Category Archives: Electronics

Configuring Multitech MDOT for TTN

I have a Multitech MDOT-BOX for testing. Configuring it for TTN requires the following connection to a computer, after which AT commands can be used to probe and set parameters. The following resets the MDOT to factory defaults and shows the configuration overview.

AT&F
AT&V

Firmware: 		2.0.0
Library : 		0.0.9-14-g4845711
Device ID:		00:80:00:00:00:00:b3:76
Frequency Band:		FB_868
Public Network:		off
Network Address:	00000000
Network ID:		6c:4e:ef:66:f4:79:86:a6
Network ID Passphrase:	MultiTech
Network Key:		1f.33.a1.70.a5.f1.fd.a0.ab.69.7a.ae.2b.95.91.6b
Network Key Passphrase:	MultiTech
Network Session Key:	00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00
Data Session Key:	00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00
Network Join Mode:	OTA
Tx Data Rate:		SF_7
Tx Power:		11
Log Level:		6
Maximum Size:		242
Minimum Size:		11
Maximum Power:		20
Minimum Power:		2
Data:			0

After adding a device to application page on the TTN console with OTA activation, the following identifiers/keys are listed on the TTN console page for the device

Device EUI
Application EUI
App Key
Device Address
Network Session Key
App Session Key

From the Multitech documentation: In OTA mode, the device only needs to be configured with a network name (+NI=1,name) and network passphrase (+NK=1,passphrase). The network session key, data session key, and network address are all automatically configured.

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Art-Net to DMX512 with ESP8266

Update 26 May 2017 – added photo’s of second exemplar and screen shots of web interface for OTA.

Professional stage and theatre lighting fixtures are mainly controlled over DMX512. To allow a convenient interface between the EEGsynth and this type of professional lighting systems, I built an Artnet-to-DMX512 converter. It quite closely follows the design of my Artnet-to-Neopixel LED strip module.

Let me first show the finished product. It has a 5 pin XLR connector, a 2.1 mm power connector, and a multi-color status LED:

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GPS-enabled LoRaWAN temperature sensor

Together with the TTN Nijmegen community we are discussing possible applications of remote sensing nodes in Nijmegen. To get a better view on the TTN coverage in Nijmegen and to get a feel for what works (and what not), we are working on the implementation of some nodes.

The PoC2 TTN gateway will soon be installed by Michiel Nijssen at Maptools in Molenhoek. To help Michiel get started, we agreed that I would give him a fully functional node to play with. Michiel came up with a very concrete idea: it consists of a GPS-enabled temperature sensor that sends the data over LoRaWAN/TTN. Below you can find some details of a very fist implementation.

The node consists of

  • Teensy 3.2 MCU board
  • Dorji LoRa module
  • DS18b20 temperature sensor
  • Ublox NEO-M8N GPS module
  • 4k7 ohm resistor
  • small LED and 200 ohm resistor (not on photo)

I estimate that the material costs amount to 50 euro. It still needs to be soldered in a more sturdy form-factor and a battery and enclosure need to be added.

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ESP-8266 Art-Net NeoPixel module

As explained in a previous post, for the EEGsynth we want to use a neopixel array that can be controlled wirelessly using the DMX512 protocol. I purchased a number of Adafruit neopixel rings with 12, 16 and 24 elements respectively. Each RGBW pixel contains a red, green, blue and white LED. For the 24-pixel ring that means that there are in total 4*24=96 LEDs of which the intensity can be set.

The ESP-8266 module is a versatile WiFi module that comes in many versions. During development I especially like the NodeMCU version, which mounts the ESP-12 module on a development board with USB connection, and the even smaller Wemos D1 mini board. The Wemos D1 mini is hardly more expensive on Ebay than the simpler bare-bone ESP-8266 modules.

The hardware connection is simple: I connected Vcc and GND directly to the Wemos D1 mini board, and connected pin D2 to the data-in of the first pixel. Although the Neopixels are specified for 5V, in my experience the Adafruit rings also work fine at 3.3V, both for power and for the serial control signal. Each LED can take up to 20 mA when fully bright, which means that all LEDs of the 24-pixel RGBW ring can take up to 24*4*20 = 1920 mA, or close to 2 A. However, not all LEDs will be at full intensity at the same time, and driving them with 3.3V rather than 5V further reduces the current. I encountered no issues powering them over the USB port of my MacBook.

