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Particle Mesh Networking Review – Part 2: Getting Started Guide with Argon & Xenon

Orange Pi Development Boards
Orange Pi Development Boards

I’ve just lately acquired a Particle Mesh IoT Improvement Package with one Argon WiFi + Mesh (802.15.four) board appearing as gateway, three Xenon Mesh boards, and numerous sensors and equipment.  I’ve already showcased the hardware within the first half within the assessment, so on this publish I’ll publish my expertise getting began with Particle Mesh networking utilizing the package.

Beside the package, you’ll want a couple of micro USB cables, a cell phone operating Android or iOS, a dependable Web connection (extra on that later), and a number PC for programming and debugging potential points.

First we’ll have to configure / setup the boards. Go to https://setup.particle.io to login or create an account for those who don’t have already got one, and you have to be introduced the next web page.

Particle Mesh SetupChoose Mesh, and also you’ll be requested to setup a gateway first. Any of the boards from Particle Mesh household may be setup as a gateway, however for our objective Argon board with WiFi + Mesh is the perfect candidate.

Particle Argon Gateway SetupYou’ll first want to attach the WiFi antenna to the board, and powered it with the offered micro USB to USB cable.

Particle Argon WiFi Antenna

Click on Subsequent to put in the cellular for Android or iOS. I initially did this on my Android pill, and after logging into the app with my Particle credentials, I clicked on the + button so as to add the Argon board.

Particle Android AppClick on to Enlarge

We’re being requested another time to ensure the antenna is related, and the Argon board powered over USB. We will now scan the QR card on the board with our telephone/pill.

Particle Argon SetupClick on to Enlarge

You need to see a spinning blue star with the textual content “Pairing with your Argon” Nevertheless, on my pill, it was caught perpetually, and even after one hour the star would nonetheless spin…. I ultimately switched to Vernee Apollo Lite Android smartphone, and though registration was sluggish (perhaps 5 minutes), it was profitable with the subsequent step being “Updating Device OS”. Word that my room is a bit darkish, and my telephone’s digital camera isn’t the perfect, so I struggled to scan the QR code. I had to make use of a flash mild, and transfer the telephone a bit round earlier than being profitable. So working in a nicely lit room, and never utilizing a crappy telephone does assist.

Particle Mesh Android AppClick on to Enlarge

Because the firmware replace is on-going, the board’s blinking LED turns into purple. That’s a 2-half course of that took about 30 minutes right here. As soon as it’s all completed, we’ll be requested whether or not we need to use this Argon in a mesh community.

Argon Mesh Network BillingClick on to Enlarge

I answered “Yes, Use in Mesh Network”, and a pop-up window requested me so as to add a bank card at https://console.particle.io/billing.  That’s all good, besides I don’t have a bank card. I tapped OK, and tried to pick “No, Don’t use in Mesh”, nevertheless it didn’t work. So I needed to restart the method, however the end result was the identical. A bank card was wanted to go additional.

So I requested by e-mail, and in addition in Particle’s group on November 17, and others additionally complained concerning the want for a bank card for preliminary testing. The corporate reacted shortly, carried out a repair of their beta quickly after, and on November 20 the up to date app was out there on the Google Play Retailer. You gained’t want a bank card when you solely have a single gateway, and fewer than 100 units in accordance with the pricing web page.

Argon Mesh Network NameClick on to Enlarge

I might full the Argon board registration with bank card afterwards.  I simply needed to give a reputation to the gateway “CNXSoft Mesh Gateway”, to the mesh community itself “CNXSoft Mesh”, and  set a password that we’ll use later so as to add Xenon nodes to the community.

I keep in an lodge room now, and my WiFi may be spotty with ping occasions to the  entry level typically leaping to a number of seconds, and even over ten seconds. So it ought to clarify why Argon’s registration took 5 minutes, and firmware replace near 30 minutes. Once I began to setup Xenon board, the firmware replace a part of the method all the time received caught after some time, and by no means resuming possible as a result of connection errors. I attempted a number of extra occasions, however no luck. So as an alternative I made a decision to maneuver every thing outdoors to have line-of-sight with the router positioned round 5 to six meters away.

Particle Mesh SetupClick on to Enlarge

The primary a part of Xenon setup could be very very similar to for the Argon board, we scan the QR code with the app, and firmware replace is mechanically utilized if out there. However as soon as it’s achieved, the Xenon board will scan for mesh networks.

Particle Xenon SetupClick on to Enlarge

It detected CNXMesh community we simply outlined, and the subsequent step is to press the MODE button for three seconds in your gateway (Argon right here, regardless of being proven a Xenon board) till the LED blinks blue, and scan the QR code on the Argon gateway once more. The app will then full the registration.

Particle Xenon Add Mesh NetworkClick on to Enlarge

We’ll be requested the community password so as to add the board, after which to call the Xenon node. I repeated this once more by including one other Xenon board referred to as “CNXMesh Node 2”, and setup was full.

Three boards LEDS flip strong cyan with some dimming on occasion. The corporate refers to this LED conduct as “breathing”.

Particle Mesh Network Argon Xenon SuccessLastly, we’re being requested to go to https://setup.particle.io?begin-constructing, and since I went away for some time, I used to be requested to login once more, and for additional safety we’re optionally being requested to allow two-step authentication.

Particle two-step authentication

So I downloaded Google Authenticator app on my telephone, and  scan the QR code confirmed within the net login.Particle Google AuthenticatorThe 2FA setup is self-explanatory, so I gained’t go into particulars. You’ll simply want your telephone, and enter the code exhibits in Google Authenticator every time you need to login to particle. This additionally works with command line instruments as we’ll see under.

Anyway, I might attain the “Start Building” web page with Hey, IoT World pattern that’s purported to ship a message to shout rainbows utilizing the constructed-in LED.

Particle Hello IoT WorldClick on to Enlarge

The one drawback is that it didn’t work for me with the error message: “Failed to signal the device. Please make sure that the device is online”. So I went to the console to check I might ping the Argon board (Sure)…

Particle Console Argon PingClick on to Enlarge

… and ran the diagnostics software, which didn’t report any points both.

Particle Argon diagnosticsClick on to Enlarge

So no drawback reported, besides the Hiya World pattern nonetheless doesn’t work for me.

We couldn’t discover a answer to this drawback, so as an alternative I used to be requested to work by means of the quickstart, and see the way it goes.  The information principally explains to setup the board as we’ve described above, then launch Particle Construct net IDE, and cargo a pattern.

Particle Build WebIDEClick on to Enlarge

The consumer interface is pretty intuitive, and the pattern codes have loads of remark to assist first time customers perceive the supply code. I’ve simply reduce out most feedback from the blink LED to point out the code solely:

It is going to look acquainted to makers used to Arduino programming… However crucial query stays to be answered: might I truly management and program my Argon board from the online IDE?

Particle Build ArgonClick on to Enlarge

The reply is sure, and it was fairly simple. Click on on the goal/units button on the left, choose Argon board, and click on on the sunshine bulb within the backside proper nook of the display.

Particle Build Argon Lightbulb

It is going to make the standing LED “shout rainbows”. Good! If you wish to load the blink LED program, click on on the lightning icon on the highest left menu to flash the code to the chosen board.

Particle Argon Flash LED Blink SampleClick on to Enlarge

If every part goes nicely, inside a couple of second the message “Flash/status – success” ought to be show on the underside of your net browser, and the Argon will reboot, and after a number of extra second, you need to discover D7 LED (near the micro USB port) blink blue each second.

Xenon D7 LED

When you’ve related an exterior LED on the breaboard to D0 pin,  it ought to blink as nicely.

Troubleshooting – Understanding LED patterns, and Particle CLI

Then I attempted to do the identical with the Xenon boards, however it might simply not work. Then I noticed the LED sample on each boards was not proper. If correctly related to the Mesh community, they need to breathe cyan shade. However as an alternative:

The LED shortly blink cyan and change to orange shade for a short while, earlier than restarting the loop with the cyan blinking. What does all of it imply? Particle has in depth documentation, so if was not troublesome to seek out a solution: if Xenon boards’ LED blink with cyan colours it means they try and connecting to the cloud), and the orange shade signifies dangerous server keys.

