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LTE Cellular Ethernet WiFi NCD IoT Edge Computer

Introducing NCD’s first IoT edge computer with integrated LTE Cellular, Ethernet, WiFi, and DigiMesh long-range wireless communications.  Designed specifically for Node-RED users seeking a Cellular LTE communications solution to connect NCD sensors to multiple cloud platforms.  Integrated WiFi and Ethernet communications makes it possible to communicate sensor data over local area networks.  Powered by OpenWRT, this linux based computer comes pre-loaded with Node-RED and a NCD sensor parsing flow ready to communicate to a wide array of communication technologies and cloud platforms.  The integrated MicroSD card slot makes data logging possible with extra software.  Integrated user-programmable Blue 128×64 OLED display makes it possible to display connection status information.

Integrated long-range wireless 900MHz communications is used to collect data from localized NCD sensors up to 2 Miles from the NCD IoT Edge computer.  This device is compatible with all NCD sensors using the pre-loaded Node-RED flow.  Experienced Node-RED users may push NCD sensor data to Losant, Ubidots, Amazon® AWS®, Microsoft® Azure®, and MQTT using any combination of Cellular LTE, Ethernet, or WiFi.  Keep NCD IoT sensor data local using the integrated WiFi or Ethernet connection or use Cellular LTE as a failsafe backup if local network communications is lost.  The NCD IoT Edge Computer serves an ideal gateway solution for experienced Node-RED users, offering unparalleled flexibility in configuration for all communication technologies.

Hardware Specifications

This IoT Edge Computer is powered by a Linux based SBC. 

  • CPU: MediaTek MT7688 580MHz
  • Flash: 8GB
  • DDR2D: 128MB
  • WiFI 2.4 GHz: WEP64/128, AES, WPA, WPA2, WAP
  • Ethernet: 10M/100M
  • LTE: Ublox SARA-R410M-02B-02 LTE Cat M1 / NB1 / GPRS module
  • Supported SIM Cards: Verizon and Hologram
  • Long Range Wireless Communications: 900HP-S3B DigiMesh
  • OLED: Blue 128×64 Displays Network Info
  • MircoSD Card Slot

Software Specifications

The SBC is powered by OpenWrt linux. It comes with preinstalled Node-RED and NCD Node-RED libraries for use with NCD long range wireless sensors. Node-RED is a UI based drag and drop utility which may be used to push sensor data to any cloud service or to view data locally. 

This edge computer also supports python and gcc. This allows users to write their own applications when Node-RED is not required.   To learn more about Node-RED, check out this article.

The NCD IoT Edge Computer is recommended for experienced Node-RED developers who need a small, low-cost, flexible gateway solution for connecting NCD long range wireless sensors to a variety of networks as well as cloud computing platforms.

We have not placed any hard limits on the number of sensors that may communicate to a NCD IoT Edge Computer.

For Experienced Node-RED Users Only

Node-RED and Linux Experience is REQUIRED to use this device. This is a universal hardware computing platform that can be used for many applications and is not intended to service any particular application without software customization.

Good to Know: Default Settings

  • Soft AP Default IP: 192.168.3.1
  • Soft AP Password: ncdgateway
  • Terminal Username: root
  • Terminal Password: ncdio

NCD IoT Edge LTE Cellular Setup

1. Power On the NCD IoT Edge Computer

Once the Edge is powered up, check for nearby WiFi Networks on a local computer equipped with WiFi. 

The Edge will publish a Soft AP and will be something like “ncdgateway-XXXX“.

2. Connect to the NCD IoT Edge Computer

Connect to “ncdgateway-XXXX“. The Default Password is ncdgateway

Once a PC is connected to the soft AP, go to 192.168.3.1 in any web browser

The soft AP IP address may also be found on the OLED screen.

3. Configure the NCD IoT Edge Settings

Please be aware this UI may be very slow to load the first few times it is used. Please be patient during setup of this device.

The interface displayed will contain a System, Network, Modem, Node-RED, and Terminal tab. 

  • System, Network, and Modem each contain settings that we are going to configure to our needs. 
  • The Node-RED tab will open up Node-RED and automatically display a default flow diagram.
  • The final tab, Terminal, opens up a new terminal window. This NCD IoT Edge Computer comes with openwrt linux and is pre-loaded with python and gcc.

3A. SSID and Password

Go to the Network Tab. Click inside the text boxes under “WiFi Network”. This will allow configuration of  WiFi settings. Enter a SSID and Password of connection to a local WiFi network. Next, Click Submit. 

Allow the WiFi interface to reboot itself and update the displayed information automatically. If this takes longer than a minute, either re-click the Network Tab or Refresh the page.  

Note: How to set sim cards 

Each sim card provider has its own set of parameters like APN name, MNO Profile, etc. The LTE network tab can be used to set these parameters. When using hologram, set the APN to “hologram”. In the case of Verizon, use the APN name “vzwinternet”.

Note: Setting Communication Route Priorities

The NCD IoT Edge computer includes three hardware communication options. Users may set priorities for communication technologies in any order using the Route Metric parameter.  The Route Metric cannot be set if the communication status is down.  If the communication status is Up, users may enter any value between 0 and 100 whereby 0 is the highest priority for network communications and 100 is the lowest priority for network communications.  NCD recommends setting the Ethernet Route Metric to the lowest value for highest priority.

Supported LTE Cellular Networks

By default the NCD IoT Edge Computer is set to work with “hologram”. if Verizon Sim Card is preferred, modify the parameters shown below.

Good to Know: Optional Steps Shown Below

Complete steps 3B - 3E ONLY when using a Network Provider other than Hologram. Otherwise, skip to step 4.

3B. Shut Down LTE Network Communications

By default the NCD IoT Edge Computer is set to work with “hologram” as the Cellular LTE Service provider.
When using a Verizon sim card, follow the steps below:

First, disable the LTE Module by clicking on the State text box as shown at right.

 

Once this screen is displayed, select the Disable LTE Network option. 

3C. Change LTE Cellular Network Provider

Open the Terminal from the top right tab and enter the login credentials. 

Login: root

Password: ncdio

The NCD IoT Edge Computer comes with openwrt linux and is pre-loaded with python and gcc. Users can write their own application if they do not wish to use Node-RED. 

Once logged in, type the following command and press enter:

vi /etc/chatscripts/3g.chat

The terminal window shown should closely match the screen shot to the right . Change the underlined portion to the APN that corresponds the preferred LTE Network Provider. 

In this case, use Verizon instead of Hologram by entering vzwinternet between the quotation marks. After changing the name, save and return back to the main terminal screen.

Use any of the following commands to make alterations to settings:

Save: Press ESC, Press Colon, Press x

Quit (without saving): Press ESC, Press Colon, Press q

Editing: Press v, Press i

Stop Editing: Press ESC

Next, type the following command and press enter:

vi /etc/config/network

Again, change the portion indicated to the right corresponding to the LTE Network Provider. 

For Verizon, set the APN to ‘vzwinternet’.

3D. Ensure the Modem Settings are updated

Click on the Modem Tab. Wait for a few seconds to see if the user interface populates data. 

If these settings do not update and display information, issue a Modem Power ON command as indicated to the right. 

Wait for roughly 30-40 seconds and reload the screen by either clicking the Modem Tab again, or refreshing the page. 

If this does not work, unplug the power from the device and plug it back in (being sure to reconnect to the NCD IoT Edge Computer network and search the IP Address again after powering the NCD IoT Edge Computer back on). 

Repeat this process until the data is finally populated on the UI. As mentioned before, this initial process can be slow. Be prepared to possibly spend several minutes on this step retrying the above process. 

Note: For Verizon

Set MNO Profile (UMNOPROF) = 3. This setting is used to identify the sim card provider. When using Verizon, the value should be set to 3. Replace the entire “#” with 3.  Be sure to delete the quotation marks, the entry shown in the screen shot to the right should exactly match.
 

These settings are not required when using a Hologram sim card. 

 

After Modifying Modem parameters, a power cycle may be required if the UI does not update after submitting the new MNO Profile for Verizon.

3E. Restart LTE Network Communications

After configuring all these settings, go back to the network tab and enable the LTE module. 

Once the module is enabled and powered on, it will scan for available networks and connect to the one that we set as the preferred SSID under WiFi Settings. 

4. Node-RED

After configuring the NCD IoT Edge Computer properly, follow the directions below to help get started:

Node-RED is a UI based drag and drop solution. It can be used to view data locally or push sensor data to AWS®, Azure®, or MQTT. Node-RED also allows users to store data on a local database as well as send email and test alerts. 

The NCD IoT Edge Computer comes with Node-RED pre loaded and also comes with a few example flows which can be used to push data to MQTT and AWS®

One of the most powerful features of the NCD IoT Edge Computer is that it runs Node-RED. This allows users to use any cloud and any local computer for localized sensor processing. 

User can install any node red lib using this command node_install.sh “node package name”

To know more about node red checkout this post. 

https://ncd.io/node-red-reference/

5. Installing node red libraries

The libraries below are already installed on the NCD IoT Edge Computer. However the libraries may be updated in the terminal. 

Should a library update be required, run these two commands in the UI terminal and apply the update command when prompted. 

node_install.sh ncd-red-wireless

node_install.sh node-red-dashboard

6. Firmware Update

In the case that the NCD IoT Edge Computer needs factory reset, enter the following command in the NCD IoT Edge Computer terminal:

firstboot -y

After running this command the NCD IoT Edge Computer will be factory reset. 

Factory reset could take few minutes. During the factory reset it will reboot couple of times.

Next, navigate to the NCD Github files. Install any necessary files onto the Edge Computer using the USB port. This will ensure that the NCD IoT Edge Computer is up to date with the latest files. 

Debug Notes

If everything looks good but the NCD IoT Edge Computer still doesn’t work or has connection problems, we recommend checking the following parameters:

  1. Ensure the NCD IoT Edge Computer is powered up
  2. Ensure it has a SIM card and is inserted correctly
  3. Ensure SIM card is active and has a balance in it (user has to activate the sim card)
  4. Ensure Antenna is connected at the correct Spot
  5. Ensure APN and UMNOPROF are set correctly
  6. Ensure the installation location has good cellular connectivity 
  7. Bring up the LTE Network command (using the web UI, next go to LTE Network Tab) and give it time to scan and connect to the network.

Good to Know: Open Source Software

The NCD IoT Edge Computer is based on Open Source software. While some software has been developed by NCD to add NCD IoT Edge functionality, all related warranties are limited to the NCD IoT Edge Computer hardware only (which is not open source). NCD is not selling open source software in any way. NCD staff will assist users in obtaining the full source code if needed, please contact NCD technical support via our online forum for any software resources that may be required, NCD staff will post links and resources publicly for the benefit of all customers.

©2019 National Control Devices, LLC

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