For the EEGsynth we want to map a small number of control signals to aesthetically pleasing light effects. E.g. it can control the hue, the frequency with which the array flashes, or the speed with which a bright bar rotates along the ring.

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Scalable lighting systems

The X-mass holiday is always a nice time of the year to spend studying and tinkering on electronics projects. In the EEGsynth project we have identified that it would be cool to control light with brain and body signals, besides controlling modular synthesizers which we have focussed on so far. As it is not yet clear what kind of light and what kind of control will conceptually and aesthetically work well on the EEGsynth control signals, I have been studying both small and large lighting systems. We might for example want to use small and wearable lights on a performer, or control the stage light, or use a LED strip as indicator of the EEG-extracted control signals.

In theatrical and stage performance lighting there is a clearly dominant standard: DMX512. For lighting setups there are many fixtures (i.e. lamps rigged on ceiling mounted truss) that can be remotely controlled over DMX512, not only on-off, but they can be dimmed, the color can be changed, spotlights can be moved, etc. If you look on for example on Thomann, you’ll see that many light fixtures support DMX.

The Disco Biscuits – City Bisco – 10/5/12 – The Mann Center for the Performing Arts – Philadelphia, PA – Photo © Dave Vann 2012

Going to the smallest systems, I considered individual LEDs. Neopixels are a very interesting type of RGB LEDs, which combine a red, green and blue (and sometimes white) LED in a single few-mm small housing together with a controller chip. The controller chip allows the individual LED intensities of the neopixels to be addressed over a serial controller by a microcontroller such as an Arduino. Furthermore, multiple Neopixels can be daisy-chained, where each pixel in the array can be addressed. LED strips consisting of 30, 60 or even 144 pixels per meter can be purchased per meter, for example on Ebay.

Adafruit NeoPixel Ring with 16 x 5050 RGB LEDs with integrated drivers

For the the EEGsynth it is desirable to have a single control module that provides a uniform interface between ExG control signals and light control. An individual neopixel can be considered as an RGB lamp, just like a theatrical stage light. The intensity of the red, green and blue can be controlled, just like the DMX channels of a stage light. Controlling a small LED jewel worn by the performer should not be different than controlling the light of the stage on which the performer acts.

An important difference in the requirements for fixed stage lighting and a small wearable LED jewel is that the first must hook up to existing DMX512 cabling systems, whereas the second should be wireless. This is where Art-Net and the ESP-8266 come in. Art-Net is a protocol for sending the DMX control protocol over a network. The ESP-8266 is a small and low-cost microcontroller combined with a WiFi chip that is compatible with Arduino.

Further details on the hardware and firmware design for the actual light controller modules will come in a series of follow-up posts.

ESP-12 bootloader modes and GPIO state at startup

Since I encountered some initial difficulties in programming the ESP-12 version of the ESP8266 module using the Arduino IDE, let me here summarise some findings based on information from [1,2,3].

esp12-pinout

The ESP-12 module exposes 11 GPIOs. Three of them are especially relevant, as they determine the bootloader mode at startup or following reset.

                                  | GPIO 0 | GPIO 2 | GPIO 15
----------------------------------|--------|--------|---------
Flash Startup (Normal)            |   1    |   1    |   0
UART Download Mode (Programming)  |   0    |   1    |   0
SD-Card Boot                      |   0    |   0    |   1

Furthermore, CHPD should be pulled up and RESET should be pulled up or should be floating. If you connect RESET to ground, the module resets.

I have not yet figured out what the SD-Card boot means, so in my applications GPIO 2 should always be pulled up and GPIO 15 should always be pulled down. I am using 10k resistors, but smaller values (e.g. 3.3k) should also work.

To facilitate development, I connected two push button switches to the GPIO 0 and RESET pins, shorting them to ground when pressed. When the buttons are not pressed, they are both pulled up to 3.3V using a 10k resistor.

