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WITTRA™ IOT Out of the Box - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 10
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 8
Product was easy to use: 9
Support materials were available: 9
The price to performance ratio was good: 9
TotalScore: 55 / 60
  • RoadTest: WITTRA™ IOT Out of the Box
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Test Equipment
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: No problems!

  • Detailed Review:

     

    Introduction

     

    My interest in this roadtest started when I saw the webinar made by Wittra on May 5, 2021 ( IoT Development with Open Standards and 6LoWPAN! (Win an IoT Out of the Box Kit!) ).

    As soon as I saw the Wittra suitcase full of wireless IoT technology, I thought about what I could show my students at the beginning of the next school year.

    At school we mostly see Ethernet and WiFi, with this kit, we can use an 800 MHz IoT technology that has a greater range and immunity to disturbances than traditional wireless technologies.

    I think it is important to show students what the technology offers and the Wittra kit is really very interesting.

     

     

    Unboxing

     

     

    {gallery} Unboxing

     

    Roadtest objectives

     

    In this roadtest there will be no hardware mounting or software installation. The Wittra kit is ready to use, and that is the strength of this kit as the user will find a product already tested and configured, ready to be used.

    The preparation phase of the kit components is quite simple but requires attention. We have three different types of components:

    • 1 Gateway which is the most important part of the kit
    • 3 Mesh Routers that allow the network to reach great distances
    • 4 Sensor Tags that detect the environmental data using sensors and send them to neighboring nodes.

     

    The goals I have set myself are:

    • configure the kit and test its operation
    • check tag placement capabilities.

     

     

     

    Kit configuration and first use

     

    When it comes to configuring the kit, watching the Wittra webinar is very helpful. All the components of the kit are thoroughly described and how to use them is explained.

    The most interesting and complex component is the gateway so, first of all, I wanted to open it to see its contents.

     

     

     

    Inside the gateway we find a power supply board, a Raspberry pi4, and a unit similar to the Mesh Routers. The interior is very neat and the components are well fixed in a very sturdy and functional container, protected against bad weather, and that I left for days outdoors at my house, in Sicily, without having any problems on days when the temperatures exceeded 40 ° C.

    Activating the gateway is very simple, just open it, using the two metal strips along its sides, and insert a network cable on the RJ45 port of the Raspberry.

    I would like to ask Wittra if it is possible to bypass the connection with an Ethernet cable and instead use the WiFi connection, that is present in the Raspberry and which would not only make it easier to connect the gateway (it would no longer be necessary to open the gateway and to connect it to the network using an ethernet cable), but it would eliminate the need for the cable with the reduction of mechanical problems (malfunctions of the cable or possible infiltration of water or humidity into the gateway).

    Having a gateway that can be connected to WiFi would have been really useful because I am carrying out this roadtest at my home, where I only have WiFi connectivity and, in order to test it, I had to create a network bridge that creates an additional point of possible malfunction and makes the use and management of the gateway more complicated.

    A small note: when the network cable is plugged to the gateway, it often takes some time to connect. You can see when the gateway is connected by the fact that the green LED of the Raspberry turns solid green. Unfortunately, the two LEDs of the Raspberry are not, at the moment, visible outside the gateway box, although it has some transparent windows, the user cannot see if the connection has occurred or if there are problems. It would be desirable to have a window right above the two LEDs of the Raspberry or to have two external LEDs from which to understand the status of the gateway.

    After having prepared and powered the gateway using the appropriate 12V power supply, I proceeded to prepare the 3 Mesh Routers.

     

    mesh vs tag sensors               labeled devices

     

    At first glance, the Mesh Routers could be confused with Sensor Tags, but just note the small colored cap that covers the micro USB port of the Sensor Tags, in order to distinguish these two types of devices.

    However, the remarkable similarity between Mesh Routers and Sensor Tags should not be underestimated. As soon as you remove the colored protective cap to the Sensor Tags to be able to charge them through their micro USB port, they become identical to the Mesh Routers and it becomes difficult to distinguish them.

