Suggestions for a limited run (less than 100) iot devices -

I’m thinking of building some remote monitoring things for a niche market of small maple sugaring operations.

I can bore you all with details on the way maple sugaring operations run, but for small operations who don’t have someone around all day they are constantly wondering “how is the sap running today? Is everything going OK? Do I need to skip out at my lunch break and go fix something?” Not knowing can be stressful.

Last year I built my own vacuum releaser that was powered by a Pi, stored records locally and posted on twitter whenever sap was running… Everyone who saw it wanted one just like it.

The problem is, obviously, the basic stuff. I don’t want people to have to connect to their computer and set up their WiFi password etc just to provision their device - the way the photons pair with WiFi direct is ideal.

The problem is I’m not sure about the account provisioning part of it. The particle cloud organizations looks like it would be a great way to be able to organize devices with owners and handle access concerns for the data, but for a small run with less than 100 devices (my prototype phase this year would probably be around 5 devices… Then next year I might get up to 20 or 30… Maybe up to 100 if I go nuts with marketing etc)

The account provisioning thing is really important… $600 a year isn’t a big deal for an actual business, but for a hobbiest who isn’t really sure this will become a business it’s not ideal. The 30 day trial is nice, but it seems like it there were some kind of pricing tier where its maybe not free, but maybe $10 a month or something for up to N devices would help get hooked on the platform.

The rest of the scalability model seems really good for hobby prototype to big production of necessary, only the cloud pricing seems like it has a pretty steep curve at the start.

Are there other things I should consider? Hosting the cloud myself (but then device provisioning is not implemented) or tracking the device ownership in some other way (another web service I host or something) and just tie all the devices to my account?

A shorter way to put it is: I need to keep track of when a switch opens and closes and tie that data to specific users. Making it easy to set up for users is a priority.

User pairs device, sets up switch, then should magically be able to see their data from that one. If they add another one, they can see the data from both of them…

Seems simple enough, just the data attribution / device ownership thing is what I’d need the paid cloud for.

The ability for devices to connect to the cloud and be provisioned for different users is baked into the price of the hardware. So if you were to buy Photons and use them in your project, you would only have to pay for the devices themselves.

Particle works on a freemium model where the base access/provisioning is always free. Extra services on top of that require you to pay, which includes fleet management tools, but they don’t sound necessary for your application.

Ah. OK. I just looked over the apis more…

So I should be able to get everyone to just register their decices to my account (using a pairing app I write) and then use things like the cloud api to post firmware updates to each individual device manually?

I’ll still have to maintain a mapping of users -> devices on my own which would be nice to not have to do but it’s not that hard at the scale I’m looking at.

You can still have the Particle cloud do the heavy lifting of user->device pairings.

So if someone buys this device and claims it to their account, they can have every device listed in the app based on their access token. The app can then initiate firmware updates or get data from the device using the users access token. So your app should allow the user to login, then they have access to all their own devices and the app can control/monitor them.

Essentially, the app does what you need it to do (claim/maintain/monitor/control devices) but with the users account. You don’t have to track any mappings this way as everyone still owns their device

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You can claim the devices to a single user account, and use the softAP website system to allow users to setup their own wifi settings without having to create a particle user.

Then you can use the API to flash multiple devices with the same firmware.

The dashboard system is nice, but too expensive for low volume products, at least when you only have one.
In the long run it may be ok, since its the same price even if you have 10 products out there.

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