NXP Semiconductors recently announced the launch of a comprehensive Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) product portfolio, which greatly expands the market range of products that can adopt the latest Wi-Fi standard. NXP ’s expanded Wi-Fi 6 product portfolio demonstrates NXP ’s vision and differentiated technology approach for new end-to-end solutions designed to help the automotive, access, mobile, industrial, and Internet of Things markets embrace the era of connected innovation.

Rafael Sotomayor, senior vice president of NXP Semiconductors ’Security and Connectivity Division, said that in order to provide Wi-Fi 6 to a wider market, OEMs need Wi-Fi 6 options that can meet their needs. They need product series that can meet the performance and cost needs of different market segments. With NXP ’s latest connectivity solutions, we help customers to more easily invest in our Wi-Fi 6 platform, and then use Wi-Fi 6 for smart homes, connected cars and industrial machinery. We are very pleased to see these markets gain the advantages of Wi-Fi 6 networking.

New Wi-Fi 6 addition to NPX’s portfolio

Wi-Fi 6 adds many improvements to the connection, including symmetric multi-gigabit (multi-gigabit) upload and download, significantly reducing latency, increasing capacity, and improving power efficiency across applications. As of now, these technological advancements have been limited to high-end products. Through NXP ’s extensive product portfolio, these advantages can now be applied to large-scale deployments in multiple markets, giving products the most advanced Wi-Fi capabilities, including up to four times the performance improvement, wider coverage, extended battery life, Connection reliability is higher.

In addition, the focus of NXP ’s Wi-Fi 6 product portfolio includes its leading 4 × 4 and 8 × 8 streaming solutions integrated with Bluetooth 5 (Bluetooth 5), suitable for home and enterprise access solutions (88W9064, 88W9068), AEC-Q100-compliant dual-frequency parallel (Concurrent Dual) Wi-Fi 2 × 2 + 2 × 2 + Bluetooth 5 solution, designed for the highest performance infotainment and remote information processing automotive applications (88Q9098) , Dual-band parallel Wi-Fi 2 × 2 + 2 × 2 + Bluetooth 5 solution, providing top-level products (88W9098) for multimedia streaming and consumer access applications, 2 × 2 WiFi 6 + Bluetooth 5 focusing on the Internet of Things, Reduce costs and improve power, and NXP ’s Silicon Germanium (SiGe) -based RF front-end solution portfolio can extend Wi-Fi 6 functionality from low-end to high-end applications, including 1 × 1, 2 × 2, 4 × 4 and 8 × 8 MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) solutions. The product portfolio is packaged in ultra-compact 3 mm x 4 mm modules optimized for mobile solutions.

Source: https://media.nxp.com/news-releases/news-release-details/nxps-new-wi-fi-6-portfolio-accelerates-its-large-scale-adoption/

What is Wi-Fi 6?

The Wi-Fi 6 standard enables enterprises and service providers to support new and emerging applications within the same wireless LAN (WLAN) infrastructure while ensuring higher standards of support for older applications. This scenario prepares the ground for new business models and increased use of Wi-Fi.

Upcoming Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 7 forecast for industrial IoT
Source: TP-Link

This is exactly the same standard as 802.11ax. The Wi-Fi Alliance has launched a campaign to give the IEEE 802.11ax standard the name „Wi-Fi 6”. This name suggests that this standard is a 6th generation Wi-Fi network. The justification for this idea was to simplify the marketing message of the 802.11ax standard in order to gain an image advantage over the standards of the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) used in cellular network technology (e.g. 5G).

Expectations about Wi-Fi 7 standard

During a speech during the August Wi-Fi Qualcomm Day and subsequent interviews, V.K. Jones, vice president of technology, shared details about the operation of Wi-Fi 7. He expects a three-step improvement over today’s Wi-Fi 6, called 802.11ax in the world of technology.

The first improvement expected will increase Wi-Fi 6 bandwidth and use new radio waves that will allow the governments of the United States and Europe to start wireless transmission soon next year. Secondly, the Wi-Fi 6 update in 2022 should improve speed, especially for those who transfer data such as videos from phones and computers. The third, and perhaps the most interesting, is the Wi-Fi update collection expected in 2024, known only under the technical name 802.11be.

A few years ago, Qualcomm launched the Snapdragon 212 processor for smart speakers. This post has nothing to do with this, but strangely enough, the company has decided to reuse the 212 number in its new Qualcomm 212 LTE IoT modem, „World’s most power-efficient single-mode 3GPP Release 14 NB2 (NB-IoT) modem„, as read.