    Fortunately, each of the Wittra devices has its own unique code but to be able to read it you have to remove the clip on the back of the devices. If we want to avoid unnecessary waste of time we can do so to differentiate the various devices. For example, I used small adhesive labels where I wrote M or T, respectively for Mesh Router or Sensor Tag) and the last 2 digits of the identification code of the device itself. So I can easily distinguish the various devices.

    I had some problems starting the kit. Although all the devices were turned on, the three mesh routers powered and the 4 sensor tags charged, for many minutes I was unable to operate. However, this problem only happened once, the first time, and never returned afterward, so I believe it was caused by a temporary malfunction of my network.

    Seeing the gateway and the other seven devices recognized and fully functional was very exciting.

    The sensor tags allow the reading of data that are widely used by classic IoT cards, i.e. temperature, acceleration, and magnetic field measurements. The data are visible on the Wittra portal and the user can read and use them as he wishes.

    Obviously, when we talk about IoT, we often use the data received from the sensors to process them and decide, perhaps using artificial intelligence techniques, what kind of action to take.

    To do this it is good to have the data locally, stored in a database, and to analyze them in real-time in order to obtain useful information.

    Data is sent using a JSON format which makes it universal and easy to use.

    Python is one of the most convenient ways to manage JSON data.

     

     

    Using Data

     

    The data obtained by the Tag Sensors are of two types:

    • Device data: which are the raw data received by the sensor tags, i.e. temperature, movement, magnetic field, gyroscope, etc.
    • Event data: which are the data coming from the Wittra portal and which originate from the occurrence of some conditions on the data detected by the sensors that the user has set on the portal, for example if the temperature on a sensor tag exceeds a certain threshold, if the is moved, if magnetic orientation changes, etc.

    Data coming from the sensors are organized in a standard JSON format which makes their use simple and universal. Viewing and storing data in this format is pretty trivial.

    Wittra provides users with two methods to perform data integration: Web Hook and REST API.

     

    Those who use the Web Hook method will have to create their own web server, make it visible on the Internet and insert its link on the Wittra portal in order to forward the data from the tag sensors to the web server.

    Wittra offers its users an almost ready solution that allows them to check the functioning of the data transmission. For example, you can:

      1. download the python-flask-example.py file from the link https://github.com/wittra/examples and run it. The "python python-flask-example.py" command will create a small webserver ready to accommodate the data from the sensor tags on port 5000. As data arrives at the server, it will be visible on the shell.
      2. download ngrok (https://ngrok.com/) which is a small executable that allows the ngrok portal to connect to our local web server and display its contents on the Internet thanks to an encrypted channel. The execution of the command "ngrok http 5000" will create the encrypted tunnel for our web server and will give us the link through which we can contact it from the Internet. By inserting this link in the integration section of the Wittra portal, we will create a secure communication that will bring the data from our sensor tags to our web server. The data can then be viewed or stored at the user's choice. It is also possible to view the data through a web page that ngrok displays locally on port 4040.

     

     

    {gallery} Web Hook

     

    While the Web Hook mode allows you to receive data from sensor tags periodically, for example every 5 minutes, the REST API mode allows you to query the sensors to know the data they measure in real time.

     

     

     

    Data Format

     

    Here is an example of a block of JSON data sent by a sensor Tag.

     

    {
      "integrationId": "KjyX1sct6UGsPFJIsjHn",
      "organizationId": "cN0cCjigFKFWHSxa9hoZ",
      "payloadType": "DATA",
      "payloadId": "mOALHhYdn2t5ZK2VYcjQ",
      "projectId": "zTWrLQn1zdGGKk07Uvgm",
      "timestamp": "2021-08-29T21:13:09.213000+00:00",
      "deviceId": "D00124B0023767B5A",
      "gatewayId": "G012319E1EA491221EE",
      "payload": {
      "usage": {
      "stationary": 292,
      "moving": 0
      },
      "neighbors": [
      {
      "rssi": -15,
      "id": "D00124B0023767E56"
      },
      {
      "rssi": -61,
      "id": "D00124B0023768605"
      },
      {
      "id": "D00124B0023767E8E",
      "rssi": -60
      }
      ],
      "temperature": 28.841,
      "accelerometer": {
      "x": 0.339,
      "y": -0.101,
      "z": 0.944
      },
      "gyroscope": {
      "x": 0.549,
      "y": -0.122,
      "z": 0.732
      },
      "magnetometer": {
      "y": 0.075,
      "x": 0.136,
      "z": -0.868
      }
      },
      "source": "p"
    }
    
