TTI V3 Gateway provisioning Dragino LHT65 Uplink

This very long post is about how to connect a Dragino LHT65 Temperature and Humidity sensor to Azure IoT Central using my TTI/TTN V3Azure IoT Connector and the Digital Twin Definition Language (DTDL).

Dragino LHT65 temperature and Humidity sensor

The first step was to add an application(dragino-lht65) in my The Things Industries(TTI) tenant

TTI/TTN application for my Dragino LHT65 devices
Adding devMobile as a collaborator on the new application
TTI Application API Key configuration

The new Application API Key used by the MQTTnet managed client only needs to have write downlink and read uplink traffic enabled.

FTDI Adapter and modified LHT64 cable

So I could reliably connect to my LHT65 devices to configure them I modified a programming cable so I could use it with a spare FTDI adaptor without jumper wires. Todo this I used a small jewelers screwdriver to “pop” out the VCC cable and move the transmit data line.

After entering the device password and checking the firmware version I used the AT+CFG command to display the device settings

AT+CFG: Print all configurations

[334428]***** UpLinkCounter= 0 *****
[334430]TX on freq 923200000 Hz at DR 2
[334804]txDone
[339807]RX on freq 923200000 Hz at DR 2
[339868]rxTimeOut
[340807]RX on freq 923200000 Hz at DR 2
[340868]rxTimeOut

Correct Password

Stop Tx events,Please wait for all configurations to print
Printf all config...
AT+DEUI=a8 .. .. .. .. .. .. d6
AT+DADDR=01......D6

AT+APPKEY=9d .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 2e
AT+NWKSKEY=f6 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 69
AT+APPSKEY=4c 35 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 3d
AT+APPEUI=a0 .. .. .. .. .. .. 00
AT+ADR=1
AT+TXP=0
AT+DR=0
AT+DCS=0
AT+PNM=1
AT+RX2FQ=923200000
AT+RX2DR=2
AT+RX1DL=1000
AT+RX2DL=2000
AT+JN1DL=5000
AT+JN2DL=6000
AT+NJM=1
AT+NWKID=00 00 00 00
AT+FCU=0
AT+FCD=0
AT+CLASS=A
AT+NJS=0
AT+RECVB=0:
AT+RECV=0:
AT+VER=v1.7 AS923

AT+CFM=0
AT+CFS=0
AT+SNR=0
AT+RSSI=0
AT+TDC=1200000
AT+PORT=2
AT+PWORD=123456
AT+CHS=0
AT+DATE=21/3/26 07:49:15
AT+SLEEP=0
AT+EXT=4,2
AT+RTP=20
AT+BAT=3120
AT+WMOD=0
AT+ARTEMP=-40,125
AT+CITEMP=1
Start Tx events OK


[399287]***** UpLinkCounter= 0 *****

[399289]TX on freq 923400000 Hz at DR 2

[399663]txDone

[404666]RX on freq 923400000 Hz at DR 2

[404726]rxTimeOut

[405666]RX on freq 923200000 Hz at DR 2

[405726]rxTimeOut

I copied the AppEUI and DevEUI for use on the TI Dragino LHT65 Register end device form provided by the TTI/TTN.

TTYI/TTN Dragino LHT65 Register end device

The Dragino LHT65 uses the DeviceEUI as the DeviceID which meant I had todo more redaction in my TTI/TTN and Azure Application Insights screen captures. The rules around the re-use of EndDevice ID were a pain in the arse(PITA) in my development focused tenant.

Dragino LHT 65 Device uplink payload formatter

The connector supports both uplink and downlink messages with JSON encoded payloads. The Dragino LHT65 has a vendor supplied formatter which is automatically configured when an EndDevice is created. The EndDevice formatter configuration can also be overridden at the Application level in the app.settings.json file.

Device Live Data Uplink Data Payload

Once an EndDevice is configured in TTI/TTN I usually use the “Live data Uplink Payload” to work out the decoded payload JSON property names and data types.

LHT65 Uplink only Azure IoT Central Device Template
LHT65 Device Template View Identity

For Azure IoT Central “automagic” provisioning the DTDLModelId has to be copied from the Azure IoT Central Template into the TTI/TTN EndDevice or app.settings.json file application configuration.

