The sheer number of developments that radio waves and radio communications have made possible since the turn of the 20th century strangely intrigues me.
What I find even more fascinating is that, in the context of developing connected products, it is now straightforward for anyone to gain first-hand experience with radio technologies like LPWAN (Low-Power Wide Area Network, a technology that enables connecting pieces of equipment over a low-power, long-range, secure radio network).
Today, you may construct and run your network using open-source software and an extensive range of hardware developer kits, gateways, and radio modules that can assist you with the hardware/radio part of LPWAN radio communications. Resume reading to understand better about setting up a full-fledged LoRaWAN network server in the cloud!
A short introduction about LoRaWAN?
The LoRa gateway radio protocol is used by LoRaWAN, a low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) technology that enables long-distance communication between Internet of Things devices and the Internet. To achieve substantial link budgets—or, to put it another way, the capacity to travel very great distances—LoRa gateway itself uses a type of chirp spread spectrum modulation.
A so-called network server receives data sent by LoRaWAN end devices and routes it to neighboring gateways. The network server performs security checks, de-duplicates packets (because many gateways may have “seen” and sent the same radio signal), and then directs data to the application to which the devices are providing it.
The Things Stack on Azure
All versions of the LoRaWAN standard and operational modes are supported by the open-source LoRaWAN network server, The Things Stack. It acts as the basis for all of The Things Industries’ commercial solutions and is actively updated by them.
The Things Stack network server deployment typically/minimally rests on three main pillars:
- a Redis in-memory data storage to assist with network functioning;
- a SQL database for storing details on the network’s gateways, devices, and users (PostgreSQL or CockroachDB are supported);
- The actual stack powers the network server and various services that support the web console.
- Use of their Docker Compose configuration is advised for anyone interested in swiftly testing The Things Stack. It starts up.
Use of their Docker Compose configuration is advised for anyone interested in swiftly testing The Things Stack. On the same machine, it launches Docker containers for each of the services mentioned above. Pretty good for testing, but not so much for a production setting because of who will keep those Redis and PostgreSQL services up and running around the clock, adequately backed up, etc.
In reality, you need to change several parameters (such as the server’s cool moniker and the admin user’s login information), and the deployment template will take care of the rest!
So why bother rolling your LoRaWAN network server in the first place?
Coverage where you need it
Dependence on a public network operator typically entails reliance on their coverage. While some operators might let you use a hybrid approach where you connect your gateways to their network to expand the coverage precisely where you need it, you sometimes have little control over how well a specific operator will cover a given geographic area.
You manage your fleet of gateways when you roll out your network server, giving you more freedom regarding coverage, network redundancy, etc.
Control over data
Being your operator gives you more freedom to know and control what happens to your data once it reaches the Internet, even though operating your server won’t necessarily add much in terms of pure security (after all, your LoRaWAN packets are hanging in the open air a good portion of their lifetime anyway!).
A low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) called LoRaWAN allows Internet of Things devices and the Internet to communicate over vast distances. The Things Stack is an open-source network server that forms the basis of the for-profit LoRa gateway products.
An open-source project called The Things Stack gives you several options for rolling out your LoRaWAN network server and Lora gateway. Anyone interested in quickly checking out The Things Stack’s many services, such as Redis and Postgres, is urged to use their Docker Compose configuration.