If you are interested in learning more about LoRaWAN technology and The Things Network then this page will point you to some useful resources.
- Learning about LoRaWAN
- The Things Network community
- Starter kit list
- Free dashboards to show off your data
- Where to get help
Learning about LoRaWAN
Here’s a 20-minute introduction to the Internet of Things and LoRaWAN. Mark’s presentation starts at 8 minutes in:
If you would like to put yourself through more formal training and really get to understand the LoRaWAN network technology then we heartily recommend the LoRaWAN Academy, run by Semtech (who own LoRaWAN). It is FREE and it is excellent.
If you prefer a more informal, hands-on approach and can get to Reading then please come to one of our half day workshops that we run bi-monthly whenever there isn’t a pandemic! Hopefully we can start scheduling these again towards the end of the summer 2021.
If you don’t want to be in the same room as other people then The Things Network site has a great section called Labs where you can see a whole host of community How-To content. It is well worth browsing through to find something that appeals to you. And remember to give back and share your projects when you create something you’re proud of!
The Things Network community
We are huge fans of The Things Network – they are one of the key inspirations for creating Thingitude. In the summer of 2015 the two founders of The Things Network (Johan and Wienke) persuaded some friends in Amsterdam to each install a LoRaWAN gateway – and to create a free-to-use Internet of Things data network that covered the entire city for less than €10,000 in a matter of weeks. Mike and I felt that Reading had enough geeks for us to do the same thing (but cheaper – Reading is smaller!) – and so that November we launched TTN Reading. We weren’t alone – and these days the Things Network community has grown to almost 150,000 members in hundreds of countries around the world!
The Things Network is a global LoRaWAN data network. Gateways are hosted by community members and there is a central community network server. It is all free to use, and your sensors will work wherever there is network coverage .
There are lots of TTN community groups in the UK – why not join one? If one doesn’t exist near you then why not start your own? It is much more fun exploring the Internet of Things with other like-minded people.
Starter kit list
If you are just starting out and want to experiment with building some sensors, then a good starting point would be to buy a low cost kit of sensors and actuators like this.
What I like about this kit is that everything plugs together a bit like Lego – no soldering is needed and you can reuse components as often as you like. The website also provides working example programs so it is easy to follow.
You will also need a programmable microcontroller to control the sensors. The Things Uno* does the job nicely.
As long as you are in range of a Things Network gateway then this is all you need to get started.
Begin with the Things Uno tutorial …and then once you can see messages appearing on The Things Network you can start experimenting with sensors.
*The Things Uno is an Arduino-based microcontroller that has a LoRaWAN radio module built-in. If you already have an Arduino or Raspberry Pi or Micro:bit and want to use these instead then that’s totally fine, but you will need to add a LoRaWAN radio to them. They are readily available as plug-in modules and you can buy them here (look for PiSupply IoT LoRa node for…)
Your sensor needs to be in range of a LoRaWAN gateway connected to The Things Network. We recommend buying your own so you get to understand LoRaWAN from end to end. You can buy an indoor gateway that’s fine for experimenting for under £100.
The Things Network has some built-in integration to dashboards for creating charts and alerts from your sensor data. It is a great way to get your data on the internet without having to do any programming yourself.
One popular dashboard that integrates neatly with TTN and offers free user accounts for beginners is Tago.io – but you will find several alternatives in the TTN integrations (look under webhooks) to find one that suits your needs.
Where to get help
Thingitude offers support to TTN Reading community members and of course to our paying customers.
The best place to go for free support is your local TTN community or the TTN community forum. The forum is very responsive and generally friendly. Even the less friendly people are helpful! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but please use the search facility first – there is a good chance that your question has already been answered before.
Searching Google is also a great way to find answers. Lots of people have created YouTube videos and How-To tutorials.