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Send text messages, voice recordings, images, and GPS locations on your phone without cellular coverage, satellite, or Internet access.
Send text messages, voice recordings, images, and GPS locations on your phone without cellular coverage, satellite, or Internet access.
Send text messages, voice recordings, images, and GPS locations on your phone without cellular coverage, satellite, or Internet access.
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1,708 backers pledged $226,324 to help bring this project to life.

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Post-Campaign Update #15

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Hello Everyone!

Welcome back to another Sonnet Update. It has been a very productive week here, and we have a few updates to share. Let's get started!

TL;DR

  • We finished the hardware modification on the Sonnet Mesh Module, and we have sent it in to get prototyped. Once it gets back in 2 weeks we will send it to the FCC/CE lab to have it tested again.
  • We have updated our delivery timeline to January 22, 2018. This should allow us to completely fulfill everything before the Chinese New Year (February 16, 2018).
  • We finished our work on the modem driver. Mesh network is fully functional and stable. Firmware update feature is function but unstable, we expect to have it resolved this weekend.

FCC/CE Updates

Sonnet Mesh Module
Sonnet Mesh Module

We finished modifying the 433MHz power amplifier (PA) circuit on the Sonnet Mesh Module that was causing instability, and we sent the updated design to our manufacturing partner to make the new prototypes. The prototypes will take about two weeks to make, after which we will spend a couple days testing them, before sending them to the lab to be tested again.

Updated Delivery Timeline

As a result of delays we experienced, we are a little behind schedule with the delivery of this campaign. However, we are really, really close! We will spend the extra time we have on our hands to perfect the software on the Sonnet and we will also be starting to work on some of the extended features. Based on the current progress, we came up with the following, updated timeline:

  • December 1, 2017 - Receive updated prototype of the Sonnet Mesh Module
  • December 5, 2017 - Finish testing the Sonnet Mesh Module, load testing firmware and deliver that to testing lab for FCC/CE certification
  • December 25, 2017 - Successful FCC/CE certification and begin production (Yes, it's Christmas, but we don't plan on taking a break until everything is delivered. Our manufacturing partners will also be working during this time.)
  • January 22, 2018 - Packing & Delivery

Our aim is to have everything delivered before the week of February 12, 2018, which avoids further delays caused by Chinese New Year, which is on February 16, 2018.

Software Updates

This week we finished our work on the modem driver that connects the Linux environment on the Wi-Fi module to the Sonnet Mesh Module, and we did some tests to verify that everything works. Now, Sonnet devices can automatically create, join, and maintain mesh networks without any configuration from the user. Once a Sonnet is a part of the mesh network, it can directly address other Sonnet devices on the network via its IPv6 address. In addition to sending messages between different devices, we have also been able to run conventional protocols such as SSH and FTP across the mesh network.

We have also made some progress on the firmware update system on the Sonnet. The firmware update tool has been successfully compiled to run on the Linux environment of the Wi-Fi module, and we have successfully reflashed the Sonnet Mesh Module with it. However, there are still some bugs with the tool because sometimes the flashing gets stuck half way and needs to be restarted. We think we know where the issue is, and will try to implement a fix for that this weekend.

That's it for now! Thanks everyone!

Team Sonnet

Mizu Smart Towel | The Softest and Most Durable Towel Ever

 

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Post-Campaign Update #14

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Hi Everyone!

Hope you are all doing well! It's been a productive week here at Sonnet. Let's get started with some updates!

TL;DR

  • We will need to make a hardware modification to the long-range mesh module to pass the FCC/CE certification. The design modification is already in progress.
  • We started to implement the driver for the long-range mesh module that will allow the Linux environment on the Wi-Fi module to interact with the mesh module.

FCC/CE Certification

This week we have been working very closely with the lab which has been testing the Sonnet for FCC/CE certification. We are currently making a modification to our 433MHz PA circuit to address the instability issue that was identified last week. Once the modification has been made, we will need about 2 weeks to create a prototype with the updated PA circuit, after which we will attempt the FCC/CE certification again.

Mesh Modem Driver

This week we started to work on another very important part of system. In the last couple of weeks we have successfully moved our mesh networking stack from the Linux environment of the Wi-Fi module to a dedicated microcontroller, which improves stability and reduces power consumption of the whole system. We now need to implement a driver that allows the Linux environment to interact with the microcontroller. Currently, the application server on the Sonnet communicates directly with the long-range mesh module via UART. 

