Setting up a MultiTech Conduit mLinux gateway

Dear Utrecht community,

I am working as a CS teacher on a high school in Veenendaal and working on a project ‘Meet je leefomgeving’ in which students can use sensor boxes that they can take home for a couple of days to measure environmental variables.
The project had stagnated past two years due to illness and corona. The gateway in use is still running The Things v2, owned by an external source which is suffering a burnout (so we do not have credentials).
Personally, I am quite scared off by the extensive documents and am looking for someone who has experience setting up our type of gateway or has enough experience to dive in on this one.
The gateway in question is the MultiTech Conduit mLinux MTCTD-246L.
Budget is available; ideally we are looking for someone to help us on location for about a day or so.
If you are feeling experienced enough or know someone who can help us, I am looking forward to hearing from you!

Steven Boonstoppel,
teacher Computer Science Ichthus College

Edit #1: translate to English
Edit #2: fix still Dutch sentence in there

By consensus, this forum is read-only, please re-post in English, even if just using Google Translate.

However, it will carry on working for a short while on v2 and the change that is required is as simple as typing a web address in to form on the MulitTech - not a complete re-installation.

Have you setup an application on v3?

Hi and thank you! I will rewrite it shortly.
Sorry, I was unaware that this would be posted on the complete forum and expected it to be only at the local community forum.

Yes, I did setup the whole application with all its end-points, but I honestly don’t really know where to start with the MultiTech gateway and as far as I know, credentials are required which I do not possess which explains re-installing the entire thing.

It is, but all posts appear on the main page and I’m a moderator so I tend to read everything anyway.

I hear the MultiTech docs are very good - you may surprise yourself with the manual!

Maybe @Jeff-UK can advise, he knows gateways.

I was VERY surprised by the manual and it scared me off - there’s too much to set up and tweak and I am afraid that I’ll drown in all the possibilities and eventual problems :sweat_smile:

Do you have login permissions on the gateway? If so I can probably help out with a remote session (zoom).

I do not, and the external source so far doesn’t seem to be so willing to share them. I am having a hard time communicating with him as well as taking days to get a single message back and forth. That is the reason I am considering a full re-installation.

If someone (not me, I do firmware) checks the manual that it comes back on DHCP, perhaps a hard reset followed by a Zoom session?

Who owns the gateway - if it is indeed the ‘external source’ then you will not be able to control or ‘reinstall’ unless you have been granted access and permissions (login details) and collaboration rights.

BTW if not aware & not a member then Utrecht TTN community page is here
I see there are lots of GW’s and nearly 70 members so a message (general post or DM to active contributors) there may help solicite local support.

Easiest option, especially if a small budget available, may be set up a new, simpler to deploy(*), GW at the college, that you then can control directly, and help expand coverage further :wink:

(*) If you can enlist Jac to help as offered he knows far more wrt GW’s than me! :slight_smile: Nick, yes I use Multitech’s but tend to go for the AEP’s vs mLinux builds as latter overly complex/more expensive for a basic TTN community GW deployment (think Mikrotik) and tend to confuse end users. Multitech’s were great for stand alone systems esp in early days if client wanted to get up and running with embedded Node-RED instance etc. with a private network. My own deployment success rate has been hit and miss - still have one on the shelf after >1.5years that I have never managed to get connected sucessfully despite a factory return at one point! Things TTIG’s, Dragino LPS8’s, LG308’s (and now LIG16’s?) and Laird RG186’s for fast deployments (note all a bit older but well proven apart from the newer LIG), RAK/iMST RPi builds for more experiementers build systems, re-housing these for DIY outdoor units or Kerlink, Tektelik, Mikrotik, Laird, RAK & Dragino for pro outdoor deploys (poss LoRix - haven’t used) ;-)…

Thanks for your elaborate response!
This whole project has been legacy for me since I replaced the original initiator; I am still learning a lot about the back-end of the project.
One word in your reply triggers me: private network. I have been looking into the regulations and we are sending 40 or 51 bytes based on whether GPS is present. As it is for learning reasons, we would like to measure and send maybe like every 10 minutes which surpasses the Fair Play policy (I want/need high SF as quite a bunch of students live like 5 or more kilometers away).
The document that has been provided by the external source which outlines the scope that they delivered does tell about NodeRED stuff and externally hosted server but to be honest, I cannot grasp what they are trying to explain.

