nRF24L01 Raspberry PI Gateway Hardware

For those who came to my MS Ignite AU Intelligent Cloud booth session

Building Wireless Field Gateways

Connecting wireless sensor nodes to the cloud is not the mission it used to be, because the Azure team (and many OS projects) have developed tooling which can help hobbyist and professional developers build solutions. How could you build a home scale robust, reliable and secure solution with off the shelf kit without blowing the budget?

Sparkfun nRF24L01 module &Adafruit perma proto hat

NRF24L01 Raspberry PI DIY Gateway Hardware

BoM (all prices as at Feb 2016)

You will also need some short lengths of wire and a soldering iron.

For those who want an “off the shelf” solution (still requires a minor modification for interrupt support) I have used the Raspberry Pi to NRF24l01+ Shield USD9.90

2015-09-25t072754-447z-20150925_091942-855x570_q85_pad_rcrop

Instructions for modifications and software to follow.

Netduino 3 Wifi Queued Azure Event Hub Field Gateway V1.0

My ADSL connection had been a bit flaky which had meant I had lost some sensor data with my initial Azure Event Hub gateway. In attempt make the solution more robust this version of the gateway queues unsent messages using the on-board MicroSD card support.

The code assumes that a file move is an “atomic operation”, so it streams the events received from the devices into a temporary directory (configurable) then moves them to the upload directory (configurable).

This code is proof of concept and needs to be soak tested, improved error handling and some additional multi threading locking added plus the magic constants refactored.

This code is called in the nRF24 receive messages handler

private void OnReceive(byte[] data)
{
   activityLed.Write(!activityLed.Read());

   // Ensure that we have a payload
   if (data.Length < 1 )
   {
      Debug.Print( "ERROR - Message has no payload" ) ;
      return ;
   }

   string message = new String(Encoding.UTF8.GetChars(data));
   Debug.Print("+" + DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("HH:mm:ss") + " L=" + data.Length + " M=" + message);

   string filename = DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("yyyyMMddhhmmssff") + ".txt";

   string tempDirectory = Path.Combine("\\sd", "temp");
   string tempFilePath = Path.Combine(tempDirectory, filename);

   string queueDirectory = Path.Combine("\\sd", "data");
   string queueFilePath = Path.Combine(queueDirectory, filename);

   File.WriteAllBytes(tempFilePath, data);

   File.Move(tempFilePath, queueFilePath);

   new Microsoft.SPOT.IO.VolumeInfo("\\sd").FlushAll();
}

A timer initiates the upload process which uses the AMQPNetlite library

bool UploadInProgress = false;

      
void uploaderCallback(object state)
{
   Debug.Print("uploaderCallback - start");

   if (UploadInProgress)
   {
      return;
   }
   UploadInProgress = true;

   string[] eventFilesToSend = Directory.GetFiles(Path.Combine("\\sd", "data")) ;

   if ( eventFilesToSend.Length == 0 )
   {
      Debug.Print("uploaderCallback - no files");
      UploadInProgress = false;
      return ;
   }

   try
   {
      Debug.Print("uploaderCallback - Connect");
      Connection connection = new Connection(new Address(serviceBusHost, serviceBusPort, serviceBusSasKeyName, serviceBusSasKey));

      Session session = new Session(connection);

      SenderLink sender = new SenderLink(session, "send-link", eventHubName);

      for (int index = 0; index < System.Math.Min(eventUploadBatchSizeMaximum, eventFilesToSend.Length); index++)
      {
         string eventFile = eventFilesToSend[ index ] ;

         Debug.Print("-" + DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("HH:mm:ss") + " " + eventFile ); ;

         Message message = new Message()
         {
            BodySection = new Data()
            {
               Binary = File.ReadAllBytes(eventFile),
            },
         ApplicationProperties = new Amqp.Framing.ApplicationProperties(),
         };

