capabilities as our previous Wi-Fi and cellular devices.

Support for Bluetooth firmware OTA

With the introduction of support for Bluetooth 5, we’ve added the ability for users to update their Device OS from the Particle app using a brand new set of Bluetooth APIs for enabling OTA updates. This makes it possible for users to take advantage of the latest and greatest Device OS firmware every time they set up a new device and makes this feature available to product creators via a future release of our mobile SDKs for Mesh-compatible devices.

Completely rebuilt IP stack for all hardware

We’ve completely re-implemented our IP networking stack to create a more uniform architecture for each of our Particle Mesh devices. This will reduce the variability in networking behavior between Wi-Fi, cellular, and Mesh devices (a good thing!), and increase our ability to support future connectivity protocols and hardware variants with predictable and reliable networking performance.

Support for OpenThread and OpenThread embedded gateways

As a part of building Particle Mesh, we created the first known implementation of OpenThread border router functionality on an embedded device. This means that lower-cost microcontrollers can be turned into gateways for OpenThread mesh networks, increasing the number of use cases (and problems) that can be served by Particle Mesh. This functionality is available via our Device OS, and will be contributed back to OpenThread to aid in development of additional products using this impactful technology.

Encrypted Bluetooth communications and setup

Because we use Bluetooth to communicate sensitive information during device configuration and diagnostics, we improved on the out-of-box security for BLE by implementing application level encryption with mbed TLS. This continues our commitment to exceeding industry standards for IoT security and allows product creators building with Particle Mesh to sleep easy at night.

Everything Else

Radically simplified setup process

Our third generation of hardware is the first to benefit from a radically simplified setup process that is mobile-first and leverages Bluetooth connectivity for bidirectional feedback and simple pairing via printed data matrix codes to make device pairing as simple as scanning a code with your smartphone. This setup process will be extended via our mobile SDKs to product creators building their own products with Particle Mesh.

Support for managing networks in the Console

We’ve added support for managing newly created mesh networks in the Console, providing a concise overview of the number of devices, number of gateways, and types of gateways supporting your Particle Mesh networks.

Newly organized documentation

On Friday we’ll be rolling out a new and improved information architecture for our documentation which will make it easier than before to find information about your new or existing Particle Mesh hardware. The new information architecture will also ship with a new home page for the docs as well as product landing pages that make it easier to find information related to the Particle hardware or software product you’re working with.

More to come

Although the list of new features and improvements we’re delivering with Particle Mesh is quite long, there’s lots of exciting features left to come. Like every new Particle product, we expect our new generation of hardware to undergo rapid improvement in the upcoming months as we deliver your preorders, identify and fix bugs, improve reliability, and add support for new features.

We’re excited to hear your feedback! If you encounter an issue or have a question, join our online community and create a post. Want to dive a little deeper? Check out our open source hardware and firmware repositories on GitHub and submit an issue or pull request. If you’re working on a project with your new Mesh hardware, post it on Hackster – we’ll be sure to highlight our favorite projects in the upcoming months with our broader community.

Most importantly, thank you for your support and enthusiasm! This milestone wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting without you.


#4

This is fantastic information! Question: you mention bluetooth 5 has improved range. Can you provide any metrics around what kinds of ranges we can expect between mesh nodes in different conditions (line of sight, one wall, etc…)? I know every situation is different, but some general baseline numbers would at least give us some ballpark ideas. Thx.


#5

Just to reiterate; Mesh uses OpenThread, not Bluetooth.
Range really depends on your situation and environment. Line of sight, interference, range, antennae, phase of the moon, and God knows what can have an influence that makes the results vary from day to day and location to location. It’s really hard to put numbers on this because they’ll most likely be misinterpreted. (In the US walls are built from primarily wood/plaster, whereas they’re mostly brick/contrete in Europe).


#6

Ok, let’s keep it simple. Line of sight?


#7

Is that in a congested area, or out in a field in the middle of nowhere…?

Let’s go with 10m, and take it from there? There’s really no telling how your situation/location will affect your setup. Furthermore, I’m not an employee, and my numbers are by no means official. I’ve had very limited time with the devices, and haven’t been able to do effective range tests either.


#8

if i’m understanding some of the information i’ve read this past month about the shipment process , if an order contains a device that is not currently ready for shipment then the whole order is held until that particular device is ready. if this is correct i’m wondering if there are any device types currently unavailable for shipment and if so when it is projected that those devices will be available to be shipped. thanks.


#9

My credit card hasn’t been charged and I didn’t get any email(s) from particle relating to shipping for a preorder of about 45 mesh items yet :sob:
So you might be right about delayed shipping


#10

I’m eagerly waiting on them to take my money also :smile:

Since they are shipping out of the Midwest and I live in the Midwest I’m hoping for a quick delivery time :rocket:

Looking forward to trying all the new tech out :particle:

I’m sure it will be worth the wait :timer_clock:


#11

particle has in the past stated their desire to be as transparent/forthcoming as possible. from what i have read the initial shipment start process is on a somewhat test basis and i accept that as an important step in getting up to speed while ironing out bugs. i’m interested in any info as far as products that may be part of an order that currently are not ready to be shipped thus delaying the entire order. in other words, what can i expect? can i expect all items in my order to be currently ready or should i expect a delay and if a delay approx. how long?
just a little clarity on what products are ready.


#12

Anybody been charged for their pre-order yet or received shipping info?


#13

short answer, no. not here. particle recently stated a FIFO [first in-first out] ship policy. as such it would seem the closer your order was to the 2/13/18 email announcement of opening of orders the closer to the front an order is. that of course is if all devices in your order are in stock and available for shipping.


#14

I placed my order Feb 14th a few minutes past midnight. (Just checked my confirmation email). So far no shipping info.


#15

I placed an order about 4 days ago and the charge has posted to my CC, so they seem to be charging recent purchases; however, I have no shipping info (so no actual idea for delivery).


#16

I placed my order a few days after the announcement in February. Still haven’t been charged or received any shipping notices. I ordered quite a few things and managed to get a lot of referrals. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


#17

@nrobinson2000 How many referrals did you end up getting out of curiosity?


#18

26 Referrals


#19

Pretty good for just throwing another post out there on the forum :slight_smile:

I wonder who had the most and how many it was :thinking:


#20

i got the email announcing sales at 7:15am on 2/13/18. i got the email confirming my order of 1 Boron LTE, 1 Argon, 1 Xenon & 1 ethernet feather at 11:27am on 2/13/18. as i mentioned, zero notification so far. i’m guessing one or more devices is not yet ready or the ship test phase is still in progress or the FIFO plan is yet to be implemented. no worries, they will come sooner or later. it is, however, an interesting look at the process as stated vs. as performed.


#21

Hackster.io received their new boards although I think it was a freebie from Particle and not an actual order they placed.

We’re getting closer :slight_smile:


#22

My card got charged this afternoon. I can now continue the wait for my order to arrive.