LHT65 Device Template copy DTDL @ID
TTI EndDevice configuring the DTDLV2 @ID at the device level

Configuring the DTDLV2 @ID at the TTI application level in the app.settings.json file

{
  "Logging": {
    "LogLevel": {
      "Default": "Debug",
      "Microsoft": "Debug",
      "Microsoft.Hosting.Lifetime": "Debug"
    },
    "ApplicationInsights": {
      "LogLevel": {
        "Default": "Debug"
      }
    }
  },

  "ProgramSettings": {
    "Applications": {
      "application1": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          "DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings": {
            "IdScope": "0ne...DD9",
            "GroupEnrollmentKey": "eFR...w=="
          }
        },
        "DTDLModelId": "dtmi:ttnv3connectorclient:FezduinoWisnodeV14x8;4",
        "MQTTAccessKey": "NNSXS.HCY...RYQ",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": false,
        "MethodSettings": {
          "Reboot": {
            "Port": 21,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
          "value_0": {
            "Port": 30,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
          "value_1": {
            "Port": 30,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
          "TemperatureOOBAlertMinimumAndMaximum": {
            "Port": 30,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          }
        }
      },
      "seeeduinolorawan": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          "DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings": {
            "IdScope": "0ne...DD9",
            "GroupEnrollmentKey": "AtN...g=="
          },
        },
        "DTDLModelId": "dtmi:ttnv3connectorclient:SeeeduinoLoRaWAN4cz;1",
        "MQTTAccessKey": "NNSXS.V44...42A",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true,
        "DevicePageSize": 10
      },
      "dragino-lht65": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          "DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings": {
            "IdScope": "0ne...DD9",
            "GroupEnrollmentKey": "SLB...w=="
          }
        },
        "DTDLModelId": "dtmi:ttnv3connectorclient:DraginoLHT656w6;1",
        "MQTTAccessKey": "NNSXS.RIJ...NZQ",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true,
        "DevicePageSize": 10
      }
    },
    "TheThingsIndustries": {
      "MqttServerName": "eu1.cloud.thethings.industries",
      "MqttClientId": "MQTTClient",
      "MqttAutoReconnectDelay": "00:00:05",
      "Tenant": "...-test",
      "ApiBaseUrl": "https://...-test.eu1.cloud.thethings.industries/api/v3",
      "ApiKey": "NNSXS.NR7...ZSA",
      "Collaborator": "devmobile",
      "DevicePageSize": 10,
      "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true
    }
  }
}

The Azure Device Provisioning Service(DPS) is configured at the TTI application level in the app.settings.json file. The IDScope and one of the Primary or Secondary Shared Access Signature(SAS) keys should be copied into DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings of an Application in the app.settings.json file. I usually set the “Automatically connect devices in this group” flag as part of the “automagic” provisioning process.

Azure IoT Central Group Enrollment Key
Then device templates need to be mapped to an Enrollment Group then Device Group.

For testing the connector application can be run locally with diagnostic information displayed in the application console window as it “automagically’ provisions devices and uploads telemetry data.

Connector application Diagnostics
Azure IoT Central Device list before my LHT65 device is “automagically” provisioned
Azure IoT Central Device list after my LHT65 device is “automagically” provisioned

One a device has been provisioned I check on the raw data display that all the fields I configured have been mapped correctly.

Azure IoT Central raw data display

I then created a dashboard to display the telemetry data from the LHT65 sensors.

Azure IoT Central dashboard displaying LHT65 temperature, humidity and battery voltage graphs.

The dashboard also has a few KPI displays which highlighted an issue which occurs a couple of times a month with the LHT65 onboard temperature sensor values (327.7°). I have connected Dragino technical support and have also been unable to find a way to remove the current an/or filter out future aberrant values.

Azure Application Insights logging

I also noticed that the formatting of the DeviceEUI values in the Application Insights logging was incorrect after trying to search for one of my Seeedstudio LoRaWAN device with its DeviceEUI.

Device Provisioning Service(DPS) JsonData

While building my The Things Industries(TTI) V3 connector which uses the Azure Device Provisioning Service(DPS) the way pretty much all of the samples formatted the JsonData property of the ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData (part of Plug n Play provisioning) by manually constructing a JSON object which bugged me.

ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData = new ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData()
{
   JsonData = $"{{\"modelId\": \"{modelId}\"}}"
};

result = await provClient.RegisterAsync(provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData);

I remembered seeing a sample where the DTDLV2 methodId was formatted by a library function and after a surprising amount of searching I found what I was looking for in Azure-Samples repository.

The code for the CreateDpsPayload method

// Copyright (c) Microsoft. All rights reserved.
// Licensed under the MIT license. See LICENSE file in the project root for full license information.

using Microsoft.Azure.Devices.Provisioning.Client.Extensions;

namespace Microsoft.Azure.Devices.Provisioning.Client.PlugAndPlay
{
    /// <summary>
    /// A helper class for formatting the DPS device registration payload, per plug and play convention.
    /// </summary>
    public static class PnpConvention
    {
        /// <summary>
        /// Create the DPS payload to provision a device as plug and play.
        /// </summary>
        /// <remarks>
        /// For more information on device provisioning service and plug and play compatibility,
        /// and PnP device certification, see <see href="https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/iot-pnp/howto-certify-device"/>.
        /// The DPS payload should be in the format:
        /// <code>
        /// {
        ///   "modelId": "dtmi:com:example:modelName;1"
        /// }
        /// </code>
        /// For information on DTDL, see <see href="https://github.com/Azure/opendigitaltwins-dtdl/blob/master/DTDL/v2/dtdlv2.md"/>
        /// </remarks>
        /// <param name="modelId">The Id of the model the device adheres to for properties, telemetry, and commands.</param>
        /// <returns>The DPS payload to provision a device as plug and play.</returns>
        public static string CreateDpsPayload(string modelId)
        {
            modelId.ThrowIfNullOrWhiteSpace(nameof(modelId));
            return $"{{\"modelId\":\"{modelId}\"}}";
        }
    }
}

