Development

Prototyping has shown you the way to go: through devkits and first versions, proof-of-concepts and tryouts, you've reached the conclusion that your project is possible, both technically and financially. Now is the time to make definitive choices, and prepare for the next step.

Producing a detailed spec

The culmination of your needs assessment phase will become the headlines of your specification phase. This specification phase is a crunch phase for your overall project success.

The Sigfox IoT Agency has written down the most important considerations when writing your solution specification. This is an opportunity to reduce time to market.

Choosing a radio chipset

In order to create a Sigfox-enabled solution, you will need to integrate a Sigfox compatible radio chipset in your device. Thanks to our open approach regarding hardware integration, our semiconductor ecosystem offers a wide variety of solutions to answer all our customer needs.  

You can use: 

  • A Sigfox Verified module. The module already integrates the Sigfox Library and is very easy to use.  
  • A Sigfox Verified reference design. The reference design also integrates the library, but this solution requires that you source the various components yourself.  
  • Your own modem design based on a transceiver. This is the most complex solution as you will have to integrate the Sigfox library yourself. This is also more expensive as integration is more complex, but it can be interesting for high-volume projects.  

All these solutions can be found on the Partner Network:

Which solution is best? This depends on your needs, volume targets and radio knowledge. Each product has its own advantages (electrical consumption, footprint, price, other connectivity, etc.), so it is up to the device maker to find the best solution for their product. 

In order to achieve a quick time-to-market, we strongly advise customers to use a Sigfox Verified module, as this is the fastest and easiest solution to work with Sigfox while providing very good performance. For larger volumes, all options are open: it depends on what your objectives are.

Please be aware that using transceivers or non-verified solutions will automatically require a Sigfox Verified certification, as you will have to integrate the Sigfox stack. This process requires a larger investment both financially and in terms of manpower from the device maker, so it is usually recommended for larger volumes targets. 

Choosing an antenna

When developing your device, it is important to consider its antenna. This is the one element that connects your hardware to the Sigfox network.
The choice of your antenna will depend on several parameters:

  • Size
  • Environment in which the device will work
  • Price
  • etc.

It is therefore promordial to choose your antenna and antenna provider wisely. To help you, we have created a page giving all the information there is to know .   

Helicoidal antennas

Choosing a battery

The Sigfox technology has been optimized in every way possible to be power-efficient, to allow devices to operate independently for a number of years without changing the power source. What does this mean for a device maker? 

1) Predictability

As the Sigfox network does not use a handshake mechanism (or any other type of power-controlling system) within the protocol, Sigfox is one of the only technologies allowing to precisely analyze and predict how much power you will use during your device's battery life. 

2) Which type of battery? 

Numerous power sources are available on the market, each with their own benefits. Which source to use depends on your use case, as battery capacity can be impacted by a number of parameters.  

The questions to answer before choosing are: 

  • How long is my device supposed to work? 
  • How many sensors need power while not sending messages? 
  • What are my constraints in term of design? 
  • What temperature will be reached?
  • etc.

Once all parameters have been defined, you will be able to choose the most suitable source for your use case. 

Warning: Don't undersize your power source! Whilst having the smallest battery on the market could help with the design aspects, it is also important to consider the amount of power needed during transmission while choosing your battery. On average radio solutions consume between 20 and 50 milliampere in TX mode, which has a great impact on battery life. If your use case request very small batteries (like coin cells), special attention needs be paid to this aspect. 

3) Radio configuration impact 

The various Sigfox Radio Configurations across the globe each use different ways of transmitting data. However, the impact on battery life is minimal if the correct approach is taken.

For exemple, when the speed of transmission is six times higher (in RC2), the power required will be higher during the TX. However, as the time of transmision is six times faster, the impact is minimal on battery consumption in general. 

Hence, the target RC has to be considered when designing the board itself, as constraints are a bit different. 

4) Radio solutions 

Each radio solution (module, System on Chip, transceivers) has its own power consumption, which may vary from one provider to another. You should compare the differences between radio solutions in order to size the battery appropriately. From one module to another, you will see that the power consumption can almost double, depending on the partner. 

More resources

To make our partners' lives easier, an application note on battery compatibility with the Sigfox technology is available below. 

Application Note

Choosing a casing

Another important part to consider early on is the casing you plan on using for your device. Indeed, the material of the casing will have a real impact on the radio performance of your final product.

There are at least 3 points to be aware of when choosing a casing. 

1) Casing material

For better performances, consider plastic. 

Metal casing might look more solid, but will create issues for your device, especially with radio propagation. 

2) Casing production

We tend to recommend off-the-shelf casings for most projects. They offer a good quality for the price. They are also great for low-volume orders. 

They have the advantage of being quick to buy and inexpensive. Many references are available from your local distributor.

3D-printing can be interesting for very low volumes, because you can design exactly what you need. But it can become expensive once you need more volume, and it requires extra work to adapt to your needs.

Custom casing are to be reserved for high volume orders, as they can get very expensive.

3) Casing protection

Depending on your use case, an IPXX-type casing is worth considering, particularly for outdoor or industrial use cases. It will protect your design from being exposed to water or dust. 

Preparing for the Sigfox Verified certification

This section is for you if you have found a good reason to use a transceivers or a non-Verified solution for your device. This can have benefits, but please be aware that your completed device will require a Sigfox Verified certification, as you will have to integrate the Sigfox stack.

The SDR Dongle can help you prepare for that certification, thanks to its Radio Signal Analyzer (RSA) tool.

About the Radio Signal Analyzer

The Radio Signal Analyzer is a software built to test radio compliance with Sigfox essential requirements in terms of radiofrequencies. It works together with the Sigfox SDR Dongle. By delivering analysis and automatic results, it provides verification output to prepare for Sigfox Verified certification for modules and reference designs.

Main functionalities:

  • CONFIGURE: Device ID, Key and Radio configuration for any Sigfox country worldwide
  • TEST: Modulation, Demodulation, Ultra Narrow Band Spectrum shaping occupation, Datarate accuracy, Phase accuracy, Frequency dynamic drift
  • VISUALIZE RF measurement results
  • GET result overviews in the certification verdict window
  • EXPORT verdicts, results and pictures

Prerequisites

A specific latop is required to run the Radio Signal Analyzer:

  • Can boot from a USB device.
  • Has at least 2 USB ports (one for the RSA drive, one for the SDR Dongle)
  • Has a 64 bit compatible processor.
  • Has at least 2 GB of RAM.

Getting Started

If you have any further question, go to support.sigfox.com!

How to test in production

This is an important phase that has to be taken into account as soon as you enter the development phase of your device. 

You'll find more information about this in the Industrialization page.

Get and flash Sigfox credentials in production

This is an important phase that has to be taken into account as soon as you enter the development phase of your device.

You'll find more information about this in the Industrialization page