LoRa data network
So, the BEEP base measures weight, sound and temperature. But how does this information get to your BEEP app? That is what we use LoRa for.
What is LoRa?
LoRa is derived from “Long Range” and is part of the Internet of Things (IoT) network. This technology exchanges small bits of information using little energy. That is why we use LoRa to send out the information about your bee colonies at a 15 minute interval. LoRaWAN is also related to LoRa. WAN stands for Wide Area Network. So, LoRa refers to the physical part that sends out information, in our case the BEEP base. LoRaWAN is the network itself.
How does it work?
LoRa is an energy efficient way of transferring information. You can think about it as if your BEEP base sends out text messages consisting of a few numbers. Your BEEP app receives these numbers and translates them to information that is understandable for you. You receive the information through the gateways of the TTN (The Things Network), like small transmission towers, and the internet.
LoRa uses low-frequency waves. Through the long waves with a frequency of 868 MHz in Europe, LoRa can send information over long distances. Outside, it reaches between 2.5 and 15 kilometres in distance. Radiation is energy that is sent through the air on a wave. Because LoRa only transmits small amounts of data once every 15 minutes in an energy efficient way, there is very little radiation.
The energy usage is low because the BEEP base turns on every 15 minutes for 2 seconds to send information. That is why you can operate the BEEP base for over a year on just 2 AAA batteries.
On which network do I use LoRa?
The biggest “provider” of LoRa worldwide is The Things Network (TTN). TTN is working on expanding towards worldwide coverage, and you can contribute to that. Do you want to use the TTN but there is no LoRa Gateway around? Than you can buy one from 90 euros onwards and connect it for free on the network of TTN. The idea behind this is that everybody makes his gateway publicly accessible to create an enormous free open network for IoT applications.
Is there not LoRa Gateway close to your BEEP base and you want to contribute to the network? You will need the following things:
- A LoRa Gateway: ready to use for sale from 90 euros
- Internet connection
- WiFi connection
- Power: 230V of USB type C 1A
Contribute to the TTN network and make it possible to connect BEEP bases and other LoRa devices.
What is the TTN network coverage?
You can check on TTNmapper.org if your beehives are in an area with existing LoRa network coverage. To do so, zoom to the location where your apiary is and look for the nearest gateway displayed by the TTN logo. Click on the icon and select 'radar'. This will show you the distance of historic connections and will give you an impression what the reach of that particular gateway is. The red colours stand for the stongest signal. NB: Check if your country is on the list for support of the LoRa 868 MHz frequency if you are outside the EU and Africa. You can always use the Bluetooth and 64MB memory for saving measurements.
How much does it cost?
The preference for the BEEP base is to use the TTN network since you can use it for free and there are no recurring costs. In case there is no gateway close to your BEEP base you can buy one from 90 euros. An alternative is to buy the KPN gateway for the LoRa network. KPN offers a country wide coverage in the Netherlands. You can subscribe for a subscription through an intermediary that you connect to the KPN network. Costs are around 30 euros per month.