         FileInfo fileInfo = new FileInfo(eventFile);

         message.ApplicationProperties["AcquiredAtUtc"] = fileInfo.CreationTimeUtc;
         message.ApplicationProperties["UploadedAtUtc"] = DateTime.UtcNow;
         message.ApplicationProperties["GatewayId"] = gatewayId;
         message.ApplicationProperties["DeviceId"] = deviceId;
         message.ApplicationProperties["EventId"] = Guid.NewGuid();

         sender.Send(message);

         File.Delete(eventFile);

         new Microsoft.SPOT.IO.VolumeInfo("\\sd").FlushAll();
      }

      sender.Close();
      session.Close();
      connection.Close();
   }
   catch (Exception ex)
   {
      Debug.Print("ERROR: Upload failed with error: " + ex.Message);
   }
   finally
   {
      Debug.Print("uploaderCallback - finally");
      UploadInProgress = false;
   }
}

The timer period and number of files uploaded in each batch is configurable. I need to test the application to see how it handles power outages and MicroSD card corruption. The source is Netduino NRF24L01 AMQPNetLite Queued Azure EventHub Gatewaywith all the usual caveats.

This project wouldn’t have been possible without

Netduino 3 Wifi pollution Sensor Part 1

I am working on a Netduino 3 Wifi based version for my original concept as a STEM project for high school students. I wanted to be able to upload data to a Microsoft Azure Eventhub or other HTTPS secured RESTful endpoint (e.g. xivelyIOT) to show how to build a securable solution. This meant a Netduino 3 Wifi device with the TI C3100 which does all the crypto processing was necessary.

The aim was to (over a number of blog posts) build a plug ‘n play box that initially was for measuring airborne particulates and then overtime add more sensors e.g. atmospheric gas concentrations, (Grove multichannel gas sensor), an accelerometer for earthquake early warning/monitoring (Grove 3-Axis Digital Accelerometer) etc.

Netduino 3 Wifi based pollution sensor

Bill of materials for prototype as at (October 2015)

  • Netduino 3 Wifi USD69.95
  • Seeedstudio Grove base shield V2 USD8.90
  • Seeedstudio Grove smart dust sensor USD16.95
  • Seeedstudio Grove Temperature & Humidity Sensor pro USD14.90
  • Seeedstudio ABS outdoor waterproof case USD1.65
  • Seeedstudio Grove 4 pin female to Grove 4 pin conversion cable USD3.90
  • Seeedstudio Grove 4 pin buckled 5CM cabed USD1.90

After the first assembly I have realised the box is a bit small. There is not a lot of clearance around the Netduino board (largely due to the go!bus connectors on the end making it a bit larger than a standard *duino board) and the space for additional sensors is limited so I will need to source a larger enclosure.

The dust sensor doesn’t come with a cable so I used the conversion cable instead. NOTE – The pins on the sensor are numbered right->Left rather than left->right.

The first step is to get the temperature and humidity sensor working with my driver code, then adapt the Seeedstudio Grove-Dust sensor code for the dual outputs of the SM-PWM-01 device.

According to the SM-PWM-01A device datasheet The P1 output is for small particles < 1uM (smoke) and P2 output is for large particles > 2uM (dust). The temperature & humidity sensor is included in the first iteration as other researchers have indicated that humidity levels can impact on the accuracy of optical particle counters.

Then, once the sensors are working as expected I will integrate a cut back version of the AMQPNetLite code and configuration storage code I wrote for my Netduino 3 wifi Azure EventHub Field Gateway.

Netduino 3 Wifi Azure Event Hub Field Gateway V2.0

After some testing I have improved the error handling and robustness of my Netduino 3 wifi based Azure Eventhub field gateway.

private void OnReceive(byte[] data)
{
   activityLed.Write(!activityLed.Read());

