The Things Network Cayenne LPP Support

Uplink Encoding

In my applications the myDevices Cayenne Low power payload(LPP) uplink messages from my *duino devices are decoded by the built in The Things Network(TTN) decoder. I can also see the nicely formatted values in the device data view.

Downlink Encoding

I could successfully download raw data to the device but I found that manually unpacking it on the device was painful.

Raw data

I really want to send LPP formatted messages to my devices so I could use a standard LPP library. I initially populated the payload fields in the downlink message JSON. The TTN documentation appeared to indicate this was possible.

Download JSON payload format

Initially I tried a more complex data type because I was looking at downloading a location to the device.

Complex data type

I could see nicely formatted values in the device data view but they didn’t arrive at the device. I then tried simpler data type to see if the complex data type was an issue.

Simple Data Types

At this point I asked a few questions on the TTN forums and started to dig into the TTN source code.

Learning Go on demand

I had a look at the TTB Go code and learnt a lot as I figured out how the “baked in “encoder/decoder worked. I haven’t done any Go coding so it took a while to get comfortable with the syntax. The code my look a bit odd as a Pascal formatter was the closest I could get to Go.

In core/handler/cayennelpp/encoder.go there was

func (e *Encoder) Encode(fields map[string]interface{}, fPort uint8) ([]byte, bool, error) and func (d *Decoder) Decode(payload []byte, fPort uint8) (map[string]interface{}, bool, error)

Which was a positive sign…

Then in core/handler/convert_fields.go there are these two functions

> // ConvertFieldsUp converts the payload to fields using the application's payload formatter
> func (h *handler) ConvertFieldsUp(ctx ttnlog.Interface, _ *pb_broker.DeduplicatedUplinkMessage, appUp *types.UplinkMessage, dev *device.Device) error {
> 	// Find Application

and

> // ConvertFieldsDown converts the fields into a payload
> func (h *handler) ConvertFieldsDown(ctx ttnlog.Interface, appDown *types.DownlinkMessage, ttnDown *pb_broker.DownlinkMessage, _ *device.Device) error {

Then further down in the second function is this call

var encoder PayloadEncoder
	switch app.PayloadFormat {
	case application.PayloadFormatCustom:
		encoder = &CustomDownlinkFunctions{
			Encoder: app.CustomEncoder,
			Logger:  functions.Ignore,
		}
	case application.PayloadFormatCayenneLPP:
		encoder = &cayennelpp.Encoder{}
	default:
		return nil
	}var encoder PayloadEncoder
	switch app.PayloadFormat {
	case application.PayloadFormatCustom:
		encoder = &CustomDownlinkFunctions{
			Encoder: app.CustomEncoder,
			Logger:  functions.Ignore,
		}
	case application.PayloadFormatCayenneLPP:
		encoder = &cayennelpp.Encoder{}
	default:
		return nil
	}

Which I think calls

// Encode encodes the fields to CayenneLPP
func (e *Encoder) Encode(fields map[string]interface{}, fPort uint8) ([]byte, bool, error) {
	encoder := protocol.NewEncoder()
	for name, value := range fields {
		key, channel, err := parseName(name)
		if err != nil {
			continue
		}
		switch key {
		case valueKey:
			if val, ok := value.(float64); ok {
				encoder.AddPort(channel, float32(val))
			}
		}
	}
	return encoder.Bytes(), true, nil
}

Then right down at the very bottom of the call stack in keys.go

func parseName(name string) (string, uint8, error) {
	parts := strings.Split(name, "_")
	if len(parts) < 2 {
		return "", 0, errors.New("Invalid name")
	}
	key := strings.Join(parts[:len(parts)-1], "_")
	if key == "" {
		return "", 0, errors.New("Invalid key")
	}
	channel, err := strconv.Atoi(parts[len(parts)-1])
	if err != nil {
		return "", 0, err
	}
	if channel < 0 || channel > 255 {
		return "", 0, errors.New("Invalid range")
	}
	return key, uint8(channel), nil
}

At this point I started to hit the limits of my Go skills but with some trial and error I figured it out…

Executive Summary

The downlink payload values are sent as 2 byte floats with a sign bit, 100 multiplier. The fields have to be named “value_X” where X is is a byte value.

