IP Ratings for Dummy’s

April 20, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

Don’t know an IP rating from an IP address? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. First, IP ratings have absolutely nothing to do with IP addresses. In this case, IP stands for ingress protection. Ingress protection (IP) ratings are used to measure a product’s level of protection against liquids and solids - qualities that can be very important for expensive communications equipment, especially when exposed to harsh environments.

 

An IP rating consists of two digits, each with its own meaning. The first number in the rating represents protection from solid objects and particulates such as dust and sand. These numbers range from 0 to 6. A rating of 0 means there is no protection and a 6 means the product is 100% protected.

 

The second digit in the rating signifies how well the part is protected from liquids. These numbers range from 0 to 8 with levels of protection varying from no protection to fully protected even when completely submerged and under pressure.

 

A variety of IP-rated communication system components are available to support a wide range of applications where standard products will not work.  These include IP67 and IP68 cable assemblies, couplers and adapters. Waterproof varieties also include USB, Ethernet, video and fiber optic products designed for unforgiving industrial environments.

 

Here is an example and a chart to illustrate exactly how IP ratings work:

  

 

 

To view all of our IP-rated products for use in extreme conditions, click here.

 

HaLow Wi-Fi for the IoT

April 13, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 


The Internet of Things (IoT) might have found a saving grace for keeping all of those “things” connected. HaLow Wi-Fi, pronounced like halo (hay-low), is coming to scene with a list of virtues p

erfect for smart homes, smart cars, smart cities, and even healthcare, industrial, retail and agriculture.

 

Generally, we’re used to Wi-Fi aiming to achieve lightning fast speeds with the ability to move large amounts of data.  But with IoT devices, there’s no need for super-speeds and the amount of data being transmitted is typically small.  The real need of the IoT is for devices to remain connected wherever they are without dwindling power supplies or depending on cellular data. 

 

HaLow Wi-Fi is slated to offer double the coverage range of traditional Wi-Fi while lowering power consumption. This would not only set it apart from other Wi-Fi standards, but also make it ideal for many IoT applications. Thus, the Wi-Fi Alliance is hoping HaLow will replace cellular networks in smart cities and Bluetooth radios in wearable devices.

 

HaLow is an extension of the IEEE 802.11ah standard and uses the 900 MHz bandwidth instead of the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bands. The 900 MHz band is a low-frequency workhorse usually reserved for microwaves ovens and baby monitors. By using this robust frequency for Wi-Fi, the signal is able to reach further and penetrate objects and obstacles without dwindling the device’s power supply – many of which run solely on batteries.

 

Reported data rates for Halow are between 150 kilobits and 18 megabits per second. This is significantly less than traditional Wi-Fi rates, but speed is not the focus in this case. For the IoT,  power consumption, reliability and distance are the priority. The HaLow standard will be official next year and might be exactly the  divine intervention needed for the IoT.

 

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Specialized Cabling Systems for Military Applications

April 6, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

When you hear the word “military” you probably think of tanks, weapons and camouflage. Military communications and cabling systems may not be the first things that come to mind, but they certainly are an important part of military operations.

 

Cables being used in combat zones face more rigorous requirements than those used in everyday civilian applications. Military voice, video and data systems are designed for rapid deployment in harsh environments with exposure to extreme temperatures, shock, vibration, dust and moisture. Cables in these systems are also exposed to heavy EMI and RFI from motors, switching power supplies and nearby microprocessors, all of which can be detrimental to network performance.

 

These extreme conditions would render a commercial communications system useless, so combat-specialized infrastructure products have been designed to meet the needs of today’s combat-ready network systems.

 

Here are some examples of products and technologies designed to meet the needs of military communications networks.

 

Fiber Optics

 

By design fiber cables are immune to EMI and RFI sometimes encountered in the combat theatre. Additionally, fiber optic cables are now offered in special crush and impact-resistant designs and some military-styles are available with armored jacketed cable.

 

Connectors such as the Straight Tip (ST) are fitted with heavy tension springs to ensure proper mating when exposed to major shock and vibration. They are also offered with locking mechanisms for additional protection against optical disconnects.