   // Ensure that we have a payload
   if (data.Length < 1 ) { Debug.Print( "ERROR - Message has no payload" ) ; return ; } string message = new String(Encoding.UTF8.GetChars(data)); Debug.Print(DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("HH:mm:ss") + " L=" + data.Length + " M=" + message); Thread thread = new Thread(() => EventHubSendMessage( data));
   thread.Start();
}

private void EventHubSendMessage( byte[] messageBody)
{
   #region Diagnostic assertions
   Debug.Assert(eventHubName != null);
   Debug.Assert(deviceId != null);
   Debug.Assert(gatewayId != null);
   Debug.Assert(messageBody != null);
   Debug.Assert(messageBody.Length > 0);
   #endregion

   if ((connection == null) || (session == null ) || (senderLink == null ))
   {
      lock (lockThis)
      {
         if (connection == null)
         {
            Debug.Print("AMQP Establish connection");
            try
            {
               connection = new Connection(new Address(serviceBusHost, serviceBusPort, serviceBusSasKeyName, serviceBusSasKey));

               connection.Closed = ConnectionClosedCallback;

               Debug.Print("AMQP Establish connection done");
            }
            catch (Exception ex)
            {
               Debug.Print("ERROR: AMQP Establish connection: " + ex.Message);
            }
         }

         if (connection == null)
         {
            return;
         }

         if (session == null)
         {
            Debug.Print("AMQP Establish session");
            try
            {
               session = new Session(connection);

               session.Closed = SessionClosedCallback;

               Debug.Print("AMQP Establish session done");
            }
            catch (Exception ex)
            {
               Debug.Print("ERROR: AMQP Establish session: " + ex.Message);
            }
         }

         if (session == null)
         {
            return;
         }

         if (senderLink == null)
         {
            Debug.Print("AMQP Establish SenderLink");
            try
            {
               senderLink = new SenderLink(session, "send-link", eventHubName);

               senderLink.Closed = SenderLinkClosedCallback;

               Debug.Print("AMQP Establish SenderLink done");
            }
            catch (Exception ex)
            {
               Debug.Print("ERROR: AMQP Establish SenderLink: " + ex.Message);
            }
         }

         if (senderLink == null)
         {
            return;
         }
      }
   }

         
   try
   {
      Debug.Print("AMQP Send start");
      DateTime startAtUtc = DateTime.UtcNow;

      Message message = new Message()
      {
         BodySection = new Data()
         {
            Binary = messageBody
         },
         ApplicationProperties = new Amqp.Framing.ApplicationProperties(),
      };

      message.ApplicationProperties["UploadedAtUtc"] = DateTime.UtcNow;
      message.ApplicationProperties["GatewayId"] = gatewayId;
      message.ApplicationProperties["DeviceId"] = deviceId;
      message.ApplicationProperties["EventId"] = Guid.NewGuid();

      senderLink.Send(message);
      DateTime finishAtUtc = DateTime.UtcNow;
      TimeSpan duration = finishAtUtc - startAtUtc;
      Debug.Print("AMQP Send done duration " + duration.ToString());
   }
   catch (Exception ex)
   {
      Debug.Print("ERROR: Publish failed with error: " + ex.Message);
   }
}

The software is quite reliable, when my internet connection fails it recovers gracefully and resumes uploading events when connectivity is restored.

The only issue is when the wireless access point is restarted, when the device reconnects it locks up and doesn’t recover. I have posted in the Netduino forums and logged at issue at the Github Netduino wifi repository.

I have been exploring rebooting the device in the NetworkChange_NetworkAvailabilityChanged handler when connectivity is restored.

Based on my logging the sending of events is pretty quick and the threads are interleaved

03:20:59 L=25 M={“D”:2,”H”:63.0,”T”:18.8}
AMQP Send start
03:20:59 L=25 M={“D”:1,”H”:54.5,”T”:18.7}
AMQP Send start
03:20:59 L=17 M={“D”:10,”P”:27.9}
AMQP Send start
AMQP Send done duration 00:00:00.2738220
AMQP Send done duration 00:00:00.4709960
AMQP Send done duration 00:00:01.0813910
03:21:01 L=17 M={“D”:10,”P”:27.4}
AMQP Send start
AMQP Send done duration 00:00:00.2820090
03:21:03 L=17 M={“D”:10,”P”:26.9}

Here is the code with usual caveats.

Next steps queuing messages in memory and then on the MicroSD card.