Dictionary<string, object> payloadFields = new Dictionary<string, object>();
payloadFields.Add(“value_0”, 0.0);
//00-00-00
payloadFields.Add(“value_1”, 1.0);
//01-00-64
payloadFields.Add(“value_2”, 2.0);
//02-00-C8
payloadFields.Add(“value_3”, 3.0);
//03-01-2C
payloadFields.Add(“value_4”, 4.0);
//04-01-90

payloadFields.Add(“value_0”, -0.0);
//00-00-00
payloadFields.Add(“value_1”, -1.0);
//01-FF-9C
payloadFields.Add(“value_2”, -2.0);
//02-FF-38
payloadFields.Add(“value_3”, -3.0);
//03-FE-D4
payloadFields.Add(“value_4”, -4.0);
//04-FE-70

I could see these arrive on my TinyCLR plus RAK811 device and could manually unpack them

The stream of bytes can be decoded on an Arduino using the electronic cats library (needs a small modification) with code this

byte data[] = {0xff,0x38} ; // bytes which represent -2 
float value = lpp.getValue( data, 2, 100, 1);
Serial.print("value:");
Serial.println(value);

It is possible to use the “baked” in Cayenne Encoder/Decoder to send payload fields to a device but I’m not certain is this is quite what myDevices/TTN intended.

The Things Network HTTP Integration Part13

Connection multiplexing

For the Proof of Concept(PoC) I had used a cache to store Azure IoT Hub connections to reduce the number of calls to the Device Provisioning Service(DPS).

Number of connections with no pooling

When stress testing with 1000’s of devices my program hit the host connection limit so I enabled Advanced Message Queuing Protocol(AMQP) connection pooling.

return DeviceClient.Create(result.AssignedHub,
                  authentication,
                  new ITransportSettings[]
                  {
                     new AmqpTransportSettings(TransportType.Amqp_Tcp_Only)
                     {
                        PrefetchCount = 0,
                        AmqpConnectionPoolSettings = new AmqpConnectionPoolSettings()
                        {
                           Pooling = true,
                        }
                     }
                  }
               );

My first attempt failed as I hadn’t configured “TransportType.Amqp_Tcp_Only” which would have allowed the AMQP implementation to fallback to other protocols which don’t support pooling.

Exception caused by not using TransportType.Amqp_Tcp_Only

I then deployed the updated code and ran my 1000 device stress test (note the different x axis scales)

Number of connections with pooling

This confirmed what I found in the Azure.AMQP source code

/// <summary>
/// The default size of the pool
/// </summary>
/// <remarks>
/// Allows up to 100,000 devices
/// </remarks>
/// private const uint DefaultPoolSize = 100;

The Things Network HTTP Integration Part12

Removing the DIY cache

For the Proof of Concept(PoC) I had written a simple cache using a ConcurrentDictionary to store Azure IoT Hub connections to reduce the number of calls to the Device Provisioning Service(DPS).

Device Provisioning Service calls in stress test

For a PoC the DIY cache was ok but I wanted to replace it with something more robust like the .Net ObjectCache which is in the System.Runtime.Caching namespace.

I started by replacing the ConcurrentDictionary declaration

static readonly ConcurrentDictionary<string, DeviceClient> DeviceClients = new ConcurrentDictionary<string, DeviceClient>();
     

With an ObjectCache declaration.

static readonly ObjectCache DeviceClients = MemoryCache.Default;
  

Then, where there were compiler errors I updated the method call.

// See if the device has already been provisioned or is being provisioned on another thread.
if (DeviceClients.Add(registrationId, deviceContext, cacheItemPolicy))
{
   log.LogInformation("RegID:{registrationId} Device provisioning start", registrationId);
...

One difference I found was that ObjectCache throws an exception if the value is null. I was using a null value to indicate that the Device Provisioning Service(DPS) process had been initiated on another thread and was underway.

I have been planning to add support for downlink messages so I added a new class to store the uplink (Azure IoT Hub DeviceClient) and downlink ( downlink_url in the uplink message) details.

 public class DeviceContext
   {
      public DeviceClient Uplink { get; set; }
      public Uri Downlink { get; set; }
   }

For the first version the only functionality I’m using is sliding expiration which is set to one day

CacheItemPolicy cacheItemPolicy = new CacheItemPolicy()
{
   SlidingExpiration = new TimeSpan(1, 0, 0, 0),
   //RemovedCallback
};

DeviceContext deviceContext = new DeviceContext()
{
   Uplink = null,
   Downlink = new Uri(payload.DownlinkUrl)
};

I didn’t have to make many changes and I’ll double check my implementation in the next round of stress and soak testing.

