The first question you should ask yourself when creating a Sigfox-enabled prototype is: how will it connect to the Sigfox network? For prototyping purposes, a lot of different solutions already exist on the market. Choosing one will highly depend on your needs.
1) The Breakout solution
Many people prefer to use "Modules" to implement Sigfox connectivity directly on their printed circuit board (PCB). Others prefer to use "Breakouts" of the very same modules, because they are easier to start off with and do not require any heavy soldering equipment.
Breakouts are usually modules mounted on a PCB, giving very easy access to their PINs, and coming with extra features to make the device-maker's life easier. They also give access to easy antenna connectors, like UFL or SMA, to start sending messages instantly.
Breakouts can be found here on the Sigfox Partner Network. These breakouts are available for the Radio Configurations 1 and 2.
2) Verified Modules
Another solution is to directly obtain Sigfox Verified modules from your local distributor. This solution is a little bit more complex as you will have to design a specific PCB to mount your module, but will be better in terms of integration and final result.
These modules have received the Sigfox Verified certification, and are ready to communicate on our network, as long as it is connected properly to an antenna.
Please be aware that you have to choose Sigfox Verified modules developed for your Radio Configuration.
If you have limited skills in electronics, or need a clean and compact prototype for your proof of concept, you can use ThingType. Their automated platform lets you design your prototypes easily, and have them manufactured on-demand.
Once your prototype is designed, you need to connect it to the Sigfox network. For that you must buy connectivity from your local Sigfox Operator, and assign your prototypes to your contract.
The easiest way to buy connectivity is to use buy.sigfox.com. This site allows you to choose from different connectivity packages and automatically create accounts on our backend platform.
For areas not yet covered by the public Sigfox network, we have developed the SDR Dongle. This product makes it possible to emulate a laboratory version of our network.
It allows you to develop and test your products even without Sigfox coverage. It features two tools: the Sigfox Network Emulator (SNE), presented below, and the Sigfox Radio Signal Analyzer (RSA), which we present in the Development step.
About the Sigfox Network Emulator
The Sigfox Network Emulator is a tool that runs on the Sigfox SDR Dongle. It is dedicated to test end-to-end and bidirectional data transport services between your device and your application.
By emulating the Sigfox radio network and cloud main functionalities (callbacks), it facilitates the development of IoT applications. It can help you test all parts of your creation, from the connected device itself to the application that processes the data transmitted by the device. There is no need for an active subscription, nor for Sigfox network coverage: you can develop and test your Sigfox device anywhere, quickly.
Note that the SDR Dongle is not made for production tests. Please see our document on how to do tests in production.
With the Sigfox Network Emulator, developers can:
- SIMULATE Sigfox coverage in a laboratory environment,
- SET radio configuration (RC) for any Sigfox country worldwide,
- TEST end-to-end data services from the device to the application and vice versa,
- DEBUG applications with message content details.
- Ubuntu distribution: 16.04 and above.
- Windows platform: Windows 7 and Window 10, 64 bits versions.
Chipset compatibility: The radio chipset in your device must integrate an “emulation mode” command, to switch from private key to public key. We provide a list of compatible chipsets.
To launch your first trial, you have two options:
- develop a dedicated product.
- use something already available on the market. This has the advantage of integrating the sensors you need during your tests.
Some Sigfox partners have developed dedicated products tailored for multiple use, positioning them as trial devices.