A few weeks ago I found out about the new RAK7268, the WisGate Edge Lite 2, via the official RAKwireless newsletter and was immediately impressed by the design and functionality, so that we directly ordered 4 gateways from the official RAKwireless online store.
Last week the gateways finally arrived and here follows a first report about the first experiences and the great first impression when unpacking the hardware.
The RAK7268 can officially or unofficially be seen as the successor of the RAK7258, which Datacake uses for its own projects or larger customer orders.
But, it is smaller, nicer, more HiFi and now comes optionally in black. It remains as usual with an 8-channel LoRaWAN gateway IC, OpenWRT based operating system and optional LTE version with SIM slot.
- OpenWRT Based Operating System
- Custom Code Deployments
- Semtech SX130x Gateway IC
- DIN-Rail Mounting Kit
- Optional LTE version
- WLAN module as AP or client
- Ethernet port with PoE
- SD card slot for logging, software
- Breathing RGB-LED
Ok, let's get to what I was immediately excited about, the design. In my eyes the RAK7268 has made a big leap forward compared to the RAK7258. The case with the nice curves and the basically very flat and compact design just looks great.
Absolute highlight for design and user experience: On the top side, i.e. in the housing cover of the gateway, there is an elongated LED color bar, which signals the current status of the gateway via color change and brightness pattern.
If the gateway is configured and e.g. a connection to the WisDM management system is successfully established, this LED "breathes" thereby slowly pulsating in a green color. If there is a failure of the Internet connection or other problems, this LED signals this clearly visible.
This is a big improvement compared to the predecessor, as status LEDs were only found on the back there. On the RAK7268 - there are even more LEDs on the Backside (I think?).
The RAK7268 is listed in the RAKwireless Store in a black version. Unfortunately this was not yet available when I ordered the gateways, otherwise I would have definitely chosen the black version. Very cool. The next gateways will definitely be black.
At this point I have to mention the packaging of the RAK7268, because even if this is rather secondary, the gateway comes in a high quality packaging, which not only protects the content perfectly from bumps and other dangers on the way, but also comes along very valuable and thus fits to the overall picture of the gateway.
We already had a very good feeling about the build quality of the direct predecessor. This has increased significantly with the current WisGate.
When you take the gateway out of the box, you immediately notice that the case is not just any off-the-shelf case.
You quickly notice that RAKwireless has designed its own case for the gateway. The cut edges are clean and the individual components (such as lid, base, side panels) fit perfectly together. When you hold it in your hand, it feels stable.
At the time of purchasing the gateway, only the basic model was available in the store. This comes with WiFi, Ethernet, PoE.
The range of models will be extended by RAKwireless with a cellular variant in the near future. Here I am personally particularly interested, because we like to provide gateways for our customers, which do not need to be further configured and can immediately connect to the platform.
As known from many routers and access points, this RAKwireless gateway also has a web interface, which can be used to set all configurations of the gateway.
If the device is connected via Ethernet and DHCP, you can call this interface via an IP address or alternatively connect to any end device for configuration via the automatically created access point.
Connection with LNS
Depending on the selected region, the gateway is already partially preconfigured and you only have to select the respective LoRaWAN network server. To connect to an LNS, the RAK7268 supports various communication options, including the classic UDP option, but also Basic Station or an MQTT bridge for servers like ChirpStack (or Datacake).
Onboard LoRaWAN Network Server
Also a highlight and a very useful feature of the gateway is that it has an integrated LNS - i.e. a full-fledged LoRaWAN network server - which you can optionally activate.
So there is no need to use an external LNS anymore and the creation of devices in respective applications can be done directly on the gateway by entering DevEUI, AppEUI and the App Key, as known from TTN or other LoRaWAN network servers.
Also here the LNS offers integrations on the gateway, so that the data of your gateways can be passed directly to your applications, platform via HTTP or MQTT. For example, to Datacake via our generic Webhook integration, or MQTT.
Thanks to the built-in LNS, the gateway is perfect for use as a bridge from LoRaWAN devices to Apple's HomeKit - via a third-party tool like HomeBridge or Node-RED installed on a Raspberry Pi or Synology NAS.
