February 13, 2018 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Particle Brings Mesh Networking to DIY IoT Projects

Particle, the company behind the Internet of Things hardware and software platform of the same name, announced three new, low-cost development boards today that make use of mesh network technology. The Arduino-compatible development boards come with either a cellular (LTE/3G/2G) connection, Wi-Fi connection, or a mesh-only option. All three boards are also cable of communicating over Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE).

The boards are available for purchase now at an introductory pre-order price, expected to ship this July.

In addition to the three boards, Particle has improved the bandwidth limits on their cellular data plan, increasing it from 1MB to 3MB, priced at $2.99.

An example of a Particle mesh node monitoring for pipe gas leaks.

Why it matters

Mesh networking is reinvigorating the world of IoT, allowing small, low power devices to communicate with each other beyond the range of Bluetooth, but independent of Wi-Fi and internet connectivity.

For example, let’s say you have a house with a big garden in the back. The house is covered in Wi-Fi, but it doesn’t reach the garden. With mesh-compatible boards like these, you could deploy dozens of garden moisture sensors throughout the yard, each powered by a coin cell battery, or solar rechargeable LiPo pack, and each sensor could send and receive its data to the others, trickling back to a single Wi-Fi or cellular equipped board that can communicate this data to the cloud.

Mesh-enabled swarm robots? Yes please.

And even if one or more of the sensors go down, the network dynamically reroutes data to the available units. Best of all, mesh networks scale much better than Wi-Fi, so if the garden doubles in size, or if the garden is now a parking lot and you’re monitoring your fleet of delivery trucks — all you do is add more low-cost, low-power mesh boards and the network will self organize to get the data back to an internet connected node that will take it to the cloud.

It’s cool enough that the technology exists at all, but it’s so much cooler that it’s now affordable and available for anyone to play with and develop.

Why now?

While mesh has been around for many years, it lacked an open industry standard to allow devices to reliably talk to one another. Thanks to the OpenThread specification developed by Google-owned Nest (https://openthread.io/), an IoT standard for mesh is finally taking shape.

The Boards

Disclaimer: The following is ripped right from Particle’s spec sheets.

Particle Argon

Product description

The Argon is a powerful Wi-Fi enabled development kit that can act as either a standalone Wi-Fi endpoint or Wi-Fi enabled gateway for Particle Mesh networks. It is based on the Nordic nRF52840 and has built-in battery charging circuitry so it’s easy to connect a LiPo and deploy your local network in minutes.

The Argon is great for connecting existing projects to the Particle Device Cloud or as a gateway to connect an entire group of local endpoints.

Features

• Espressif ESP32-S0WD 2.4G Wi-Fi SoC
o on-board 1MB flash for ESP32 chip
o 802.11 b/g/n support
o 802.11 n (2.4 GHz), up to 150 Mbps • Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 SoC
o ARM Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor @ 64MHz
o 1MB flash, 256kB RAM
o IEEE 802.15.4-2006: 250 kbps
o Bluetooth 5: 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 500 kbps, 125 kbps
o Supports DSP instructions, HW accelerated Floating Point Unit (FPU) calculations
o ARM TrustZone CryptoCell-310 Cryptographic and security module
o Up to +8 dBm TX power (down to -20 dBm in 4 dB steps)
o NFC-A tag
• On-board additional 2MB SPI flash
• 20 mixed signal GPIO
• Micro USB 2.0 full speed (12 Mbps)
• Integrated Li-Po charging and battery connector
• JTAG (SWD) Connector
• RGB status LED
• Thread enabled
• CoAP encrypted messaging
• GNU GCC toolchain for ARM Cortex-M processors
• Firmware updates: Over the Air (OTA), USB, UART, JTAG and SWD

Electrical data
• Power supply: 3.6V to 5VDC
• Power consumption: TBD

Package
• Compatible with Adafruit’s Feather footprint • 0.8”x2.0”x0.5”
• < 10gms

Environmental data, quality, reliability
• Operating temperatures -20 °C to 85 °C
• RoHS compliant (lead-free)

Certifications and approvals
• FCC • CE • IC

Interfaces

GPIO
• 20 mixed signal GPIO
• 6 Analog, 4 PWM
• Quadrature demodulator

Communication
• UART, SPI, I2C, USB 2.0
• NFC

Particle Boron

Product description

The Boron LTE is a powerful LTE CAT-M1/NB1 enabled development kit that can act as either a standalone cellular endpoint or LTE enabled gateway for Particle Mesh networks. It is based on the Nordic nRF52840 and has built-in battery charging circuitry so it’s easy to connect a LiPo and deploy your local network in minutes.
The Boron is great for connecting existing projects to the Particle Device Cloud or as a gateway to connect an entire group of local endpoints where Wi-Fi is missing or unreliable.