    
    

     

    If we analyze the data obtained, we can see that they are grouped into distinct blocks. Let's analyze them one by one.

    The first block contains the information necessary to identify the source of the data. There will be unique codes related to:

    • integration,
    • organization,
    • data block,
    • project,
    • sensor tag,
    • gateway,
    • as well as time information (date and time)

     

     

      "integrationId": "KjyX1sct6UGsPFJIsjHn",  
      "organizationId": "cN0cCjigFKFWHSxa9hoZ",  
      "payloadType": "DATA",  
      "payloadId": "mOALHhYdn2t5ZK2VYcjQ",  
      "projectId": "zTWrLQn1zdGGKk07Uvgm",  
      "timestamp": "2021-08-29T21:13:09.213000+00:00",  
      "deviceId": "D00124B0023767B5A",  
      "gatewayId": "G012319E1EA491221EE", 
    
    

     

     

    The second block allows us to understand if the sensor tag is stationary or in motion and for how long.

     

      "usage": {
      "stationary": 292,
      "moving": 0
      },
    

     

     

    The third block is very important as it produces information relating to the detected neighboring nodes and the detected power of their emissions in dBm. Once the positions of the gateway and of the three mesh routers have been fixed, by analyzing this data with appropriate algorithms, it will be possible to identify the position of the sensor tag.

     

      "neighbors": [
      {
      "rssi": -15,
      "id": "D00124B0023767E56"
      },
      {
      "rssi": -61,
      "id": "D00124B0023768605"
      },
      {
      "id": "D00124B0023767E8E",
      "rssi": -60
      }
      ],
    

     

     

    The last block contains the values relating to the temperature, the intensity of the magnetic field, the gyroscope, and the accelerometer.

     

      "temperature": 28.841,
      "accelerometer": {
      "x": 0.339,
      "y": -0.101,
      "z": 0.944
      },
      "gyroscope": {
      "x": 0.549,
      "y": -0.122,
      "z": 0.732
      },
      "magnetometer": {
      "y": 0.075,
      "x": 0.136,
      "z": -0.868
      }
      },
    

     

    Wittra has planned to expand the number of sensors present in the sensor tags and has designed a shield that fits into the sensor tag and allows to detect measurements of relative humidity (%), light intensity (lx) and pressure (hPa).

     

     

     

    Some considerations on the implementation of the tests

    All testing was done in my home.

    It would have been great and much more useful to do them with my students at school but in the summer this is impossible.

    I installed the gateway outdoors, under the canopy of my parking space and I had no problem with the very hot Sicilian summer.

    The kit worked perfectly even on the hottest days and it is enough to see the temperature data collected by a tag sensor left by me inside my car, parked in the sun, at noon, to understand that sometimes we have even exceeded the limits set by the datasheet.

     

    Hot Temperature

     

     

    I have collected this work in this short video.

     

     

     

     

    Conclusions

    I was delighted to have the opportunity to test this magnificent kit.

    I am looking forward to using it together with my students. Rarely at school you have the opportunity to use such interesting technologies that allow you to deal with many educational topics, such as mesh networks, data transmission in the 868MHz band, JSON, web servers, management of data from sensors, etc. .

    I hope I have interested those who have read this roadtest and I invite everyone to see both the webinar already mentioned in the introduction and the Wittra website, very nice and full of information. In particular, https://docs.wittra.se provides a step-by-step guide to the installation of the kit and its possible uses.

    Thanks to Wittra, thanks to the Element14 guys.

     

    Carlo

     

      "accelerometer": {

      "x":


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