ubidots MQTT LoRa Field Gateway

Back in April I started working on an MQTT LoRa Field gateway which was going to support a selection of different Software as a service(SaaS) Internet of Things(IoT) platforms.

After a long pause in development I have a working ubidots client and have 3 proof of concept (PoC) integrations for Adafruit.IO, AskSensors, and Losant. I am also working on Azure IoT Hub, Azure IoT Central and MyDevice Cayenne clients. The first iteration is focused on Device to Cloud (D2C) messaging in the next iteration I will add Cloud to Device where viable(C2D).

My applications use a lightweight, easy to implemented protocol which is intended for hobbyist and educational use rather than commercial applications (I have been working on a more secure version as yet another side project)

I have a number of sample Arduino with Dragino LoRa Shield for Arduino, MakerFabs Maduino, Dragino LoRa Mini Dev, M2M Low power Node and Netduino with Elecrow LoRa RFM95 Shield etc. clients. These work with both my platform specific (Adafruit.IO, Azure IoT Central) gateways and protocol specific field gateways.

Ubidots dashboard

When the application is first started it creates a minimal configuration file which should be downloaded, the missing information filled out, then uploaded using the File explorer in the Windows device portal.

{
  "MQTTUserName": "Ubidots generated usname here",
  "MQTTPassword": "NotVerySecure",
  "MQTTClientID": "MQTTLoRaGateway",
  "MQTTServer": "industrial.api.ubidots.com",
  "Address": "LoRaIoT1",
  "Frequency": 915000000.0,
  "MessageHandlerAssembly": "Mqtt.IoTCore.FieldGateway.LoRa.Ubidots",
  "PlatformSpecificConfiguration": ""
}

The application logs debugging information to the Windows 10 IoT Core ETW logging Microsoft-Windows-Diagnostics-LoggingChannel

MQTT LoRa Field Gateway with ubidots plugin generated telemetry
ubidots device management
ubidot managment

The message handler uploads all values in an inbound messages in one MQTT message using the ubidots MQTT message format

async void IMessageHandler.Rfm9XOnReceive(object sender, Rfm9XDevice.OnDataReceivedEventArgs e)
{
	LoggingFields processReceiveLoggingFields = new LoggingFields();
	JObject telemetryDataPoint = new JObject();
	char[] sensorReadingSeparators = { ',' };
	char[] sensorIdAndValueSeparators = { ' ' };

	processReceiveLoggingFields.AddString("PacketSNR", e.PacketSnr.ToString("F1"));
	processReceiveLoggingFields.AddInt32("PacketRSSI", e.PacketRssi);
	processReceiveLoggingFields.AddInt32("RSSI", e.Rssi);

	string addressBcdText = BitConverter.ToString(e.Address);
	processReceiveLoggingFields.AddInt32("DeviceAddressLength", e.Address.Length);
	processReceiveLoggingFields.AddString("DeviceAddressBCD", addressBcdText);

	string messageText;
	try
	{
		messageText = UTF8Encoding.UTF8.GetString(e.Data);
		processReceiveLoggingFields.AddString("MessageText", messageText);
	}
	catch (Exception ex)
	{
		processReceiveLoggingFields.AddString("Exception", ex.ToString());
		this.Logging.LogEvent("PayloadProcess failure converting payload to text", processReceiveLoggingFields, LoggingLevel.Warning);
		return;
	}

	// Chop up the CSV text
	string[] sensorReadings = messageText.Split(sensorReadingSeparators, StringSplitOptions.RemoveEmptyEntries);
	if (sensorReadings.Length < 1)
	{
		this.Logging.LogEvent("PayloadProcess payload contains no sensor readings", processReceiveLoggingFields, LoggingLevel.Warning);
		return;
	}

	// Chop up each sensor read into an ID & value
	foreach (string sensorReading in sensorReadings)
	{
		string[] sensorIdAndValue = sensorReading.Split(sensorIdAndValueSeparators, StringSplitOptions.RemoveEmptyEntries);
		// Check that there is an id & value
		if (sensorIdAndValue.Length != 2)
		{
			this.Logging.LogEvent("PayloadProcess payload invalid format", processReceiveLoggingFields, LoggingLevel.Warning);
			return;
		}

		string sensorId = sensorIdAndValue[0];
		string value = sensorIdAndValue[1];

		telemetryDataPoint.Add(addressBcdText + sensorId, Convert.ToDouble(value));
	}
	processReceiveLoggingFields.AddString("MQTTClientId", MqttClient.Options.ClientId);

	string stateTopic = string.Format(stateTopicFormat, MqttClient.Options.ClientId);

	try
	{
		var message = new MqttApplicationMessageBuilder()
			.WithTopic(stateTopic)
			.WithPayload(JsonConvert.SerializeObject(telemetryDataPoint))
			.WithAtLeastOnceQoS()
			.Build();
		Debug.WriteLine(" {0:HH:mm:ss} MQTT Client PublishAsync start", DateTime.UtcNow);
		await MqttClient.PublishAsync(message);
		Debug.WriteLine(" {0:HH:mm:ss} MQTT Client PublishAsync finish", DateTime.UtcNow);

		this.Logging.LogEvent("PublishAsync Ubidots payload", processReceiveLoggingFields, LoggingLevel.Information);
	}
	catch (Exception ex)
	{
		processReceiveLoggingFields.AddString("Exception", ex.ToString());
		this.Logging.LogEvent("PublishAsync Ubidots payload", processReceiveLoggingFields, LoggingLevel.Error);
	}
}

The “automagic” provisioning of feeds does make setting up small scale systems easier, though I’m not certain how well it would scale.