The driver we are creating is essentially a modem driver, which treats the long-range mesh module as a modem. Modems, like the DSL or optical fibre modems we use at home, are devices that convert data from a form that can be understood by the computer, to a form that can be easily transmitted from one point to another. For example, in our case, to transmit a message from one user to another would require the data in the message be transformed into a format that can be sent by the long-range mesh module on the Sonnet. Implementing a driver will allow other software in the system (not only our application server) to use the long-range mesh module as well. This opens the door to allow us easily implement features such as Internet-sharing in the future.

Thanks everyone!

Team Sonnet.

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Post-Campaign Update #13

12 likes

Hi Everyone!

Happy Friday! We hope everything is going well with all of you! Let's get started with some updates!

TL;DR

  • We heard back from the FCC/CE certification lab. We need to make some modification to the low frequency portion (433MHz) of the long-range mesh module.
  • Porting of the mesh networking protocol from Linux to ARM Cortex-M0 has been successfully completed. Mesh networking is running stably on the microcontroller.
  • We will be working on firmware updating procedure for the microcontroller next.

FCC/CE Certification Process

Let's start with some bad news first. Earlier this week, we heard back from the lab that has been testing the Sonnet for FCC and CE certification, and unfortunately we will need to make some modifications to our long-range mesh module in order to pass the certification process. For Sonnet, the testing is done in 3 parts:

  • Wireless RF testing for Wi-Fi components
  • Wireless RF testing for long-range mesh @ 433MHz
  • Wireless RF testing for long-range mesh @ 868/915MHz

The testing was successful for the Wi-Fi component and the 868/915 portion of the long-range mesh module. But the 433MHz portion of the long-range mesh module needs a bit more work. The PA (power amplifier) circuit we designed to amplify the 433MHz band is sometimes unstable and over-amplifies the input signal. We have asked our manufacturing partner, who specializes in sub-1GHz RF modules, to perform a series of tests so that they can give specific recommendations on what modifications need to be made on the 433MHz band PA circuit. In some cases the issue can be fixed with a firmware modification that better manages the power of the input signal, and in other cases it will require hardware modification.

We will be following this very closely and provide updates as they become available.

Mesh Networking

This week, we successfully completed the porting of our mesh networking protocol from Linux environment to the ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller. We were able to drastically reduce the packet response time by optimizing a few of the time-sensitive functions; for example, sending out the ACK packet (acknowledgment that signifies the successful receipt of the original packet) before starting the decryption process and triggering some packet processing functions through interrupt signals instead of calling them every 25 seconds. The result is that devices are no longer getting kicked out of the network due to packet timeout.

In addition, we were able to successfully address the issue with the flash page size incompatibility between the two environments. As mentioned last week, this issue was addressed by making modification to the HAL (hardware abstraction layer) of the system such that our mesh networking protocol (which has been designed to work with 4096-byte flash page size) can write to a flash with 64-byte page size by calling intermediary functions that subdivide a single write action into multiple flash access functions.

Firmware Updates

Another very important feature we started to work on this week is a function to remotely update the firmware on the microcontroller through the Wi-Fi module on the Sonnet. This feature is crucial because it allows us to update the firmware on the Sonnet even after we have shipped them out to you.

There are typically two primary concerns with any firmware updating procedure. The first is a way to validate the integrity of a firmware image, which prevents corrupted firmware images from flashing onto the microcontroller and potentially bricking the device. This is typically done with a hashing function that checks if the digest of a downloaded image is consistent with the digest of an image that is known to be good and that we will supply on our update server. The other concern is to ensure that once the firmware update process has started, it will not be interrupted until it has come to completion. This can happen if the battery runs out of power during the firmware update process or if the user inadvertently turns the device off during the firmware update process. So before the firmware update procedure, our software will need to 1) make sure that there is enough power in the battery, and 2) disable the power off function so that the device cannot be turned off.

That's it for today!

Thanks everyone!

Team Sonnet

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Post-Campaign Update #12

17 likes

Hey Backers!

We hope things are going well. It's been a busy and productive week for us here at Sonnet. Here are the weekly updates!

Mesh Networking Updates

This week we continuing our effort to port the mesh networking stack from the Linux environment to the ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller. The majority of the porting work has been done, we have ported all the functions over to the Cortex-M0 architecture, and everything compiles successfully. However, there are still some problem remaining as a result of the incompatibility between the two environments. Specifically there are two issues that we still need to address:

First, because the microcontroller is quite a bit slower than the processor we used in the Linux environment, system packets that are sent from one Sonnet to another often don't receive the ACK packet (acknowledgment that signifies the successful receipt of the original packet) in time, so the original packet times out. This results in network instability where devices on the mesh network respond too slowly to pings and other system requests, thus appearing unresponsive and being kicked off the network. We are trying to fix this issue by rewriting some of the time-critical functions to respond to interrupt signals that are fired when new packets are received, which will allow the system to respond to new packets more quickly. Currently the system checks the incoming buffer for new packets every 25ms.

