Particle with only LoRa Networking

TL;DR: I want to use LoRa with Particle devices to send data to and from Particle’s Cloud and other servers instead of the WiFi.

Currently I have a Particle Photon and I want to completely shift to using LoRa instead of the WiFi. I want the Photon to turn on, connect to Particle’s Cloud service, authenticate, check for firmware, synchronize system time, publish data, etc. Is there a way, via something like a REST interface, to do this? Or, is an option to rewrite the firmware (say firmware/system/system_network_wifi.h to system_network_lora.h)? Has someone already done this?

I am looking at using the RFM95W chip for its range. I understand the bandwidth limits of LoRa, but I don’t do anything that requires a lot of bandwidth. Is Particle looking into this?

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Here are a few links I have found:

Hackster.io - controls a LoRa chip/antennae with a Particle Photon but does not use it to connect to Particle’s Cloud network.
https://www.hackster.io/makers-ns/lora-project-with-rn2483-and-particle-photon-435606

Library - RF95 - works with the RFM95 chip to send/receive data; but not Particle Cloud (obviously) http://www.airspayce.com/mikem/arduino/RadioHead/classRH__RF95.html#details

Why? What’s wrong with having one device connected to the cloud via Wi-Fi that has a RFM95W receiver that gets the data from other devices with the transmitters? You have to be connected to the internet somehow to get into the cloud. How do you propose to do that? That’s not a software thing, that’s hardware.

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Here is code that I got working for Photon + Adafruit RFM95 Radio + Microcontroller to communicate with each other. So you can have the Photon connected to the cloud and then still have access to your RFM95 LoRa radio communication also to process as you wish.

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Internet connectivity isn’t the issue. It’s connecting to Particle’s servers. I can write a library to replace Wifi or Cellular class functions, but Particle.connect() uses Wifi or Cellular and I need a way around this.

I appreciate the link. I found it before and was reading through it. Unfortunately, my Photon-run device won’t be near a wifi network to connect to, only the base Photon would be and I’m using Photons in the far off devices. I’d like to use Particle devices for their many features. If I can’t connect to Particle’s Cloud via LoRa, I’ll just use a different micro controller I guess.

Why not just use Electrons and have almost unlimited range?

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Cellular uses a lot of battery, even if turning on for short periods of time. I’m looking at really long time periods here and small devices so I can’t just pack in more LiPo batteries.

You’re going down my own though processes. I appreciate you putting your grey matter to use on my problem!

I have a 3w solar panel attached to my Electron and publishing data every 2 mins and it’s able to stay charged and online almost every day using the included 2000mAh battery. I put it to sleep between the 2 min publishes.

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Ha! Yeah, thought of that too. Had to abandon solar for ruggedization and dark environment issues.

Out of curiosity, what is the required range for your project?

We have looked into LoRa as a Particle Compound, or even thought of using it as a bridge connection for gateways. The technology is pretty cool, something we are still very interested in, but we usually fall back to the point that it is very low bandwidth and connecting to the Particle cloud will be pretty slow.

I am very curious to see what types of ranges people are looking for in the real world, so I would love to hear about your requirements.

A little off topic I’m a Photons (Photbot) user among other things. I’m using Adafruit Feathers M0’s with either WiFi and Lora Feather Wings to control small robots. I’m using the Lora for an outdoor version. I was working on making a Teensy 3.x Feather Adapter version and would interested in doing a Photon version. I’ve been working on bridging the Teensies, Photons, TI LaunchPads with the CANBUS. Recently I got a Espressif ESP32 WROVER KIT but I think the CANBUS may be aways off. I’m using my ported versions of the Arduino EasyTransfer Arduino Library so serialize data structures over different media (CAN, TCP, UART and I2C) between the micros. You could do something similar between the Photon and a Feather M0 rather than porting the Lora itself.

As a suggestion look up LoRaWAN, very long range but very low bandwidth.
I’ve just seen a demonstration and was very impressed. As a very long range, low power sensor solution it answers many questions. A gateway will be required within a mile or so but you may find the LoRaWAN community are busy making what they are calling an ‘Accidental Network’ of them for their own use and as a community gateway they will be available for anyone to use.

LoRa is just low bandwidth data …Use MQTT to talk to anything you want …your overthinking the application…use wifi to connect your devices …keep the remote programming option available in case of issues and enjoy …I’m having awesome success with mqtt …without going near cloud applications …

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LoRa is very low power and wide range. It’s very different than a messaging protocol like MQTT that could be put over a network like lorawan, wifi or cellular. I appreciate the help though.

@BDub @Dick @jeiden @peekay123 @Moors7 @ScruffR
Hi! Greetings! I have the below modules to test LoRa point to point (sending a gas sensor data). Not sure whether the modules supports LoRa protocol or not?. I am using a photon with TX (cc1101) and another photon with RX (cc1101). Million thanks in advance. :smile:

What is your question specifically? If these modules support LORA?

@RWB

In the same website one is mentioned as LoRa and another without LoRa, however both has the same look and pinouts. So, yes I would like to know whether this supports LoRa or not cause I already connected with my photon as per the photon SPI settings. Million thanks. :smile:

I couldn’t tell by looking at that product listing also. I don’t think they are LORA but one of TI’s wireless radio modules. You can easily find the HOPE RF Lora Modules though. https://lowpowerlab.com/shop/

@kazi93 @cwingrav Looks like we have the RF95 & Radio Head library successfully compiling for the Photon now using these changes:

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