So, question is: does the MultiTech enable for a private network which lifts the Fair Play policy and only enforces EU regulations? Are there easier GWs that also allow this?
Depending on those answers I will look for a replacement or look much harder for someone who can fix our GW.

Side question: it is not possible to do a hardreset using the externel reset button without credentials? How else would one go about a new installation if credentials are lost?

Looks like FUP as long as the students turn it off when not using it - there are absolute limits and they should be aware of them, but I personally would prefer students to learn rather than be bound by some rules to stop 1,000 devices from a commercial company abusing the community network.

It’s not the gateway, it’s the servers you connect to. Leave this aside for other comments on FUP applicability here.

It’s a pushbutton you use a paperclip to get to whilst cycling the power - no creds required.

Awesome and thank you!

So - about 6 messages/hour of SF10-12 (if I can implement proper mixing to avoid banning due to regulations which prohibit 11/12 only) are good under FUP, giving that they will be used like two weeks on / two weeks off. (We have 60 of these sensor boxes in total, FYI)

In that case, I will investigate in other gateways and look into those listed by Jeff. Does the GW itself affect range or is that antenna only? I do want very high sensitivity / range, so if there are certain GWs or combos known for that, I am open to suggestions. The current combo has a tested range of 15~20 km “as the crow flies”.
I will be happy to discard the MultiTech :slight_smile:

For such a good cause for such a short period I think this is fine.

All gateways have the same chipset vendor, so build quality to some extent but as you say, antenna size & placement are the key factors for range.

Good to know, thanks.

Another bit of a side question but hopefully useful to be asked on a forum: are there any documents that describe the back-end of a gateway setup? The document that I got from my external source really expects me to know everything inside-out. The only thing I understood is that there is connection to a database with indefinite data retention, and that’s pretty much all I could grasp.
I am looking for something that also might explain the role of NodeRED or other servers, since there are running subscriptions of which I can’t tell the use.

All the COTS indoor units I initially list (apart from the TTIG) ship with an adequate ant - trick is get the GW (are at least the Ant) as high up as possible, give clear line of sight where you can. with extenal ant connection units adding 1, 2 or 3m of feeder cable will help placement and flexibility in placement - use an ultra low loss cable for longer feeds - 1.5-2m of RG58 is probably a limit, thereafter go ultra low loss type. As noted whilst the chipsets have evolved a bit overall RF performance isnt hugely different (later ones drive lower power consumption or add extra SF’s, # of channels or modulations - the latter not yet applicable for TTN deployments, hence I still to proven systems unless power an issue (a couple of W/hr less on a solar panel install can help ;-)!)

Moving to higher gain antennas unless there is a specific application or deployment need is typically a zero sum game - beyond 3.15dbi you have to start dialling back the power of the GW Tx, you start to induce potential coverage notches and directionality and even beam tilt which can hinder perfromance. Save your money for better cable/connectors and feed higher! :wink: There is a reason the emergency services stick with smaller, lower gain, ants that are closer to isotropic radiation patterns, and I assume your students are randomly scattered around the colledge and will be mapping over wide ranges vs being clustered in one direction or in a distance band from the college?

As a good discipline I would encourage your students to be mindful of SF impact on airtime and hence impact under FUP and on that precious resource RF spectrum from the very start, tolerance of short term abuse for a few hours run time whilst mapping coverage to the benefit of the community is one thing running for days/week(s) on end is another story. Also if you are permissive at this stage they will learn bad habits & tend to retain and abuse later. Having your own instance of TTS will help avoid FUP but you still have to be mndful of the spectrum impact - a shared resource - and legally enforceable limits. Depending on clutter and land topology and type of node build/ant 5km should be easily achieveable with lower SF’s (7,8, poss 9) helping keep you under the limits…

Nick, you feeling well? Do you need to lie down? This isnt like you! :rofl:

Also if worried about air time for the GPS location it may be a useful lesson to teach your students some code compression or data reduction methods or simply parse the data be selective of what you send - perhaps send Lat & Long only and drop altitude if projecting/collating onto a 2D map? Perhaps send a full fix every so often with lat & long deltas on a the follow on tx’s (may need a scheme to cover missed messages then mind, if delta vs last tx vs delta vs last full fix etc.)