Personal Challenge accepted: Whether you can run a HomeBridge on the RAK7268 directly? We will See.
How to send downlinks with internal LNS?
I find the option of internal LNS very interesting, but the question came up how to send downlinks to the gateway, when servers and applications are running on the gateway, and the gateway is mostly behind a firewall or network NAT and cannot be reached remotely.
RAKwireless offers a MQTT bridge, which routes the uplink data to an external broker and enables downlinks via publishes to an explicit topic.
This is an ingenious concept, because it allows me to send downlinks commands to the gateway easily via MQTT.
With the generic MQTT integration in Datacake, I can thus connect the gateway directly to the Datacake platform without any detours.
A LoRaWAN gateway basically receives messages from all LoRaWAN nodes within range. This means even if these end devices do not belong to the customer and are located in the neighboring building, for example.
This is usually not a problem, but if the gateway is operated via cellular radio, significantly more data volume is consumed, since the LoRaWAN messages of third-party devices are also transmitted.
One solution to this problem is to white-list your own devices in a setting on the gateway. But not many gateways offer these options.
Thanks to the integrated LNS of the RAK7268, however, I can store the respective devices on the gateway that are also allowed to use the gateway. If messages come from other devices, they are immediately discarded. The data volume is only used for the own devices.
But how can you set this up comfortably if the gateway is at the customer's and he buys more devices afterwards, but you don't have access to the gateway remotely, and/or you don't want to expect the customer to have to set this up on the gateway?
The solution is the WisDM management. I will explain this in the following section.
Last but not least: Let's come to the third highlight. Almost simultaneously with the arrival of the gateways, Datacake received an invitation to test the WisDM gateway management tool from RAKwireless.
The WisDM is a cloud-based platform for managing RAKwireless gateways remotely and it offers the following options:
- Location Management
- Remote Management
- Firmware Update
I won't go into every detail of the solution now, but I will highlight two things that made a big impression on me personally:
All network relevant settings can be controlled via the remote management. To do this, you create locations and define which network server should be used, etc.
But now comes the best part.
In these settings I can also orchestrate the LoRaWAN network server integrated on the gateway. This makes the use of the integrated LNS also interesting for commercial applications, where you would have to register devices with the customer afterwards. Because thanks to WisDM I can now add these devices to the gateway remotely.
Enabling WisDM on WisGate
If you want to use the WisDM feature on your Gateway that's very simple to do. All you need to do is activating it by setting a company identifier and enable the integration by setting a switch.
From there on, all settings can be set in the WisDM online platform.
Remote SSH Login
Ok maybe this is the best. Via the WisDM I have an immediately working SSH login to the gateway.
Sure, other gateways can do this too, but all I really have to do here is press a button and the connection or shell is open in the browser. This is really powerful.
Ok, I'll now make an abrupt cut in the text and come directly to the pricing.
The basic version of the gateway, including all features described above, except WisDM and LTE module, is priced at 139$ - source: Official RAKwireless Store.
Unfortunately there is no price information for the LTE version yet, but I think it will be about 100$ more expensive, as it was the case with the RAK7258.
WisGate vs. TTIG TheThings Indoor Gateway?
In a post about the RAK7268 on LinkedIn, the TTIG was mentioned and that it would still be the more logical choice since it would be cheaper.
In terms of pricing, that's correct. However...
Where as it stands now, the price difference is about $40. And for these 40$ I get much more, like Ethernet, PoE, WiFi access point as router function, a web interface, integrated LNS as well as a directly mountable, external antenna (yes, this is also possible with the TTIG, but you have to modify the TTIG as it has no external Antenna support OotB). In addition, the RAK7268 can be connected without problems to all external LNS. The TTIG not according to my last state.
No question about it. I like the TTIG, I have two of them myself. But the RAK7268 and the TTIG are two completely different devices and concepts, which in my opinion are not comparable. Both can do the same thing in the abstract, but the RAK7268 is a tool for commercial use with high functionality. For an absolutely unbeatable price. I have one on my desk now, and look at it breathing every now and then - and it looks good. Only I urgently need another one in black.