Channel — entry point to the gateway

A protocol-specific pipeline for incoming messages from tracking devices.

Essentials

  • A channel is an entry point for messages from tracking devices or other platforms.
  • Channels are an indispensable part of any flespi project — there’s no other way to feed the data to flespi.
  • A channel operates via a single protocol which means that one channel can receive messages from tracking devices of one manufacturer
  • A channel has a unique dedicated host:port to point your tracking devices to.
  • With the Start commercial account, you can have up to 2,000 simultaneously connected devices per channel. 
  • Maximum TCP connection timeout is 10 minutes and it can not be configured. We recommend to activate 5 minute heartbeat interval on the devices where it is applicable to prevent TCP connection close by the channel.

How channels work

Channel handles connections from tracking devices, parses the incoming data, and stores parsed messages in the internal buffer (100 MB for the free account, 1 GB for the commercial account) for 30 days. It's important to promptly take parsed messages away from the channel buffer and clear it regularly to avoid channel blocking due to buffer overflow. This article explains how to get messages from flespi.

As the channel is responsible for connections to devices, you can manage them via API. You can see raw traffic split by identified devices and list or manually close each connection.

Note: you want to create flespi devices of a specific device type on top of channels to get additional functionality such as telemetry, remote configuration and remote control via API, dedicated long-term storage, plugins, and more.

IP whitelisting: If you filter the traffic on MNO towards flespi channel's IP, please be sure to whitelist subnet 185.213.2.0/24 that is operated solely by flespi.

Types of channels

flespi supports 140+ channel protocols.

A channel can accept and parse the data from any device model of the manufacturer developing a given protocol. 

Some channels can accept data from custom solutions. The following protocols can be set up to receive data from custom sources:

  • MQTT channel — subscribes for the specified topic of any MQTT 3.1.1 or 5.0 compliant broker and accepts plain JSON-formatted messages.

  • HTTP channel — accepts HTTP POST requests with messages as a request’s data parameter.

  • Wialon IPS, Wialon Combine — open protocols specifications (text and binary). May be used by device manufacturers or applications that must reduce traffic usage.

  • Wiatag — accepts data from Wiatag mobile application. Can be used for debugging, prototyping or small projects.

  • Telegram — pulls messages received by Telegram bot.

  • Proxy — can be used to split TCP traffic from one device to several platforms and to see HEX data from connections.

There are several types of devices that can work with one pre-configured platform and cannot be re-configured. flespi has API-based integrations with 10+ such platforms

Wialon retranslator protocol is supported by many telematics platforms and can be used for cross-platform integrations too.

To analyze raw traffic in any channel, use the Traffic Viewer tool.

To forward the parsed data from your channels, explore our streaming options.

How to create a channel?

  1. Log in to the flespi panel
  2. Navigate to Telematics hub -> Channels and click the "+" button in the bottom right corner to add a new channel:
    create flespi channel
  3. Give the new channel a meaningful name and pick the channel protocol from the protocol_id drop-down:
  4. Configure your GPS trackers to send the data to the channel's unique host:port:

Important! We strongly recommend to point your trackers to the DNS of the channel's URI (in host:port format) and not to the IP address behind that DNS since we might change that DNS record without prior notice to point to different IP addresses to mitigate DDoS attacks.

How to point a tracker to the channel?

Open the device configuration tool provided by the manufacturer, find the Server settings setup and paste the host and port of the created channel there.

Alternatively, you can send a respective command to the device via SMS. The format is usually given in the protocol specification.

If you do not know how to do this please check our quick start guide for specific instructions that you can use to connect devices from most popular manufacturers to your flespi channel.

If everything is set up correctly, messages from your device should start coming to the channel. You can check this on the Logs & Messages tab for the channel.

Channels API

To perform any operations with the channels, use the channels API.

Troubleshooting

In case of any issues, check the Logs & Messages tab on the channel screen:

channel logs and messages

Use raw traffic viewer to investigate parsing issues.

If your channel is blocked either by traffic, active connections count or amount of registered messages consider upgrading your flespi plan to the next or create one more channel working on the same protocol and split the load between them. If you are working with devices they can seamlessly communicate via any such channel in the account.

What's next?

Before you will start using flespi on a full scale we suggest to watch detailed videos from our conference. Invest your time into watching them now to save much more time and money later, when you will implement your project:


See also
Options for viewing and exporting raw traffic data.
Certain flespi-compatible devices may encrypt traffic using TLS. This article explains how to set up TLS encryption using flespi certificates chain.