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I know this is a common question but I am wondering how to increase range on my Lora 'LoStik' device. https://www.crowdsupply.com/ronoth/lostik

I am trying to send data from one LoStik to another. Both are plugged into Raspberry Pis. Data packets are small, maybe a string of 50 or 60 characters.

The data sheet claims around 15 km, but I can barely manage 2 km. I have read up on spreading factor and have increased both Spreading factor and the Tx power to the maximum.

I am beginning to think I will need to use a different type of antenna to achieve maximum distance. Is this correct? What type of antenna should I use?

Aside from that, what else can be done to increase Lora Range? I am using two LoStiks to communicate with each other to simulate (on a small scale) the deployment of cheap Lora hardware. Should I be focusing on different hardware? Is it more efficient to setup a LoraWan gateway than having a bunch of LoStik end nodes talk with one another?

I haven't even begun to consider security issues....

Thank you for the help!!

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    What region are you in, and what frequency are you using? In some regions you will have limits on transmit power so you can’t really push power or antenna gain that far. In the EU region at least, limits vary with the frequency (sub-band), but other limits come into play (duty cycle, and the size of the sub-band and thus number of channels, and thus channel usage). What works in all cases in unobstructed line of sight. You need to be outdoors, and the highest possible. Check link budget tools, they’ll make that clear to you.
    – jcaron
    Dec 6 '19 at 22:04
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    I am in the USA and in a rather hilly, suburban area. I will check out the link budget tools to get a better idea. Do you think it's worth getting a better antenna in the meantime? Thanks! Dec 6 '19 at 22:28
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    Whatever happens, removing obstacles is the first rule to long range. Anything in the direct line of sight between emitter and receiver (and actually a bit more, see Fresnel zone for details) will either attenuate or completely block the signal. To reach 15 km, you most probably need unobstructed line of sight. If terrain is hilly, that means at least of of the two must be as high as possible. There's a reason cellular towers are... towers.
    – jcaron
    Dec 9 '19 at 0:36
  • @jcaron Yup, making sure there was LOS was the most important thing. Got up to 3 miles in a semi-urban environment!! Dec 28 '19 at 19:10
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You can do the following to reach longer distance:

  • Increase the spreading factor to SF12
  • Repeat every message multiple times
  • Increase the TX power to the maximum that is allowed by your local regulator (don't forget deducting the antenna gain fron your actual TX power when check if your within the limit of real allowed radiated power.)
  • Try to keep the antenna cable short. The device should be close to the antenna.
  • Install your antennas as high (preferably on roof tops) as possible (this usually means that the modem should be on the roof top too)
  • Try to maintain line-of-sight between the antennas
  • Use a special high gain antenna (e.g.: 8dBi antenna) at the receiving device.
    An example of that high gain antenna is this one.
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  • Note that by definition, an omnidirectional antenna with a high gain has a very narrow vertical angle through which it can send/receive (as can be seen in the radiation patterns on page 2. So the two antennas must be within the same horizontal plane, or appropriately tilted.
    – jcaron
    Jul 12 at 16:21

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