Measuring a LoRa Network : Performance, Possibilities and Limitations

University essay from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för programvaruteknik; Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för programvaruteknik

Abstract: The main goal of this thesis is to highlight the various limitations that the LPWAN LoRa and by proxy other similar technologies currently suffers from to give further insight into how these limitations can affect implementations and products using such a network. The thesis will be supported by experiments that test how a LoRa network gets affected by different environmental attributes such as distance, height and surrounding area by measuring the signal strength, signal to noise ratio and any resulting packet loss. The experiments are conducted using a fully deployed LoRa network made up of a gateway and sensor available to the public. To successfully deploy a LoRa network one needs to have concrete information about how to set it up depending on different use cases as battery lifetime and a solid connection has to be kept in mind. We test the various performance aspects of a LoRa network including signal quality and packet loss at different communication ranges. In addition to that we also test different environments and investigate how these can impact the performance. The conclusions made in this thesis are that a LoRa network is limited in its use cases for smaller scale projects with low gateway elevation that still require a large distance. This is due to the obstruction of the signal quickly making it reach unusable levels at roughly 300m in a city and 600m in a forest. Making the line of sight free either by elevation of the hardware or by adapting to the terrain makes the network perform very well making the possibility for packet loss lower which in combination with the low duty cycle of the transmissions is needed as every packet lost is going to be very noticeable.

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