Features

• u-blox SARA R410 LTE modem (Boron LTE)
o LTE CAT M1/ NB1 module with global hardware
support (MVNO support for US/Mexico only) o 3GPP Release 13 LTE Cat M1
o EGPRS Power Class E2
• u-blox SARA R410 LTE modem (Boron 2G/3G)
o HSPA/GSM with global hardware and SIM
support
o 3GPP Release 7
o Bands 800/850/900/1900/2100 MHz
• Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 SoC
o ARM Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor @ 64MHz
o 1MB flash, 256kB RAM
o IEEE 802.15.4-2006: 250 kbps
o Bluetooth 5: 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 500 kbps, 125 kbps
o Supports DSP instructions, HW accelerated Floating Point Unit (FPU) calculations
o ARM TrustZone CryptoCell-310 Cryptographic and security module
o Up to +8 dBm TX power (down to -20 dBm in 4 dB steps)
o NFC-A tag

• On-board additional 2MB SPI flash
• 20 mixed signal GPIO
• Micro USB 2.0 full speed (12 Mbps)
• Integrated Li-Po charging and battery connector
• JTAG (SWD) Connector
• RGB status LED
• Reset and Mode buttons
• Dual SIM support: Nano 4FF (unpopulated) and MFF2
• U.FL connectors for external antenna

Software features
• FreeRTOS
• Thread enabled
• CoAP encrypted messaging
• GNU GCC toolchain for ARM Cortex-M processors and SWD
• Firmware updates: Over the Air (OTA), USB, UART, JTAG

Electrical data
• Power supply: 3.6V to 5VDC
• Power consumption: TBD

Package
• Compatible with Adafruit’s Feather footprint • 0.8”x2.0”x0.5”
• < 10gms

Environmental data, quality, reliability
• Operating temperatures -20 °C to 85 °C
• RoHS compliant (lead-free)

Certifications and approvals
• FCC
• CE
• IC
• PTCRB

Interfaces

GPIO
• 20 mixed signal GPIO
• 6 Analog, 4 PWM
• Quadrature demodulator
Communication
• UART, SPI, I2C, USB 2.0
• NFC Product variants
• Boron LTE
o Based on SARA R410M LTE module
• Boron 2G/3G
o Based on SARA U201 2G/3G module

Particle Xenon

Product description

The Xenon is a low cost mesh-enabled development kit that can act as either an endpoint or repeater within a Particle Mesh network.

Xenon is mesh only and designed to function as the endpoint of your IoT network. It is based on the Nordic nRF52840 and has built-in battery charging circuitry so it’s easy to connect a LiPo and deploy your local network in minutes.
The Xenon is best for connecting sensors, motors, pumps, valves, and points of data-interest. Pair it with an Argon or Boron gateway to get all that great data into the Device Cloud.

Features

• Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 SoC
o ARM Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor @ 64MHz
o 1MB flash, 256kB RAM
o IEEE 802.15.4-2006: 250 kbps
o Bluetooth 5: 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 500 kbps, 125 kbps
o Supports DSP instructions, HW accelerated Floating Point Unit (FPU) calculations
o ARM TrustZone CryptoCell-310 Cryptographic and security module
o Up to +8 dBm TX power (down to -20 dBm in 4 dB steps)
o NFC-A tag

• On-board additional 2MB SPI flash
• 20 mixed signal GPIO
• Micro USB 2.0 full speed (12 Mbps)
• Integrated Li-Po charging and battery connector
• JTAG (SWD) Connector
• RGB status LED
• Reset and Mode buttons
• U.FL connectors for external antenna

Software features
• FreeRTOS
• Thread enabled
• CoAP encrypted messaging
• GNU GCC toolchain for ARM Cortex-M processors
• Firmware updates: Over the Air (OTA), USB, UART, JTAG and SWD

Electrical data
• Power supply: 3.6V to 5VDC
• Power consumption: TBD

Package
• Compatible with Adafruit’s Feather footprint
• 0.8”x2.0”x0.5”
• < 10gms

Environmental data, quality, reliability
• Operating temperatures -20 °C to 85 °C
• RoHS compliant (lead-free)

Certifications and approvals
• FCC
• CE
• IC

Interfaces

GPIO
• 20 mixed signal GPIO
• 6 Analog, 4 PWM
• Quadrature demodulator

Communication
• UART, SPI, I2C, USB 2.0
• NFC

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