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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


Keeping a Virtual Eye on your Assets Greg Toth

Asset Tracking with the STMicroelectronics LoRa® IoT Tracker

(Source: imajinajib/Shutterstock.com)

The STMicroelectronics LoRa® IoT Tracker is an evaluation board that simplifies prototyping, development, and evaluation of Internet of Things (IoT) tracker applications, such as assets, people, and animal tracking as well as fleet management. The board contains an onboard LoRa module from Murata that handles low-power, long-range communications using the LoRaWAN protocol. Onboard sensors include a Teseo-LIV3F Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) for obtaining location information from global satellite positioning systems, a LIS2DW12 3-axis accelerometer for detecting motion and orientation, an HTS221 temperature and humidity sensor, and an LPS22HB barometric pressure sensor. The board has a built-in LiPo battery charger (battery is included in the kit) and features an enhanced power/battery management design for low-power operation. A USB Type-C port is used for charging and serial communications. Push buttons control board operations, including on/off and sensor data transmission. Onboard EEPROM stores configuration parameters and logging data. A plastic case, LoRa antenna, and cables are also included in the kit.

The tracker's Murata LoRa module contains an STMicroelectronics STM32L072CZ ultra-low-power microcontroller that features 192KB of flash, 20KB of RAM, and a variety of peripherals including ADC, DAC, USB, UART, I2C, SPI, and GPIO. Accompanying the LoRa module is a serial EEPROM accessed through the SPI bus that supports storage of configuration parameters and logging data. The module also contains a temperature-controlled crystal oscillator for stable operation and RF circuitry for connecting an antenna to the module.

STMicroelectronics FP-ATR-LORA1 STM32Cube Function Pack

The STMicroelectronics FP-ATR-LORA1 STM32Cube Function Pack supports the board and provides source code to operate the tracker. You can program pre-built binaries onto the tracker or recompile the source code using a choice of Integrated Development Environments (IDE) including STM32CubeIDE, Keil, or IAR. The function pack code includes hardware I/O libraries and hardware abstraction layer, middleware for LoRaWAN, USB, and GNSS position tracking as well as functionality for reading the sensors, generating properly formatted LoRaWAN messages, and transmitting messages to a LoRaWAN gateway in the vicinity. For battery-powered operation, the software implements low-power and ultra-low-power operating modes that conserve power while waiting either for a motion trigger (accelerometer) or a timer wakeup event. The software also implements a serial console interface that displays status messages about board operation and sets LoRaWAN configuration parameters and keys.

Loriot

The LoRaWAN wireless communication technology creates low-power, wide-area networks used for machine-to-machine (M2M) and IoT applications. It encompasses a global LoRaWAN specification covering frequency bands, channels, and protocols for different regions of the world. Since LoRaWAN is a standardized protocol, you can operate the LoRa IoT tracker with a variety of LoRaWAN gateways and backend systems. STMicroelectronics has a gateway board in its P-NUCLEO-LRWAN2/3 Nucleo Packs that works with the tracker and with multiple backend LoRaWAN services including Loriot, Actility, The Things Network, and others. Once the device is connected to a LoRaWAN server, its data can be sent to different destinations, including IoT dashboards such as myDevices Cayenne or to your own application programs.

Using Your Own STM LoRa IoT Tracker

To use your own STM LoRa IoT tracker with an STM gateway and the Loriot service, check out our step-by-step article that walks you through the entire process of:

  • Setting up the hardware and development tools
  • Installing and running the necessary software components
  • Downloading code to the board
  • Configuring the board’s LoRaWAN connection parameters and backend servers
  • Running the board to generate real-time sensor measurements that are sent to the cloud

Here, we also show you how to observe the published data on a real-time dashboard created in myDevices Cayenne. A set of next steps gives suggestions



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Greg is an architect, engineer and consultant with more than 30 years experience in sensors, embedded systems, IoT, telecommunications, enterprise systems, cloud computing, data analytics, and hardware/software/firmware development. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Univ. of Notre Dame and a MS in Computer Engineering from the Univ. of Southern California.


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