Redeploying LoRa modules

After having ditched Meshtastic, for now at least, I had a fiddle with two of the LoRa modules with a view to repurposing them. And there they are. The first is a LoRa APRS r/o iGate, listening on 439.9125MHz, and the second is a receiver for radiosondes listening around 400MHz.

T-Beam LoRa module set up as a LoRa APRS iGate

Nestled under a 70cm ground plane in the shack is, of course a good way to ensure nothing is ever received unless it is very close! However, it is destined for greater things… although at the end of the day it’s just me fiddling. The LoRa APRS map is at

TTGO device set up as a radiosonde receiver

The radiosonde one stands a better chance of actually receiving something, especially as it is currently connected to the 70cm big wheel antenna in the loft. See

The plan is to connect these two along with the module running TinyGS to a common antenna currently in the loft. They will be connected using a Crosscountry Wireless multicoupler which is due to arrive in a day or so.

More meshtastic

This Meshtastic business seems often very hit and miss. Locally there is an expectation that it will always work and if you can hit one node one day you should always be able to. Or at least that’s what I glean from comments. Of course, just a few mW at 868MHz is not destined for long distance comms, and yet I can get 24 miles provided the path is line of sight. Not bad. But I can’t manage 1.3km to my nearest neighbour who can get out all over the place. There is a hill to consider there, plus many houses, so not surprising really. Oh yes, and there is the small matter of the antenna still being in the loft so it has to punch through wood and concrete, often wet at that, before it gets to air.

For now, at least locally traffic is mostly messages asking if one can be heard.

There is a series side of course. Nodes can be placed in advantageous positions, run off battery and solar recharged, and left as area repeaters (or routers in Meshtastic parlance) forming a mesh with other similarly advantageously placed nodes. We have this locally to some extent. It is very easy then to get into a position where you a reach those nodes, just don’t expect it to work from your basement. Used correctly – and that probably means used as originally proposed – it is certainly neat, potentially ubiquitous, even anonymous. I already have a use for it at ‘work’ where I need data comms across 3km with no line of sight and with little or no money available…

For now, we’re all playing and having fun or getting frustrated. The worry is people will give up and lack of coordination will make that worse.

Of course, it’s early days, the software is still being developed, the boards are hard to come by but that will change as stock moves. It’s quite interesting to be in this now, relatively early on and as it develops further.

LoRa, TinyGS and satellites

Another new toy, only small this time. This is a 433MHz LoRa transceiver with TinyGS firmware loaded. More about that below. The device has radios built in – WiFi and BLE built in via an ESP32 chip and LoRa via an SX127x transceiver. It comes pre-loaded with software which I did not investigate as I planned to flash it anyway. It can be powered from a supplied connector or via a micro-USB and has an SMA socket on board.

There is a wealth of info on the web about these devices and some include GPS capabilities.

I got this because I came across the TinyGS project. Quoting directly from their website:

TinyGS is an open network of Ground Stations distributed around the world to receive and operate LoRa satellites, weather probes and other flying objects, using cheap and versatile modules.

This project is based on ESP32 boards and currently it is compatible with sx126x and sx127x LoRa módules but we plan to support more radio módules in the future.

The TinyGS firmware basically does everything. Installation is straightforward provided you have a supported board. The first board I got was a Heltec and sold as V2 but was a V3 when it arrived and would not accept the firmware. The second board worked fine. Instructions are all on GitHub.

One flashed the board sets itself up as a WiFi AP to which you can connect and set basic parameters including access credentials for your own WiFi and credentials for the central MQTT server which aggregates results from every other ground station. Once those are set and it reboots, connects itself, throws up its own web server for status and configuration changes, and gets on with things.

At first I had it connected to the Big Wheel in the loft (hardly big at 70cm) but received nothing at all. Next, I tried the collinear. Again, nothing. So I set the Arrow up for 70cm, mounted it horizontally and about 20 degrees up and pointed south-ish avoiding the house next door and left it all night. Overnight it received 41 packets – success for very little effort.

An example of received data
How that is displayed on the website (list of all stations)

The Arrow was in the way so the board is now connected to the Big Wheel again pending me making an antenna to go outside.

TinyGS is a fascinating project, very easy to get in to for little outlay.

Update: having left the board connected to the collinear it seems to like GaoFen-7 even though at 400.45MHz it is a way off the bottom end of the antenna’s range. Other than that, it has picked up signals from FEES (437.2MHz), Norbi (436.703MHz) and Sapling2 (437.4MHz). 128 confirmed packets as of 12:30 on 27/5/23, not a lot, but some at least.



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