With a couple of changes my code now uses the CreateDpsPayload method

using Microsoft.Azure.Devices.Provisioning.Client.PlugAndPlay;

...

using (var securityProvider = new SecurityProviderSymmetricKey(deviceId, deviceKey, null))
{
   using (var transport = new ProvisioningTransportHandlerAmqp(TransportFallbackType.TcpOnly))
   {
      ProvisioningDeviceClient provClient = ProvisioningDeviceClient.Create(
         Constants.AzureDpsGlobalDeviceEndpoint,
         deviceProvisiongServiceSettings.IdScope,
         securityProvider,
         transport);

      DeviceRegistrationResult result;

      if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(modelId))
      {
         ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData = new ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData()
         {
               JsonData = PnpConvention.CreateDpsPayload(modelId)
         };

         result = await provClient.RegisterAsync(provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData, stoppingToken);
      }
      else
      {
         result = await provClient.RegisterAsync(stoppingToken);
      }

      if (result.Status != ProvisioningRegistrationStatusType.Assigned)
      {
         _logger.LogError("Config-DeviceID:{0} Status:{1} RegisterAsync failed ", deviceId, result.Status);

         return false;
      }

      IAuthenticationMethod authentication = new DeviceAuthenticationWithRegistrySymmetricKey(result.DeviceId, (securityProvider as SecurityProviderSymmetricKey).GetPrimaryKey());

      deviceClient = DeviceClient.Create(result.AssignedHub, authentication, transportSettings);
   }
}

TTI V3 Gateway Device Provisioning Service(DPS) Concurrent Requests

While debugging The Things Industries(TTI) V3 connector on my desktop I had noticed that using an Azure IoT Hub device connection string was quite a bit faster than using the Azure Device Provisioning Service(DPS). The Azure Webjob connector was executing the requests sequentially which made the duration of the DPS call even more apparent.

To reduce the impact of the RegisterAsync call duration this Proof of Concept(PoC) code uses the System.Tasks.Threading library to execute each request in its own thread and then wait for all the requests to finish.

try
{
   int devicePage = 1;
   V3EndDevices endDevices = await endDeviceRegistryClient.ListAsync(
      applicationSetting.Key,
      field_mask_paths: Constants.DevicefieldMaskPaths,
      page: devicePage,
      limit: _programSettings.TheThingsIndustries.DevicePageSize,
      cancellationToken: stoppingToken);

   while ((endDevices != null) && (endDevices.End_devices != null)) // If no devices returns null rather than empty list
   {
      List<Task<bool>> tasks = new List<Task<bool>>();

      _logger.LogInformation("Config-ApplicationID:{0} start", applicationSetting.Key);

      foreach (V3EndDevice device in endDevices.End_devices)
      {
         if (DeviceAzureEnabled(device))
         {
            _logger.LogInformation("Config-ApplicationID:{0} DeviceID:{1} Device EUI:{2}", device.Ids.Application_ids.Application_id, device.Ids.Device_id, BitConverter.ToString(device.Ids.Dev_eui));

            tasks.Add(DeviceRegistration(device.Ids.Application_ids.Application_id,
                                       device.Ids.Device_id,
                                       _programSettings.ResolveDeviceModelId(device.Ids.Application_ids.Application_id, device.Attributes),
                                       stoppingToken));
         }
      }

      _logger.LogInformation("Config-ApplicationID:{0} Page:{1} processing start", applicationSetting.Key, devicePage);

      Task.WaitAll(tasks.ToArray(),stoppingToken);

      _logger.LogInformation("Config-ApplicationID:{0} Page:{1} processing finish", applicationSetting.Key, devicePage);

      endDevices = await endDeviceRegistryClient.ListAsync(
         applicationSetting.Key,
         field_mask_paths: Constants.DevicefieldMaskPaths,
         page: devicePage += 1,
         limit: _programSettings.TheThingsIndustries.DevicePageSize,
         cancellationToken: stoppingToken);
   }
   _logger.LogInformation("Config-ApplicationID:{0} finish", applicationSetting.Key);
}
catch (ApiException ex)
{
   _logger.LogError("Config-Application configuration API error:{0}", ex.StatusCode);
}

The connector application paginates the retrieval of device configuration from TTI API and a Task is created for each device returned in a page. In the Application Insights Trace logging the duration of a single page of device registrations was approximately the duration of the longest call.

