At this time’s visitor submit will concentrate on the capabilities of Swarm, and Swarm’s community structure at the side of SparkFun.




It is a visitor weblog submit from Rohan Verma and our mates at Swarm Applied sciences. Swarm supplies the world’s lowest value, world connectivity for Web of Issues units. All of this in orbit at 450-550km altitude, offering absolutely world protection.


We’re excited to introduce one of many latest additions to SparkFun’s product line, the Satellite tv for pc Transceiver Breakout – Swarm M138! On the coronary heart of this breakout board is the Swarm M138 Modem which is a Mini-PCI Specific (mPCIe) kind issue board consisting of a satellite tv for pc transceiver and a GNSS receiver. This weblog submit focuses on the capabilities of Swarm, and Swarm’s community structure.

Swarm Satellite Transceiver Breakout M138 close up image

The Satellite tv for pc Transceiver Breakout – Swarm M138 permits any consumer to entry the total performance of the Swarm community by way of the Swarm M138 Modem. The board design features a USB-C interface for energy and/or serial information, along with a full set of breakout pins which give the consumer entry to options such because the GPIO pin obtainable on the Modem. The on-board energy circuitry makes it simple to produce the M138 Modem with the facility that it must transmit message packets to area.

Example of Swarm kit

The equipment consists of all the pieces wanted to begin transmitting on the Swarm community (together with a floor airplane, which is required for the VHF antenna). The breakout pins make it simple to hook up the board to a microcontroller, corresponding to an Arduino Professional Mini, to watch sensors and transmit information from anyplace on the planet. The downlink (2-way) performance makes this Modem nice to ship configuration info again to the gadget as effectively with out having to bodily entry the unit.

What’s Swarm?

Swarm is a low-cost IoT satellite tv for pc connectivity supplier with one purpose; To attach individuals and units anyplace, always, on the lowest value. Swarm accomplishes this via using sandwich sized satellites named “SpaceBEEs”.

Swarm SpaceBees communicate with M138 Modem

Swarm’s SpaceBEEs talk with their floor gadget named the Swarm M138 Modem to transmit and obtain small packets of information from anyplace on the planet. The Modems can transmit and obtain as much as 192 bytes of information utilizing a regular information plan of 750 packets/month. Every information plan prices $5/month and is billed yearly and there aren’t any different related charges.

Overview of the Swarm Community

When a SpaceBEE passes over any given location, it would ship out beacon packets to Swarm Modems which are of their receiver state. The Modem’s antenna might want to have a transparent view of the sky, and a low RF noise atmosphere to obtain this satellite tv for pc beacon.

Format of a satellite tv for pc beacon packet:


As soon as the Modem receives this satellite tv for pc beacon, it would try to transmit any queued transmission packets to the satellite tv for pc. Message packets which are efficiently acquired by the satellite tv for pc will then be acknowledged by the satellite tv for pc again to the Modem. The Modem will then discard the message packet from its outgoing transmission queue.

The Swarm M138 Modem can retailer a most of 1000 outgoing message packets. Every message packet is held for a default length of 48 hours, which is consumer configurable, after which the packet can be discarded if not transmitted.

The satellite tv for pc will then carry that message packet till it passes over a Swarm floor station. The satellite tv for pc will downlink the message packet to the bottom station after which the information can be routed to Swarm’s cloud platform named the Swarm Hive. The consumer can then view their information on Hive, or extract that information utilizing Swarm’s REST API, or webhooks.

How Swarm satellite sends message to cloud platform Swarm Hive

The Swarm Hive will retain information for 30 days earlier than it’s discarded, so it’s best to drag that information from the Hive to reference it later. Swarm has a Python Script instance that you may obtain by clicking right here.

Getting Began

Getting began with the Satellite tv for pc Transceiver Breakout is a fast and straightforward course of from getting your elements unboxed, to transmitting your first message on the Swarm community.

