Ready to Go! SenseCAP M2 Data Only Review

Hi Community,

We’re fortunate to have disk91, a renowned IoT blogger, experienced practitioner in computer science, and Helium community member, to help us test our SenseCAP M2 Data Only and provide his profound insights about this unique Helium Hotspot.

This post will be a reference to his blog through some highlights of its content, and the link to the original blog is here:

What is a Data Only Hotspot?

As a Data-Only hotspot, it does not participate in the Proof of Coverage of Helium, as a consequence, there are no related rewards for this device. This device only earns the DC (Data Credit) for transferring the communications, so $1 for 100.000 packets. As a result, SenseCAP M2 Data Only have less return on investment from a crypto point of view and has been made to help support professional applications on the Helium network.

What a Data Only hotspot has been made for?

Data Only is important for the Helium network. PoC is a really powerful solution to make the Helium network grow fast thanks to individuals. It makes the network a reality and the largest LoRaWAN network in the world. But when comes the time of deploying IoT solutions on the network, industry, and solution providers, will need to secure and extend the network coverage. For this, they will have to deploy a new hotspot to suffice their vast demand. They don’t care about PoC (at least or now) and they don’t want to manage crypto or have to wait a month to get devices. They need simple hardware, ready-to-go, with industrial standards regarding powering and connectivity.

This is why the Data-Only hotspot matter: they are covering this need. As they also provide DCs, they allow the solution providers to get free communications over the network

Sense cap M2 Helium Data Only hotspot

The SenseCAP M2 is the newcomer from SenseCAP for covering this need. The hotspot is compact and has most of the features we can expect for professional indoor deployment. As part of the main feature it includes:

  • Classical power supply
  • PoE power supply
  • Ethernet connectivity

Even if there is a place for a nano-sim and the LTE component inside the hotspot, the version I have been tested did not have these options. We may see a future version with that connectivity.

Onboarding of the SenseCAP M2 Hotspot

To onboard the hotspot, you need to use the SenseCAP application and connect it to the Helium wallet. You can add the M2 from the SenseCAP application. The process is the same as for a full hotspot but it will cost you the transaction fees ($5 + $10).

It’s not yet “ready-to-go” as you need to have a crypto wallet to burn the expected DCs for the registration. In my point of view, it should be included for the Helium hotspot to simplify the professional deployments as explained above.

When you reach the point where you need to enable the Bluetooth for pairing, you have to press the “reset” button on the back until you see the top light color changing from green to blue/purple. It takes some time so, better to be known.

Access the control panel

The SenseCAP M2 can be managed with the control panel, It’s currently basic but you can see the LoRaWan traffic over time and confirm it’s working. Most of the management menus are related to the WiFi interfaces.

Inside the SenseCAP M2 Helium Hotspot

The Data Only hotspot run on a Mediatek WiFi processor, this is a chip running at 580MHz supporting WiFi and multiple Ethernet ports. It can run Linux and OpenWrt. It has 128MB of RAM and 32MB of flash. This is the module on top of the picture above with Seeed written on it.

At the bottom of the picture, you can see the LoRaWan concentrator WM1302, based on a Semtech SX1302 chip. On the bottom right, you can see the footprint for the LTE / GNSS module the hotspot may have later as an option.

On the center, left, you can see the Bluetooth module used for the device onboarding and monitoring.

Dashboard panel

The device is also integrated into the SenseCAP dashboard to monitor it with the other SenseCAP devices. Most of the information about P2P is in-relevant as a such device does not need to sync with the blockchain. The central management of the device fleet is a good thing. The SenseCAP dashboard is accessible with API, so you can use this to manage alarms in a professional deployment.

Basically, these are everything about this blog. We appreciate all the testers who participated in the project for their efforts and achievements and always welcome more supporters of SenseCAP to participate in our product testing and content output.

Come get your SenseCAP M2 Data Only Helium Hotspot for your Helium network construction: