Experimenting with sensors on the #LoRa board for #IoT for #Hackapost

Sensing Experiment with AllThingsTalk's LoRa board

Some more fun today with the LoRa board.

There is a set of experiments to do in order to get acquainted with how the whole thing works.

One of the experiments is named “Environmental Sensing”.

So, I picked the right sensors, connected them to the board, loaded the sketch from the demos, added my keys to the keys.h file and I was good to go.

But that was a bit too hairy in terms of cables going all around, so, I decided to tidy all that up.

Enter the glue gun. Putting a tad of hot glue behind the components, and using a L metal shape I had laying around for the antenna, I set all the items on a wooden MDF rectangle. It now looks like this:

Sensing Experiment with AllThingsTalk's LoRa board

Sensing Experiment with AllThingsTalk’s LoRa board

The readings do work.

Reading environmental data

Reading environmental data

They can’t be transmitted still (no coverage here). Tomorrow I am travelling to an area where coverage is great, so this will maybe help me close the loop.

Stay tuned.

#Hackapost Allthingstalk LoRa #IoT kit contents

Last tuesday, I unpacked the kit from AllThingsTalk.

Here it is, in all its glory:

LoRa Kit contents

LoRa Kit contents

There is an Arduino-compatible SODAQ Mbili board.


  • Grove sockets: yeah, less soldering and breadboard mess.
  • SD card slot
  • More memory, more CPU power.
  • SODAQ means “Solar Data Acquisition” and that’s pretty cool especially since we have got the solar panel and battery in the kit.
  • RTC

In more depth (love that tech pr0n thing):

The SODAQ (Solar Data Acquisition) is an Arduino compatible data acquisition board designed by Gregory Knauff. This is the successor to the SODAQ Moja. It is one of the most rich-featured Arduino Compatible boards in the market (how cool is that!).

The SODAQ is a multi-feature microcontroller board that lets you connect sensors and devices to the internet, quickly and with no fuss. It’s designed for connecting things efficiently, running off-grid with built-in, ready-to-go solar power. You can connect a LiPo battery and a solar panel and keep it gathering sensor data without having to charge it.

The board has built in sockets for Grove modules; a realtime clock; extended flash memory; USB on-board; and the Bee socket can take any WiFi/RF/XBee or other compatible plugin for communications instead of the GPRS module (GPRSbee).

The SODAQ Mbili is based on the Atmega1284P microcontroller and comes with an Arduino compatible bootloader. The microcontroller runs on 3.3V at 8MHz and is programmable through USB (Which is connected with the on-board FTDI-chip). Basically, it works with the Arduino IDE once you configure the board.

SODAQ Mbili Specifications:

  • Atmega1284P Microcontroller running at 3.3V and 8MHz
  • Prgrammable using the Arduino IDE
  • Power supply by LiPo battery (3.7V) or USB cable (5V)
  • Solar charge controller with JST connector for Solar Panel up to 2.5W
  • DS3231 Real Time Clock and Temperature sensor, RTC backup powered by LiPo battery
  • 16 MBit data flash module (AT45DB)
  • SD Card holder
  • Mini USB connector
  • 12 Grove connectors connecting Digital, Analog and I2C pins (Switched or always on)
  • On/Off switch. With the switch in Off position the solar charge circuit is still active and the RTC clock is still powered.
  • ICSP programming header
  • JTAG Connector
  • Bee socket for Xbee, GPRSbee or other bee style modules
  • Same size as Raspberry Pi (a tad smaller)
Writings things (actually this setup was wrong)

Basic setup for testing if all works fine

I’ve been setting up the libs, the Arduino IDE and all other kinds of stuff as mentioned on the docs.

But I ran into trouble. Very fast and awesome support from Jan from AllThingsTalk. But it seems that the issue is not on their side but on Proximus IoT system that has a bug with some devices since an upgrade on friday. Ah, bad, this spoils my week end fun :-(.

Jan told me to send messages every 30 secs, sometimes it works. Ok, done that in my sketch. There is now an IoT beacon transmitting 0’s an 1’s every 30 secs…

#Hackapost, an #IoT hackathon

LoRa Box

Got a new toy: the LoRa Rapid Development Kit from AllThingsTalk. Got it at the #Hackapost Q&A session as I am going to hack some stuff for that Hackathon that is happening next week. That’s in the internet of things space. Interestingly it happens at the same time as the Tech Startup Day, which I intented to go to. Just a switch of perspective. Hackathons participants get an entry ticket as an added bonus. Our entry is the Short Local Supply Chain

Let’s see how this is going to unfold along with my overloaded schedule. It is still important to attend such events as there is no better way to get acquainted with new waves of change than to hack around motivated people full of new ideas.