 

Other fiber optic connectors for military applications feature Ingress Protection (IP) rated designs with screw lock mating and extra-strength strain reliefs of over 250 Newton’s to ensure a solid connection during field use.

 

Shielded Ethernet Cable

 

Shielded Cat5e or Cat6 copper cables are the way to go when fiber cabling isn’t an option. Military applications require shielded twisted pair (STP) copper cables and rugged military-style connectors for most applications. STP cabling reduces the damaging effects of EMI and RFI sometime encountered in the field.

 

Other Ethernet cabling options for military apps include IP68 rated cables that utilize ruggedized Anodized or Zinc Alloy finished connectors and double shielded, high-flex, UV and Oil resistant FR-TPE (Flame Retardant Thermoplastic Elastomer) jacket that is CMX outdoor rated to stand up to the toughest environments.

 

Jacket Compounds

 

Whether you’re using fiber or copper cables, the cable jacket compound should always be taken into consideration. The outer cable jacket of many copper and fiber cables is usually made of PVC material that is toxic when burned and can accelerate a fire spreading.

 

Low-smoke zero-halogen (LSZH) jackets are a much safer solution and a popular choice for military applications. As the name implies, LSZH cables produce minimal smoke and no halogen, both of which can be harmful to people and expensive communications equipment. LSZH cables will also self-extinguish which makes them ideal for enclosed spaces such as ships, aircraft, tanks and other vehicles.

 

Polyurethane jackets are sometimes used in military applications because of their ability to withstand damaging UV rays, oil and petroleum-based products, and mechanical abuse. Though cables with a Polyurethane jacket will also release toxic gases and will not self-extinguish like LSZH cables.

 

Video Blog - How to Assemble a Grid Antenna

March 30, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

High-performance grid antennas are perfect for point-to-point, point-to-multi-point and wireless bridge applications. L-com’s 2.4 GHz grid antennas can be used in 802.11b/g/n WLANs and feature a rugged design for long-term outdoor operation. Our 5.8 GHz grid antennas are ideal for long-range, highly directional 5.8 GHz ISM and UNII-band operations.

 

If a grid antenna sounds like something you need in your application  but you’re not sure how assemble one, we’re here to help with that too.  In six simple steps, we’ll have you from parts on the floor to high-gain antenna in the sky.

 

The process is easy, but first you should follow some safety precautions to make sure that no one will fall while working from heights, and that nothing will come in contact with power lines. All towers and masts must be securely grounded and lightning arrestors should be used on all coax cable connections.

 

Next, make sure you have all of the parts needed:

 

  • ·       Antenna feedhorn assembly
  • ·       Stainless steel U-bolts with nuts and washers
  • ·       Mast clamps
  • ·       Aluminum “L” bracket
  • ·       Machine screws with nuts and washers
  • ·       Antenna reflector grid section halves


Now, watch our video. In less than 4 ½ minutes, we’ll have you connected and ready to go.

 

 

For more tips and how-to videos, click here.

 

 

Cable Showdown: Cat6 vs. Cat6a

March 23, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

 

Cat6 and Cat6a may be two of the most popular standards for Ethernet cables, but how do you decide between them?  Depending on your application, one may work better than the other. To help you decide, we thought we’d stack them up side-by-side for a showdown.

 

  

 

Both Cat6 and Cat6a offer speed, flexibility and cost savings. They can both be used for PoE applications and are ideal for transmitting voice, video and data, though Cat6a is able to move larger volumes of data. Cat6 cables are great for connecting access points and other devices including media converters, switches and wireless controllers that are typically running at 1Gbps speeds. Cat6a cables are typically used in data centers and storage area networks (SAN) that require 10Gbps connectivity or more through trunked 10Gbps connections.

 

The cost difference between the two is minimal. The main difference is that Cat6a is able to transmit at 10 Gbps supporting 10GBASE-T over longer distances than Cat6 cables. Cat6a also builds upon Cat6’s capability to protect against alien crosstalk, which improves performance. Though if a shielded cable isn’t necessary and a lighter option would work best, unshielded Cat6 has the advantage. As always, the requirements of your application will dictate which cable to use.

 

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