1. Choose a topology
In the introduction we explored the various network topologies. The easiest starting point is the star topology with one or more sensors and one gateway.
2. Choose a gateway
There are few options to consider, starting with your choice of micro-controller. Our gateway will work with any micro-controller that has a serial port, so the options are available are many. However we tend to focus on the popular ones:
- Raspberry Pi
- ESP8266, ESP32
This is a very popular choice, therefore we developed a daughter board that connects to the Raspberry Pi GPIO header. See IoT Gateway for Raspberry Pi for more details. A Raspberry Pi is based on a Linux operating system so there is a learning curve required to be able to set up and install the Raspberry Pi, but there is a massive amount of on-line information on Raspberry Pi which makes this a very popular choice. If you have no programming experience then Raspberry Pi is a popular choice because there is plenty on-line material available to get it set up and you can follow our tutorials for PrivateEyePi, Blynk Home Assistant, and others, to connect the IoT Gateway to a cloud service. If you prefer to keep your data local then Raspberry Pi is also a good choice because is is capable of running databases and web servers. Home Assistant is a good option for a local Raspberry Pi based home automation system.
An Arduino typically does not have a network connection, unless you have added on a WIFI or Ethernet module. Therefore the Arduino is more commonly used with a Flex Radio Module as a sensor node.
ESP8266 / ESP32
These chips manufactured by Espressif can be easily programmed using the Arduino development environment (plus other options) and have built-in WIFI which makes them extremely popular for IoT devices. Couple the ESP8266/ESP32 with a Flex Radio Module and you have a great option for a Gateway. The advantage that these chips have over the Raspberry Pi is they are more single-purpose and don’t come with all the overhead of managing a Linux operating system (even though Linux is VERY stable). You can treat the ESP8266/ESP32 as an appliance. The down side of this option is it is purely a Gateway to a cloud service and is not typically used to store data or act as a web server. However for more advanced users you can configure the ESP8266/ESP32 as a web-server and also store a limited amount of data in the local flash or SPIFFS storage or external SD card.
3. Choose a sensor
See the products section for a list of all the sensors available. The sensors come pre-configured with default settings and a random device-id. If the device-id is the same as one of your existing sensors then you will need to change the device-id to a unique number otherwise you will receive sensor data against the same ID. When you purchase sensors from us you have the option of leaving a comment where you can ask us to avoid certain device-id’s you already have. Once you power up the sensor it will automatically start transmitting data to the gateway. Depending on the sensor there may be specific set-up steps you need to take. Refer the product documentation of the specific sensor for more details.
We have three main types of sensors:
- A range of battery powered RF devices with built-in sensors that are “plug-in-and-play” like temperature, humidity and pressure. These sensors come in 1 1/4” x 1/2” and 1 3/4” x 3/4” form factor case sizes.
- A range of battery powered RF devices with external sensors that need a moderate amount of building (basic soldering). All parts are included. These sensors come in 1 1/4” x 1/2” and 1 3/4” x 3/4” form factor case sizes.
- A RF development module called the Flex Radio Module. This is a multi-purpose radio that can be use as a IoT gateway or as a sensor node. It requires configuration and your own development and integration to a micro-controller or external sensors. The Flex Radio Module can plug into a breadboard and is best suited for bread board prototyping and development.
Refer the products section of the documentation for more details on all of the above sensor types.