There has never been a better time to venture into the exciting world of the Internet of Things! IoT is on the verge of revolutionizing the way we live, and interact with the world. It has opened up an absolutely fantastic realm of new opportunities in the Cloud, and Computing domains. IoT has also helped a number of enterprise giants to realize a full and autonomous control over their assets.
If you ever wanted to take a bigger bite on the IoT network topology or wanted to set up your own “Things of a Network”, it would be prudent, to begin with setting up an IoT edge node.
Any end terminal device which interacts with the external environment, and connects to a cloud server over the public Internet, is an IoT Edge Node. There are a number of available options to design your own end terminals, but I’d explain the one which I think is the best from a cost point of view. The basic principles are the same and the design flow can be applied to whatever platform you choose for your hardware or software design.
An IoT Edge node essentially consists of the following key elements:
- A low power MCU with bare bone peripherals. There are a number of available options, such as ESP8266, ESP32, Texas Instruments’ Simple Link, and many more! The hardware choice strictly depends on what features do you want on your edge device. If you just have to capture sensor data and log them into a cloud database, ESP8266/32 seems a logical choice. Simple Link has a dedicated AWS RTOS right into the chip. You can just imagine the level of sophistication of these magical devices. For cellular IoT network, the available options depend on the access type provided by the carrier, such as NB-IoT, LTE Cat-M, etc. AkorIoT is considered as one of the best options due to its open hardware and software sources.
- Access network such as your home Wi-Fi, or cellular data network to provide Internet connectivity to your device. Your sensor data are sent and received over this access.
- A cloud-based application server to process the data generated by the Edge Node. Usually, the business logic is integrated as web services running on these data centers.
- Last but not the least, the transport protocol, such as MQTT (Message Queue Telemetry Transport), CoAP, etc.
ESP8266 as an Edge Node
ESP8266 as an Edge Node
This piece of wonder has got almost everything you need to set up your own small, and low powered IoT terminal. And it costs less than $5! How cool is that?
- An 802.11 b/g/n certified serial adapter
- An onboard SoC with an integrated 32-bit CPU and peripheral hardware
- Fast wake-up cycle
- 16 GPIOs with open drain output, each one capable of performing Pulse Width Modulation, 12-bit ADC, CPU interrupts, etc.
- Onboard TTL conversion hardware for 5 to 3.3 volts logic level shifting.
- Full support for I2C, and SPI protocols.
- Support for UART peripherals
All of this with a very powerful development community. We will start the project development based on NodeMCU. It is an open source firmware for ESP devices, which allows us to program it with Lua.
Hope you enjoyed unwinding IoTs…
Author: Vinit Shandilya
A Snehaa Speaks Original
Image Courtesey: Freepik