Which gives better range, LoRa or RFM69?

All other things being equal (antenna, power output, location) you will get better range with LoRa than with RFM69 modules. We've found 50% to 100% range improvement is common.

What ranges can I expect for RFM69 radios?

The RFM69 radios have a range of approx. 500 meters line of sight with tuned uni-directional antennas. Depending on obstructions, frequency, antenna and power output, you will get lower ranges - especially if you are not line of sight.

What ranges can I expect for RFM9X LoRa radios?

The RFM9x radios have a range of up to 2 km line of sight with tuned uni-directional antennas. Depending on obstructions, frequency, antenna and power output, you will get lower ranges - especially if you are not line of sight.

I don't seem to be getting the range advertised! Is my module broken?

Your module is probably not broken. Radio range is dependant on a lot of things and all must be attended to make sure you get the best performance!

  1. Tuned antenna for your frequency - getting a well-tuned antenna is incredibly important. Your antenna must be tuned for the exact frequency you are using
  2. Matching frequency - make sure all modules are on the same exact frequency
  3. Matching settings - all radios must have the same settings so they can communicate
  4. Directional vs non-directional antennas - for the best range, directional antennas like Yagi will direct your energy in one path instead of all around
  5. Good power supply - a nice steady power supply will keep your transmissions clean and strong
  6. Max power settings on the radios - they can be set for higher/lower power! Don't forget to set them to max.
  7. Line of sight - No obstructions, walls, trees, towers, buildings, mountains, etc can be in the way of your radio path. Likewise, outdoors is way better than indoors because its very hard to bounce radio paths around a building
  8. Radio transmission speed - trying to transmit more data faster will be hard. Go for small packets, with lots of retransmissions. Lowering the baud rate on the radio (see the libraries for how to do this) will give you better reliability
How do I pick/design the right antenna?

Various antennas will cost diferent amounts and give you different directional gain. In general, spending a lot on a large fixed antenna can give you better power transfer if the antenna is well tuned. For most simple uses, a wire works pretty well

The ARRL antena book is recommended if you want to learn how to do the modeling and analysis

But nothing beats actual tests in your environment!

What frequency is my module?

Look for a little colored paint dot on top of the module.

  • GREEN, BLUE or NO DOT = 900 MHz
  • RED = 433 MHz

Every now and then the paint dot shows up without a color or with the ink dot burnt. This is just a manufacturing variance and there is nothing wrong with the board. You should get the frequency you ordered though. So if you plan on mixing these up, you may want to add a new mark of your own.

My radio has a burnt blob on it, is it damaged?

Nope! The radios have an ink dot on them, which sometimes gets toasty when we put the board through the oven, or rework it, so it may have a burnt appearance. The chip is fine!

What is the MAC address used for?

Each LoRa device from Adafruit should come with a small label that contains a MAC address in the form 98:76:B6:xx:yy:zz. This might be a sticker attached to the device itself or included separately. This MAC address is needed if using the LoRa device with LoRaWAN. For example, The Things Network uses LoRaWAN. For non-LoRaWAN usage, the MAC address is not needed.

This guide was first published on Apr 15, 2016. It was last updated on Apr 15, 2016.

This page (Radio Module F.A.Q.) was last updated on Nov 03, 2016.

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