Taking the Amazon Sidewalk Test Kit for a Spin – First Impressions
18 April 2023 / by Steven Hegenderfer
Amazon Sidewalk Test Kit – First Impressions
The Amazon Sidewalk Test Kit is a tool designed to help developers and device manufacturers test the real-world network coverage of the Amazon Sidewalk, a new low-power, long-range wireless network that uses LoRa® communication technology. With the Sidewalk Test Kit, developers can see the actual network coverage in a real-world environment, ensuring that they have adequate coverage for their Sidewalk solutions and providing customers with a better experience. In this blog post, we'll explore the features of the Amazon Sidewalk Test Kit and how it can help developers bring innovative new IoT products to market.
If you want to see a quick video overview of the Sidewalk Test Kit in action, click this link and watch as we cover the basics.
First off, Amazon makes it fairly simple to get a test kit. All you need to do it request one through the Amazon Sidewalk Test Kit page. Once there, you’ll see a button right in the middle of the page:
The test kits are free, so click on this, fill out the form, and then wait for your kit to arrive.
What you will find when the kit arrives is a simple, easy to use ‘tracking’ device. It comes with a USB-powered charging pad which you’ll use to ensure that the device is fully powered up when you get it.
You will also be provided a simple dashboard that will show you not only the Test Kit coverage map (projected coverage where you are) but will also follow you as you roam so that you can see how pervasive the network really is. This easy to use dashboard was very useful for me to see real-world network coverage in my location. It also includes some additional useful information such as the timestamp, packet count, and LQI.
You can, of course, expand out from your local coverage to get an approximation of the broader US Sidewalk coverage...which is pretty impressive even right now.
Amazon Sidewalk Coverage Map
Per the simple FAQ on the Test Kit dashboard:
“Coverage on the map represents the availability of Amazon Sidewalk’s LoRa signal, one of three protocols Amazon Sidewalk uses to provide coverage. Currently our coverage maps and test kits do not provide coverage information pertaining to Amazon Sidewalk’s other two protocols, Bluetooth and Frequency Shift Keying (FSK).”
But given that LoRa provides the longest range out of the three protocols you can consider this the longest effective coverage of Amazon Sidewalk as you are testing the test kit.
For a simple test, I put the Test Kit in my pocket on a weekend and roamed in a 12 mile area in the Seattle area to see how well it would track. And I have to say, it did a really good job!
I got up, put the kit in my pocket, jumped in the car, and then drove all over the place. The device accurately tracked my location on the Sidewalk network, giving me a really good idea for the types of tracking and accuracy that I could expect using LoRa in a Sidewalk solution.
The dashboard itself retains your data for 90 days so you can see the history and coverage of your test kit, allowing you to see the accuracy of the network over an extended period of time.
Overall, I’m pretty impressed with this simple kit. It’s super easy to use and the dashboard is very easy to read. And for looking at the network coverage of Sidewalk in the real-world, it’s very helpful. And after you have tested the coverage out, check out some of the developer kits available for Amazon Sidewalk as well!
So in summary, if you are a developer thinking about creating solutions for Amazon Sidewalk, what are you waiting for? Go get a test kit and try it out for yourself!