Serial Wireless to Internet Hub, do these already exist?

Thread Starter

Peter A Olt

Joined Dec 4, 2018
5
We have an interesting problem, we manufacture high-end sprinkler based mosquito control systems, and we want to make the product web accessible. But our machine is often mounted well outside the range of the homes Wi-Fi network and even beyond Wi-Fi range extender capability. Due to this we need to explore a different approach.

Our control panel already has an unused Serial Wireless card on it (part # RFM23BP 433Mhz), the range on this is apparently several hundred feet with very good signal integrity. The idea is to source a hub of some sort that will receive the serial wireless signal and have it connect to the home’s router using an ethernet cable. This hub will then communicate with a cloud-based server which will have a database of settings, log, etc for each machine. The homeowner or contractor will then use an app or webpage to log into the server and push/pull data.

I know this sounds complicated, but we have seen a similar product use this approach with good success. The product is called Solamist (https://remingtonsolar.com/products/solamist/).

We would very much appreciate any ideas or advice on how we could set our machine up to work like this. For example, are there hubs on the market we could use? Or are there even turn-key solutions with a hub and cloud-based database?

One additional piece of information – our machine also has an used Wi-Fi card on the board (part # WIFI ESP8266 ESP-04 module), but again this approach would not give us the range that we feel we will need. The last thing we want is unhappy customers because their machine makes erratic (or no) connection to the web.

Any thoughts or help is very much appreciated!

Kind Regards,

Peter Olt

CEO

Sprinkler Magician LLC

BTW - our website is: https://mosquitomagician.com/ you can see the machine there if interested.
 

Raymond Genovese

Joined Mar 5, 2016
1,658
It is an interesting problem. So, let me see if I understand this:

I looked at the Solamist owners manual and here is what I think they are doing...

On top of the actual sprayer unit there is a RF transmitter (that is the white box with the antenna). I don't know what frequency they are using and it could very well be a simple ESP8266 inside or something else, including a lower frequency protocol.

That unit's transmissions are available to a hub and of course it has to be both ways to allow control signals as well as report signals. That hub, also connects to the owner's WiFi router and enables the usage of the phone app.

So, the ranges involved are:
1: Unit to hub...from the manual, "The hub and the main unit need to be within 200 feet of each other."
2. From the hub to the user's router - that is not stated, but it is likely going to need to be reasonably close without any extenders as you mentioned.

The hub is going to both communicate to and from the unit and to and from the router. You can do this in a bunch of different ways. For example, an ESP8266, in the hub, could do a WiFi point-to-point communication with an ESP8266 in the sprayer unit with no router involved - I have done that lots of times and they are easy and effective remote control devices. Within the hub, a second ESP8266 - or probably even the same ESP8266 could also connect to the router. I haven't thought all that through carefully but two ESP8266's dedicated to the unit and the router, respectively and a micro-controller would work...I think (haven't done that myself).

Another way would be to use some industrial strength RF transceivers, like these, (which I was just looking at this morning and they appear to be quite cool) to negotiate communications between the unit and the hub which should give you much better distance than 200 feet and a a WiFi board/chip in the hub to communicate with the router - and a micro-controller to negotiate between the two.

Again, you may not need an additional micro-controller - I might, but not a sharper EE/Programmer :)

Hope this helps.
 

Thread Starter

Peter A Olt

Joined Dec 4, 2018
5
Thanks very much Raymond! You have duplicated the project very well. The only thing I would like to add is that the hub doesn't communicate to the homes router using Wi-Fi, instead it connects directly to the router using an ethernet cable. This way there is no Wi-Fi setup, firewalls, etc to have to negotiate. The hub, of course, does communicate to our machine using wireless serial as discussed.

I attached a diagram to hopefully make it easy to show the whole process as far as flow of data.

I would love to find a turn-key product to use as this hub............

Cheers

Peter
 

Attachments

Raymond Genovese

Joined Mar 5, 2016
1,658
Thanks very much Raymond! You have duplicated the project very well. The only thing I would like to add is that the hub doesn't communicate to the homes router using Wi-Fi, instead it connects directly to the router using an ethernet cable. This way there is no Wi-Fi setup, firewalls, etc to have to negotiate. The hub, of course, does communicate to our machine using wireless serial as discussed.

I attached a diagram to hopefully make it easy to show the whole process as far as flow of data.

I would love to find a turn-key product to use as this hub............

Cheers

Peter
https://www.amazon.com/SONOFF-Bridg...id=1543945876&sr=8-9&keywords=433+MHz+to+WiFi

There are lots of them - edited to add...search for 433+WiFi+Bridge but I don't know what's off the shelf that will do exactly what you want.

This is more like what I was thinking and may also illustrate why I don't design commercial products ;)

BD.jpg
 
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Thread Starter

Peter A Olt

Joined Dec 4, 2018
5
These are very close but we prefer to connect with Ethernet to the router as opposed to Wi-Fi. I tried searching for this variant but had no success as yet, everything seems to connect using Wi-Fi. Any thoughts?

Thanks again for your help!

Peter
 

Raymond Genovese

Joined Mar 5, 2016
1,658
Thanks Raymond, we will do a bit more research along this path and I'll let you know if we find what we are looking for :)
You're very welcome and there are lots of other folks on here that may weigh in with a lot more possibilities, so check back. I really do find the challenge interesting and would love to learn about the approach you end up taking.
 

Thread Starter

Peter A Olt

Joined Dec 4, 2018
5
It's always funny when you run into a project like this. Before we dive in head first to developing something, I have to remind myself that there must be 1000's of other companies that have had to solve this already, at least you would think so. The trick is finding the existing product that will be the best fit with minimal reworking / firmware development, etc.........
 
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