This allows me to do the following two-finger-action to restart in programming mode and allow the Arduino IDE to upload a new firmware:
– press reset button
– press programming button
– release reset button
– release programming button

References

[1] https://zoetrope.io/tech-blog/esp8266-bootloader-modes-and-gpio-state-startup
[2] http://www.instructables.com/id/Getting-Started-with-the-ESP8266-ESP-12/
[3] http://www.instructables.com/id/ESP8266-Using-GPIO0-GPIO2-as-inputs/

TTN/LoRa using Dorji DRF1272F module

Teensy connected to DRF1272f

Sofar I have been experimenting with LoRa and TTN using a Multitech MDot board and with a HopeRF RFM95W module connected to a Teensy, but I decided to try something else. Franz, one of the members of the TTN Nijmegen community, started experimenting with node-to-node communication using Dorji DRF1278F 433MHz modules. I’d like to support him in converting to 868MHz, so that he can post data to TTN once a gateway become available in his range.

The Dorji modules are currently among the cheapest LoRa modules available on Ebay. So some weeks ago I ordered a DRF1272F 868MHz module for about $8, which arrived this week.

The first surprise is that it has a 1.27 mm pitch header connector. The module has 13 contacts, but not all are required for the LMIC Arduino library. To make it more easy to handle, I made a custom break-out board that connects the required pins to a 2.54 mm pitch 8-pin header. Soldering the wires at 1.27 mm pitch was quite a challenge; you may want to use a magnifying glass, as those pads are tiny!

DFR1272f module adapter board

Based on the DRF1272F datasheet, the LMIC Arduino library documentation, and the Teensy pinout I connected it as follows:

 DRF1272F  |   Teensy 3.2
--------------------------
 RESET     |   nc
 DIO0      |   2
 DIO1      |   5
 DIO2      |   nc
 DIO3      |   nc
 DIO4      |   nc
 DIO5      |   nc
 3.3V      |   3.3V
 GND       |   GND
 SCK       |   13 - SCK
 MISO      |   12 - DIN 
 MOSI      |   11 - DOUT
 NSS       |   10 - CS

Please note that I did not connect the RESET and the DIO2 pin, which would be needed for FSK.

I used the following snippet of code in my Arduino sketch to specify the pin mapping:

// Pin mapping
const lmic_pinmap lmic_pins = {
.nss = 10,
.rxtx = LMIC_UNUSED_PIN,
.rst = 9,
.dio = {2, 5, 6},
};

On the software side I am using Arduino 1.6.9, the LMIC library and the same sketch that I have been using with the RFM95W module.

I had to change the Semtech radio from SX1276 to SX1272 in the arduino-lmic/src/lmic/config.h:

#define CFG_eu868 1
//#define CFG_us915 1
// This is the SX1272/SX1273 radio, which is also used on the HopeRF
// RFM92 boards.
#define CFG_sx1272_radio 1
// This is the SX1276/SX1277/SX1278/SX1279 radio, which is also used on
// the HopeRF RFM95 boards.
//#define CFG_sx1276_radio 1

Following all of this, this node is nicely sending packets to my TTN application.

The Things Network Nijmegen – LoRaWAN module

Next Tuesday we will meet with the core team of the TTN Nijmegen in a small workshop to get things moving. There are some gateways now in Nijmegen (see the coverage map here), so we can and should get started with prototypes and trying to build the local community!

Preparing for next weeks meeting, I ordered a HopeRF RFM95W module at IdeeTron that is compatible with LoRaWAN. Since the hole spacing is 2 mm, making it incompatible with standard headers and a breadboard, I soldered short wires to each of the pads.

RFM95W module

This allows me to plug it into a standard breadboard with a little bit of bending of the “legs”.

RFM95W

Note that – compared to the layout in the data sheet – I soldered it upside-down. This allows me to still read the silk screen labels on each of the connections.

Raspberry Pi – getting the RFM12b to work

Now that I know how to blink a LED, it is time to move to slightly more interesting applications of the GPIO interface on the Raspberry Pi. I have a few Arduino modules in and around the house monitoring the climate and various other measures. They are all battery operated and send their information to a relay that forwards all data to Thingsspeak.

My current relay module consists of an Arduino Uno with an Ethershield, connected over i2c to another Arduino pro mini. The second Arduino is connected to a RFM12b module and uses JeeLib to receive data from the sensing modules. Would it not be nice to receive that data on a slightly more powerful platform and be able to do more with it than just forwarding it elsewhere…

Raspberry Pi with RFM12b

Raspberry Pi with RFM12b

I decided to give the rfm12b-linux kernel driver a try, as it explicitly supports the JeeLib format. I followed the instructions from rbi-source without problems. After changing the board type (RFM12B_BOARD) and group (RFM12B_DEFAULT_GROUP_ID) in rfm12b_config.h, the module compiled without problems. However, it would initially not load, showing errors in the dmesg output.