Qualcomm 212 LTE IoT modem requires less than 1 microamp (1uA) sleep current and has a very low cutoff at system level (on the order of 2.2V) with the ability to adjust energy consumption for various source power levels It is said to support voltage.

Qualcomm 212 LTE IoT Modem specifications:

  • MCU Core – Arm Cortex M3 @ up to 204 MHz
  • Cellular Connectivity
    • 3GPP Rel.14 LTE capabilities: Cat-NB2 with multi-carrier NPRACH and Paging, Cat-NB2 Release Assistance Indication (RAI), Cat-NB2 with larger TBS and 2 HARQ processes
    • Peak Speeds – DL: 127 kbps; UL: 158.5 kbps
    • Frequency Bands (700Mhz to 2.1 GHz for global roaming)
      • LTE low bands: B5, B68, B8, B12, B13, B14, B17, B18, B19, B20, B26, B28, B71, B85
      • LTE mid bands: B1, B65, B70, B2, B25, B66, B3, B4
    • Global Emergency Services Support – ECID, OTDOA (LTE-based positioning)
  • Network Protocols – IPv4/IPv6 stack with TCP and UDP, TLS, HTTPS, PPP, SSL, DTSL, FTP, ping, HTTTP, MQTT, OMA Lightweight M2M, CoAP
  • I/O Interfaces – 2x I2C, 2x SPI, 3x UART, up to 26 GPIOs, 4-channel ADC
  • Security – Hardware-based Crypto Engine, Secure Key provisioning, Secure Boot
  • Integrated Chipsets
    • Qualcomm 9205 baseband IC
    • SMB231 charger IC
    • PME9205 power management IC
    • SDR105 radio transceiver and front-end IC
    • WCD9306 audio codec IC
  • Supply Voltage – 2.2V to 4.5V
  • Temperature Range – -40 to 85°C
  • Package – < 10x10mm

Source: https://www.qualcomm.com/products/qualcomm-212-lte-modem

Industrial use of LTE modems

With Compute Module 3+ options from Raspberry Pi, TECHBASE upgraded their ModBerry 500/9500 industrial computers. From now on the ModBerry 500/9500 can be supported with extended eMMC, up to 32GB. Higher memory volume brings new features available for ModBerry series. ModBerry supports wide range of industrial grade extension cards, i.e. wireless modems with 3G/LTE, NarrowBand-IoT, LoRa, Wireless M-Bus, ZigBee, WiFi, Bluetooth and many more.

 ModBerry 500 with Compute Module 3+
ModBerry 500 with Compute Module 3+

Higher performance of ModBerry 500/9500 with extended eMMC flash memory, up to 32GB , powered by quad-core Cortex A53 processor allows the device to smoothly run Windows 10 IoT Core system, opening up many possibilities for data management, remote control and visualisation.

ZigBee Mesh used in end-point IoT devices

ZigBee mesh‚s usefulness for IoT is partly due to the fact that it is an open standard. The same products can be used all over the world, which gives customers a large selection of available option. The high competition between products and producers means that the created solutions are innovative, characterized by high quality and give customers a considerable choice. Many suppliers of cooperating elements of this ecosystem mean that they are not limited to any specific brands or specific semiconductor manufacturers.

ZigBee Mesh. Source: ZigBee Alliance
ZigBee Mesh. Source: ZigBee Alliance

Compatibility is also promoted, as ZigBee Mesh 3.0 brings all the various ZigBee environments to a single, unified standard. Over the years, ZigBee has covered applications ranging from industrial to business to home, which has led to the development of separate service standards. ZigBee 3.0 collects all these various applications under one umbrella. This eliminates the need for mediation bridges between different sets of ZigBee supporting devices. All of them will be able to communicate directly, regardless of type.

Competitiveness of ZigBee based solutions

With a maximum data bandwidth of 250 kbps at 2.4 GHz, ZigBee is slower than other popular wireless standards such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, but it doesn’t matter in typical sensor applications. ZigBee Mesh is designed to send small data packets at relatively long intervals, which is usually sufficient to collect data from temperature sensors, safety sensors, air quality monitoring systems and similar subsystems. In the meantime, the low bandwidth affects the low power needed for the system to work, so that ZigBee nodes can usually work for many years on a single AAA battery.

ZigBee Power Consumption. Source: ZigBee Alliance
ZigBee Power Consumption. Source: ZigBee Alliance

With low power consumption, ZigBee supporting products typically have a short transmission range – typically from 10 to 15 meters, and the signal they emit is easily disturbed by obstacles on the route, or changes in the environment. However, the beauty of ZigBee devices lies in their work as part of a lattice topology network, where each of them transmits signals between themselves over a total of longer distances. The grid topology also means that damage to a single device will not stop the entire network, as communication can simply be redirected.

