LoRa: Future Strategy

This’ll probably get me into trouble.

I’m new to LoRa, LoRaWan (et al) and completed my end to end test system a couple of weeks ago. All is working well and stability is good.

My main problem with the LoRa world is that unless I want to spend my nights in a shed with a soldering iron and growing a ginger beard, I’m kind of stuck because there is nothing to buy and sensors that are for sale either cost a lot of money or are in China. I’m in the EU which is 4 delivery days away from China + 1 month for FedEx to do something.

In my opinion, city based LoRa with its associated sensor prices (have you seen the price of a manhole cover sensor) make for a dead stick (queue argument) so I’m concentrating on the countryside where (I perceive that) there is a real need for this tech. I’m a farmer.

Next please excuse my language. I have been told that I don’t act like a “proper” engineer and act more like a game show host. I think that might have been a negative comment but I’m too shallow to realise it. :slight_smile:

For me the public gateway aspect of LoRaWan is great, however trying to convince village councils to part with, say 400 euros for a gateway, a bit of church tower and a sniff of their internet connection is impossible without demonstrating working use cases. Even borrowing a fire department, undergrowth clearing donkey for a few days, so I can slap a tracker on it, is really tough.

So, long story short, is there a strategy for the advancement of LoRa ecosystems? The infrastructure exists and engineers in sheds exist, but everyone just seems “comfortable” in their silos. Meanwhile hoards of starving sales zombies are roaming the internet trying to flog disparate “smart” stuff solutions for a lot of money. And as for “The LoRa (well smell money) Alliance”, nuff said.

What I would love to do is get a few councils to each install a gateway and then add a couple of well thought out applications so they can actually see this stuff working and how cheap it can be. Then I can move up a hierarchy to county level with my show and tell.

What I need is a few CHEAP* flame sensors and a few CHEAP* animal trackers that are LoRaWan compliant so I can demonstrate how easy all this can be without having to resort to wearing a black cloak, sacrificing chickens and whilst chanting “UART, UART”.

Definition of CHEAP*: at least half the price you’re thinking of and then half of that.

If anyone knows where to buy this stuff, please PM me or reply. I think my browser has run out of tabs.

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Do you have extensive knowledge of electronics design or manufacture ?

If not do not assume its possible to make and sell (at a profit) sensors in Europe at 25% of the current costs.

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Apart from the observations above, in commercial terms, the price is related to a whole pile of other variables than just the cost of parts & assembly. Which is why people end up in sheds trying to get the parts from the Far East to work and end up with ginger beards in despair, although it seems to work for Ed Sheeran.

That said, having turned ginger, the lumps will have been taken out of the device and it can then be supported - so perhaps you should start breeding chickens and join in the rituals.

Rather than complain that things are too expensive which no one can reasonably action, how about you say what you think a reasonable price is for a flame sensor and search the forum for the deficiencies of LoRaWAN as a comms tool for tracking but still viable under certain circumstances.

The Villager Elders will be looking at Return on Investment, consciously or not. A TTIG with an external antenna plus some mid-priced units is a small price to pay to show how devices can assist and then they can evaluate if paying EU prices or paying someone to look after Far East devices is worth it.

Not sure how you loose a donkey thou - mostly they stay were they were left.


Feel free to make your own and start selling them. We will happily buy them I expect. Oh, of course I expect them to be LoRaWAN certified so make sure to build a huge batch to be able to incorporate the $10K (first year, $3K repeating) certification and Lora Alliance membership cost without increasing the cost of your device beyond the threshold you mentioned.

Thanks for the replies. This whole thing has been driving me nuts since I posted and I was just going to bin the whole idea, but it seemed a shame to me that the LoRaWan bit works, the internet bit works, the Telegram bit works and the whole thing is being brought to its knees by sensor prices when they are supposed to be the cheap bit. I also looked at other ways to try and do stuff (passive RFID, WiFi sensors etc) but reality says “no”.
Taking a forest fire sensor set up as an example, I’ve “reviewed” all the research papers, looked at all the sensors available and have come to 2 conclusions. Researchers like CV buzzwords and flame/smoke/CO2 sensors have an extremely limited range. So, I’ve come up with an idea still based on LoRa but binning most of the associated electronic gubbins. I shall be dusting off my soldering iron! Be afraid!
Regarding Kersing and his post about the “club membership” pricing, maybe someone should look at that and decide on a tiered system, so that small producers don’t have to pay anything until they’ve grown a bit. Otherwise it seems to me that LoRaWan is just cutting off its own blood supply. I did wonder why there was such a proliferation of DIYWans out there. On the bright side at least you’re not GATTACA, I mean LoRioT. Anyway, I’m off until I have a working build. All the best.

