Particle Mesh update — a note from the CEO

Sorry to hear you feel that way, and I understand if this deprecation leads you to no longer use Particle.

Regarding our support of “one off purchases” – we’re as committed as ever to creating great tools for prototyping, and the Argon and Photon are still great options for prototyping that don’t require a subscription for small fleets of devices.

I hear you and it’s definitely something that we considered. Perhaps if we had felt like 2.4Ghz 802.15.4 mesh networking was the right solution for most customers we might have stepped back and simply taken a different approach – but because of the challenges we had with range (which is really driven by a physical limitation of the 2.4Ghz band), we didn’t feel like doing so would be prudent.

Check out the OpenThread SDK (which can be run on the Xenon) to see if that works for you, or take a look at the LoRa FeatherWings that Adafruit has created: https://www.adafruit.com/product/3231

You’ve made it hard to feel any other way. What reason does anyone have to believe you won’t do this to any other products? None

@dcliff9, if you purchased them within the last 30 days you’re eligible to return the product. I’d check the email tied to your Particle account for more details - you should have been contacted. If you can’t find anything from us let me know and I’ll get the right info sent your way myself (joseph@particle.io).

Or, if you purchased via third-party, you can submit for promotional credits here.

We were using the Xenon for the BLE aspect and didn’t need wifi or cellular. The mesh aspect wasn’t a factor, but the argon prices it out for us. Any recommendations for a BLE replacement?

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I suppose that’s fair (w/ regards to range). Better get to work on LoraMesh!

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Does this apply to early adopter pre-orders as well?

If you just want to use BLE with additional connectivity technologies, Adafruit’s nRF52840 Feather board uses the same MCU and Bluetooth stack as the Xenon and has a compatible form factor and pinout (Feather standard):

For very low cost bluetooth deployments at scale, the ESP32 is pretty hard to beat, cost-wise, and has Arduino development model that is similar to the one that Particle offers with our developer tools:

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@zach, I appreciate the frankness and clarity. I’ve also had to kill my million-dollar baby and deliver refunds, it really sucks. It’s also the only thing you can do sometimes. You’ve done the right thing by all along keeping everything open source and publishing schematics. None of us wanted to see this happen, but we all support you and the awesome community you have created.

That being said, how much of the decision to kill Xenon was directly mesh related and how much was an issue with generating revenue from meshes? I’ve had an excellent experience with mesh, and love that I can use my Boron with a mesh connection so that I can test absolutely everything in situ before using a single byte of cellular data. But I can appreciate that from a client perspective of deploying hundreds of these, instead of 4 or 5, my approach absolutely does not scale.

I don’t ask because I want to criticize Particle’s efforts. Rather, I’d like to know what the odds are of success if I continue with mesh, but via another pathway (e.g. using nRF’s SDK). If Particle couldn’t find a way to make HA make sense monetarily, and generic meshes consumed too much support time, I think it would be useful to know. It means your bad experience isn’t a canary in the coal mine for my work. If, on the other hand, mesh just keeps being flaky, even in the best of circumstances, then I should follow your lead and bail on OpenThread.

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You already have the firmware and border gateway’s working on you devices, it’s a pity you can’t just drop in some sub gig hardware like the TI CC13xx to deal with the range issue. I’d much prefer a particle OS powered sub gig OpenThread/6lowpan solution with firmware updates OTA over low bitrate LoRa any day.

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I bought 250 bucks worth of Xenons (I know, its not much) prior to them coming out thinking that I’ll put them to good use soon. But then you had lots of stability issues, that to some degree I am alright with that - but it was the lack/type of response your company gave that made me pause.

Then the flip floppy (or no) answers on the availability of the P1.

Then absolutely NO support on trying to use the factory flash area for code …

Then the “let me tell you how small you are” attitude from your sales folks.

Particle as it is today, is good only for hobby projects, nothing more. This try-to-be-elegant message is just showing how simplistic your approach is towards business customers. I am in a startup at the moment and if I had not anticipate this, it would have done us in.

I moved on, yes there are other manufacturers of the same stuff you make, there are choices.

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Will let Zach provide his own perspective, but wanted to provide mine as well to try and answer your question.

From the blog post at the top of the page…

For Particle, being successful with Mesh means providing customers with a simple experience that makes deploying and managing a complicated mesh network solution easy and approachable. Doing so means providing more than just the capabilities for devices to talk with one another (enabled by our Mesh protocol), but to also provide tools for configuring and deploying those networks around the world, keeping them performant and secure, and remotely managing their firmware and performance.

Another way of thinking about this problem – though the underlying connectivity protocol is the same, it takes different tools to manage a single Wi-Fi router in your home than to deploy, configure, and manage networks of locally networked routers in remote offices around the world (like Meraki).

Thread, the underlying protocol behind Particle Mesh, is the best 2.4GHz mesh protocol that I know it, which is why we picked it. However, as Zach’s post cited, it wasn’t the right solution for many of our customers that needed longer-range messaging, and the problem of simplifying remote network management is a hard one.

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@will Elegant language, but you guys should have done more research in house before going out and having your customers make commitments.

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I preordered the day you announced Mesh, suffered through your delays at the time, etc.

When I finally got the Mesh hardware, I tested it out, found it completely not ready for any real use and after investing about 20-30 hours the first month boxed it up and decided to wait for you to work out the kinks and make high availability networks available which, of course, you never did.

So, I’ve still got 11 Xenons from the preorder that have never been opened (as well as a couple of Boron LTEs and several Argons, a debugger, etc.). And, from reading this thread, I’m one of the lucky ones because I didn’t waste a ton of time as well as the money.

I’ve continued to buy and develop with 2nd generation hardware for the past year which I find to be vastly superior to the 3rd generation that only offers inferior hardware with buggier firmware.

I’m not sure what good you think the purchase credit is. Between your international shipping costs and how hard I got hammered by FedEx’s brokerage extortion, it will cost me more to use those credits than the value of the credit. Besides which, I will never trust Particle enough to use your products again. I have zero trust in your company now – no that’s not fair, I have a huge amount of trust in you to screw over anyone who uses your products. I am just grateful that I never used your 3rd generation trash in any real projects. I wonder how many of your customers you have just put out of business for making the mistake of trusting you. It’s not something any sane business will ever do again.

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Thank you for the feedback, and I’m sorry that you’ve had negative experiences interacting with Particle. Our goal is always to be honest and transparent with customers so that you can make the decisions that are best for your project or business, and understand if you’ve moved on as a result.

I understand why you feel that way, and can assure you that as a growing company we do not take this decision lightly, and will these lessons forward with us with the goal of continuously serving our customers better than we have in the past.

@will The particle company I have seen the last 2yrs didn’t seem to care much for its customers except when the questions were easy and the numbers big. I don’t know where you pull that “assurance” from but I suspect it will all be soon forgotten and back to hobby mode.

Yep those are covered too, @extesy. Do you have an email from us regarding your specific order?

If not let me know and I can dig up your account to help directly.

Honestly, we hadn’t really gotten to the point of establishing pricing for large-scale deployments, so it wasn’t necessarily an issue of generating revenue (or at least if it was going to be a problem, we hadn’t discovered that problem yet). It really was a technology thing.

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Particle with strong LoRa & LoRa Mesh support would be really nice.

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