Data security via ZigBee wireless technology

ZigBee 3.0 has introduced an advanced set of tools that allows designers to introduce reliable networks with a balanced security policy and ease of installation. Available features will be constantly updated to respond to emerging threats. The security solution used is based on the ZigBee PRO grating protocol, which was originally created for the ZigBee Smart Energy profile. It is currently used by hundreds of millions of media consumption meters around the world, without detecting any security holes.

New features include device-unique authentication, when connecting to the mesh network, updating of keys used during work, secure software update via wireless network and data encryption at the logical layer of the link.

Industrial use of ZigBee Mesh

One of industrial IoT devices, supporting ZigBee Mesh technology is eModGATE from TECHBASE. Economical, ESP32-based solution can serve as an end-point in any installation or works well as a gateway, gathering data from scattered sensor mesh across the installation. For more information check Industrial IoT Shop with all the configuration options for eModGATE, including ZigBee modem.

The wM-Bus or Wireless Meter Bus is a European standard (EN 13757-4) that defines communication between usability meters and data loggers, hubs or intelligent meter gates. The M-Bus wireless bus has been developed as a standard to meet the needs of the European network of media meters and remote reading systems and forms the basis of a new advanced measurement infrastructure (AMI). The frequency of M-Bus and sub-GHz wireless connections has been used for several years, but is still evolving to adapt to changing environments and take advantage of technological advances, including the emergence of the Internet of Things.

2.4 GHz band vs unlicensed bands

Intelligent network devices require robust long-range wireless communication. The most common frequencies are around 868 MHz, 434 MHz and 169 MHz, which are unlicensed bands in Europe and offer better radio wave propagation compared to 2.4 GHz. By using one of these unlicensed bands, radio waves can reach difficult areas such as underground meters or the location of buildings with many walls or obstacles. Another advantage of operating in the unlicensed band is that utilities have lower solution costs.

COVID-19 and wireless technologies

In times of COVID-19 pandemic hazards, the use of wireless technologies is often a must, to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. One of obvious choices for Internet of Things and home monitorng is Wireless M-Bus implementation.

TECHBASE has added high performance module for Wireless M-Bus connectivity and multi-hop networking into Moduino series expansion options. The module is configured as an embedded micro system or simple data modem for low power applications in the metering specifically allocated band of 169 MHz or in the ISM band of 868 MHz. The device is can be configured for interoperability in a WMBus network for Industrial IoT applications.

The RF implementation guarantees best-in-class performance in terms of covered area and power consumption. The output power can be increased up to +30 dBm on the 169 MHz band (+27 dBm on optimized version for highest power efficiency) and up to +15 dBm on the 868 MHz band. The extremely reduced power consumption gives access to long lasting battery life requirement (up to 2 μA in sleep mode for wireless M-Bus module with an RTC clock running).

The Moduino devices  can be provided with a W-MBus stack specifically developed by Embit for the platform that allows to integrate the module in the desired system without effort and simplify the interaction in WMBus networks.

The RAK2287 is a mini-PCIe LPWAN hub module based on the Semtech SX1302 that can be easily integrated with existing routers and other networking equipment with LPWAN gateway capabilities. It can be used on embedded platforms that offer a free mini PCIe slot with SPI connector. In addition to LPWAN functionality, the module is equipped with a ZOE-M8Q GPS chip that provides GNSS functionality.

This module is an exceptional, complete, and cost-efficient gateway solution offering up to 10 programmable parallel demodulation paths, an 8 x 8 channel LoRa® packet detector, 8 x SF5-SF12 LoRa® demodulators and 8 x SF5-SF10 LoRa® demodulators. It is capable of detecting an uninterrupted combination of packets at 8 different spreading factors and 10 channels with continuous demodulation of up to 16 packets. The module is well suited for Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications, that require node density of up to 500 nodes per km² in an environment with moderate interference.