There will be a tradeoff between device page size (resource utilisation by many threads) and startup duration (to many sequential page operations) which will need to be explored.

TTI V3 Gateway Device Provisioning Service(DPS) Performance

My The Things Industries(TTI) V3 connector is an Identity Translation Cloud Gateway, it maps LoRaWAN devices to Azure IoT Hub devices. The connector creates a DeviceClient for each TTI LoRaWAN device and can use an Azure Device Connection string or the Azure Device Provisioning Service(DPS).

While debugging the connector on my desktop I had noticed that using a connection string was quite a bit faster than using DPS and I had assumed this was just happenstance. While doing some testing in the Azure North Europe data-center (Closer to TTI European servers) I grabbed some screen shots of the trace messages in Azure Application Insights as the TTI Connector Application was starting.

I only have six LoRaWAN devices configured in my TTI dev instance, but I repeated each test several times and the results were consistent so the request durations are reasonable. My TTI Connector application, IoT Hub, DPS and Application insights instances are all in the same Azure Region and Azure Resource Group so networking overheads shouldn’t be significant.

Azure IoT Hub Connection device connection string

Using an Azure IoT Hub Device Shared Access policy connection string establishing a connection took less than a second.

My Azure DPS Instance

Using my own DPS instance to provide the connection string and then establishing a connection took between 3 and 7 seconds.

Azure IoT Central DPS

For my Azure IoT Central instance getting a connection string and establishing a connection took between 4 and 7 seconds.

The Azure DPS client code was copied from one of the sample applications so I have assumed it is “correct”.

using (var transport = new ProvisioningTransportHandlerAmqp(TransportFallbackType.TcpOnly))
{
	ProvisioningDeviceClient provClient = ProvisioningDeviceClient.Create( 
		Constants.AzureDpsGlobalDeviceEndpoint,
		deviceProvisiongServiceSettings.IdScope,
		securityProvider,
		transport);

	DeviceRegistrationResult result;

	if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(modelId))
	{
		ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData = new ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData()
		{
			JsonData = $"{{"modelId": "{modelId}"}}"
		};

		result = await provClient.RegisterAsync(provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData, stoppingToken);
	}
	else
    {
		result = await provClient.RegisterAsync(stoppingToken);
	}

	if (result.Status != ProvisioningRegistrationStatusType.Assigned)
	{
		_logger.LogError("Config-DeviceID:{0} Status:{1} RegisterAsync failed ", deviceId, result.Status);

		return false;
	}

	IAuthenticationMethod authentication = new DeviceAuthenticationWithRegistrySymmetricKey(result.DeviceId, (securityProvider as SecurityProviderSymmetricKey).GetPrimaryKey());

	deviceClient = DeviceClient.Create(result.AssignedHub, authentication, transportSettings);
}

I need to investigate why getting a connection string from the DPS then connecting take significantly longer (I appreciate that “behind the scenes” service calls maybe required). This wouldn’t be an issue for individual devices connecting from different locations but for my Identity Translation Cloud gateway which currently open connections sequentially this could be a problem when there are a large number of devices.

If the individual requests duration can’t be reduced (using connection pooling etc.) I may have to spin up multiple threads so multiple devices can be connecting concurrently.

TTI V3 Gateway Azure IoT Central Digital Twin Definition Language(DTDL) support

Over the last couple of days I have added limited Digital Twin Definition Language(DTDLV2) support to my The Things Industries(TTI) V3 connector so that Azure IoT Central devices can be “zero touch” provisioned. For this blog post I used five Seeeduino LoRaWAN devices left over from another abandoned project.

The first step was to configure and Azure IoT Central enrollment group (ensure “Automatically connect devices in this group” is on) and copy the IDScope and Group Enrollment key to the appsettings.json file (see sample file below for more detail)

Azure IoT Central Enrollment Group configuration

Then I created an Azure IoT Central template for the seeeduino LoRAWAN devices which are running software (developed with the Arduino tooling) that read values from a Grove – Temperature&Humidity sensor. The naming of telemetry properties in specified by the Cayenne Low Power Protocol(LPP) encoder/decoder (I check the decoded payload in TTI EndDevice “Live Data” tab).

Configuring Seeeduino LoRaWAN device template

Then I mapped the Azure IoT Central Device Group to my Azure IoT Central Enrollment Group

Associating Device Group with Group Enrollment configuration

The Device Template @Id can be configured as the “default” template for all the devices in a TTI application in the app.settings.json file.