Unboxing of Swarm Breakout Kit and what's included

Step one is to put in the Swarm M138 Modem onto the breakout board. To do that, take away the 2 M2.5 screws from the standoffs on the board. Align the M138 Modem’s mPCIe connection pins with the breakout board’s connector and insert the Modem at an angle into the connector. As soon as the Modem’s pins are inserted into the connector, gently maintain the Modem down over the standoffs and safe it in place utilizing the 2 M2.5 screws. For greatest outcomes, don’t tighten one screw absolutely earlier than inserting the opposite screw into its respective standoff.

Join the GNSS antenna to the u.FL connector labeled “GPS” on the Swarm Modem. Then join the u.FL to SMA adapter cable to the u.FL connector on the Swarm Modem that’s labeled “VHF”.

SMA connector secured to breakout and antenna

Safe the SMA connector of the u.FL to SMA adapter cable to the included floor airplane utilizing the washer and nut. Screw the Swarm VHF antenna onto the SMA connector whereas making certain that it’s hand-tight.

assembled Swarm Kit

For greatest outcomes, place the VHF antenna and floor airplane at the very least 1m above the bottom, or any strong surfaces.

Obtain and set up the SparkFun Python3 PyQt5 GUI from GitHub right here to work together with the Swarm Modem. As soon as put in, use a USB-C cable to attach the board to your laptop. The board may be powered utilizing a USB-C port in your laptop, or a USB three port. Choose the suitable COM port and take a look at the communication interface by urgent the “Configuration Settings (CS)” button. The Modem’s Gadget ID and Identify can be displayed on the serial monitor within the format:

$CS DI=<dev_ID> ,DN=<dev_name>*xx

The following step is to position the gadget in an out of doors location with a transparent view of the sky, away from any sources of RF noise. As soon as the gadget is ready up open air, use the “Obtain Take a look at 1Hz (RT 1)” predefined message within the Python3 GUI to measure the background RSSI. The background RSSI measurements can be up to date as soon as each second and signify the noise ground within the testing atmosphere. The measured background RSSI worth ought to be between -95 and -105 dBm for dependable communication on the community. A decrease, extra detrimental, worth is most well-liked.

The Modem won’t be able to reliably talk with the satellites if the reported background RSSI worth is > -93 dBm. Attempt transferring the gadget to a special testing location to look at how the measured worth adjustments.

After confirming that the background RSSI is throughout the specified vary, the subsequent step is to queue some message packets on the Modem for transmission. The quickest method to queue messages for transmission is to make use of the predefined messages within the GUI proven on the backside of the checklist. The message packets can be queued for transmission for a default maintain time of 48 hours after which they are going to be discarded if not transmitted.

The message packet maintain time is consumer configurable for every transmission command. Please confer with the Swarm M138 Modem’s Product Guide for extra info, and for a full description of accessible instructions.

The queued transmission packets can be transmitted when a satellite tv for pc passes over the gadget’s location and beacons the Modem. The following satellite tv for pc cross over your location may be predicted utilizing the Swarm Satellite tv for pc Go Checker. There may be additionally a YouTube video obtainable that describes the cross checker’s performance in additional element obtainable right here.

To know if a satellite tv for pc is making an attempt to speak with the Modem, be certain that the “Obtain Take a look at 1Hz (RT 1)” command is enabled. Observe the serial monitor for satellite tv for pc beacons within the format:

$RT RSSI=<rssi_sat>,SNR=<snr>,FDEV=<fdev>,TS=<time>,DI=<sat_id>*xx 

The Modem will try to transmit queued message packets after receiving the satellite tv for pc beacons. Every profitable transmission can be acknowledged by the satellite tv for pc and can be displayed on the serial monitor within the format:

$TD SENT RSSI=<rssi_sat>,SNR=<snr>,FDEV=<fdev>,<msg_id>*xx

The transmitted information packet will then be seen on the Swarm Hive shortly after transmission.

What are you constructing with the Satellite tv for pc Transceiver Breakout – Swarm M138?

We’d love to listen to from you you probably have been experimenting with the Swarm Community. Electronic mail assist@swarm.area with a short description of your challenge, and any photos that you’ve, to be featured on a future weblog submit!