Moving on to next generation setup

Hi fellows, you have helped many times, and this time I am having faith in your expertise again.

I want to sketch the next generation of the setup I am providing to customers. When relevant, I am delivering the first and second prototype of new products that are used for biology research or agricultural monitoring, if the product is successful someone else is taking over to mature and scale it.

Gadgeteer has been great for that, combining with other china-modules where relevant.

But the needs now has grown into remote management using phone and browser (mobile or wifi networking), frequent release of new logic to the boards and more sophisticated algorithms running locally (image recognition or pattern recognition with many sensors).

I have looked at the Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone based boards (including the new GHI offerings) which seems very meaningful, and I guess the linux based offerings will be my favorite. I have also re-considered the click boards and the amazing MikroBus.Net teams driver repository.

But there is a lot of unclear facts on the table, the most important questions being:

  1. Software complexity is high now, is there any remote-management platforms or concepts to easily upload some control-logic and create remote management features, monitoring and status.
  2. Is it possible to have systems online 24/7 using cellular networking and still being able to drive it on battery and solar power?
  3. What are the competing standards for connectors to modules, like click but maybe others?

Thanks for all input, and feedback. :smiley:

What about the new BeagleBone Blue? It’s got lots of connectors for easy prototyping and plenty of power. Since it uses the same OSD3358 chip that GHI uses, it would be a simple transition to a production unit. I haven’t quite figured out why they chose the connector they did since I’m not aware of any modules that use that connector but it probably wouldn’t be hard to slap new connectors on Grove modules to make them compatible.

Of course, you could just slap a Grove Base Cape on a BeagleBone WiFi and do the same thing if you don’t need everything the BB Blue offers.

Linux on BBB or on Raspberry Pi with Docker for remote management either using your own docker repo or with (I would also plug Sagitta, but the remote management/deployment aspects for Linux are not ready yet)

@ cyberh0me - no, not yet.

@ ianlee74 - the beaglebone blue is interesting, but I liked the cape concept, need audio and will probably need some module for that

@ mcalsyn - will keep an eye on Sagitta, but the resin concept looks like it has potential, ResinOS2.0 is due today with improved support for cellular, so maybe they have something cool cooking

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Rgd the Beaglebone blue: Doing a little research, it seems to be possible to connect 4G usb modem, usb audio card and a usb web-cam using a usb hub, anyone tried that?

@ njbuch - [quote]2. Is it possible to have systems online 24/7 using cellular networking and still being able to drive it on battery and solar power?[/quote]

We have been running several hundreds of online monitoring units driven by battery and solar power using cellular networks (2G and 3G) for years, many of them in agricultural monitoring.

The key issues are: solar radiation, cellular signal quality and strenght, solar panel voltage and battery voltage level. All of them should be measured and monitored. Agricultural monitoring is the best case because they measure solar radiation. You can get signal quality with AT+CSQ modem command, and get voltage levels through analog inputs.

Winter is usually a challenge, but also a tree shadow can give you a problem, so monitoring these variables is crucial. If you can´t have solar radiation, you still may infer it from solar panel voltage and battery voltage. See attached graph showing the relationship between solar rad and bat voltage.


You may find this interesting :
USB LTE modems are cheaper, but the antennae are not very good and I have had poor luck with drivers. At least the cape is specifically made for BBB.

I have not played with audio, but web cam’s do work (but again, you need to be careful to select one with driver support).

EDIT: Note that the cape adds two more USB ports, which may save you having to power a USB hub.