{
...
   "ProgramSettings": {
      "Applications": {
...
      "seeeduinolorawan": {
        "AzureSettings": {
           "DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings": {
              "IdScope": "...",
              "GroupEnrollmentKey": "..."
            }
         },
         "DTDLModelId": "dtmi:ttnv3connectorclient:SeeeduinoLoRaWAN4cz;1",
         "MQTTAccessKey": "...",
         "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true,
         "DevicePageSize": 10
      }
   }.
...

The Device Template @Id can also be set using a dtdlmodelid attribute in a TTI end device settings so devices can be individually configured.

TTI Application EndDevice dtdlmodelid attribute usage

At startup the TTI Gateway enumerates through the devices in each application configured in the app.settings.json. The Azure Device Provisioning Service(DPS) is used to retrieve each device’s connection string and configure it in Azure IoT Central if required.

Azure IoT Central Device Group with no provisioned Devices
TTI Connector application connecting and provisioning EndDevices
Azure IoT Central devices mapped to an Azure IoT Central Template via the modelID

The ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData optional parameter of the DPS RegisterAsync method has a JSON property which is used to the specify the device ModelID.

using (var transport = new ProvisioningTransportHandlerAmqp(TransportFallbackType.TcpOnly))
{
	ProvisioningDeviceClient provClient = ProvisioningDeviceClient.Create( 
		Constants.AzureDpsGlobalDeviceEndpoint,
		deviceProvisiongServiceSettings.IdScope,
		securityProvider,
		transport);

	DeviceRegistrationResult result;

	if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(modelId))
	{
		ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData = new ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData()
		{
			JsonData = $"{{\"modelId\": \"{modelId}\"}}"
		};

		result = await provClient.RegisterAsync(provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData, stoppingToken);
	}
	else
    {
		result = await provClient.RegisterAsync(stoppingToken);
	}

	if (result.Status != ProvisioningRegistrationStatusType.Assigned)
	{
		_logger.LogError("Config-DeviceID:{0} Status:{1} RegisterAsync failed ", deviceId, result.Status);

		return false;
	}

	IAuthenticationMethod authentication = new DeviceAuthenticationWithRegistrySymmetricKey(result.DeviceId, (securityProvider as SecurityProviderSymmetricKey).GetPrimaryKey());

	deviceClient = DeviceClient.Create(result.AssignedHub, authentication, transportSettings);
}

My implementation was “inspired” by TemperatureController project in the PnP Device Samples.

Azure IoT Central Dashboard with Seeeduino LoRaWAN devices around my house that were “automagically” provisioned

I need to do some testing to confirm my code works reliably with both DPS and user provided connection strings. The RegisterAsync call is currently taking about four seconds which could be an issue for TTI applications with many devices.

TTI V3 Gateway Azure IoT Hub Support

After a couple of weeks work my The Things Industries(TTI) V3 gateway is in beta testing. For this blog post I have configured five Seeeduino LoRaWAN devices. My sensor nodes connect to an Azure IoT Hub with a Shared Access Signature(SAS) device policy connection string. I’m using Device Twin Explorer to display Telemetry from and send messages to the sensor nodes. I have also configured Azure Stream Analytics and PowerBI to graph telemetry from the sensor nodes.

Device Twin Explorer displaying telemetry from one of the Seeeduino devices

My integration uses only queued messages as often they won’t be delivered to the sensor node immediately, especially if the sensor node only sends an uplink message every 30 minutes/hour/day.

The confirmed flag should be used with care as the Azure IoT Hub messages may expire before a delivery Ack/Nack/Failed is received from the TTI.

PowerBI graph of temperature and humidity in my garage over 24 hours

To send a downlink message, TTI needs a LoRaWAN port number (plus optional queue, confirmed and priority values) which is specified in the Azure IoT Hub message custom properties.

Device explorer displaying a raw payload message which has been confirmed delivered
TTI device live data tab displaying raw payload in downlink message information tab
Azure IoT Connector console application sending raw payload to sensor node with confirmation ack
Arduino monitor displaying received raw payload from TTI

If the Azure IoT Hub message payload is valid JSON it is copied into the payload decoded downlink message property. and if it is not valid JSON it assumed to be a Base64 encoded value and copied into the payload raw downlink message property.

try
{
	// Split over multiple lines in an attempt to improve readability. A valid JSON string should start/end with {/} for an object or [/] for an array
	if (!(payloadText.StartsWith("{") && payloadText.EndsWith("}"))
										&&
		(!(payloadText.StartsWith("[") && payloadText.EndsWith("]"))))
	{
		throw new JsonReaderException();
	}

	downlink.PayloadDecoded = JToken.Parse(payloadText);
}
catch (JsonReaderException)
{
	downlink.PayloadRaw = payloadText;
}

Like the Azure IoT Central JSON validation I had to add a check that the string started with a “{” and finished with a “}” (a JSON object) or started with a “[” and finished with a “]” (a JSON array) as part of the validation process.