Source: https://www.semtech.com/company/press/semtech-releases-a-new-portfolio-of-solutions-lora-edge-to-simplify-and-accelerate-iot-applications
LoRaWAN RAK2287 concentrator module

LoRa RAK2287 features

RAK2287 key features and specifications:

  • LoRa Connectivity:
    • Semtech SX1302 LoRa Transceiver with 2x SX1250 Tx/Rx front-end
    • Tx power – up to 27dBm
    • Rx sensitivity – down to -139dBm @ SF12, BW 125 kHz
    • LoRaWAN® 1.0.2 compatible.
    • LoRa band coverage – RU864, IN865, EU868, AU915, US915, KR920, AS923
    • 1x iPEX antenna connector for LoRa
  • GNSS – GPS / QZSS, BeiDou, Galileo, and GLONASS via U-blox ZOE-M8Q GPS SiP; 1x iPEX antenna connect for GPS

Source: https://www.cnx-software.com/2020/08/06/rak2287-mini-pcie-lorawan-concentrator-module-supports-up-to-500-nodes-per-km2/

Use of LoRa in industrial automation

Use of wireless connection makes life and work easier for us every day – from radio stations and GSM to Wi-Fi wireless networks, Zigbee, short-range Bluetooth connectivity and LoRa. With the spread of internet access, the possibility of using wireless connectivity for a new type of service and application has opened. Terminology such as M2M (Machine to Machine) – remote communication between devices and IoT – a network of applications and devices communicating with the Internet have been created.

Device equipped with LoRa module is delivered with a LoRaWAN protocol stack, so it can be easily connected to the existing, fast-growing LoRa Alliance infrastructure – both in privately managed local area networks (LAN) and public telecommunications networks to create wide area low power WAN (LPWAN) on a national scale. LoRaWAN stack integration also allows connection to any microcontroller, such as LoRa Gateway industrial device from TECHBASE.

Mannie Peterson (aka FellFromTree) developed an embedded operating system called HeliOS, which is specifically designed for 8-bit and 32-bit Arduino boards and is easy to use with the Arduino IDE. HeliOS is said to only have 21 function calls and implements collaboration, event driven multitasking, task notification / messaging, timers, and memory management.

How does HeliOS work?

HeliOS was written with hobbyists, enthusiasts and researchers in mind who want more functionality than what existing task schedulers offer yet want to avoid the size and complexity of an RTOS. HeliOS has only 21 function calls and implements a wide variety of functionality including cooperative multitasking (run-time balanced), event driven multitasking, task notification/messaging, timers and managed memory. Not only is HeliOS easy to use, it is conveniently available through the Arduino IDE Library Manager or from GitHub as a ZIP file and has out-of-the-box support for Arduino AVR, SAM, SAMD and ESP8266. Either way, HeliOS is compliant with Arduino’s 1.5 (rev 2.2) Library Manager Specifications so getting started is a snap!

Source: https://create.arduino.cc/projecthub/FellFromTree/helios-embedded-operating-system-e311bf

Industrial use of LoRa & ESP32-based solutions

One of industrial IoT devices, supporting LoRa wireless technology is ESP32 based eModGATE from TECHBASE. Economical, ESP32-based solution can serve as an end-point in any installation or works well as a gateway, gathering data from scattered sensor mesh across the installation. For more information and also Raspberry Pi based solutions check Industrial IoT Shop with all the configuration options for eModGATE.

eModGATE with ESP32
ESP32-based LoRa / LoRaWAN wireless network

One way of long-range and low-power data transmission is LoRa wireless technology. Since the Internet of Things market (with ESP32 – based solutions) is mainly covered with short-range Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and long-range with 3G / NarrowBand-IoT technologies, LoRa oftens is omitted or simply unknown by IoT users. Below you will find a short representation of what LoRa is and how can it be used.

What is LoRa / LoRAWAN network?

LoRaWAN® network architecture is deployed in a star-of-stars topology in which gateways relay messages between end-devices and a central network server. The gateways are connected to the network server via standard IP connections and act as a transparent bridge, simply converting RF packets to IP packets and vice versa. The wireless communication takes advantage of the Long Range characteristics of the LoRa physical layer, allowing a single-hop link between the end-device and one or many gateways. All modes are capable of bi-directional communication, and there is support for multicast addressing groups to make efficient use of spectrum during tasks such as Firmware Over-The-Air (FOTA) upgrades or other mass distribution messages.

Source: https://lora-alliance.org/about-lorawan

Industrial use of LoRa & ESP32-based solutions

One of industrial IoT devices, supporting LoRa wireless technology is ESP32 based eModGATE from TECHBASE. Economical, ESP32-based solution can serve as an end-point in any installation or works well as a gateway, gathering data from scattered sensor mesh across the installation. For more information and also Raspberry Pi based solutions check Industrial IoT Shop with all the configuration options for eModGATE.

eModGATE with ESP32
Arduino ESP32 Serial Port to TCP Converter via WiFi

TECHBASE posted new class, in which you will create serial port to TCP converter using Arduino code running on ESP32 processor. We will use one of device which uses such processor: Moduino X ESP32. For TCP communication WiFi module will be used.