Netduino 3 Wifi Azure Event Hub Field Gateway V1.0

The Netduino 3 Wifi device supports TLS connectivity and looked like it could provide a low power consumption field gateway to an Azure EventHub for my nRF24L01 equipped Netduino, Arduino & devDuino 1.3, 2.0 & 3.0 devices.

Netduino 3 Wifi Azure Event Hub Field Gateway

Netduino 3 Wifi Azure Field Gateway and a selection of arduino & devDuino devices

Bill of materials for field gateway prices as at (Sept 2015)

  • Netduino 3 Wifi USD69.95
  • SeeedStudio Solar Shield USD13.95
  • Lithium Ion 3000mAH battery USD15.00
  • Embedded coolness nRF24L01 shield with high power module USD17.85

The software uses AMQPNetLite which provides a lightweight implementation of the AMQP protocol (on the .Net framework, .Net Compact Framework, .Net Micro Framework, and WindowsPhone platforms) and the Nordic nRF24L01 Net Micro Framework Driver.The first version of the software is a proof of concept and over time I will add functionality and improve the reliability.

On application start up the nRF24L01, Azure Event Hub and network settings are loaded from the built in MicroSD card.

// Write empty template of the configuration settings to the SD card if pin D0 is high
if (!File.Exists(Path.Combine("\\sd", "app.config")))
{
   Debug.Print("Writing template configuration file then stopping");

   ConfigurationFileGenerate();

   Thread.Sleep(Timeout.Infinite);
}
appSettings.Load();

If there is no configuration file on the MicroSD card an empty template is created.

private void ConfigurationFileGenerate()
{
   // Write empty configuration file
   appSettings.SetString(nRF2L01AddressSetting, "Base1");
   appSettings.SetString(nRF2L01ChannelSetting, "10");
   appSettings.SetString(nRF2L01DataRateSetting, "0");

   appSettings.SetString(serviceBusHostSetting, "serviceBusHost");
   appSettings.SetString(serviceBusPortSetting, "5671");
   appSettings.SetString(serviceBusSasKeyNameSetting, "serviceBusSasKeyName");
   appSettings.SetString(serviceBusSasKeySetting, "serviceBusSasKey");
   appSettings.SetString(eventHubNameSetting, "eventHubName");

   appSettings.Save();
}

Once the Wifi connection has been established the device connects to a specified NTP server so any messages have an accurate timestamp and then initiates an AMQP connection.

Debug.Print("Network time");
try
{
   DateTime networkTime = NtpClient.GetNetworkTime(ntpServerHostname);
   Microsoft.SPOT.Hardware.Utility.SetLocalTime(networkTime);
   Debug.Print(networkTime.ToString(" dd-MM-yy HH:mm:ss"));
}
catch (Exception ex)
{
   Debug.Print("ERROR: NtpClient.GetNetworkTime: " + ex.Message);
   Thread.Sleep(Timeout.Infinite);
}
Debug.Print("Network time done");

// Connect to AMQP gateway
Debug.Print("AMQP Establish connection");
try
{
   Address address = new Address(serviceBusHost, serviceBusPort, serviceBusSasKeyName, serviceBusSasKey);
   connection = new Connection(address);
}
catch (Exception ex)
{
   Debug.Print("ERROR: AMQP Establish connection: " + ex.Message);
   Thread.Sleep(Timeout.Infinite);
}
Debug.Print("AMQP Establish connection done");

After the device has network connectivity, downloaded the correct time and connected to AMQP hub the nRF241L01 device is initialised.