Device explorer displaying a JSON payload message which has been confirmed delivered

I normally wouldn’t use exceptions for flow control but I can’t see a better way of doing this.

TTI device live data tab displaying JSON payload in downlink message information tab
Azure IoT Connector console application sending JSON payload to sensor node with confirmation ack
Arduino monitor displaying received JSON payload from TTI

The build in TTI decoder only supports downlink decoded payloads with property names “value_0” through “value_x” custom encoders may support other property names.

TTI V3 Gateway Azure IoT Central Support

After a couple of weeks work my The Things Industries(TTI) V3 gateway is in beta testing. For this blog post the client is a GHI Electronics Fezduino with a RAK811 LPWAN Evaluation Board(EVB). My test device was configured in Azure IoT Central by the Device Provisioning Service(DPS) and I then manually migrated the device to each of the four templates used in this post.

The first step was to display the temperature and barometric pressure values from the Seeedstudio Grove BMP180 attached to my sensor node.

Sensor node displaying temperature and barometric pressure values
Azure IoT Central temperature and barometric pressure telemetry configuration
Azure IoT Central Telemetry Dashboard displaying temperature and barometric pressure values

The next step was to configure a simple Azure IoT Central command to send to the sensor node. This was a queued request with no payload. An example of this sort of command would be a request for a sensor node to reboot or turn on an actuator.

My integration uses only offline queued commands as often messages won’t be delivered to the sensor node immediately, especially if the sensor node only sends a message every half hour/hour/day. The confirmed flag should be used with care as the Azure IoT Hub messages may expire before a delivery Ack/Nack/Failed is received from the TTI and it consumes downlink bandwidth.

if (message.Properties.ContainsKey("method-name"))
{
}

I determine an Azure IoT Hub message is an Azure IoT Central command by the presence of the “method-name” property. If the Azure IoT Central command does not have a request payload the Azure IoT Hub message payload will contain a single “@” character so the Azure IoT Connector sends a TTI downlink message with an empty raw payload via the TTI Data API(MQTT).

if (payloadText.CompareTo("@") != 0)
{
   .
}
else
{
   downlink.PayloadRaw = "";
}
Azure IoT Central command with out a request payload value command configuration

To send a downlink message, TTI needs a LoRaWAN port number (plus optional queue, confirmed and priority values) which can’t be provided via the Azure IoT Central command setup so these values are configured in the app.settings file.

Each TTI application has zero or more Azure IoT Central command configurations which supply the port, confirmed, priority and queue settings.

  "ProgramSettings": {
    "Applications": {
      "application1": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          ...
          }
        },
        "MQTTAccessKey": "...",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": false,
        "MethodSettings": {
          "Reboot": {
            "Port": 21,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
        }
      },
      "seeeduinolorawan": {
        "AzureSettings": {
        }
        "MQTTAccessKey": "...",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true,
        "DevicePageSize": 10
      }
    },
    "TheThingsIndustries": {
...
   }
}
Azure IoT Central simple command dashboard
Azure IoT Central simple command initiation
Azure IoT TTI connector application sending a simple command to my sensor node
Sensor node display simple command information. The note message payload is empty

The next step was to configure a more complex Azure IoT Central command to send to the sensor node. This was a queued request with a single value payload. An example of this sort of command could be setting the speed of a fan or the maximum temperature of a freezer for an out of band (OOB) notification to be sent.

Azure IoT Central single value command configuration
  "ProgramSettings": {
    "Applications": {
      "application1": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          ...
          }
        },
        "MQTTAccessKey": "...",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": false,
        "MethodSettings": {
          "Reboot": {
            "Port": 21,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
          "value_0": {
            "Port": 30,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
          "value_1": {
            "Port": 30,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
        }
      },
      "seeeduinolorawan": {
        "AzureSettings": {
        }
        "MQTTAccessKey": "...",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true,
        "DevicePageSize": 10
      }
    },
    "TheThingsIndustries": {
...
   }
}

The value_0 settings are for the minimum temperature the value_1 settings are for the maximum temperature value.

Azure IoT Central single value command initiation
Azure IoT TTI connector application sending a single value command to my sensor node
Sensor node displaying single value command information. There are two downlink messages and each payload contains a single value

The single value command payload contains the textual representation of the value e.g. “true”/”false” or “1.23” which are also valid JSON. This initially caused issues as I was trying to splice a single value into the decoded payload.

I had to add a check that the string started with a “{” and finished with a “}” (a JSON object) or started with a “[” and finished with a “]” (a JSON array) as part of the validation process.

For a single value command the payload decoded has a single property with the method-name value as the name and the payload as the value. For a command with a JSON payload the message payload is copied into the PayloadDecoded.