Some of the fields weren’t obviously editable e.g.”ÄPI Label” in device configuration which I only discovered by clicking on them..

The limitations of the free account meant I couldn’t evaluate ubidots in much depth but what was available appeared to be robust and reliable (Nov 2019).

Ask Sensors with MQTTnet

After a 6 month pause I’m back working on my Message Queue Telemetry Transport(MQTT) LoRa gateway.

As I’m testing my Message Queue Telemetry Transport(MQTT) LoRa gateway I’m building a proof of concept(PoC) .Net core console application for each IoT platform I would like to support.

This PoC was to confirm that I could connect to the Ask Sensors MQTT API then format topics and payloads correctly.

Console test application

The MQTT broker, username, password, and client ID are command line options.

class Program
{
	private static IMqttClient mqttClient = null;
	private static IMqttClientOptions mqttOptions = null;
	private static string server;
	private static string username;
	private static string apiKey;
	private static string clientID;

	static void Main(string[] args)
	{
		MqttFactory factory = new MqttFactory();
		mqttClient = factory.CreateMqttClient();
		bool heatPumpOn = false;

		if (args.Length != 4)
		{
			Console.WriteLine("[MQTT Server] [UserName] [APIKey] [ClientID]");
			Console.WriteLine("Press <enter> to exit");
			Console.ReadLine();
			return;
		}

		server = args[0];
		username = args[1];
		apiKey = args[2];
		clientID = args[3];

		Console.WriteLine($"MQTT Server:{server} Username:{username} ClientID:{clientID}");

		mqttOptions = new MqttClientOptionsBuilder()
			.WithTcpServer(server)
			.WithCredentials(username, "")
			.WithClientId(clientID)
			//.WithTls() // This is a bit of a worry
			.Build();

		mqttClient.ApplicationMessageReceived += MqttClient_ApplicationMessageReceived;
		mqttClient.Disconnected += MqttClient_Disconnected;
		mqttClient.ConnectAsync(mqttOptions).Wait();

		// AskSensors formatted client state update topic
		string stateTopic = $"{username}/{apiKey}";

		while (true)
		{
			string payloadText;
			double temperature = 22.0 + (DateTime.UtcNow.Millisecond / 1000.0);
			double humidity = 50 + (DateTime.UtcNow.Millisecond / 100.0);
			double speed = 10 + (DateTime.UtcNow.Millisecond / 100.0);
			Console.WriteLine($"Topic:{stateTopic} Temperature:{temperature:0.00} Humidity:{humidity:0} HeatPumpOn:{heatPumpOn}");

			// First JSON attempt didn't work
			payloadText = @"{""Humidity"":55}";

            // Second attempt worked
            payloadText = $"module1=22";

            // Third attempt with "real" values injected
            payloadText = $"module1={temperature}&m2={humidity}";

            var message = new MqttApplicationMessageBuilder()
					.WithTopic(stateTopic)
					.WithPayload(payloadText)
					.WithQualityOfServiceLevel(global::MQTTnet.Protocol.MqttQualityOfServiceLevel.AtLeastOnce)
				   .WithExactlyOnceQoS()
				   //.WithAtLeastOnceQoS()
				   //.WithRetainFlag()
				   .Build();

				Console.WriteLine("PublishAsync start");
				mqttClient.PublishAsync(message).Wait();
				Console.WriteLine("PublishAsync finish");

				Thread.Sleep(30100);
			}
		}

	private static async void MqttClient_Disconnected(object sender, MqttClientDisconnectedEventArgs e)
	{
		Debug.WriteLine("Disconnected");
		await Task.Delay(TimeSpan.FromSeconds(5));

		try
		{
			await mqttClient.ConnectAsync(mqttOptions);
		}
		catch (Exception ex)
		{
			Debug.WriteLine("Reconnect failed {0}", ex.Message);
		}
	}

The Ask Sensors screen designer has 8 different types of Graph (line, bar, scatter, gauge, table, binary. digital, map)

Ask sensors dashboard configuration was fairly simple, though sequential numbering of inputs (modules) might require some mapping code.

Overall the initial configuration went smoothly after I figured out the payload format (not JSON), though the functionality (of a free subscription) did appear to be quite limited.

Since I first started building my MQTT gateway there have been several breaking updates to the MQTTNet API which so I will have to refresh all the applications in my solution.