2022Q1 Newsletter (part 3): IoT Products

Last year was a very busy year for us in the IoT area, as well as in our USB System Software and Development Tools. High points include:

Helium Hotspot

Our big news is that we were appointed as an official distributor for the Heltec HT-M2808 Helium-Mining Hotspot. This hotspot is the same idea as a Wi-Fi access point — but it’s an access point for LoRaWAN IoT devices — perfect for remote sensing, energy management and smart building projects. It bridges those devices to the Helium network, a network of over 500,000 gateways around the world, backed by blockchain technology and a dedicated cryptocurrency, Helium Network Tokens (HNT). Unlike energy-hungry proof-of-work schemes, the Helium block chain uses proof-of-location, generated by the hotspots. Hotspots earn HNT for helping prove location for the blockchain, and for helping move device traffic. The HT-M2808 opens the door for you to be part of The People’s Network; and MCCI will help you at every step.

RedwoodComm Test Equipment

We’ve been distributing RedwoodComm LoRaWAN test equipment for several years. They introduced a couple of great new products this year, the RWC5021P (a personal tester, at about $3,000 per seat) and the RWC7000 series of RF enclosures.

MCCI IoT Devices

New product development (and business development) were really slowed down by the supply chain disruptions. Our customers, however, have done very well. Notably, WeRadiate won a $250k prize in the Grow-NY competition in 2021. Their business is optimizing food-waste recycling, but their technology is based on Sigfox and LoRaWAN — MCCI provided hardware and software, including sensors, provisioning, back-end, web interface, and reporting plug-ins for Excel and Google Docs.

We shipped a few hundred Model 4811 LoRaWAN power meters, primarily for energy efficiency and power quality monitoring. Many of them are used in large commercial installations, where they have to turn off the power to open the panel (we’re talking 480V, 4000A). This can be a headache during installation, because the contractors typically don’t have access to the corporate networks to look at the transmitted data. So we developed an Android-based solution using USB to connect to an RS-485 adapter with a through-panel IP65 connector. Our “Site Provisioning” software runs on Android, and communicates with the Meter via Modbus, so the contractor can verify performance (and even correct minor wiring errors) without opening the panel or turning off power to the building. This greatly streamlined the installation process.

We just finished the first version of our Model 4906 Supercap buffer FeatherWing. This product bridges the power requirement gap between long-life batteries (slow and steady power producers) and RF technology (infrequent but bursty power consumers). Supercaps are also great indoor photo-voltaic power. We hope to start production later this quarter.

We are scheduled to get supply of our key components in early 2022, so we’ll have some additional news soon, along with supply of our newer products.

MCCI IoT Software

On the software side, we continue to support the Arduino LMIC as an open-source, light-weight LoRaWAN stack. We introduced an open-source trusted boot loader for the STM32L0 microprocessors.

Our open-source IoT Dashboard already supported a Node-Red / InfluxDB / Grafana flow, so that data is automatically decoded, stored and easily displayed. We added automatic backup, an integrated mail server, and simplified deployment, along with support for all the major LoRaWAN network servers. We also added a Data Normalization Controller (DNC) to manage the mapping between raw sensor data and actual measurements, for example when sensors get swapped out.

We have a lot of libraries these days, too many to mention here: check our GitHub page for more information. You can also check out our new-ish IoT discussion site, at forum.mcci.io.

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