The first version of the software starts a new thread to handle each message and handles connectivity failures badly. These issues and features like local queuing of messages will be added in future iterations.

private void OnReceive(byte[] data)
{
   activityLed.Write(!activityLed.Read());

   // Ensure that we have a payload
   if (data.Length < 1 ) { Debug.Print( "ERROR - Message has no payload" ) ; return ; } string message = new String(Encoding.UTF8.GetChars(data)); Debug.Print(DateTime.UtcNow.ToString("HH:mm:ss") + " " + gatewayId + " " + data.Length + " " + message); Thread thread = new Thread(() => EventHubSendMessage(connection, eventHubName, deviceId, gatewayId, data));
   thread.Start();
}



private void EventHubSendMessage(Connection connection, string eventHubName, string deviceId, string gatewayId, byte[] messageBody)
{
   try
   {
      Session session = new Session(connection);
      SenderLink sender = new SenderLink(session, "send-link", eventHubName);

      Message message = new Message()
      {
         BodySection = new Data()
         {
            Binary = messageBody
         },
         ApplicationProperties = new Amqp.Framing.ApplicationProperties(),
      };

      message.ApplicationProperties["UploadedAtUtc"] = DateTime.UtcNow;
      message.ApplicationProperties["GatewayId"] = gatewayId;
      message.ApplicationProperties["DeviceId"] = deviceId;
      message.ApplicationProperties["EventId"] = Guid.NewGuid().ToString();

      sender.Send(message);

      sender.Close();
      session.Close();
      }
   catch (Exception ex)
   {
      Debug.Print("ERROR: Publish failed with error: " + ex.Message);
   }
}

Initially the devices send events with a JSON payload.

ServiceBus Explorer

JSON Event messages displayed in ServiceBus Explorer

The code is available NetduinoNRF24L01AMQPNetLiteAzureEventHubGatewayV1.0 and when I have a spare afternoon I will upload to github.

My first AzureSBLite program

Extending on the theme for my previous post I decided to take a look at Azure ServiceBus Lite by Paolo Patierno. Same objective as last time, a minimalist application running on my Netduino 3 Wifi which connects to my home wifi, waits for an IP address then uploads an event to an Azure EventHub.

public class Program
{
   private const string connectionString = "Endpoint=sb://[YourNamespace].servicebus.windows.net/;SharedAccessKeyName=[YourKeyName];SharedAccessKey=[YourSaSKey]";
   private const string eventHub = "[YourEventHub]";

...

// Wait for Network address if DHCP
NetworkInterface networkInterface = NetworkInterface.GetAllNetworkInterfaces()[0];
if (networkInterface.IsDhcpEnabled)
{
   Debug.Print(" Waiting for IP address ");

   while (NetworkInterface.GetAllNetworkInterfaces()[0].IPAddress == IPAddress.Any.ToString())
   {
      Debug.Print(".");
   }
}

// Display network config for debugging
Debug.Print("Network configuration");
Debug.Print(" Network interface type: " + networkInterface.NetworkInterfaceType.ToString());
Debug.Print(" MAC Address: " + BytesToHexString(networkInterface.PhysicalAddress));
Debug.Print(" DHCP enabled: " + networkInterface.IsDhcpEnabled.ToString());
Debug.Print(" Dynamic DNS enabled: " + networkInterface.IsDynamicDnsEnabled.ToString());
Debug.Print(" IP Address: " + networkInterface.IPAddress.ToString());
Debug.Print(" Subnet Mask: " + networkInterface.SubnetMask.ToString());
Debug.Print(" Gateway: " + networkInterface.GatewayAddress.ToString());

foreach (string dnsAddress in networkInterface.DnsAddresses)
{
   Debug.Print(" DNS Server: " + dnsAddress.ToString());
}

string deviceId = BytesToHexString(networkInterface.PhysicalAddress);
Debug.Print("DeviceId " + deviceId.ToString());

A bit less code is required to send an event using AzureSBLite

try
{
   MessagingFactory factory = MessagingFactory.CreateFromConnectionString(connectionString);

   EventHubClient client = factory.CreateEventHubClient(eventHub);

   string messageBody = @"{""DeviceId"":""" + deviceId + @""",""Time"":""" + DateTime.Now.ToString("yy-MM-dd hh:mm:ss") + @"""}";
   EventData data = new EventData(Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(messageBody));

   //EventData data = new EventData();
   //data.Properties.Add("Time", DateTime.Now);
   //data.Properties.Add("DeviceId", deviceId);

   client.Send(data);
   client.Close();

   factory.Close();
}
catch (Exception ex)
{
   Debug.Print("ERROR: Send failed with error: " + ex.Message);
}

Over all, a very similar experience to “MyFirst AMQPNetLite” program, after a couple of typos, and fixing a copy ‘n’ paste issue with the connection string my application worked, with the bonus of less code. Both AMQPNetLite and AzureSBLite look suitable for my application so I’ll need to evaluate them in more detail.

