I just got two Lily LORA modules with Meshtastic firmware loaded, one on 433MHz and one on 868MHz. Both arrived with old firmware but that is no issue as the firmware is readily available, and anyway the documentation seems to recommend that loading the latest firmware is the first thing to do.

There is a Meshtastic app for the iPhone and Mac (others available) with features replicated between them. 

However, my thoughts of updating fell at the first hurdle. There are three options, use a web flasher, a CLI version or use a serial adapter. The web flasher requires Chrome or Edge and all my PC kit is in bits because of the leaky pipe. The Mac does not have Chrome nor is Chrome getting anywhere near it! There is a CLI option which requires brew and python3 / pip all of which need installing, leaving me to wonder if I (a) install all that on the Mac or (b) fettle the Windows PC together sufficiently to use it. 

So, Windows PC on the floor, monitor resting against it (the monitor lives on a 4x stand so has no feet attached), Edge loaded and the 433MHz unit plugged in… finally found the web flasher which asks which serial port to use. How do I know? Windows seems to imagine devices and change them at will. Ok, unplug the Lily and see what options change. None. Hmmm. Right, get the 868MHz unit… helpfully the flasher info suggests one needs to hold the Boot switch while plugging the unit in, and that indeed made it appear as a known USB / COM combo. All seemed to go well with meaningful messages until it came to downloading the firmware, where it waited… and waited… 10 minutes went by, some confirmation of something happening would be useful…  I gave up after about an hour and decided to go with Plan A and install brew on the Mac. 

That went ok after numerous steps including having to figure out where it had put the key piece of Python code. On went the 433MHz unit and the code to update the firmware all worked fine. Lots of settings sent to the device later I thought I had everything set correctly. However, the app now refused to connect. No amount of coercing, dancing, shouting etc worked. So I progressed to the 868MHz unit which, despite the confusion with the Windows PC had actually received the latest firmware. But again, no connection via Bluetooth. Then finally a nugget of information made me remember that as things had changed I needed to ‘forget’ the devices in the Mac’s bluetooth settings – then both devices connected.

So, two devices, one on 433MHz and one on 868MHz, with the stock teeny antennas are not going to get very far as one would expect. Early days… better antennas needed and I’ll see then if these nodes can find any others nearby. Until then the nodes can be set to report to a central MQTT. They are very able little units and in fact the 868MHz unit is very similar to the one I use for TinyGS.

My writing here is about my own experiences so far. M0AWS has a blog post going into far more detail here https://m0aws.co.uk/?p=2807 and the mothership of information begins at https://meshtastic.org

868MHz Meshtastic module
433MHz Meshtastic module



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