Every single hackathon taught me something new, be it a new piece of tech, a way to look at things, to run a team, to get something done. On top of it, the main takeaway is a couple of new acquaintances that have that magic sauce in them. Also, this gives a clear idea of where the state of play stands. Hackathon organizers are no philantropists and I am not giving my time for free. Financially speaking, hackathons are a net loss for me. But that’s one of the best trainings one can get in a lot of ways. It helps me staying sharp. This time, I’ll be joining forces with Christophe Verbeiren, of TapTap. Christophe is a long time friend, and a successful entrepreneur. He has the right business/tech mix. I think that we share a lot and if this could lead to a business venture, I’d be really happy to work it out with him. Happiness is now a key factor for me to engage in a new piece of work. That’s what keeps one motivated in the long run. And that’s closely related to the people. I can’t stand assholes anymore I guess. Time to play with the box.

Sweet Firefox development tools

I have been using Firefox Developer Edition for a while now.

I moved away from Firefox to Chrome but in the last couple of versions, Chrome became a slow to start beast, with strange delays and annoying UI glitches.

So, back to Firefox.

A couple tools that are really great are:


  • FireBug (EventBug is now included)
  • FireQuery


  • Visual Event (2)
  • Design (including Crosshair, Unit, and Rule)

These are by Allan Jardine of DataTables fame.

PharoVM now running on Debian Wheezy

During #fosdem I wanted to get the PharoVM to run on Debian Wheezy.

The zeroconf stance didn’t work, complaining about GLiBC 2.15, which doesn’t exist on Wheezy. In fact the whole thing appears to have moved to eglibc.

So, some tweaking was due.

Basically, what you need is to use the experimental repository (which isn’t too recommended to get a stable system…).

But first, you need to enable the i386 architecture as Wheezy is “multiarch”.

dpkg --add-architecture i386
apt-get update

So, add:

deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian experimental main

to your


Short version (Thanks Hernán Morales Durand):

echo "deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian experimental main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list

Then do:

apt-get update


apt-get -t experimental install libc6:i386 libc6-dev libc6-dbg

The system will show you a blue prompt asking if it can restart some services (as replacing libc isn’t really a basic thing). Say yes, it worked on my fresh install.

After the usual compile mantras for the PharoVM, you’ll be able to get there.

Just note that the scripts/setup-ubuntu.sh will not work.

Remove the libssl0.9.8 mentioned in there and for libGL, do not look at the way it is done there. Just:

apt-get install libgl1-mesa-dev:i386

and you’ll be fine.

Proof is in the pudding:

02-02-14 21-55-17

Looks like that I’ve got the thing compiling on Windows 8.1, OSX Lion, and Debian Wheezy. Happy me!

Coentrepreneurs Week End Louvain-la-Neuve

This Sunday afternoon, I’ve been paying a visit to the Co Enterpreneurs Week End in Louvain-la-Neuve.

Coentrepreneurs Week End

This just happens to be next door. I’ve been invited by Ben Piquard and Roald Sieberath as a supercoach, whatever that means, to challenge the attendees on their business canvas/plan/ideas. It was pretty interesting and fun to do.

I hope that the people got a decent enough feedback on their proposals. This was a very early stage idea-shaping week-end for them.

So, as a summary of key points to take care of, here is what I’d like to have people to think about when coming up with a business idea:

  • Talk about the problem you solve or the opportunity you seize. Don’t ramble about features upfront. Who are you helping with the solution? What’s the problem? That’s the engineering syndrome. When you know where you want to go, it is easier to know if you want to it by car, plane, or bicycle (not to mention the option of staying home because the trip makes no sense).

  • Have an idea on how you’ll make money out of the system. Sinking energy, attention, care (and sacrificing quality family time) into something that isn’t a business equates to having a very expensive and obsessive hobby. No issue with that if you can afford it. But that’s not a business to me.

  • Can you draw a map of the ecosystem you are in? Who are your partners? Who is able to write you a check?

  • Have a couple of analogies to describe your offering. Investors aren’t keen to invest in businesses they do not understand. Humans do like metaphors, easy to remember images.

  • Check if you are sold on your own idea. The first sale is always to yourself. So, are things clear in your mind eye? Next: how do you feel about it? Mind eye and gut should agree. Listen to your gut feeling. It appears that we do have more than a couple neurons wired in there. Listen.

  • Check if the opportunity you pursue is aligned with your core values. Even if an opportunity looks profitable, it may not be right for you to pursue. One can force him/herself to do stuff. But in the long run, it really matters to be aligned with your core values.

  • What process are you streamlining? Easy enough question, harder answer. And as an additional point: Who is your real customer in doing so?

Get these points right, and you’ll be in a much better position to meet success. I wish the best to all attendees. We need such people in our country, one needs to be able to help him(her)self very well to be in order to help others. It is okay to make money, that’s fuel for life. It will enable you to help others. If you are broke, well, you can’t have an impact and the brain has a bad tendency to run in circles in that configuration.