I stopped developing Skrypt for a while due to my quite demanding school activities. Now, I am free for a long time and ready to put all of my effort into this.
PROBLEM FACED DURING PERIOD OF SILENCE.
Although, I was not posting here about my progress with the project, I have been quite busy with the hardware. My intention when I started this project was to learn what is to be learnt in the course of the project. I have not been disappointed. My PCBs failed woefully due to a couple of thing such as
- Poor Tools
- Poor PCB assembly skills
- Poor Design
- Latency between ordering of materials and receiving them.
It took me a while to get the hang of SMT reflow and assembly generally. I am glad I can do quite a lot now (Thanks FLUX). I got better tools and learnt better design and PCB assembly skills during the period of silence and I am quite confident.
It is quite apparent that I focused more on Hardware development than software/ firmware development during the period of "Radio Silence". This led to my decision to adopt a ready to use open source hardware for software development. This and the fact that my inadequacies should not hinder people that want to continue the project possibly on their own hardware.
CHOICE OF HARDWARE.
After surfing for a while, I noticed that there are quite a number of development boards that were designed for something like we are trying to achieve. I found a couple of TTGO LoRa based boards, Adafruit, Sparkfun and some other ones. What they all have in common is having an ESP32 chip connected to the LoRa chip on the same PCB. Nothing special. This coincided with the time when I was contacted by an official from Digitspace who expressed their wish to sponsor the project. Digitspace gave me a coupon and I spent the day perusing their huge catalog for an ESP32 LoRa Dev board and I found one with the name "LoRa 433MHz ESP32 OLED 0.96INCH BLE Wireless Module". It is basically a TTGO LoRa board that is well packaged and has a battery.
In a nutshell, it fits the base-band feature of the intended device that I set out to build. If you need to get started very quickly with no problems of connections and soldering, this is a great way to go.
Each box actually contains a pair. It is quite good for a quick start. Check out the store. LoRa 433MHz ESP32 OLED 0.96INCH BLE Wireless Module
This is a quite a developing aspect of the project. I wrote a basic Arduino sketch that just transmits and receives as requested by the user via Bluetooth. Its is a quite simple code that simply
- Listens for messages via the LoRa Chip interrupt pin
- Displays the messages on the appropriate output console.
- Send messages it receives via Serial Bluetooth.
- Set up an ID system for the device to know if the message is meant for it or not.
Making the ESP32 perform these tasks is not the hardest thing to do. With the help of several documentations and (of course) example codes, I completed the code and it worked quite well. I tested it on my PC and it worked. Then It happened.
The hardware is intended to be used with phones as well as PCs. I don't write android. At least not without the great help of the MIT App Inventor. So, I set out on a journey through the vast lands of the internet until I found BlueSPP. BlueSPP was the perfect temporary solution to my problem due to the following reason.
- It has a chat like interface for communicating with Bluetooth devices
- It stores messages
I settled for it as a temporary solution and it worked quite well. Here are some Screenshots of my phone running BlueSPP and communicating with Skrypt.
This was the messages that were exchanged between my friend and I while testing the range of the device. we covered like one Km with a lot of huge buildings between us. To be honest , it could be better. It does not seem like the dev board contains an LNA and our test ground is not as "Line of sight " as I would like it to be. I will test it again soon, this time, with actual figures.
I made a crappy video of the connection process.
Pro Tip: Use Full Screen to see details.
I hope to
- perfect the software in the coming weeks to the best of my ability.
- make a mesh like self propagating network of such LoRa device with retransmission.
- find better Development boards that perform better.
- create a better hardware
If you know any board that is great for the application. Contact me.
If you possess any skill that might be of help to this project don't tarry to contact me. I could use some great help.