After another 8 hour day trying to make chirpstack join with RAK 11300 nodes, I give up. I bought my gateway nearly 4 years ago. I got TTN to work for a while, but their last upgrade was way too complex. Same with Chirpstack, except, Chirpstack V4 test 3, which loaded with only one burning to Etcher, one upload, and just fired up! However, it still did not work. I have been so close many times. I got the RAK modules to JOIN with their AT command set, but then couldn’t do anyhting else with them. I have had other RAK and Heltec nodes join, but never stably for more than a few minutes.
Today I researched initiating a command with MQTT, to the gateway, then downlinking to a node. This problem is cited many times on the internet, going back a few years, but no solution. I know LoRaWAN was not designed for this feature, but I thought after several years it would have been solved.
Anyway, giving up. LoRaWAN is still too complex for non-engineers. I think the first group to come up with an easy to use, single server based gateway will be the financial winner. I will use LoRa point to point for a few projects, but not wasting any more time with LoRaWAN.
LoRaWAN is complicated, but it’s because it’s a rather low-level protocol. LoRa can do many things, with very little; ISM bands tend to have very heavy limitations, such as short dwell time and limited transmission power.
It gets worse because of poorly-implemented devices and so on.
If you experienced issues, I guess it boils down to:
The quality of your equipment and their vintage.
What you tried to do. If you tried to make the equipment operate in a way that does not work well with LoRaWAN, it will not work well.
How well-trodden the route you took was. The fewer people who took your route, the less documented it is and the more pitfalls you may encounter.
Personally, I wouldn’t jump to the latest versions as soon as they’re being released. There is nothing wrong with staying with the last stable version, at least until things start working well. Chirpstack v4 does not even have a stable release.
Usually, you don’t use MQTT to talk to the gateway directly. Usually, the gateway doesn’t use MQTT, but some protocol meant for only transferring messages between the gateway and the LoRa Network Server (LNS).
And even if you could, you would have needed to already encrypt the payload etc, which is what the LNS like Chirpstack is for.
Instead, you should use Chirpstack’s API to send the downlink.
I develop a proprietary LNS for my company and we also offer LoRa devices as part of our solutions. So I’ve seen LoRa devices get deployed and they can operate for months without any help.
But because LoRaWAN seems promising and Chirpstack was my source of inspiration, I decided to give back to help make it shine in the community. So for at least now, I comment on Chirpstack’s forums to help out.
If you change your mind and decide to try again, please do feel to reach out on the forums!