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2022-01-25

Installing RNode Firmware on Supported Devices

If you have a T-Beam or LoRa32 device handy, it is very easy to get it set up for all the things that the RNode firmware allows you to do. With it installed, you can use your newly created RNode as:

So let's get started! You will need either a LilyGO T-Beam v1.1, a LilyGO LoRa32 v2.0, a LilyGO LoRa32 v2.1 or a Heltec LoRa32 device. More supported devices are added regularly, so it might be useful to check the latest list of supported devices as well.

Compatible LoRa devices Devices compatible with this installation guide

Beware! Some devices, like the T-Beam, use SiLabs USB chips. These may need additional drivers to work well on macOS and Windows. Linux usually has up-to-date drivers pre-installed. The SiLabs driver may also experience conflicts with earlier, pre-installed versions of the driver, causing a resource busy error, which can be fixed by removing the old driver.

To get started, you will need to download at least version 2.0.0 of the RNode Configuration Utility. The easiest way by far is to simply install it with pip3, if you already have that installed on your system (if not, go install python3 and python3-pip now, it will come in handy later).

The rnodeconf program is part of the rns package. To install it, open up a terminal and type:

pip3 install rns

After a few seconds, you should have rnodeconf installed and ready to go. If this is the very first time you install something with pip3, you might need to close your terminal and open it again (or in some cases even reboot your computer), for the rnodeconf command to become available.

We are now ready to start installing the firmware. To install the RNode firmware on your devices, run the RNode autoinstaller using this command:

rnodeconf --autoinstall

The installer will now ask you to insert the device you want to set up, scan for connected serial ports, and ask you a number of questions regarding the device. When it has the information it needs, it will install the correct firmware and configure the necessary parameters in the device EEPROM for it to function properly.

If the install goes well, you will be greated with a success message telling you that your device is now ready. To confirm everything is OK, you can query the device info with:

rnodeconf --info /dev/ttyUSB0

Remember to replace /dev/ttyUSB0 with the actual port the installer used in the previous step. You should now see rnodeconf connect to your device and show something like this:

[20:11:22] Opening serial port /dev/ttyUSB0...
[20:11:25] Device connected
[20:11:25] Current firmware version: 1.26
[20:11:25] Reading EEPROM...
[20:11:25] EEPROM checksum correct
[20:11:25] Device signature validated
[20:11:25]
[20:11:25] Device info:
[20:11:25]   Product            : LilyGO LoRa32 v2.0 850 - 950 MHz (b0:b8:36)
[20:11:25]   Device signature   : Validated - Local signature
[20:11:25]   Firmware version   : 1.26
[20:11:25]   Hardware revision  : 1
[20:11:25]   Serial number      : 00:00:00:02
[20:11:25]   Frequency range    : 850.0 MHz - 950.0 MHz
[20:11:25]   Max TX power       : 17 dBm
[20:11:25]   Manufactured       : 2022-01-27 20:10:32
[20:11:25]   Device mode        : Normal (host-controlled)

On the hardware side, you should see the status LED flashing briefly approximately every 2 seconds. If all of the above checks out, congratulations! Your RNode is now ready to use. If your device has a display, it should also come alive and show you various information related to the device state.

If you want to use it with Reticulum, Nomad Network, LoRaMon, or other such applications, leave it in the default Normal (host-controlled) mode.

If you want to use it with legacy amateur radio applications that work with KISS TNCs, you should set it up in TNC mode.