Have you ever slipped off your group while hiking, climbing, kayaking, or mountain biking in a remote place? Do you want to rejoin your people after splitting but don’t know their location? How about having a navigation system that allows you to share your location with the group and guide you toward your people? Or view the location of your group members on your device and stay connected?
Everyone knows how interconnected people are with each other in the 21st century, as well as the pervasiveness of the internet. But still, there are few remote places where the internet or cellular signals are absent. Therefore, personal RF links are required to maintain the communication link with each other even at these places. Also, strictly-private communication between people is considered impossible without the help of a network server or a third-party device/system, making Information security and communication privacy hard to achieve in the current days.
Now, with the help of the Seeed Fusion PCBA service, Addepalli Dolendra Vikas has designed a LoRa® communicator prototype called “directMessage” to tackle these problems. Click here to view the project page!
The Appearance of directMessage
What is “directMessage”?
DirecMessage is a communicator for exchanging peer location through a private channel by using LoRa® technology in a P2P (Peer-to-Peer) configuration. By integrating with the Wio-E5 wireless module from Seeed Studio, It communicates with the other same device over a secure 865MHz (EU868/US915/AU915/KR920/IN865) channel. This will also help to establish the link between the devices without dependency on the other systems(like a gateway). The device is equipped with GPS to get the device’s location, and a magnetometer to direct the user to the desired location.
Similar to a two-way pager, the directMessage has various advanced features, such as live navigation and sharing of location, altitude, and attitude.
Let’s take a look at the key components of the communicator to see how it actually works.
The directMessage is equipped with the Wio-E5 Wireless Module for Long Range Application as the MCU. It contains ST system-level package chip STM32WLE5JC, and this STM32WL module is the first SoC integrated with the combo of Long Range RF and MCU chip, providing high performance and low power consumption in a tiny package. LoRa® P2P feature can be used to establish LoRa® chatting. Sixteen buttons were used by multiplexing 4 GPIOs onto the other 4 GPIOs.
Wio-E5 Inside the Board
Location sharing is an essential part of communication to run smoothly. The POT GPS module (Quectel L80) is used to acquire the user’s location. It has significantly less power consumption (in the order of 20mA) during acquisition and tracking and a reacquisition time of less than 1sec, which makes directMessage acquire the user action very quickly.
Sensors are used in measuring certain parameters of the device carrier: altitude, orientation, and direction of the device. A pressure sensor (BME280) is used as an altimeter. The same sensor can be used to measure the Humidity.
A 9DOF IMU (MPU280) measures the device’s orientation, acceleration, and direction (concerning the earth’s north and south pole). Users can view the roll, pitch, and yaw of the ‘directMessage’ over the display, which is a 1.8″ LCD (ST7735) that communicates with the Wio-E5 MCU over the SPI communication protocol.
Components of the directMessage
Please note that, this is currently the first version of the directMessage, and the upcoming updates will be successively provided in this article. Stay tuned!
Feedback from the Designer
Could you please briefly introduce yourself?
I’m an electronics hobbyist and a full-stack embedded developer with dexterous knowledge and experience in developing product-based embedded and IoT systems solutions.
Did you encounter any challenges when working on this project? How did Seeed Fusion help you solve them?
Yes, I faced some issues with the display. The display that I used was the ST7735 display. Incorporating it into the PCB became a tedious task. There are only development boards in the market with this ST7735 display but not the display alone. So, I had to surf the internet to find out the vendor for this display, luckily ‘Seeed Fusion’ technical team helped me in finding the vendor for this component.
Also, the technical team found a mistake that slipped my eye in the PCB design. Thank you, the ‘Seeed Fusion’ team, for figuring out the mistake in the design instead of blindly assembling the components as suggested.
Briefly evaluate the Seeed Fusion PCBA service.
My overall experience with the Seeed Fusion team is awesome. Their technical team is conscious and thoroughly examines your design. They even helped me to outsource a few critical components. Without their help in sourcing the components, I might have compromised on a few features of the ‘directMessage.’ Their assembly service is super fast. And they helped me in clearing the customs. Once again, thank you to the Seeed Fusion team.
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Note: The LoRa® Mark is a trademark of Semtech Corporation or its subsidiaries.