Category: Internet of Things

Internet of Things

Learn how to Build IoT Apps on Azure with SkillMeUp and Opsgility

There has been an ever growing interesting in the Internet of Things (IoT). Beyond being just plain cool, IoT is a really interesting area of growth in pretty much any industry that has figured out how to make use of it. Some of the implementations of IoT include cruise ships, self-driving cars, smart thermostats, and MANY, MANY other applications! With cloud-based IoT services like those offered from Microsoft Azure it’s becoming much easier to build more powerful Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.

On the training side, there’s not too much available for teaching you how to build Internet of Things (IoT) architectures and solutions in the cloud. Recently, I published a new learning path and series of on-demand courses and hands-on labs on Building IoT Apps on Microsoft Azure over at

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ArchitectureInternet of Thingssecurity

IoT Security Architecture: Trust Zones and Boundaries

There are many aspects to architecting an Internet of Things (IoT) solution. Security is probably the most important aspect of any computer system, but it’s especially important with IoT. Every so often there are news reports about IoT solutions being compromised; like Internet connected cameras being compromised to create botnets that perform denial of service attacks, or internet connected automobiles being compromised in dangerous ways. Regardless of what a particular IoT solution is used for, the overall Security of the IoT solution is an extremely important detail to keeping mind from the beginning of design all the way through implementation, as well as deployment to production.

One of the security aspects to keep in mind when designing any Internet of Things (IoT) solution is the trust boundaries between different parts of the system, both physical and software. Read More

Internet of Things

Raspberry Pi GPIO Pin Reference

Microsoft Azure IoT Suite can be used to build extremely scalable Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. With any IoT solution the cloud platform is only half of what needs to be built. The other half resides on physical IoT hardware devices such as a Raspberry Pi that are connected to some combination of sensors and / or actuators to provide the real-world integration side of the IoT solution. Both the Raspberry Pi 2 & 3 offer a 40 pin GPIO header to allow for many different components to be connected, in addition for the capability of providing both 3.3 volt and 5 volt output to those components. Each component needs to be connected to the correct pins, so a proper reference diagram is always necessary to ensure correct pin locations.

Raspberry Pi GPIO Pinout Reference

The Raspberry Pi 2 & 3 have a 40 pin header that supports UART, I2C, SPI, PCM, and has numerous GPIO pins. It additionally has pins for 5V and 3.3V power along with numerous Ground pins. When connecting sensors and other components it’s very important to connect to the right pins. For this reason it’s important to keep a good Raspberry Pi GPIO Header Reference diagram readily available for easy lookup.

Here’s a really simple diagram with the location and purpose of each pinout labeled along with the color coding for easier reference at a glance.

Locating Header Pin 1

In case you’re unsure where what the orientation of the above Raspberry Pi GPIO Pin Reference, all you need to do is locate the “J8” marking on the board and match it up with the “J8” in the reference diagram (as shown by the red arrow in the below image.)

The location of Pin 1 and the “J8” marking on the Raspberry Pi board is in the corner of the board next to the header pins opposite of the Ethernet and USB ports. Pin 1 is the pin closest to the “J8” marking towards the inside of the board; not the corner pin on the outside edge of the board.

Attribution: The Raspberry Pi 3 hardware board image above is from the Wikipedia article on Raspberry Pi.

FYI, this article is a cross post and was originally posted to the Opsgility blog on 8/13/2016.

ArchitectureInternet of Things

Internet of Things (IoT) Messaging Architecture

Internet of Things (IoT) architecture requires a different kind of message queue based communication than other types of software systems or big data solutions. Most of these solutions will implement some type of one-way messaging to integrate the different components of the application stack. With IoT, the messaging needs are more complex since IoT requires 2-way message communication between the server-side / cloud components and the IoT hardware devices. Read More

Internet of Things

Microsoft Azure IoT Extension for Azure CLI 2.0

Microsoft has been investing heavily in the pretty much every aspect of Microsoft Azure, and the IoT (Internet of Things) space is not being left out. Microsoft has innovated very nicely with services like Azure IoT Hub and the newer Azure IoT Central. These are pretty amazing cloud services within Microsoft Azure that truly ease the development and integration of IoT into any solution. Now, with the release of the “Azure IoT Extension for Azure CLI 2.0”, Microsoft is enhancing the command-line management experience for working with IoT related services within Microsoft Azure. Read More

Internet of Things

Azure IoT DevKit: Upgrade Firmware – MXChip, AZ3166

The Microsoft Azure IoT Developer Kit (AZ3166) board is built for prototyping Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and getting started quickly and easily. As part of this ease of use, the firmware flashing process for the device is extremely simple to do as well. You don’t need any special device drivers, special hardware or anything. If you can connect it to your computer over USB, then you can upgrade the firmware of the AZ3166 board.

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Internet of Things

Azure IoT DevKit: Configure Wifi Connectivity – No Wifi?

The Azure IoT Developer Kit (AZ3166) board is a great prototyping board that is easy to get started with and use. Setting up and configuring the Wifi connectivity for this board is no exception. With the built-in display and buttons, the firmware is able to take advantage of this integrated hardware to enable a really great experience. The device essentially creates a Wifi Hotspot that you can connect to with ANY device, then you access a website hosted by the device to easily configure the Wifi Network and Password for it to connect to. It really is pretty much that simple! Read More

Internet of Things

Order Azure IoT Developer Kit (AZ3166) on Amazon with FREE Shipping

The Azure IoT Developer Kit (AZ3166) is a really amazing little IoT (Internet of Things) prototyping board with lots of sensors, buttons, OLED display, Wifi, and other things all built in! This is the official Azure IoT Dev Kit from Microsoft, and is manufactured in partnership with MXChip. There are a few 3rd parties that have been selling these boards since the pre-orders started, however, you can now purchase the Azure IoT Developer Kit (AZ3166) on Amazon, and get FREE Shipping Read More

Internet of Things

Azure IoT Developer Kits (AZ3166) Have Arrived

The Azure IoT Developer Kit is an Arduino compatible Internet of Things (IoT) board with quite a few sensors, buttons, and display all built-in. The board was initially announced at the Microsoft Build 2017 conference, and is manufactured by MXChip. The first boards were made available as a very limited “Preview” at first, and then Pre-Orders could be made starting in August 2017 from a couple of different online retailers with Pre-Orders expected to start shipping September 1, 2017. However, amongst all this anticipation, there was a manufacturing delay that moved the expected shipment date to September 21, 2017. That date also came and went, but then finally on October 2, 2017 my first shipment of these boards finally arrived; basically 1 month later than the initial expected shipping date.

At first sight, the Generally Available (GA) version of the Azure IoT DevKit looks pretty much identical to the “Preview” version. Clicking on the above links will bring you to more information as to what’s on the board and what the hardware specifications are. Here’s a short summary to save you time, but I encourage you to go read those articles too. Read More

Internet of Things

Azure Event Grid vs Azure IoT Hub: Which is better for IoT?

Both Azure Event Grid and Azure IoT Hub are massively scalable messaging services in the Microsoft Azure Cloud. There’s a lot of talk about Azure Event Grid; partially because it’s a new service (at this time) and because it extends the Serverless story. While Azure IoT Hub isn’t built for Serverless, it is built to scale to billions of connected IoT devices. These 2 services look different, yet similar at the same time. Which one is best to use when building out an Internet of Things (IoT) solution?

Let’s take a brief look at the features and purpose of each of these services to figure out which one is “better” for IoT. Read More