Following some suggestions here and here, I used rasps-config to disable the SPI, I2C and the Device Tree. After that, it did load and dmesg showed

[ 478.278166] rfm12b: added RFM12(B) transceiver rfm12b.0.1
[ 478.278391] rfm12b : driver loaded.

I compiled the example applications and used this

pi@hackpi:~/rfm12b-linux/examples/bin $ sudo ./rfm12b_read 

successfully opened /dev/rfm12b.0.1 as fd 3, entering read loop...

Fri Apr 29 20:07:50 2016
	32 bytes read
		4 0 0 0 115 24 0 0 87 14 109 64 102 230 11 65 41 44 124 68 
		0 0 192 127 0 0 192 127 115 162 189 253 
Fri Apr 29 20:08:14 2016
	32 bytes read
		2 0 0 0 59 77 2 0 122 233 110 64 210 225 148 65 0 0 192 127
		0 0 192 127 0 0 192 127 93 112 175 32 

showing two messages from two modules. I recognise the pattern as

typedef struct payload_t {
  unsigned long id;
  unsigned long counter;
  float value1;
  float value2;
  float value3;
  float value4;
  float value5;
  unsigned long crc;
};

belonging to the lm35 and bpm085 modules that are sending their data approximately every minute.

lm35

bmp085

Raspberry Pi – first steps to blink a LED with Python

I already purchased my first Raspberry Pi in 2011, but have been postponing connecting any electronics to its GPIO interface. Instead, I have been using it for more general computing applications (media center, web server, remote ssh access and tunnel, etc.). Rather than using the Raspberry Pi for in refacing with hardware and IOT, I have been using a bunch of Arduino’s to implement sensors and actuators for home automation.

Since I recently have been brushing off my Python programming skills for the EEGsynth project and been teaching myself Node JS, I was triggered to revisit the Raspberry Pi for GPIO electronics. With the Raspberry Pi it will be easier to implement my own web server and to use webhooks to integrate my home automation hardware projects with online platforms such as IFTTT.

I decided to try Python first and after browsing the web decided to use the WiringPi interface, as it supports C programming in the same style as on the Arduino, but also has wrappers for more high-level languages (Python, PHP, Ruby and Perl).

I started with installing the WiringPi library as per instructions

git clone git://git.drogon.net/wiringPi
cd wiringPi/
./build 

and tested it with a LED in series with a 680 Ohm resistor attached to the first GPIO pin, aka pin 17 on the Pi cobbler. I still have to wrap my head around the pin numbering, but understand that there are different numbering schemes.

Subsequently I ran the test from

cd examples/
make blink
sudo ./blink

and also tried out this on the Linux command line

gpio write 0 1
gpio write 0 0
gpio write 0 1
gpio write 0 0

This all worked as expected and the LED would nicely blink. I subsequently moved on with Python. Instead of following the detailed installation instructions, I simply tried

sudo pip install wiringpi

which worked like a charm. The following Python code

#### this is blink1.py #### 

import wiringpi
import time

wiringpi.wiringPiSetup()

wiringpi.pinMode(0,1)

while True:
    time.sleep(0.5)
    wiringpi.digitalWrite(0,1)
    time.sleep(0.5)
    wiringpi.digitalWrite(0,0)

works with sudo, i.e.

sudo python blink1.py

As with the pin numbering, it is still a bit of a puzzle to me when super user rights are needed and when not. But the following worked for me without sudo

#### this is blink2.py #### 

import wiringpi
import time
import os

wiringpi.wiringPiSetupSys()

os.system('gpio export 17 out')

wiringpi.pinMode(17,1)

while True:
    time.sleep(0.5)
    wiringpi.digitalWrite(17,1)
    time.sleep(0.5)
    wiringpi.digitalWrite(17,0)

and then on the Linux command line

python blink2.py

It is already rewarding to see a simple LED blink. Next challenges will include combining it with a RFM12B or RFM69CW module to have the Rasperry Pi receive the messages from the (battery operated) Arduino’s for which I use the RFM12B for communication.

Furthermore, Adafruit has a nice tutorial showing how to use Node JS with a Raspberry Pi. That is also something to explore…