See update at the end: Of course we’ve all seen this form factor before – ESP8266 on a board with power and antenna, FLASH etc.. The ESP-12 is only one of many and now we have a new one…
The biggy here is that the IOT Cricket, I have it on good authority from Sylwester Bala from thingsonedge.com, is designed to run on AAA and AA batteries – and has a deep sleep mode consuming as little as 0.5 microAmp. You can probably imagine how long the battery lasts under those conditions.
The module comes with pre-installed software and can be OTA’d from a smartphone or APP.
That’s the claim – and now I have my hands on three of these devices to see what this is all about.
ThingsOnEdge approached me – nothing new there but maybe this is something out of the ordinary or maybe it is just because the company is based in the UK – I don’t know yet but I’m going to have a look. I have no axe to grind other than having these three samples – so I suggest giving this a second glance.
The product is still in the validation stage ( so that’s NEW, then), the company has been around sinced 2018 and they are a “small start-up”.
In a nutshell, they are going to provide 2 options: 1) Local 2) Cloud
Local: You won’t need Cloud at all to configure Crickets, the configuration will be done entirely locally on the Cricket module from the local network – this demand is mainly driven by hobbyists and DIYers
Cloud: There is a Cloud option to configure Crickets remotely – this demand is mainly driven by companies and IOT solution providers
All sounds good to me. Supposedly we’re looking at 15000 events on 2 AAA batteries… MQTT and REST API support, status LED, RTC, temperature sensor, 3v3 out, ESP8266 running at 160Mhz… digital and analog input.. in fact, here’s a copy of their data sheet – if this pans out, I want MORE. MQTT back to Node-Red will float my boat. See update – just seen MQTT rsponses back in Node-Red.
AND NOW – after a short break, fighting delivery and mobile phone companies – I’ve had a play. I’m running one of these boards on a single battery and simply checking temperature. I’ve made some suggestions for the future – more on that later – taking the weekend off.
December 1, 2020 – Cricket Rev 1.0
There’s a new module now (I have samples to test – 2 work – one got bashed on the way here) and new documentation to go with it – here’s a photo. As you can see the units look slightly different with a new metal case .. remote OR local configuration – as before, runs on as little as a single AAA battery but with a catch – you need a large capacitor to handle the initial power burst of the ESP8266.
One of my three samples (which arrived here in Spain in a simple envedlope) worked immediately on one AAA battery out of the box – another intermittently – the third (bashed in transit) not at all.
I’ve made recommendations for future shipping so we can ignore the third sample – now in the bin. Both of the others work fine but as I have no capacitors immediately to hand, I simply series’d up two AAA batteries.
You cannot MQTT to the Cricket – so do any setup via the local http: interface or remotely via the cloud. See below. Clearly this device spends most of it’s time in super low power mode and can’t respond to MQTT. However, at regular intervals YOU define, it CAN and does sent out MQTT to either an external MQTT broker or your own – I have MQTT brokers on my Raspberry Pis (why not, it’s free). My samples are currently firing back the battery state and temperature to the Pi regularly – Sylwester at ThingsOnEdge wrote to me as follows:
“With regards to reading the temperature with the onboard sensor. I think it should provide you quite an accurate temperature value when you set the frequency no lower than 5 mins. The temp sensor is on a chip and it requires some time to dissipate heat.
There is no way to send a MQTT message directly to Cricket. It is one way communication from Cricket to client devices only. However you can switch on/off temperature as well as other configuration parameters by using http://cota.thingsonedge.com. You can set Cricket to fetch the remote configuration with intervals and once you change settings in cota.thingsonedge.com then Cricket fetches it on an aligned wake up interval and adjusts behaviour accordingly. Please see this section how to do it: https://docs.google.com/document/u/1/d/e/2PACX-1vSLMmeT7LHo52Tu5rUoHpomhnLPz2Lr2JFKQCZevg8mKUv2M87bdbqb_7Al5pN9mxoxY2aqX-CRyLHk/pub#h.ol7i0xnxewrf“
I am very pleased with their speed of response.