RoadTest: Amber Pi Design Kit
Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True
What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: LoRa HAT for Raspberry Pi
What were the biggest problems encountered?: Other than the Terminal program not displaying data in a nice format (which is me needing to fiddle with the Terminal settings as their recommended settings in the manual don't work) and the terminal settings do not have a direct impact on the quality of this product.
Amber PI Design Kit
About Me: A hardware and software geek that loves to explore technology. Currently investigating radio technology for long range communication. When this road test became available, I was immediately interested as this is a space I'm working in (e.g. LoRa) and this uses the 915 MHz space.
About the Amber PI Design Kit: The AMBER PI is a HAT for the Raspberry PI that enables the Pi with a sub 1GHz RF interface. There are also two I2C and SPI sockets to enable the connection to other slaves, which enables software developers to quickly prototype data collection from various devices and do so in real time.
In opening the box, I noticed that by default the kit came with the AMBER PI board, a 3 axis linear accelerometer, humidity/temperature sensor and a pressure sensor. It also came with 2 antennas and a USB radio stick.
The instructions were easy to understand. Fight the urge to connect the AMBER PI board prior to reading the instructions. Depending on the region, the AMBER PI uses either 868 (Europe) or 915 MHz (Australia/North America).
For those of you familiar with working with Raspberry PI, you will breeze through the setup like I did. I was able to use a Raspberry PI 3 Model B Plus Rev 1.3 that I had laying around and install the Raspbian Buster with desktop (September 2019 version released on 2019-09-26 - Kernel version 4.19). If you are not too familiar with Linux / Raspberry PI, feel free to ask for help in the comments of this review and I am more than happy to provide feedback and/or guidance.
The instructions were effective, with the exception of the device driver download location, which often happens with paper-based instructions.
The appropriate location to look for the device drivers is here. Once you scroll down and click on AMBER PI SDK (which includes the device drivers), you will have to share a valid email address in order to have them email you the link to download. The manual has a nice pin-out diagram on page 27 (September 2019 version). Additionally the manual does a great job of going into detail about the sensors, so I won't duplicate the information here.
After following the instructions to update the operating system, install prerequisite software and configure the serial communications, I was able to install the AMBER PI driver without incident and start capturing data.
|Capturing Data On Raspberry PI||AMBER PI HAT with Raspberry PI|
I then followed the remaining instructions to set up HTerm, checked jumper pins and I found that I was able to receive data using the provided USB Radio Stick.
|Data Transmitted from AMBER PI to Laptop|
As the website suggests, potential applications of this AMBER PI HAT includes:
- Gateway: Sub-1-GHz to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Ethernet
- Data collector for Sub-1-GHz radio devices
- Wireless remote control station (Model airplane)
- Rapid prototyping for wireless data transmission applications
- Mobile wireless sensor board for home and industrial environment (Weather station, Motion tracking
Encouraged with the success of working through the Amber PI Design Kit road test, I am now looking at enabling IoT communications to Amazon Web Services (AWS) using this platform. Initially I thought the price of this HAT was too high, but after going through the road test and experimenting with the capabilities of the Amber PI Design Kit, it is worth the investment and enables developers and makers to quickly prototype data collection solutions.