I normally wouldn’t use exceptions for flow control but I can’t see a better way of doing this.

	try
	{
		// Split over multiple lines to improve readability
		if (!(payloadText.StartsWith("{") && payloadText.EndsWith("}"))
									&&
			(!(payloadText.StartsWith("[") && payloadText.EndsWith("]"))))
		{
			throw new JsonReaderException();
		}

		downlink.PayloadDecoded = JToken.Parse(payloadText);
	}
	catch (JsonReaderException)
	{
		try
		{
			JToken value = JToken.Parse(payloadText);

			downlink.PayloadDecoded = new JObject(new JProperty(methodName, value));
		}
		catch (JsonReaderException)
		{
			downlink.PayloadDecoded = new JObject(new JProperty(methodName, payloadText));
		}
	}

The final step was to configure an another Azure IoT Central command with a JSON payload to send to the sensor node. A “real-world” example of this sort of command would be setting the minimum and maximum temperatures of a freezer in a single downlink message.

Azure IoT Central JSON payload command setup
Azure IoT Central JSON payload command payload configuration
  "ProgramSettings": {
    "Applications": {
      "application1": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          ...
          }
        },
        "MQTTAccessKey": "...",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": false,
        "MethodSettings": {
          "Reboot": {
            "Port": 21,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
          "value_0": {
            "Port": 30,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
          "value_1": {
            "Port": 30,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
          "TemperatureOOBAlertMinimumAndMaximum": {
            "Port": 30,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          }
        }
      },
      "seeeduinolorawan": {
        "AzureSettings": {
        }
        "MQTTAccessKey": "...",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true,
        "DevicePageSize": 10
      }
    },
    "TheThingsIndustries": {
...
   }
}
Azure IoT Central JSON payload command initiation

Azure IoT TTI connector application sending a JSON payload command to my sensor node
Sensor node displaying JSON command information. There is a single payload which contains a two values

The build in TTI decoder only supports downlink decoded payloads with property names “value_0” through “value_x” which results in some odd command names and JSON payload property names. (Custom encoders may support other property names). Case sensitivity of some configuration values also tripped me up.

TTN V3 Gateway Downlink Broken

While adding Azure Device Provisioning Service (DPS) support to my The Things Industries(TTI)/The Things Network(TTN) Azure IoT Hub/Azure IoT Central Connector I broke Cloud to Device(C2D)/Downlink messaging. I had copied the Advanced Message Queuing Protocol(AMQP) connection pooling configuration code from my The Things Network Integration assuming it worked.

return DeviceClient.CreateFromConnectionString(connectionString, deviceId,
	new ITransportSettings[]
	{
		new AmqpTransportSettings(TransportType.Amqp_Tcp_Only)
		{
			PrefetchCount = 0,
			AmqpConnectionPoolSettings = new AmqpConnectionPoolSettings()
			{
				Pooling = true,
			}
		}
	});

I hadn’t noticed this issue in my Azure IoT The Things Network Integration because I hadn’t built support for C2D messaging. After some trial and error I figured out the issue was the PrefetchCount initialisation.

return DeviceClient.CreateFromConnectionString(connectionString, deviceId,
	new ITransportSettings[]
	{
		new AmqpTransportSettings(TransportType.Amqp_Tcp_Only)
		{
			AmqpConnectionPoolSettings = new AmqpConnectionPoolSettings()
			{
				Pooling = true,
			}
		}
	});

From the Azure Service Bus (I couldn’t find any specifically Azure IoT Hub ) documentation

Even though the Service Bus APIs do not directly expose such an option today, a lower-level AMQP protocol client can use the link-credit model to turn the “pull-style” interaction of issuing one unit of credit for each receive request into a “push-style” model by issuing a large number of link credits and then receive messages as they become available without any further interaction. Push is supported through the MessagingFactory.PrefetchCount or MessageReceiver.PrefetchCount property settings. When they are non-zero, the AMQP client uses it as the link credit.

n this context, it’s important to understand that the clock for the expiration of the lock on the message inside the entity starts when the message is taken from the entity, not when the message is put on the wire. Whenever the client indicates readiness to receive messages by issuing link credit, it is therefore expected to be actively pulling messages across the network and be ready to handle them. Otherwise the message lock may have expired before the message is even delivered. The use of link-credit flow control should directly reflect the immediate readiness to deal with available messages dispatched to the receiver.

In the Azure IoT Hub SDK the prefetch count is set to 50 (around line 57) and throws an exception if less that zero (around line 90) and there is some information about tuning the prefetch value for Azure Service Bus.

The best explanation I count find was Github issue which was a query “What exactly does the PrefetchCount property control?”

“You are correct, the pre-fetch count is used to set the link credit over AMQP. What this signifies is the max. no. of messages that can be “in-flight” from the service to the client, at any given time. (This value defaults to 50 for the IoT Hub .NET client).
The client specifies its link-credit, that the service must respect. In simplest terms, any time the service sends a message to the client, it decrements the link credit, and will continue sending messages until linkCredit > 0. Once the client acknowledges the message, it will increment the link credit.”