My first AMQPNetLite program

After having some problems with my Netduino 3 wifi Azure Event Hub client code (which are most probably due to the issues discussed here) I decided to have a look at AMQPNetLite which had been suggested by Paolo Patierno in a response to one of my posts in the Netduino forums.

I usually create a “minimalist” project so I can figure out how a new library works without an domain specific code getting in the way. Overall, my first experience was pretty positive, the code compiled first time, ran second time and worked third time.

The objective for my first AMQPNetLite application running on my Netduino 3 Wifi was to connect to my home wifi, wait for an IP address then upload an event to an Azure EventHub

private const int amqpPortNumber = 5671;
private const string sbNamespace = "ServiceBus Namespace";
private const string keyName = "SaS Key name";
private const string keyValue = "SaS Key value";
private const string eventHub = "EventHub name";

...

// Wait for Network address if DHCP
NetworkInterface networkInterface = NetworkInterface.GetAllNetworkInterfaces()[0];
if (networkInterface.IsDhcpEnabled)
{
   Debug.Print(" Waiting for IP address ");

   while (NetworkInterface.GetAllNetworkInterfaces()[0].IPAddress == IPAddress.Any.ToString())
   {
      Debug.Print(".");
   }
}

// Display network config for debugging
Debug.Print("Network configuration");
Debug.Print(" Network interface type: " + networkInterface.NetworkInterfaceType.ToString());
Debug.Print(" MAC Address: " + BytesToHexString(networkInterface.PhysicalAddress));
Debug.Print(" DHCP enabled: " + networkInterface.IsDhcpEnabled.ToString());
Debug.Print(" Dynamic DNS enabled: " + networkInterface.IsDynamicDnsEnabled.ToString());
Debug.Print(" IP Address: " + networkInterface.IPAddress.ToString());
Debug.Print(" Subnet Mask: " + networkInterface.SubnetMask.ToString());
Debug.Print(" Gateway: " + networkInterface.GatewayAddress.ToString());

foreach (string dnsAddress in networkInterface.DnsAddresses)
{
   Debug.Print(" DNS Server: " + dnsAddress.ToString());
}

string deviceId = BytesToHexString(networkInterface.PhysicalAddress);
Debug.Print("DeviceId " + deviceId.ToString());

Then I constructed the AMQP address for the event hub, started an AMQP session and sent the message. I tried sending a message with a JSON payload and also using the “type safe” application properties.

try
{
   Address address = new Address(sbNamespace, amqpPortNumber, keyName, keyValue);
   Connection connection = new Connection(address);

   Session session = new Session(connection);

   SenderLink sender = new SenderLink(session, "send-link", eventHub);

   string messageBody = @"{""DeviceId"":""" + deviceId + @""",""Time"":""" + DateTime.Now.ToString("yy-MM-dd hh:mm:ss") + @"""}";

   Message message = new Message()
   {
      //BodySection = new Data() { Binary = Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(messageBody)},
      ApplicationProperties = new Amqp.Framing.ApplicationProperties(),
   };

   message.ApplicationProperties["Time"] = DateTime.Now;
   message.ApplicationProperties["DeviceId"] = deviceId;

   sender.Send(message);

   sender.Close();
   session.Close();
   connection.Close();
}
catch (Exception ex)
{
   Debug.Print("ERROR: Publish failed with error: " + ex.Message);
}

For my scenario I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to get working.

AMQP has a non TLS option (only for non sensitive data) and if this is supported I could use a device like a Netduino 3 Ethernet which don’t have baked in TLS support.