I think you skiped the bit where this is a regulatory/legal requirement - imposed by country/regional requirements and nothing to do with a ‘club’…tests and certification to meet legal requirements are written in laws, and the test houses charge for doing the work (unless you are big enough to have your own approved and certified in house test capabilities to allow self cert). If you dont like the regs in your area then (if you live in a democracy vs autocracy or dictatorship - all to common and increasing these days :frowning: ) then you have the option of input to consultations and ballot boxes for elections. No regs route leads to wild west status and chaos in the RF and electrical safte environment…

…good luck with your soldering endeavours, we cant wait for your cheap, legally valid devices to enter the market and at a price where your time and that of your (sub)contractors and suppliers is free and no profit or r&d recovery required and just the base costs of the raw components/materials used, and with free warranty & support (device lifetime please!)…I’m 1st in the queue… :slight_smile:

(*BTW L-A does have tiered membership pricing available if you look…)

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Why are sensors supposed to be ‘cheap’ ?

They cost what they do because that is the cost of developing, testing, getting the finished product through regulatory certification and selling at a profit.

You really think TTN is being brought to its ‘knees’ ?

Seems to be very popular and doing well that I can see.

Indeed so, the small issue and cost of regulatory testing, which strictly speaking applies to DIY designs too … although whether you can ‘self certify’ remains unclear.

mmmm…thanks for the info all. As always I go at things without knowing anything and see what shakes out. So… I can get unlimited IIS domains and SQL server databases for (can’t remember exactly) 4 dollars a month so I can store and present data. I can chuck said data at Telegram Bots for free. I can build sensors using a licence free band, but in the middle of all this is some (choose one)
A) packet radio “civil service” that ramps the costs through the roof and stymies everything in the protection of their pensions.
B) packet radio “business alliance” that ramps the costs through the roof and stymies everything in the protection of their profits.
C) A + B

Anyhoo…the only use case that I could come up with that’s economically viable, given the cost of sensors, is battlefield, air dropped, sensor nets (radiation, chemical, vibration, motion etc) with drone mounted gateways flying around many kms away from the front. “Cheap”, easily replaceable components that are mostly off until they are on. Just a thought, but obviously don’t attack China!

I think I’ll build my thing and then see how many “regulators” come at me. Take care.

Thanks… I was thinking of use once devices that are activated but sleeping until needed. Anyway just to cheer you up, my soldering ability is used mostly for reconnecting cables in my vehicles when the mice have had a chew! Sorry, but due to Brexit I won’t be supplying third countries!

Indeed there are lots of freemium and very low cost - usually bit related (storage is very cheap!) vs physical items of substance and significant underlying cost that are available - indeed we often refer to and promote such for users on this very forum, and many providers offer free limited capacity accounts in the hope of selining up once utility proven or user hooked!, then there are other bit/traffic related activities, often with a regulatory under pinning and some physical infrastructure overhead…let me think - I know Neil e.g. Starlink provided internet connections and ISP services, where there is a significant $x/month (far more than basic lowly b’band costs), and where there is also a ‘terminal’ cost for the equipment - $5-600 if I recall- again far more than a basic DSL or cable modem…Elon is rich but is not a charity so even he/his company charges, as you will have found, - gotta pay for those materials, labour and support costs, infrastructure, oh and yes regulatory compliance (Space ggency, Radio regulation agency, Insurance etc.) … so as it is now bordering on baiting/trollling style posts I think best if we we close off this line of discussion and focus the Forums ‘bit-buckets’ (free to the users but costing our benevlent sponsors :wink: ) on more productive topics, and avoid boiling oceans or solving world hunger type exchanges :slight_smile: Good luck with your efforts per earlier :+1: :wink:

Also just notice your follow on post and indeed

A very valid and well trodden IoT use case - e.g. preventative maintenance needs detection or trigger on opening/unwrapping for e.g. intrusion detection or exam papers protection to stop cheating/previewing (a use case I have seen for LoRa/LoRaWAN and where Sigfox then made an offering but at a price that was simply too low/undervalued its utility and look where such low-balling of prices got them! :wink: )

@nomadros, such a shame you used the same tactic as last time that didn’t get you the results you wanted. I did ask what you thought was a fair price but no response. Maybe if you had a bullet point requirements list of what you needed someone could point the was. As opposed to you going all Citizen Smith on us. Many here on TTN have hand built sensors for particular community use cases, so rather than kicking over the tables, perhaps just talk rather than preach.