Getting Started XK07

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Introduction

The XK07 kit is meant to demonstrate communication using LoRa radios between a "Satellite" or "FlatSat" and a "Ground Station". The ground station is connected to the internet via WiFi allowing data from the satellite to be visible on the internet. The idea is that the satellite can be used considerably farther away than a WiFi signal could possible reach. That allows the user to use the satellite in settings like:

  • Tethered from ground to a balloon
  • Free flying tethered to a balloon
  • Attached to a drone/UAV
  • Included in a hoppy rocket project
  • Hitch a ride on a sounding rocket
  • Brought to a high point
... as long as there is a clear line of sight

Requirements for a successful balloon mission describes the necessary preparation and is useful for many of the other above mentioned project.

Unpacking your XK07 Kit

Your kit will have arrived in a box with an insert describing the kit.

Ground Station

xCHIP Function
CW01 WiFi Core
IP01 USB Programming Interface
RL03 LoRa Radio
OD01 OLED Display
XC10 10-Pack xBus Connectors

Multiple Ground Stations may be used during the Balloon Flight, but while that will increase the likelihood of getting signals from the FlatSat, it will increase the complication of the project.

FlatSat or Weather Balloon

xCHIP Function
CS11 SD Card Core
SW01 Weather Sensor
SL01 UVA, UVB, Light Sensor
SN01 GPS
SI01 IMU 9DoF
PB04 AA Battery Holder
RL03 LoRa Radio
XC10 10-Pack xBus Connectors

OR

xCHIP Function
CW01 WiFi Core
SW01 Weather Sensor
SL01 UVA, UVB, Light Sensor
SN01 GPS
SI01 IMU 9DoF
PB04 AA Battery Holder
RL03 LoRa Radio
XC10 10-Pack xBus Connectors

Assembly

Quick Start Rules

There are only 2 rules:

  1. All the xChips has to face the same way up. Make sure you can read the name of the xChip on the same side.
    CorrectSmall.png UpsideDown.png
  2. Any side of an xChip will fit (typically) 2 other sides, but not all 4 of another xChip. Make sure the notches are matching.
    AllignmentCorrect.png AllignmentWrong.png

Assembling your Ground Station

Assembling your Weather Balloon

Programming and Configuration

The XK07 uses 2 cores (aka. computers, CPUs, MCUs), one on the FlatSat and one on the Ground Station. In order to ready the kit, the cores need to be programmed (we say they have to be flashed) and then they need to be configured. Here is an outline of what needs to be done:

  1. Download and install the tool to flash the cores, it is a piece of software that runs either on your Apple Mac or on your Microsoft Windows computer. The software is called xFlasher.
  2. Download the software that needs to be flashed to the cores. We call that software firmware.
  3. Plug in the IP01 and the CW01 (as a minimum) into your computer and flash the firmware to the CW01. This is how the Ground Station is being programmed/flashed.
  4. Insert a blank SD card into your computer and drag and drop the require files to the SD card. This is how the FlatSat/Weather Balloon is being programmed/flashed.
  5. Remove the SD card and insert into the back of the CS11 in the FlatSat/Weather Balloon. No further configuration is needed.
  6. Restart (we call it reboot) the Ground Station by removing it from its power source (computer or power bank) and reconnect it to the power source.
  7. You have 30 seconds to connect your smartphone or your computer to a temporary WiFi network setup by the Ground Station, once connected, you have able time to configure the Ground Station. If you miss out or mess up, just reboot and try again.
  8. Once all this is done, you are ready to get data.

Let's dig into the details...

xFlasher

First download the xFlasher. If you have done other kits, such as the XK01, you should already be familiar with the xFlasher and have it downloaded. If you are new to the xFlasher, please follow this link and familiarise yourself with the tool: XFlasher Usage

Firmware

Download the firmware for both the FlatSat/Weather Balloon and the Ground Station by downloading one .zip file containing all the files needed. You will find the .zip file here: https://github.com/XinaBoxSamples/WeatherBalloon-XK07/releases/latest. Choose the .zip file named: FIRMWARE_XK07_Vx.xxx.zip, where x.xxx is the latest version number.

Unpack (extract) the .zip file, and you will find a file structure like the one depicted here:
XK07files.png
  • The .bin file in the folder named CW01 GS is the .bin file that needs to be flashed to the Ground Station
  • All the files in the folder CS11 SAT needs to be dragged and dropped to a blank SD Card
  • You can optionally use a CW01 instead of a CS11 as a core for the Weather Balloon/FlatSat. In that case you will need to use the xFlasher to flash the .bin file in the folder named CW01 SATto a spare CW01, which is then assembled in the FlatSat instead of the CS11. It is not recommend to go this route if this is your first attempt on the XK07 project. However if you are going down this route, you will also need to configure this CW01, similar to the way the CW01 is configure for the Ground Station.

Ground Station

The Ground Station xChip core is the CW01.