But all this getting away from Thread topic of getting the Multitech back online (or replacing/augmenting)!

In the context of this Forum there is nothing GW specific as the purpose of a GW on TTN is purely as a transparent message passing machine - acting as a media convertor taking in RF messages and converting them to IP messages sent over the Internet to the Network Server (NS) which is where all the magic happens. It is connections from the TTN NS that you need to concern yourself with - that is where the various Integrations - e.g. webhooks come into play, this can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be and the Things documentation is linked bottom right from every console page. As mentioned earlier Multitech’s can either be packet forwarding engines as used on TTN or can run full NS implementations, and from that early ones also supported eg Node-Red etc. hence the compexity and confusing nature I mentioned earlier if all you want to do is route messages into TTN, and from that the ‘heavy’ documentation for the GW.

You could do worse than set up each student with a Cayenne account, add their device (GPS tracker? T&H Monitor or whatever) to TTN, add webhook to Cayenne dashboard and register the device EUI for the student then they can watch the data come in - historic records of minute, hour, day, week, month simple data or 24 record of GPS tracks (not retained long term) etc. Add TTN Mapper integration (webhook) to GPS devices and you will help build a longer term view of coverage provided in the area by your and others GW’s etc… Its perhaps 5mins max per device per integration for a novice following basic steps and instant satisfaction for your students as they quickly see ‘their’ nodes doing stuff :slight_smile: (Note: another use for you if teaching F2F is put a LoRaWAN CO2 monitor in the classroom and watch level change with ventilation/class size/time and help protect the students from potential Covid infections - if CO2 spikes high open more doors/windows! ;-))

I can’t thank you enough for your replies, once again! :smiley:

The current external antenna has been installed great - on top of the ventilation system on top of the school, and its range has been tested before to >15 kilometer so no worries about that!


It’s a great physics lesson anyway, but I’ll most definitely kick things off with this :slight_smile:

They will only be sending GPS data if an external pushbutton is pressed, as of the current software revision. May change it to once every 24h or so, but I’ll have that covered!

Jokes on you: that part is all figured out and working already :slight_smile: if you wish you can snatch a quick look at the (Dutch) project website and click around - the data compression you mentioned is also quite adequately implemented with CayenneLPP.

@kersing sent me a message and we will likely be working together to get it up and running.
If everything goes to plan, I will be adding more gateways on other schools too, later; so I might still look out for easier GWs in that case.

One more question: adding indefinite data retention could/should be done how? Through something like those webhooks? Or do I need to start elsewhere?

Bit of a duration - once an hour?

Jokes on you I’m afraid, LPP is verbose boarding on Argggggghhhhhhhhh.

But it is a starter for ten and an extra credit student could figure out how to make it more compact - which is fully documented all over this forum but still requires some knowledge to implement.

Now that is my domain:

Webhook is the most robust as it just needs a web server.

Data Storage is a backup, only holds 24 hours on TTS CE (aka TTN).

To be honest, I have never had so much fun on forums :joy:. True though, I have only been looking at sending the values themselves and thought “I definitely could not send these values in less bytes” but never cared about the full package.

The original idea is that the boxes will be used to measure the front yard, back yard or local playground for example for a couple days each, which does not require that many GPS fixes. But that’s something that depends on the usecase.

That is an excellent idea. I have already put in well over 100 hours so far so I stopped going the extra mile :sweat_smile:

Those are welcome words. If I understand correctly, I can use the PHP file to set as an integration on the TTN application? Will talk to IT department to see if they can allow running it on the home network since we have got plenty of storage on our network :slight_smile: