Grasshoppers are here!
Initial tests show reception out to 150 meters with no direct line of sight (through houses and cars, etc) and >500 meters out in the open. This is pretty good performance for this simple pcb antenna! We have added an u.Fl connector so even longer-range can be achieved with an external antenna.
This is Grasshopper, a small (0.71 " x 1.76") development board with Murata's CMWX1ZZABZ-078 FCC certified module containing ST Microelectronics' STM32L082 32 MHz Cortex M0+ MCU with 192 kByte of flash and 20 kBytes of RAM and Sematech's SX1276 LoRa radio. The development board exposes 19 GPIOs to the user as well as 3V3, GND, VIN, and VREF (for the analog sector), has an indicator led on GPIO 13 as well as a power-on led that can be disabled via a solder jumper for lowest power usage, and has an on-board antenna suitable for either 868 or 915 MHz.
The Grasshopper development board is intended to be programmed using an Arduino IDE (just like Ladybug, Butterfly, and Dragonfly), flashing new programs and receiving serial output through the microB USB connector. But we have exposed the SWD port as well for those users who prefer to use traditional tool chains and debuggers.
We are extending our successful STM32L4 Arduino core to the Grasshopper STM32L082 variant to allow all of the usual serial protocols and peripheral utilities expected for an Arduino-programmable development board. The Arduino core is not yet available but will be soon.
The board can be powered from the USB connector or from a 1S LiPo battery (3.5 < VIN < 5.5 V). There is a JST port for connecting a LiPo or power may be applied to VIN and GND on the board edge. The Grasshopper LoRa development board uses an NCV8170 3V3 LDO with 150 mA output for power management. This LDO has a quiescent current of just 500 nA allowing the ultra-low potential of LoRa to be realized in this design.
BLE and wifi are great and each has its niche. BLE requires low average power (~ 1 mA) and is great for streaming small amounts of data (~1 kByte per second) at short range (<10 meters), while wifi can stream large amounts of data (100s of kBytes per second) at relatively longer range (~100 meters) but at much larger power budgets (10s of mA). LoRa promises the best of both worlds, offering ultra-low power usage (< 1 mA average power) and ultra-long range (> 1 km).
We wanted to get started in this wonderful new radio sector and what better way than with Murata's new LoRa radio module, which offers a compact and complete solution that doesn't require an external antenna and allows a super small development board perfect for remote applications and even for wearable use!
This is a small development board that has everything you need to get started using the next big thing in wireless technology. Order some pcbs from OSH Park and assemble some of your own or buy a fully assembled and tested board here and see how easy it can be to make LoRa work in your applications!
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