The Things Network HTTP Integration Part11

Moving Secrets to KeyVault

The application configuration file contained sensitive information like Device Provision Service(DPS) Group Enrollment Symmetric Keys and Azure IoT Hub connection strings which is OK for a proof of concept (PoC) but sub-optimal for production deployments.

"DeviceProvisioningService": {
      "GlobalDeviceEndpoint": "global.azure-devices-provisioning.net",
      "ScopeID": "",
      "EnrollmentGroupSymmetricKeyDefault": "TopSecretKey",
      "DeviceProvisioningPollingDelay": 500,
      "ApplicationEnrollmentGroupMapping": {
         "Application1": "TopSecretKey1",
         "Application2": "TopSecretKey2"
      }
   }

The Azure Key Vault is intended for securing sensitive information like connection strings so I added one to my resource group.

Azure Key Vault overview and basic metrics

I wrote a wrapper which resolves configuration settings based on the The Things Network(TTN) application identifier and port information in the uplink message payload. The resolve methods start by looking for configuration for the applicationId and port (separated by a – ), then the applicationId and then finally falling back to a default value. This functionality is used for AzureIoTHub connection strings, DPS IDScopes, DPS Enrollment Group Symmetric Keys, and is also used to format the cache keys.

public class ApplicationConfiguration
{
const string DpsGlobaDeviceEndpointDefault = "global.azure-devices-provisioning.net";

private IConfiguration Configuration;

public void Initialise( )
{
   // Check that KeyVault URI is configured in environment variables. Not a lot we can do if it isn't....
   if (Configuration == null)
   {
      string keyVaultUri = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable("KeyVaultURI");
      if (string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(keyVaultUri))
      {
         throw new ApplicationException("KeyVaultURI environment variable not set");
      }

      // Load configuration from KeyVault 
      Configuration = new ConfigurationBuilder()
         .AddEnvironmentVariables()
         .AddAzureKeyVault(keyVaultUri)
         .Build();
   }
}

public string DpsGlobaDeviceEndpointResolve()
{
   string globaDeviceEndpoint = Configuration.GetSection("DPSGlobaDeviceEndpoint").Value;
   if (string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(globaDeviceEndpoint))
   {
      globaDeviceEndpoint = DpsGlobaDeviceEndpointDefault;
   }

   return globaDeviceEndpoint;
}

public string ConnectionStringResolve(string applicationId, int port)
{
   // Check to see if there is application + port specific configuration
   string connectionString = Configuration.GetSection($"AzureIotHubConnectionString-{applicationId}-{port}").Value;
   if (!string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(connectionString))
   {
      return connectionString;
   }

   // Check to see if there is application specific configuration, otherwise run with default
   connectionString = Configuration.GetSection($"AzureIotHubConnectionString-{applicationId}").Value;
   if (!string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(connectionString))
   {
      return connectionString;
   }

   // get the default as not a specialised configuration
   connectionString = Configuration.GetSection("AzureIotHubConnectionStringDefault").Value;

   return connectionString;
}

public string DpsIdScopeResolve(string applicationId, int port)
{
   // Check to see if there is application + port specific configuration
   string idScope = Configuration.GetSection($"DPSIDScope-{applicationId}-{port}").Value;
   if (!string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(idScope))
   {
      return idScope;
   }

   // Check to see if there is application specific configuration, otherwise run with default
   idScope = Configuration.GetSection($"DPSIDScope-{applicationId}").Value;
   if (!string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(idScope))
   {
      return idScope;
   }

   // get the default as not a specialised configuration
   idScope = Configuration.GetSection("DPSIDScopeDefault").Value;

   if (string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(idScope))
   {
      throw new ApplicationException($"DPSIDScope configuration invalid");
   }

   return idScope;
}

The values of Azure function configuration settings are replaced by a reference to the secret in the Azure Key Vault.

Azure Function configuration value replacement

In the Azure Key Vault “Access Policies” I configured an “Application Access Policy” so my Azure TTNAzureIoTHubMessageV2Processor function identity could retrieve secrets.

Azure Key Vault Secrets

I kept on making typos in the secret names and types which was frustrating.

Azure Key Vault secret

While debugging in Visual Studio you may need to configure the Azure Identity so the application can access the Azure Key Vault.