Ratio of mesh-only (Xenon) to internet-enabled boards (Argon, Boron)

While we don’t have validated test results to share yet, I’m fairly confident you should be able to achieve 10 meters or more for a point-to-point connection over Thread. For a point of reference, Nest’s latest product Nest Secure is a security system that uses Thread for communication between the motion sensors (Detect) and control pad (Guard.) According to their FAQs Detects can be up to 50 feet away from a Guard. And that’s in indoor conditions, with wires and metal in the walls and your use case appears to be more ideal.

Based on your diagram it looks like the green boxes are all acting as endpoints but it is worth calling out that if some of those were repeaters (solar?,) the effective range from one corner of the network to the other would increase by taking advantage of the mesh.

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Looking at the specs for Bluetooth 5, class 1 range could be 800-1200ft. Apparently they’ve changed quite a bit since v4. However, we all know real world applications are different. Even if we get half of that, which is pretty low in my opinion, 4-600ft would be awesome.

For clarity, the Mesh uses the 802.15.4 radio on the nRF52840, not the Bluetooth 5 part. Range for 802.15.4 is as I quoted above.

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What if in my diagram all the Xenon’s were repeaters? 24/7 powering them is not a problem. Repeaters can still have some sensors, correct? By all of them being repeaters does that strengthen the mesh or overload it?

Yup! Repeaters can be identical to an endpoint, except it has to be always on, so they can have sensors or actuators, and even run the same application code. You could modify your diagram where some green Xenons were Repeaters and some Endpoints but all have the sensors you’re interested in. Than, the total distance would be ~50 ft between each device + hoping between repeaters, plus the total number of daisy-chained repeaters to get to your effective range.

Does that help? Note I explained Repeater and Endpoint limits above but based on your diagram, your network size should be do-able.

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Ahh, so your not using Bluetooth for the mesh network.

How does the power consumption levels with 802.15.4 compare to BLE5? Any ideas?

I know Wifi is much more power hungry compared to BLE so figure 802.15.4 may be power hungry also but not sure.

Found this on Nordics forum about power consumption:

https://devzone.nordicsemi.com/f/nordic-q-a/19589/nrf52840-max-current-consumption

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So I understand the mesh is designed to use the 802.15.4 radio, would it be possible to talk with two BLE units to achieve larger range?

@jberi Thanks for all the clarifications, especially about the Mesh using the 802.15.4 radio, I also was confused and thought the Mesh was powered by Bluetooth. Really excited about the new devices.

Here is an updated farm image with Xenon repeaters and Xenon endpoints (purple blocks). I would test really slow sensor readings say every 15 minutes (staggered so they read at different times) just soil moisture and temperature. Then motion sensors on trigger.

I also added a few Borons for cellular redundancy, fun to see if that would work as a Wifi backup.

So if the Xenon has a connection radius of about 15 meters (50 feet) the next question is, how long could the field be? My diagram shows a field with a length y of about 60 meters (200 feet) using about 40 devices, but only 9 Xenon repeaters. If the connection radius x is greater than 15 meters then y obviously could be relatively longer.

Really curious about how far away from the original Wifi a situation like this could achieve and still be reasonably stable sending data to the cloud.

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Where “always” is to be taken with a grain of salt - as long there are enough “spare” repeaters to bridge the gaps any redundant device can “disappear” without breaking the mesh but causing some “rerouting effort” .

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Thanks for helping to clarify, @ScruffR! I should also clarify that when I said “always on” I meant, “line powered (or really big battery) and could always be on.” In practice, repeaters won’t be transmitting/receiving constantly even in fairly chatty network but will draw more current than endpoints because they’re relaying messages across the network, must keep their transceiver on and can’t go into deep sleep.

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With the estimates we have so far, the diagram should be achievable.

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If you haven’t already, you might want to take a look at Hack-a-Day (hackaday.com and hackaday.io). There have been many posts there about conference badges that interact with each other. Even if the Thread implementation won’t (initially?) work for your use-case, you might find some useful pointers in those other badge builds for how you could do what you want.

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With the hands on experience that a few must have by now, I would like to know if 30 xenons within a room with 1 argon is going to be feasible?

If 30 is practical, what sort of limit will the memory have on the argon or the xenons for application use?

@armor, I don’t think anyone but Particle has perhaps tested this. However, from my understanding, this configuration is feasible. As for available memory, I don’t believe anyone has that answer yet, especially for that configuration.

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Am I re-asking this question too soon? I see that the pricing indicates 10 end-points (Xenons) to 1 gateway (Argon) - is that a commercially driven approach or a technical/practical one?

@armor, that is a pure commercially driven choice IMO. I assumed you read Particle’s post, specifically the “Why we changed the pricing” part.

Networks beyond 10 nodes can be built using “hub” nodes for example. However with the 100 free device approach, such a configuration could be used by Enterprises with Particle not benefiting. I can understand the difficult balance they try to strike.

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question i have about the discussion here is how difficult is it to distinguish between a business and a private non-commercial operation? are there a lot of businesses out there that want to rip off particle by disguising themselves as home networks? seems like there would be methods to check/verify. i guess some business might decide to buy hardware on a personal cc and ship to a home address, but would this be widespread?
perhaps i’m very naive but from several years of reading the forum the sense i have of the community is that the majority of members are very upfront about what they are trying to do be it business/commercial or home/private.

Unless you want to manually double-check every network and verify it’s use case, I’ll assume that’s a hard thing to do.

Assuming normal businesses practices, if you don’t have to pay for something, then why would you? Not necessarily trying to rip anyone off, but if questions aren’t asked, why volunteer?

Agreed, those that are on the forums are generally very open about what they’re doing. Unfortunately, it seems as though that part of the user base is generally the DIY’ers. I can’t remember any of the big corporations posting here about what they’re doing (or have I missed some posts by Jacuzzi for example?).

The fact that Particle can offer this much value for free to DIY’ers is only because large corporations are offsetting that cost, and without some kind of pricing structure to keep that in check, a large part of the developer community couldn’t exist anymore.

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@peekay123 @Moors7 So if the ratio is a purely commercial one - accept that those who are in business need to make money to be sustainable - has anyone got any idea yet about the feasibility of 30 or so nodes on a mesh network? At what point will the memory run out - or is this mesh topology related? Any demos at Spectra - I thought there were some Particle videos of tens of boards all lit up.

thing is, how many large corporations are trying to disguise the fact that they are using particle? does Jacuzzi have their purchasing dept use a individual cc and ship to a home address? it’s not necessary to know exactly what they are doing because most likely particle knows it is Jacuzzi doing something and they pay whatever they pay. my point is, most businesses behave like businesses and pay particle whatever the bill is. Moors7 your worldview is much different than mine and the reason businesses pay when they may not “need” or “have” to has something to do with their values/mission statements, they are not corrupt backstabbing entities for the most part. the ones that are can usually be shaken out if one is paying attention. but, if your going to be in business selling services you eventually learn.

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