You will need:

  • Moduino X4 ESP32 device (check this website to find out more)
  • PC with Linux operating system
  • socat application
  • RS-232/RS-485 port in your computer or USB to RS-232/RS-485 converter (for programmming and testing)

Introduction

In example, data sent to serial port (which is used as terminal port in regular Micropython ESP32 device) will be send via WiFi using TCP protocol. It also decodes incomming TCP packets and writes them to serial port. Then virtual serial port can be opened for that TCP packets and perform serial communication. We will use socat application for that.

You can read the complete tutorial at Hackster.io:

NarrowBand-IoT the new black of Industrial IoT

The NB-IoT is becoming a standard in wireless communication of IoT devices, for standalone solutions and complex installations with thousands of units, coordinated with gateways. Will NarrowBand-IoT replace other wireless technologies in industrial automation?

What exactly is NarrowBand?

NarrowBand-IoT (NB-IoT) is a radio technology in the field of LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) dedicated for IoT devices, operating on the licensed frequency band used by telecommunications operators.

The biggest advantages of NB-IoT include:

  • long battery life (up to 10 years),
  • efficiency in the amount of data transferred,
  • intra-building penetration,
  • the ability to connect even tens of thousands of devices in one system,
  • a global standard,
  • a high level of security and low cost

You can build mass solutions and those that until now were considered unprofitable. NB-IoT technology works in the licensed band, so there is no risk of interference and blocking communication by competing networks.

The service life of devices powered by two AA batteries is up to 10 years. However, the devices themselves are constructed in such a way that they can work for many years without the need for technical supervision and recharging the battery.

NB-IoT used in industrial solutions

One of many uses of NarrowBand-IoT wireless modems can be communication of edge devices, dedicated to data management, process control (e.g. with MQTT protocol) and monitoring. Latest ESP32-based eModGATE controller from TECHBASE company is a series utilizing MicroPython environment to provide data management solutions for end-points applications. The eModGATE has built-in Wi-Fi/BT modem and can be equipped with additional NarrowBand-IoT modems

eModGATE eqipped with wireless NB-IoT modem are perfect for industrial automation solutions, e.g. data logging, metering, telemetrics, remote monitoring, security and data management through all Industrial IoT applications.

Supported bandwidths:

  • Global-Band LTE CAT-M1:  B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B8/B12/B13/B18/B19/B20/B26/B28/B39;
  • Global-Band LTE CAT NB-IoT1:  B1/B2/B3/B5/B8/B12/B13/B17/B18/B19/B20/B26/B28;
  • GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900Mhz Control Via AT Commands

Supported data transfer:

  • LTE CAT-M1(eMTC) – Uplink up to 375kbps, Downlink up to 300kbps
  • NB-IoT – Uplink up to 66kbps, Downlink up to 34kbps
  • EDGE Class – Uplink up to 236.8Kbps, Downlink up to 236.8Kbps
  • GPRS – Uplink up to 85.6Kbps, Downlink up to 85.6Kbps

ESP32-based LoRa / LoRaWAN wireless network

One way of long-range and low-power data transmission is LoRa wireless technology. Since the Internet of Things market (with ESP32 – based solutions) is mainly covered with short-range Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and long-range with 3G / NarrowBand-IoT technologies, LoRa oftens is omitted or simply unknown by IoT users. Below you will find a short representation of what LoRa is and how can it be used.

What is LoRa / LoRAWAN network?

LoRaWAN® network architecture is deployed in a star-of-stars topology in which gateways relay messages between end-devices and a central network server. The gateways are connected to the network server via standard IP connections and act as a transparent bridge, simply converting RF packets to IP packets and vice versa. The wireless communication takes advantage of the Long Range characteristics of the LoRa physical layer, allowing a single-hop link between the end-device and one or many gateways. All modes are capable of bi-directional communication, and there is support for multicast addressing groups to make efficient use of spectrum during tasks such as Firmware Over-The-Air (FOTA) upgrades or other mass distribution messages.

Source: https://lora-alliance.org/about-lorawan

Industrial use of LoRa & ESP32-based solutions

One of industrial IoT devices, supporting LoRa wireless technology is ESP32 based eModGATE from TECHBASE. Economical, ESP32-based solution can serve as an end-point in any installation or works well as a gateway, gathering data from scattered sensor mesh across the installation. For more information and also Raspberry Pi based solutions check Industrial IoT Shop with all the configuration options for eModGATE.

eModGATE with ESP32