What is Generic Node? Breaking down a multiple-use case LoRaWAN® device

TheThings Network

The Things Network Global Team

Posted on 06-05-2021

Generic Node provides a multifunctional hardware platform to build LoRaWAN end-devices with zero knowledge and fast development time. It is a production-ready device that can be used for many applications without adding external components or hardware.

Generic Node will come in two versions: Sensor Edition (SE) and Tracking Edition (TE). In this article, we will introduce you to the Generic Node Sensor Edition, and briefly discuss its features and use cases.

Generic Node Sensor Edition is a development board that comes with an IP65 enclosure that is intended for developing LoRaWAN end-device applications. It is based on STMicroelectronics STM32WL55CCU6, a dual-core system-on-a-chip (SoC) that consists of both a microcontroller and a LoRa radio as a single package. The hardware design files and software (STM32WL low-level target files, software libraries, and software applications) for the Generic Node Sensor Edition are all available at our GitHub repository.

Generic Node Sensor Edition can be operated on a wide range of sub-GHz ISM bands such as EU868 and US915. The onboard antenna is a small yet powerful multiband antenna (Ignion’s VirtualAntenna) that provides better transmission while keeping the power output of the device up to +22 dBm. There is also a u.FL connector available for an external antenna.

The front of the Generic Node Sensor Edition board

The back of the Generic Node Sensor Edition board

Generic Node Sensor Edition has the following onboard sensors that can be used to measure some physical activities and environmental parameters.

  • Accelerometer - detects motion, free fall, orientation, vibrations, etc

  • Temperature - measures ambient temperature

  • Humidity - measures humidity in the air

The piezo buzzer/speaker can be programmed to generate basic beeps and tones. The board also has a programmable user button and an RGB LED.

The onboard Qwiic / STEMMA QT connector allows connecting multiple I2C devices (sensors, actuators, displays, buttons, etc) just using JST-SH cables.

The board can be powered using 2AA batteries or using an external power supply ranging from 2.5 - 5.5V DC. The onboard buck-boost converter provides a constant voltage to the device even if the battery voltage drops too low.

The STM32WL comes with 256 kB of internal flash memory providing enough space to store your software apps. The STM32WL also has 64 kB of SRAM (Static Random Access Memory). In addition to the internal flash memory and the SRAM, the Generic Node has MX25R1635 SPI NOR External Flash which provides 16Mb of storage for FUOTA (Firmware Update Over The Air) and data-logging.

The board has pins for GPIO, programming, and debugging (read our documentation for more details). You can solder pin headers or wires to these pins to connect various external peripherals.

Secure element:
Generic Node Sensor Edition comes with a secure element from Microchip (ATECC608A-TNGLORA) which is tamper-resistant storage, pre-provisioned with root keys for the Join Server. With the secure element, you can register your Generic Node with any LoRaWAN network available.

Generic Node key features:

  • End-to-end encryption: Generic Node Sensor Edition supports end-to-end encryption that means your data is fully secured when they travel from the end-device to the application server and vice-versa.

  • Firmware over-the-air-update: It supports over-the-air firmware updates which means it can receive firmware updates from the LoRaWAN network server wirelessly. This would be helpful if you want to send a firmware file to more than one generic node at the same time.

  • Standard replaceable AA batteries: Generic Node can be powered using two AA batteries and these batteries can be replaced once they reach the end of life.

  • Ultra-low power: Generic Node consumes ultra-low power. The batteries may last about 2 years or longer. However, the battery life depends on the behavior of your application, for example, how frequently you send messages, the distance from the end-device to the gateway, etc.

  • Open development tools: You can build applications for Generic Node using various development environments such as command line, docker, STM32Cube IDE (Eclipse), Visual Studio Code, FreeRTOS, etc. All the development tools for Generic Node are freely available at the GitHub repository.

  • LoRaWAN operator agnostic: Generic Node can be registered (activated) with any LoRaWAN network using QRCode or Secure Element.

Generic Node was created in cooperation with our partners: STMicroelectronics, Sensirion, Bopla, Seeed, Cetecom, Ignion, Ricoh, Microchip, Irnas, and Comtac.

Be one of the first to get your version of Generic Node. Join the early access program at genericnode.com

LoRaWAN® is a mark used under license from the LoRa Alliance®.