Programming the Ground Station

  1. Connect the IP01 and CW01 for the Ground Station using one of the connectors. If you have assembled the whole ground station with all 4 xChips, you can leave them together as is.
  2. Insert the IP01 into your computer's USB port as shown on the right
    IP01-PC1.png
  3. Unzip the FIRMWARE_XK07_Vx.xxx.zip file if your computer hasn't done so already
  4. Open xFlasher application on your computer after having downloaded it following the steps illustrated on XFlasher Usage
  5. Select the XK07_GS_Vx_xxx.bin file, found in the CW01 GS folder, you downloaded previously by clicking the magnifying glass icon in the top right corner.
  6. Click FLASH

Configuring the Ground Station - Connection

  1. Unplug the IP01 from your power source, at this stage probably your computer, then re-insert the IP01 (with the rest of the circuit) into a USB power source again, either your computer or a power bank. We call this process power cycling or rebooting.
  2. The CW01 will now create a WiFi network or Access Point, that you can connect to from your smart phone or laptop. This is an industry standard way to connect Internet of Things (IoT) devices to a WiFi network. These devices don't have a keyboard, screen, mouse, etc, so there is now way to enter the configuration information into the device, and since the device have no idea about your local wifi network, it instead establishes its own WiFi network, with a known SSID (wifi network name) and password. In this case the WiFi Network will be XINABOX_1234567, where 1234567 is a unique number for that specific CW01. You can see the WiFi Network name (aka SSID) in the OLED/OD01 display. The password is password.
  3. You now have 30 seconds within which you can connect to the CW01 via the Captive Portal, after those 30 seconds the device will timeout. A timer can be seen on the connected OD01. If you miss it in those 30 seconds, the simply power cycle and try again. Later on you will be glad that the timeout is 30 seconds and not 3 minutes.
  4. Once connected to the CW01's hotspot, a Captive Portal will pop-up, if not please enter the http://192.168.4.1 address displayed on the OLED screen into your device browser.

Configuring the Ground Station - Settings

  1. Device Name: The name of your device to make it easier to find in the Dashboard for example.
  2. Organisation Name: Your institution name, group, school or company name
  3. Index: Leave as smallsat.
  4. Click save.
  5. Select Blynk if you wish to configure Blynk, note that this requires a Blynk account, see Blynk functionality. It is not recommended to use Blynk initially only when you are familiar with the rest of the XK07 project.
  6. Choose WiFi
  7. STEM Server: If you are part of the Virginia Space Program please select the Thinsat STEM Server. Otherwise leave as XinaBox
  8. Select the WiFi SSID you want to connect to.
  9. Enter the password (PSK or Pre Shared Key) for that particular WiFi SSID.
  10. Click Save
  11. In the video below is some extra fields that now have been eliminated in order to simplify the configuration process.

For advanced use of the the XK07, where the data goes and what you can do to grab the data, check out this document on MQTT servers:

Weather Balloon/FlatSat

CS11

Flashing the CS11 requires the user to load the firmware(software) onto the SD card then mount the SD card onto the CS11. The SD Card can be inserted into either a Mac or Windows computer and the SD Card will appear as a drive.

  1. Drag and Drop the files in the CS11 SAT folder (not the folder itself) into the SD card drive on your computer.
  2. Safely eject the SD card and then mount it onto your CS11.
  3. Power up your CS11 with either the IP01 or PB04 with an attached OD01 and SN01 to receive your first GPS data and check that it is functional

CW01

This step is an alternative step to the CS11 step. You can use a CW01 on the Weather Balloon/FlatSat instead of the CS11, but if this is you first time working on the XK07 project, it is recommended that you use the CS11 on the FlatSat and not the CW01.

But if you choose to continue with the CW01, then follow these steps:

  1. Disconnect the Ground Station CW01 from the IP01 without disconnecting the USB from your computer (some computers do not want to recognise it again if you have disconnected it).
  2. Connect the CW01 for the Weather Balloon to the IP01 using one of the connectors.
  3. Open xFlasher application on your computer after having downloaded it following the steps illustrated on XFlasher Usage
  4. Select the XK07_SAT_Vx_xxx.bin file, found in the CW01 SAT folder, you downloaded previously by clicking the magnifying glass icon in the top right corner
  5. Click the "FLASH" button.

  1. You have 30 seconds within which you can connect to the CW01 via the Captive Portal, after those 30 seconds the device will timeout. A timer can be seen on the connected OD01.
  2. If you don't make it in those 30 seconds, just power cycle and try again.
  3. Once connected to the CW01's hotspot, a Captive Portal will pop-up, if not please enter http://192.168.4.1 in the address field on your device browser.
  4. The Captive Portal will ask you to enter your GS(Ground Station) and SAT(Weather Balloon) Radio IDs, please enter the same number you entered when configuring the Ground Station for both. The default is 1

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

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