In summary if Prefetch count is set to zero on startup in my application no messages will be sent to the client….

TTN V3 Gateway Azure Configuration Simplication

To reduce complexity the initial version of the V3 TTI gateway didn’t support the Azure Device Provisioning Service(DPS). In preparation for this I had included DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings object in both the Application and AzureSettingsDefault sections.

After trialing a couple of different approaches I have removed the AzureSettingsDefault. If an application has a connectionstring configured that is used, if there is not one then the DPS configuration is used, if there are neither currently the application logs an error. In the future I will look at adding a configuration option to make the application optionally shutdown

{
  ...
  "ProgramSettings": {
    "Applications": {
      "application1": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          "IoTHubConnectionString": "HostName=TT...n1.azure-devices.net;SharedAccessKeyName=device;SharedAccessKey=Am...M=",
          "DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings": {
            "IdScope": "0n...3B",
            "GroupEnrollmentKey": "Kl...Y="
          }
        },
        "MQTTAccessKey": "NNSXS.HC...YQ",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": false,
        "DevicePageSize": 10
      },
      "seeeduinolorawan": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          "IoTHubConnectionString": "HostName=TT...n2.azure-devices.net;SharedAccessKeyName=device;SharedAccessKey=D2q...L8=",
          "DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings": {
            "IdScope": "0n...3B",
            "GroupEnrollmentKey": "Kl...Y="
          }
        },
        "MQTTAccessKey": "NNSXS.V44...42A",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true,
        "DevicePageSize": 10
      }
    },

    "TheThingsIndustries": {
      "MqttServerName": "eu1.cloud.thethings.industries",
      "MqttClientId": "MQTTClient",
      "MqttAutoReconnectDelay": "00:00:05",
      "Tenant": "br...st",
      "ApiBaseUrl": "https://br..st.eu1.cloud.thethings.industries/api/v3",
      "ApiKey": "NNSXS.NR...SA",
      "Collaborator": "de...le",
      "DevicePageSize": 10,
      "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true
    }
  }
}

The implementation of failing back from application to default settings wasn’t easy to implement, explain or document.

TTN V3 Gateway Configuration, Deployment and Operation

After configuring, deploying and then operating my The Things Network(TTN) V2 gateway I have made some changes to my The Things Industries(TTI) V3 gateway.

TTI V3 Gateway running as a console application on my desktop

Azure IoT integration can be configured at the Device (TTN Device “azureintegration” attribute).

TTN Device AzureIntegration Attribute

Then falls back to the Application default (TTN application “azureintegrationdevicedefault” attribute).

TTN Application AzureIntegrationDeviceDefault attribute.

Then falls back to the “DeviceIntegrationDefault” setting for the Application then finally “DeviceIntegrationDefault” setting for the webjob the in the app.settings.json file

{
  ...
  "ProgramSettings": {
    "Applications": {
      "application1": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          "IoTHubConnectionString": "HostName=TT...n1.azure-devices.net;SharedAccessKeyName=device;SharedAccessKey=Am...M=",
          "DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings": {
            "IdScope": "0n...3B",
            "GroupEnrollmentKey": "Kl...Y="
          }
        },
        "MQTTAccessKey": "NNSXS.HC...YQ",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": false,
        "DevicePageSize": 10
      },
      "seeeduinolorawan": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          "IoTHubConnectionString": "HostName=TT...n2.azure-devices.net;SharedAccessKeyName=device;SharedAccessKey=D2q...L8=",
          "DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings": {
            "IdScope": "0n...3B",
            "GroupEnrollmentKey": "Kl...Y="
          }
        },
        "MQTTAccessKey": "NNSXS.V44...42A",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true,
        "DevicePageSize": 10
      }
    },

    "AzureSettingsDefault": {
      "IoTHubConnectionString": "HostName=TT...ors.azure-devices.net;SharedAccessKeyName=device;SharedAccessKey=yd...k=",
      "DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings": {
        "IdScope": "0n...3B",
        "GroupEnrollmentKey": "Kl...Y="
      }
    },

    "TheThingsIndustries": {
      "MqttServerName": "eu1.cloud.thethings.industries",
      "MqttClientId": "MQTTClient",
      "MqttAutoReconnectDelay": "00:00:05",
      "Tenant": "br...st",
      "ApiBaseUrl": "https://br..st.eu1.cloud.thethings.industries/api/v3",
      "ApiKey": "NNSXS.NR...SA",
      "Collaborator": "de...le",
      "DevicePageSize": 10,
      "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true
    }
  }
}

This approach is now used for most of the application settings to recue the amount of configuration required for a small scale deployment.

To reduce complexity the initial version of the V3 TTI gateway doesn’t support Azure IoT Central and the Device Provisioning Service(DPS).