Improving LoRa® Point-to-Point Network: Field Test for Optimization Solution

Due to high interference, LoRa® cannot yet reach more than 2 kilometers when installed in populated locations such as cities. Furthermore, most off-the-shelf LoRa® Nodes are power-hungry and cannot operate on battery power for more than three days.

To improve the situation of high dependence on power and the narrow transmission range of LoRa® in the urban area, Aiman Akid deployed an optimization project for LoRa® point-to-point network. The purpose of the project is to build two optimization strategies and then assess the node’s operation. The first is the RTOS approach, which is Deep Sleep, to minimize the power consumption of the LoRa® sensor node. And the other is adding another LoRa® node as an intermediary node to extend the network transmission distance. To view the original project on hackster.io, please refer here.

Aiman Akid

Project Publication

Architecture of the Project & Development Board made By Fusion for this Project

Implementation of the Field Test

Set up the Wio-E5 Parallel MCU Board

Designed by Aiman and manufactured by Seeed Fusion PCB Assembly Service, this customized Wio-E5 development board contains a Wio-E5 wireless LoRa® module and the XIAO ESP32C3 MCU. This parallel development board serves as the LoRa® receiver.

Wio-E5 Development Board as the Receiver

Set up the LoRa® Sensor Node

The following is the board casing view.

Inside of the Wio-E5 & ESP32 Board and Circuit

The Entire LoRa® Sensor Node

This DIY LoRa® sensor node serves as the LoRa® sender. The White Box contains The Wio-E5 + ESP32 Development Board: Grove Wio-E5 and Hibiscus Sense (ESP32), while the Black Box contains 3 types of sensors:

  • MQ-135 Air Quality Sensor
  • DHT11 Sensor
  • LDR Module Sensor

The last thing to do is to use the digital multimeter to measure the power consumption. The multimeter is set to current mode and measures each of the sensor’s current values. The current of the boards is based on their datasheets.

Results of the Field Test and Conclusions

In the end, the LoRa® sensor node is proven to produce a different result after following the implementation of the proposed method.

Result for LoRa® Transmission Range Measurement

The First Test of Point-to-Point Network

The initial test is carried out between the LoRa® sender and receiver. The receiver is connected to the internet via the cellphone’s cellular network. It may receive data from the sender while the LoRa® communication is active. The field test indicated that the pair connection can go up to 2.20 kilometers, which is noteworthy considering the test site is in the suburbs.

The Second Test with the Intermediate Node

Nextly, another LoRa® development board which is the Wio-E5 Parallel MCU Development Board was added to act as the intermediate node or the middleman between the LoRa® sender and the receiver. Previously, one could only obtain signals within 2.20 kilometers; today, with the intermediate node, the range gets up to 3.7 kilometers.

Result for LoRa® Sensor Node Power Consumption Measurement

Aiman used a multimeter to measure the currents of the Board and the sensor to determine power usage. Here is the result of the one-hour measurement. The battery used is a 18650 Li-Ion battery with a capacity of 2000mAh.

Deep Sleep vs Active Mode

Conclusions

Following field testing, both recommended methods extended the LoRa® communication range while decreasing the power consumption of the LoRa® sensor node. The previous P2P transmission range is just 2.2 kilometers, however, with an Intermediate Node, the range may be increased to 3.7 kilometers. When compared to the normal setup, the LoRa® sensor node with battery power may survive 2.45 times longer with the Deep Sleep configuration.

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Note: The LoRa® Mark is a trademark of Semtech Corporation or its subsidiaries.

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