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Lora Project help and suggestions etc.

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(@smiddie)
Member
Joined: 8 months ago
Posts: 8
Topic starter  

Good day Bill and everyone on the forum!

This has been a long time coming, and finally I am submitting this post.

First, a quick background. I live in Namibia Southwestern Africa on a 7000ha (17,300 acres)rangeland, the farmhouse is in a type of valley and the rest of the farm is mountains and bush. Only very little, small stock farming and the rest is game (Kudu, Oryx, Mountain Zebra and numerous smaller antelopes, and carnivores Brown Hyena, Leopard, wild cats etc.)

Main reason for this project is because we have a huge poaching problem. We have used trail cams for monitoring game at waterholes and have ultimately caught footage of poachers too, but we have lost numerous trail cams.

Cellular network is very poor on the whole property so it pretty much rules out using GSM enabled devices. Also my budget is very tight, so expensive cameras with long range are also not an option.

My idea, and please this is why I am posting this, on this specific forum, I will appreciate any help suggestions and guidance.

I want to set up a small network of LORA radio (nodes) and microcontrollers and/or ESP32CAM at the various watering points across the farm. The idea for cameras is only to “see” vehicle, human or dog presence, and then send a simple message like “DOG DETECTED @ WH1” via LORA to a gateway and ultimately to mobile devices over IOT or the like.

Also, would like to, if possible, to use the same network for simple data like temperature, battery levels, water levels and possibly rain gauges.

All nodes will have to be battery and solar powered and have some kind of tamper alarm, with a message.

However, there are a few challenges.

  1. Terrain - mountainous, so no direct LOS between all radios
  2. Will need 2 or more repeaters (LORA)
  3. Longest range between radios with clear LOS is about 8km (5 miles)
  4. Possible use of BT or WiFi between MC’s close to a ESPCam?
  5. Choices - Vast choice of microcontrollers, Lora radios, gateways, IOT platforms etc.
  6. Experience - I have very little to no MC programming experience but would want to start.
  7. Hardware – Where to buy hardware at the best prices (budget constraint)

I figure that I will need about 6 or 7 nodes and 4 repeaters.

This post is only to set the ball rolling and if you think this is at all possible??

To me this is a very challenging project, but I am determined to get it off the ground.

And I can elaborate on anything if there are questions.

Take care everyone, until next time.

Regards

Smiddie


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
Father of a miniature Wookie
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 7140
 

@smiddie While I admire your pluck, you have 2 huge obstacles to overcome. Your budget and experience. These cameras will still get stolen.

Perhaps it is best to break the project down into some manageable chunks.

1. Decide on and design a power plan. I assume you have ample sun so a solar solution seems like the way to go. Since this is partially an intruder detection system it must be on 24 hrs a day. Off the top of my head this sounds doable but creates a larger 'package' that any camera thief will more easily see. Use a test load in order to measure battery life. You need the worst case scenario which for you is approximately June 21 just based on latitude. According to my solar calculator you may have 500 Wh / day at your summer solstice. Since a 2S2P 18650 battery pack has 14.8 Wh, you have lots of sun and might last for days with no sun. Here are two links to Amazon Canada load testers.

First one at  LINK1  second at  LINK2   

2. Test the LORA range. Either build the LORA project that Bill showed you, here are Article and Video links  Article  and  Video   or purchase similar.

Ultimately you will need to decide on simple LORA or LORA Gateway. I have not yet looked into Gateway technology, but the Swiss Guy is my goto resource for that kind of information. He recently did a test of these devices. It is a 2 video set, the first is  Video 1 n and  Video 2   

Since LORA has no 'protocol' like WiFi you will need to design your own. This is needed to 'know' if the data is good or bad. I have done this for global financial data systems so can lend a hand when you get this far, but the concept is simple. Transmit known patterns like all bits on and/or off, length fields at the start, and repeat them at the end plus add CRC bytes.

Your biggest problems are still theft, LORA range, power, and distance to some sensors. I can't help with the #1 problem other than to say place it very high but then some sensors will not work including but not limited to motion detectors. If it can be done, it may be expensive (several hundreds of dollars)

Good luck.

 

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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(@smiddie)
Member
Joined: 8 months ago
Posts: 8
Topic starter  

@zander Thank you so much for your input, much appreciated.

For now I need to determine if this idea would work in the first place in regards to to using microcontrollers and ESP cams and Lora, before spending anything. If the answer to that is "yes" it is possible, then I can get some modules and start testing range etc. I have no doubt that the LORA radios will have sufficient range as it will be open line of sight and with max 4-5 miles range.

The idea is to mount the "modules "on a steel pole with some height. Bearing in mind that the trail cams were mounted on trees and easily accessible. These guys primary goal is hunting and with trail cams there were no way in knowing that it is being tampered with, with my idea I will be notified and can respond immediately and be on the site within minutes. These guys are always on foot and the going is not easy. I can also notify neighbors to react, as they all have similar problems and are always keen to help catching poachers.

So to me the biggest problem is not theft at this stage, but rather notifications of movement.

I am following all the mentioned channels and have watched all the videos LOL!! 

Thanks again and I will wait for some more responses.

