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 T-Beam v1.1, a LoRa32 v2.0 or a LoRa32 v2.1 device. More supported devices are added regularly, so it might be useful to check the latest list of supported devices on the GitHub repository 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 1.1.9 of the RNode Configuration Utility. You can grab the source-code from GitHub and run it from that, but 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 pip3 now, it will come in handy later).

To install rnodeconf, open up a terminal and type:

pip3 install rnodeconf

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, for the rnodeconf command to become available.

Attention! At this point, it is probably a good idea to make a separate directory for storing files related to your RNode installations. While this step is not strictly necessary, it can be very useful at a later point if you intend to make a lot of RNodes, and want to use some of the more advanced functionality. In your terminal make a new directory and enter it:

mkdir rnode_installs
cd rnode_installs

The autoinstaller will give each RNode you make a unique (but completely anonymous) hardware ID, that you can later use for various things such as addressing and remote configuration, but for this to work, the installer needs to store a database of the devices you make, so be sure to install your RNodes from the same directory, if you want this functionality.

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:

[2022-01-27 20:11:22] Opening serial port /dev/ttyUSB0...
[2022-01-27 20:11:25] Device connected
[2022-01-27 20:11:25] Current firmware version: 1.26
[2022-01-27 20:11:25] Reading EEPROM...
[2022-01-27 20:11:25] EEPROM checksum correct
[2022-01-27 20:11:25] Device signature validated
[2022-01-27 20:11:25]
[2022-01-27 20:11:25] Device info:
[2022-01-27 20:11:25]   Product            : LilyGO LoRa32 v2.0 850 - 950 MHz (b0:b8:36)
[2022-01-27 20:11:25]   Device signature   : Validated - Local signature
[2022-01-27 20:11:25]   Firmware version   : 1.26
[2022-01-27 20:11:25]   Hardware revision  : 1
[2022-01-27 20:11:25]   Serial number      : 00:00:00:02
[2022-01-27 20:11:25]   Frequency range    : 850.0 MHz - 950.0 MHz
[2022-01-27 20:11:25]   Max TX power       : 17 dBm
[2022-01-27 20:11:25]   Manufactured       : 2022-01-27 20:10:32
[2022-01-27 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 you want to use it with Reticulum, Nomad Network, LoRaMon, or other such applications, leave it in the default Normal (host-controlled) mode. Reticulum added support for multiplatform and homemade RNodes in version 0.3.2, so update to that version if you haven't already.

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

3 thoughts on “Installing RNode Firmware on T-Beam and LoRa32 Devices

    1. Because 17dBm is the maximum output power they can sustain continously. Running at higher output powers, the transceiver can only operate at very short intervals, or you risk damaging it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *