Continuing with the development of GPS trackers for our customer Phase Zero Consulting, we identified a potential issue receiving LoRaWAN radio signals coming from GPS trackers when there was limited line-of-sight with steep river banks or dense bushland between the GPS trackers and the LoRaWAN radio gateway. Phase Zero Consulting suggested that we could use one of their larger drone aircraft to house a Raspberry Pi running a LoRaWAN radio gateway in order to get above the GPS trackers and significantly extend the radio coverage area. After some investigation, it appears that the suggestion will fly (ahem).
- Light weight
- Low power consumption
- Communication back to GPS tracker map application
A Raspberry Pi 3B+ is an ideal low-power platform for the solution, because the newer Raspberry Pi 4 uses more than twice as much power due to its significantly increased performance that is not needed for this application. The RAKWireless RAK2245 LoRaWAN Radio Concentrator is a newer, physically smaller, but electrically compatible version of the RAK831 LoRaWAN Radio Concentrator. When combined, the two boards together consume less than 5W of power which allows for longer running time in the air.
The Raspberry Pi 3B+ includes an integrated WiFi radio system, which will allow the use of a WiFi link back to the ground and into the GPS tracker map application. WiFi signal strength and link distance can be increased by using directional WiFi antennas, which we have successfully tested as detailed in the next post.