Next, there is some incompatibility with the flash page size (blocks of memory that can be read from/written to). The page size on the Linux environment is 4096 bytes in size, which means that any piece of information less than 4096 bytes can be written in a single action. Unfortunately, the microcontroller we have decided to move to has a page size of 64 bytes. This means that a 4096-byte piece of information that normally can be written to the flash in a single action must now be written in 64 separate actions. We are currently making modifications to the HAL (hardware abstraction layer) to take this difference in page size into consideration.

Battery Level Indicator

Another important feature we worked on this week is the function to allow users find out how much battery is remaining on the lithium polymer battery on the Sonnet. The battery management chip we are using allows users to safely charge and discharge the battery, and it also includes an analog output pin that indicates the battery's voltage level. When we were designing the Sonnet's hardware, we had already connected this voltage indicator pin to an analog I/O pin on the microcontroller. This week we completed the software logic that allows the microcontroller to read the signal on the voltage indicator pin and send the latest reading to the Wi-Fi module every 30 seconds. The Wi-Fi module, which is connected to your phones, will then update the information on the Sonnet Web App so you can see how much battery you have left.

This is just the most basic battery level indicator. We have two other features planned for battery indication:

  • Battery indication capability directly to the Sonnet device through the RGB LED: You will be able to push a button and the RGB LED will show a different color depending on how much battery is left.
  • Battery level logging: Instead of just displaying the current battery level, the app will log the battery level every 30 seconds and plot the changes over time.

Thanks everyone!

Team Sonnet

Post-Campaign Update #11

10 likes

Hi Everyone!

We hope it has been a great week! It's that time of the week again :) let's get started with some updates!

Mesh Networking System

This week we spent a significant amount of time working on the mesh networking system of the Sonnet. We are currently in the progress of porting the mesh networking stack from the Linux environment of the Wi-Fi module to a ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller. These are the software processes that manages the network topology between different Sonnet devices.

Previously, on the prototypes of the Sonnet, we ran the mesh networking stack as a process on the Linux environment of the Wi-Fi module. This system worked well as a proof of concept, but it was relatively unstable because the application server for the Sonnet messaging service (which allows users to send messages back and forth) was also running on the Linux environment. The Sonnet messaging service consumes a relatively large amount of system resources and causes instability in the mesh networking system. In addition, the interface by which the Wi-Fi module communicates with the long-range RF module in our prototype is through SPI, an interface that is also shared by the flash storage on the Wi-Fi module. Although the sharing of SPI interface has been working well in the prototype, from experience this setup can potentially lead to data corruption on the Wi-Fi module.

As a result, when we were designing the production hardware of the Sonnet, we created a more robust architecture:

This architecture moves the mesh networking stack from the Linux environment to a separate microcontroller which then communicates with the long-range RF module through SPI to coordinate the configuration of the mesh network. This architecture should both solve the instability issue and prevent the potential flash corruption problem. More over, because now the mesh networking stack runs entirely on a separate microcontroller, it opens the potential for us to put the Wi-Fi module on standby mode to greatly reduce the power consumption when it is not being used (such as when Sonnet is setup as a relay station).

Offline Maps Downloading

We also started to work on organizing the offline maps data to make them available for download. Initially we thought this task would be relatively simple, but it turned out to be quite a daunting task because the world is a huge place!

Our initial plan was to write a server side program that takes two longitude/latitude pairs as input to dynamically generate a geodata package that then can be downloaded. This would allow users to specify an arbitrary rectangular region on the map and have it downloaded to the Sonnet. Unfortunately, we found that due to the sheer amount of data processing, this type of on-demand request would be very computationally intensive, and very slow (not to mention costly). As a result, we decided that we would manually divide the world up into regions, and pre-generate the geodata packages so that they can be served as static files on our servers. To do this, we divided the world into continents, each continents into countries, and depending on the size of the country, divide them up into either state/provinces, or into sub-regions. The geodata packages for each of these regions are then generated and uploaded to our servers.

Next, we started to design an interface on the Sonnet App that intuitively lays out the regions so users can use it to manage the geodata they download to their Sonnet devices (unfortunately there is no way to download the entire offline map to the Sonnet because of space constraint). We are planning to make the interface look something like this:

In this interface, users would hierarchically navigate to the region they are interested in and download the geodata for offline use.

That's it for now, thanks everyone!

Team Sonnet.

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