Having read the brochure and the product information online, I took the plunge, and after a short wait to receive my bundle of well packaged goodies I was ready to hop on board and explore. But, like many who would be unfamiliar with the system I needed some guidance to get me started.
Let's see what I have...
... with Argon
On the sleeve we're given a description of what the product is. There's no domain name or website link shown, however pulling the box out from the sleeve reveals more.
Here we are given our first instruction... which is written in bold... “Visit setup.particle.io to configure your new device”. Let's have a look inside the box.
On the underside of the lid, we have more bold text shouting out "THIS IS PARTICLE MESH - THE NEW INTERNET FOR THE INTERNET OF THINGS". A bold statement indeed!
More instruction... "To get started, visit setup.particle.io".
Looking at the packets contained within, there's nothing obvious on the front of packaging other than images + a short description of the product content, but flipping over reveals more on the reverse. It's time to read the small print...
Probably worth remembering those links, as they could be important later.
I think it's time to see where “setup.particle.io” takes us... let's open up the browser (in my case it's Google Chrome on a Windows 10 PC).
Once opened, we're asked to create an account.
With the account setup process out the way, it was time to log in. Here we are presented with this landing page:
We are only given three click-through options to click on. Nice, I rather liked this clean and simple approach. Obviously, we would click the box on left for “Argon/Boron/Xenon”.
This revealed more options to drill down further.
This was pretty good so far. There was even a note on the top explaining what to do to create a Mesh Network. As I had an Argon in front of me, this would be my choice to click on.
Aha, we are now provided with a check list and a big blue button saying, “NEXT”. As everything was ready, we could now click on "NEXT".
Oh! I was slightly taken aback here... We've been taken all this way just to be told that we now needed an app. This reminded me of hopping on a train only to be told a few stops later that we now had to change over to a bus... and we all know how that feels...
Oh well, a possible dead end on the website then. It just so happens that I did not have the app, but as my phone was pretty full, with my element14 videos and photo's, I decided that using the install-on-device-from-website option was for me. So, the only alternative offered on the website was either the logout option under my user name or this “I'll open the app myself” link.
Let's see what happens if we click on that link...
“Excellent! I cried”. “Elementary...” say you... here on the screen we are provided with a “See you back here in a bit!” message and beneath this message is a greyed out button (i.e. it's disabled - waiting for something) and tucked away below this button is some small grey italic text that says “Waiting for you to set up at least 1 device before continuing”.
Hmmm, I wonder how many people miss that one.
So, maybe we don't need to logout after all and thus we'll keep it open just to see if something does happen once we have the app loaded and the Argon device connected.
So, grabbing my Lenovo Tab7 (Android 8 GO) let's see what we can do with that.
Ah, that's strange. we're getting a warning message on Google Play store saying that the app may not be optimised with this device. Also, the app version was last updated back in Aug 2018.
Not thinking much more about it, let's proceed to download anyway...
Ah, maybe that explains it, as when we've opened and logged in, we get no device setup options for Argon or Xenon. Now what to do...
Although I was not very hopeful, as my phone was using an older version of Android (5.1), for sake of completeness, I decided to check the phone's Google Play store to see what options it gives us...
Well, this was rather unexpected.
Here, on Google Play store it tells us that the Particle app was last updated in June 2019, that it's version 2.3.13 and under “What's new” it informs us that we can set up Argons, Borons and Xenons” using this version.
I get the suspicion that the restriction with using my tablet has nothing to do with the version of Android but because it has no cellular connection (a case of tail wagging the dog, perhaps).
So, after deleting a good few of my old element14 videos on my phone and I was able to download the app.
Success! After logging in, we are now presented with a setup option for the Argon.
Time to set up an Argon... and here's a video showing how it's done.
Once paired with the phone and setup complete, the app then installs all relevant updates onto the Argon device... there's quite a few...
We are now asked if we wish to set up a Mesh Network. Clicking on "YES" takes us through quite a few steps to get it all sorted...
The Argon is now set up, but wait the App is asking us if we want to add more devices, so let's continue on.
But before we do that let's now go back to the website....
It changed! We now have the "NEXT" button enabled and the small text below the button now says "1 new device detected. When you're done connecting all devices, click 'Next'"
And we have our first "Hello Work" test for the Argon with a button toggle.
This page even checks to see if we've actually tried the toggle button, as when we do the "FINISH" button enables, presenting us with this screen:
Here we have very similar packaging and branding to the Argon. Although, I was a little surprised to see that there was no website document reference on the Xenon packet as per the Argon packet:
Thankfully and more importantly, we have a very similar setup process to the Argon.
But, here I learnt the hard way. Looking back this screen from the app...
Clicking the "I'M DONE" option with just the Argon connected makes it more convoluted to set up the Xenons later as you have to manually pair each Xenon with the Argon and the messaging on the app was not that clear (kept asking to me link to another Xenon even though I was starting with the first Xenon).
So, clicking on the "SET UP NEXT DEVICE" turns out to be the easier method, in my opinion. So easy in fact, that I did not even screenshot the process.
Finally, the console screen
The console screen gives us a nice overview of all our devices which have been commissioned or connected. On this dashboard it informs us when each device was last connected. That's useful.
We have a couple menu options on the left. One is "Network" which appears to show our Mesh network. This appears to give similar information, except for the "Last Handshake" and this option to "unclaim a device", which appears to be rather discouraged by the look of this warning message:
Clicking on a device, presents us with a nice Device Dashboard:
And, on the top right are two buttons. One called "PING" obviously pings the device and you get a response if the device is active. The other button "SIGNAL" is rather cool as it animates the LED on the device when you click on it.
Here's a short video showing all three devices of mine being powered up and then I demo the "SIGNAL" button.
So, that's the inaugural journey so far. This has been impressive so far. The sort of experience you get when hopping on your first high speed train ride.
There will be more once I've completed my road test.
To be continued...