Setting up a The Things Network gateway

Submitted by cliff on Tue, 13/03/2018 - 17:53

Recently I have setup two different lorawan gateways for The Things Network. They are based on different concentrator boards.

  • RAK831 - Chinese built concentrator board based on the SX1301 by Semtech
  • IC880A - German built concentrator board based on the SX1301 by Semtech (buy here)

Technically the boards are mostly the same based on the same chipset, but there are a few minor differences, for example size and pinout. I have future plans to supply an APU2 from with a mPCIe concentrator board. Whenever one is available for a decent price that is :)

Antenna Setup

Currently the RAK831 is using it's stock antenna and the IC880A is connected to an Aurel GP868. Both are still indoor but that will change in the summer.

Hardware setup

  • IC880A - The IC880A uses a interface board designed by ch2i in my case. It couples to a raspberry pi 3 which does all the concentrator control and setup. Next it hands over the received packets to The Things Network.IC880
  • RAK831 - I ordered the RAK831 as a kit (complete with interface board antenna and RPI3)RAK831


Software setup

Both setups use the same software, the semtech packet forwarder. The software has been nicely bundled by ttn-zurich, and is available on their github. Following there howto it is basically enough to setup both boards. 

Basic requirements are a raspberry pi 3 that is preloaded with raspbian. Details are on the ttn-zurich github.

Currently the IC880A is running the Lora-Gateway 5.0.1 from semtech will the RAK831 is using Jac Kersing's MP Forwarder.

 I've put up a github repository with my work so far in integrating 5.0.1 into the ttn-zurich installer. At the moment it is not in working order.

Jac Kersing from The Things Network Forum suggested I use the MP Forwarder as it uses the TTN protocol instead of the legacey semtech udp forwarder. At the moment the RAK831 is using this to forward packets. The current installer with it is not really that nice in terms of packaging and installer process, that is why probably everyone is using the installer package by JP Meijers. It seems charles from ch2i already made a guide to install it on a PI without using docker or

Personally I have a dislike for, I will probably try to package the MP Forwarder in a raspbian package to make installation easier, altough this will probably be a RAK/IMST package only.