The repaid directions begin by putting in the Particle CLI in a Linux terminal:

You must then login to particle cloud from the command line, and as you possibly can see 2FA additionally work within the terminal:

Now join the Xenon board to your pc by way of USB, and put it into Listening mode by holding down MODE till it blinks blue. Then problem the next CLI command:

Take not of the Gadget ID for the subsequent step. Put the Xenon in DFU mode by holding down each the RESET and MODE buttons, releasing RESET and persevering with to carry down MODE till it blinks yellow and concern the instructions under:

Sadly, I nonetheless had the identical LED sample after restarting. After numerous makes an attempt, I made a decision to show off and activate all three boards on the similar time, and the 2 Xenon magically obtained again to their regular conduct connecting to the Particle cloud.

So I went again to Particle Construct net IDE to pick the Xenon boards, and begin the rainbow sign. It labored on each, however they need to be activated separately.

Xenon Rainbow LEDClick on to Enlarge

The perform is beneficial to seek out out which board is which. Flashing the blink LED pattern additionally labored, and once more you’ll be able to’t choose two Xenon boards on the similar time. It is advisable to choose one, and flash, and choose the opposite and flash. The process solely took perhaps 20 to 30 seconds for every board together with flashing the board, rebooting, and reconnecting to the Mesh community and Particle cloud.

Particle Xenon Web Connected LEDClick on to Enlarge

That’s all good, and I’m pleased to have lastly handle to blink an LED on the Mesh boards, however let’s attempt a extra pattern: net related LED that’s just like the straightforward blink LED pattern, besides your can management it from the Web with on and off instructions for the “led” perform as defined within the documentation.

Xenon Particle Console LED FunctionClick on to Enlarge

You’ll be able to ship the ship instructions by way of the Particle console as pictured above to activate and off D7 LED. Merely choose one among your Xenon board (e.g. CNXMesh_ _Node_1) within the console, scroll down a bit of till you get to the FUNCTIONS part, and enter “on” or “off” string within the “led” area, and click on on CALL to respectively activate or off the blue D7 LED.

Alternatively, you possibly can create your personal webpage to ship the command to toggle the LED:

Exchange your-system-ID-goes-right here with your precise gadget ID and substitute your-entry-token-goes-right here with your precise entry token, save the file as led.html (for instance). Each could be present in Particle Construct, with the gadget ID within the System/Goal area, and the entry token within the settings part.

As soon as it’s completed open the file into your favourite net browser. I barely modified the code, duplicating the shape part to help my two boards, and that’s what the web page seems like.

Xenon Web Connected LED HTML Page

After click on on Do it!, it’s going to ship the command, and present the JSON knowledge within the net browser. Click on again if you wish to ship one other command.

Particle JSON CodeLastly, you may also obtain the identical with Particle CLI from the command line through the use of the gadget identify. For instance:

I needed to run “led on” twice above due to packet loss with my WiFi connection. It’s even simpler with the command line, because you don’t want to seek out out concerning the system ID nor entry token. Particle CLI will know concerning the latter because you’ve logged in, and lookup the system ID from the better to recollect gadget identify.

That’s might be all for this getting began information. I’ve to confess the setup half was fairly irritating, first due to the bank card situation (now fastened by Particle), and due to my poor WiFi connection, however that’s unrelated to Particle. As soon as I labored across the setup, I discover Particle  Mesh answer fairly neat, because it’s very straightforward to program and management Mesh board remotely, and documentation seems to be excellent.The one factor I couldn’t figute out are why the “start building” web page with Whats up IoT world demo wouldn’t work, and the short-term difficulty  with Xenon boards (LED blinking orange). The latter might have been a WiFi connectivity challenge too.

The corporate additionally makes use of acquainted Arduino-like programming in Particle Construct net IDE, and OTA firmware works nicely offered your Web and WiFi connection are too. I solely coated a part of what’s attainable with Particle Mesh on this tutorial, as for instance the corporate has extra superior instruments reminiscent of Particle Dev desktop software out there for Home windows, Linux, and Mac OS.

In case you are within the answer you will get began by buying hardware on Particle’s on-line retailer in addition to Seeed Studio.