LoRaWAN for remote location with a volcano between gateway & devices

Hello there TTN community, this is my first time in this forum. :smile:

I want to deploy a lorawan network at a rural area in Guatemala for monitoring different soil and environmental parameters for a coffee field.

In specific I am interested in having a couple of end nodes with sensors on the coffee field and send the data to my gateway which is located at a distance of roughly 3 km from the field. The issue is that there is not direct line of sight between the lora gateway and the field, in fact there is a small volcano hill right in between both points.

You can take a look to what I mean with the help of the following picture:

So my question would be: would a lora based communication between my gateway and the end nodes still work under these conditions? Would you recommend a specific antenna for this case? What would be your recommendations for this particular scenario?

Its not entirely clear what is where, can you clarify where the gateway is and where the field is ?

UHF radio comms is pretty much line of sight, hills in the way will block the signals.

The recomendation would be to put the Gateway on top of the hill.

The simplest answer is if you can’t see the antenna from where the device is, things are going to be difficult.

As @LoRaTracker says, can you not put the gateway on the top of the hill - even if it uses some directional WiFi to get back to the office.

PS, please ensure you say LoRaWAN as that’s all we do here - it gets confusing if people use LoRa when they mean LoRaWAN.

@LoRaTracker sorry, yes I forgot to specify about the points.
On the white line drawn over the google maps view:
-The coffee field is found on the left end point, here is where I want to install my sensing nodes.
-The gateway is found on the other extreme of the line, on the right side.

As you can see from the bottom graph, there is that small hill in between both points that limits the visibility from each other.

@descartes , thanks for your feedback. Well, having the gateway on the coffee site is a bit of a difficult situation. Over there we have no access to electricity, therefore my idea was to use only the battery powered devices on the field and the gateway on the other end where I can connect to internet and have a constant electricity supply.

I guess that I would have to try using some small local solar plant directly at the field in order to power up the gateway and upload the sensed data directly from there.

That should work perfectly - and wouldnt need to be too big/expensive in your part of the world given ready availablility of a big yellow power source overhead :slight_smile: Main issue would be is the area covered by cellular service (at least 3G pref 4G) to allow backhaul? Maybe get the GW up on hill slope to improve coverage/angles? (and potentially help reach cell service?)

Putting a Gateway on top of a hill would be a great service to the community, the coverage it might provide could be extensive. Perhaps potential for others to contribute.

Thanks everyone for the nice feedback.

@Jeff-UK, yes we have cellular coverage at the top of that mountain so connecting to internet from there should not be an issue :smile:

I will then use some time in finding a viable option for powering up the gateway with a local solar cell.

Thanks to all!

A decent search on the Forum (top right of every thread page!) will yield lots of fruit…e.g. this recent discusssion

which also refers back to one of my earlier posts for a Solar build a few years back - there are lots more if you look. final choice/config will depend on which GW and Cellular connection solution you choose…

Don’t ignore the potential for using small directional WiFi antenna, soooo much cheaper.

That would be nice but unfortunately I dont think that I can install the gateway at the top of the hill. On top there is actually a small protected forest which local people is really sensitive about, so trying to put something over there might not be really a way to go. :smile:

For out the box solar, new on the market.


LoRaWAN devices are exactly the sort of technology that can do hugely positive things to protect & enhance an environment - so talking to them about monitoring may not meet with resistance - you can but ask. There is also the economic benefits to the area by increased crop yield for the plantation through better data - and quite likely reduction in use of traditional agrotech (aka pesticides, artificial fertilisers) that may impact the environment.

I’ve some understanding of the challenges in hot sandy areas - north & mid Africa - where LoRaWAN (or just plain LoRa) can help. Not so much with mainly tropical / forest environments but I’m keen to understand and I’d be surprised if there are not applications that can make a difference.

For remote areas without fibre or cellular coverage, new satellite based solutions are becoming available & affordable.

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I suppose you could try a lora mesh (non lorawan) setup where you encircle the perimeter.
Or, did you see the LR1121 from semtech includes lora bands as well as 2.1GHZ s-band for satellite connection. The cost is $5/month for 192 byte packet every hour. Their plan requires a minimum order though but good to see this on the horizon within the next couple of years.

Who’s? Semtech is not in the satellite biz (yet!), just supplying the silicon (and cloud services/modules where appropriate) :wink:

Oh, I can’t recommend a service provider but Swarm has a $3725 US yearly plan for 25 devices. OqTec, Orbcomm, Kepler, Fleet, Echostar… I expect someone on hackaday.com to find a lean setup soon.
You can order the semtech LR1121 dev kit today. Anyways, better to start a separate thread for any Sat discussions.