Take care

Smiddie


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
Father of a miniature Wookie
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 7140
 

@smiddie Ok, sounds good. It sounds like LORA will work. It also sounds like you need constant monitoring so you will need significant power. I know the esp32-cam had to have the facial recognition software removed due to power requirements but I have not kept up with the status. You say you are going to pole mount the cameras, that may deter the thieves but then the cameras will be much less effective, remember these are very small 2MP cameras. Also, will they now shoot at the cameras? If they do the risk of a Lithium fire is very high. How will you be able to service the cameras, if you can reach them then they can also.

Good luck.

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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(@smiddie)
Member
Joined: 8 months ago
Posts: 8
Topic starter  

@zander Hi again

Yep there will be lots of obstacles always. these guys do not carry firearms usually, they hunt with dogs which catches the animals, and hold them down, then they spear them 🙁, yes I know its kind of primitive and cruel but that's reality.

I did not know that ESP cam was going to have that software removed but surely there are other options. servicing the cameras could be done by extendable ladder, which these guys do not carry with them 🤣.

I am still searching where the best would be to buy the hardware?, I guess my only options are Amazon, Aliexpress or the like, or directly from manufacturers.

thinking of getting a few modules to set up for testing first, as it will make choices a bit easier?

regards

Smiddie


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
Father of a miniature Wookie
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 7140
 

@smiddie Ah, that helps. AliExpress is the least expensive. I only buy the MB style now as it is easier to work with. Get one of each to see what works for you.

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
Father of a miniature Wookie
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 7140
 

@smiddie You should also look for other camera solutions, the esp32-cam is quite primitive. I am too ill today to check, but Arducam is a great resource and Bill (@dronebot-workshop) mentioned a different board but I don't recall the exact name, it was something like esp-eye maybe.

Unless you are going to have someone watch a monitor, you will need software that can differentiate between the wind blowing vegetation, animals and humans. It may also be necessary to differentiate between humans. I know I can buy inexpensive security cameras that can do that but they are WiFi. You could use the with a WiFi to LORA bridge (not sure if it exists so may need to be built).

Another option is to install a few WiFi extenders. I know there are some good devices from my former life as an RVer but the cost is higher.

At least you have options.

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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(@smiddie)
Member
Joined: 8 months ago
Posts: 8
Topic starter  

Morning all

After much thought, I decided to tackle another project, that would go alongside the above ...eventually...

I have elevated tanks supplying water to the homestead. water comes from a solar powered pump in a borehole. there is also a reservoir at the pump. when tanks are full we manually change a valve for water to flow into the reservoir and vice versa. needless to say it often happens that the tanks overflow.

So my idea, again using microcontrollers and Lora as the distance is to far for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth around 500 to 800 yards.

1. level indication in tanks, on mobile device

2. Automatic level control in tanks, switching of valve when tanks are full, and when at a set lower level again.

3. Manual control on valve from mobile device

Lets hear from you all please.

I have watched numerous videos on this topic also LOL!!

Take care

 


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
Father of a miniature Wookie
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 7140
 

@smiddie LORA should work very well for this project, I am surprised that WiFi doesn't but LORA is better as it uses much less power. However where you live has loads of free solar.

For the tanks, you can buy or make a Hi/Lo switch assembly. That is a 2 switch arrangement that tells you when the level reaches the highest point, and when the water again drops to the desired lowest point. 

For the mobile device (a phone???) you may need a separate Blue Tooth or WiFi connection that triggers a priority override enabling manual control of the electric reservoir valve.

It is very doable.

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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noweare
(@noweare)
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 120
 

As far as monitoring for poachers. Have you looked into Drone technology ? I have not done anything with drones myself but they could have a role to play. You have a lot of land to cover. Have you looked into oranization/government for help with this project. I would think they would want to get behind it.


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
Father of a miniature Wookie
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 7140
 

@noweare When jumping into the middle of a topic, it pays to at least read the start of the topic if not all of it. Here is why.

First, a quick background. I live in Namibia Southwestern Africa on a 7000ha (17,300 acres)rangeland,

If I need to explain that then there is no hope.

Drones are cute, but the OP is a working man with no time to fly several drones in order to cover 17,300AC.

 

 

 

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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noweare
(@noweare)
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 120
 

@zander I was a suggestion. Anyways I don't like your tone. I'll post on any topic I want, I don't need your permission.


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
Father of a miniature Wookie
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 7140
 

@noweare Of course you don't, but there is an etiquette.

The part of your comment about government should be obvious now that you know it's Africa. In case you still didn't read the back story, he has a ranch to run, he has no time to fly some drones.

If my autistic brain makes you feel upset, there is not much I can do about that.

 

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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noweare
(@noweare)
Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 120
 

@zander You don't upset me at all. I am comfortable in my own skin but referring to me "jumping into the middle of a topic" was not necessary, and aggressive considering this is a public forum.


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
Father of a miniature Wookie
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 7140
 

@noweare Understood, but there is such a thing as forum etiquette. 

I am preparing a PM for you on a related matter.

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PL/I and PL1, Pascal, Basic, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
My personal scorecard is now 1 PC hardware fix (circa 1982), 1 open source fix (at age 82), and 2 zero day bugs in a major OS.


   
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