The LoRa technology infrastructure (the protocol being LoRaWAN) is typically laid out in the form of a star-of-stars topology. Apart from the final application – which would work in low frequency bands and deliver wide coverage – the framework also requires a robust network service and glitch-free firmware. On the hardware front, two elements make up the core of the LoRa setup – the device which has the actual chip, and the gateways. The function of the latter is ensuring smooth, lossless communication between the centralized network server (backend) and the LoRa-powered device(s). Data packets are scanned and captured by the gateways, and are then forwarded to the servers for further processing/handling. Over here, we will do a roundup of the best LoRa gateways:
LL-BST-8 LoRa Gateway
Powered by a powerful SX1301 mini-PCIe board (single computer board), this multi-featured gateway has a spacious 2GB RAM space for fast functionality and a gigabit ethernet setup. The built-in SSD disk and the advanced processor (800 MHz) bolster the performance of the LL-BST-8. The gateway also offers top-notch reliability – thanks to its AMD x64 architecture. It is mostly user-friendly, and facilitates quick and responsive M2M learning.
Raspberry Pi (with Semtech sx1301_ref design board)
To set up this popular LoRa gateway, a customized Semtech SX1301 concentrator board is attached to a series of single-board computers (a Raspberry Pi series). GPS/Geolocation is supported with the help of external accessories on this gateway, which can be used on three different frequency levels (433MHz, 868MHz and 902-908MHz). Ethernet is natively in-built within the gateway, while 3G and wifi connectivity can be added with plugins. The gateway BUS includes both SPI (Stateful Packet Inspection) and USB.
Cisco IR 910
This one operates as a powerful industrial router with a host of configuration options (including outdoor configuration and support for wifi and 3G cellular networks). A pre-tested daughterboard, working on the LoRaWAN protocol, is attached to the Cisco IR 910 – and this gateway also has multi-frequency compatibility. At a price tag upwards of $1500, this one is among the most expensive LoRa gateways out there – but the router does come with an excellent range of features and high-performance assurance.
Kerlink IoT Station
The SPI-BUS Kerlink LoRa router supports both ethernet and 3G connections and has a convenient outdoor configuration option. Two variants (27dBm and lower) are supported on this gateway. It also has native support for GPS-related services. The IoT station ranks high on the reliability count, and can be used for establishing practically all types of LoRa-based IoT connections.
OpenWrt (with LoRa mCard)
A Multitech LoRa mCard is used with the OpenWrt hardware to create this gateway. A separate radio adapter is required on the platform, on which ethernet connectivity is available (with options of 3G and Wifi being added through external accessories). All OpenWrt tools working with the Atheros MCU are supported on the gateway – which, interestingly, cannot be used on the 433MHz frequency band (868MHz and 902-908MHz are supported). The BUS type for this gateway is USB, and there is a customized platform for the European and the North American versions of the LoRa mCard.
This one is also based on the Raspberry Pi framework of single-board computers and offers maximum utilities as a personalized M2M base station. The gateway requires low levels of maintenance and investment – delivering great value to users setting up a LPWAN network with LoRa. The Toti-LoRa-pico tool has complete compatibility with the Raspberry Pi software system and is – under most circumstances – fast and dependable. This gateway has been designed by CALAO Systems.
The Lorrier LR2 is an optimized LoRa concentrator working with SPI BUS architecture. Outdoor configuration is supported, and the gateway works only on the 868MHz frequency band. The features of this gateway can be extended to include GPS, with the help of third-party accessories. No additional expenses for radio are required on this concentrator tool – and establishing new connections with the LR2 is relatively straightforward.
Multitech Conduit (with LoRa mCard)
A single box in this high-end indoor LoRa gateway houses a couple of concentrator cards (SX1301). Outdoor setup is available through external plugins. 3G connectivity is available as a configuration option and wifi can be added on to the hardware – which, obviously, comes with powerful built-in ethernet (at $449, the 3G-enabled version of Multitech Conduit is slightly pricier than the only ethernet-enabled version). The gateway ensures smooth communication via data packets on 868MHz and 902-908MHz bands.
Raspberry Pi (with IMST iC880A)
Just like the Raspberry Pi gateway with Semtech sx1301 design board, this one also supports both USB and SPI BUS modules. The hardware gains additional juice from the external LoRa concentrator – the IMST iC880A – attached to it. Depending on the function requirements, GPS feature can be added to this gateway as well. The single-board computer based gateway is operable on the 868MHz frequency spectrum.
OpenWrt MultiTech (with IMST iC880A)
Unlike the Raspberry Pi variant, this gateway works only with USB BUS…but most of the other features are comparable. Only ethernet is embedded within the hardware, while wifi and cellular data connectivity can be added on later. The price of this OpenWrt LoRa gateway is 199 Euros (the same as the USB-version of the Raspberry Pi gateway discussed in the previous point). With accessories, geolocation can be included in this gateway too.
(Bonus) LORANK 8
A powerful LoRa concentrator tool, with top-notch ethernet capabilities. The LORANK 8 tool is priced at 412 Euros, and can be used in the 868MHz frequency band. Outdoor configuration is possible and the gateway is created to work with the SPI BUS architecture.
ExpEmb is another fairly low-investment LoRa connection gateway, with SPI BUS and outdoor configuration option. Using a reliable, high-quality, customizable and responsive gateway is critical to the overall efficacy of a LoRa network – and all the hardware tools listed here promise optimal performance in that regard.