Catch the Wave - 802.11ac Wave 2

October 6, 2016 at 8:00 AM

 

The world of technology has a certain ebb and flow. As soon as the newest technological development comes ashore, it quickly becomes outdated and is overcome by the next best thing. As markets dictate, the tides are turning again and 802.11ac Wave 2 will come crashing in taking over where 802.11ac Wave 1 left off.

 

802.11ac Wave 2 technology builds upon 802.11ac Wave 1 with significant enhancements including faster speeds, multi-user capability, easier delivery of large files and greater overall performance. Wave 2 has the performance enhancements needed to connect a massive influx of next generation mobile devices to Wi-Fi networks. As a superset of Wave 1, 802.11ac Wave 2 supports all data rates of Wave 1 and is backward compatible with previous 802.11 standards including 802.11n.

 

Here is a side-by side comparison showing how Wave 2 stands up against Wave 1 and the benefits that go along with it.

Customers’ Choice

September 29, 2016 at 8:00 AM

 

The votes are in and a winner has been chosen! No, not those votes – your votes for our Customers’ Choice blog post.

 

Customer Experience (CX) Day is October 5th and we want to take this opportunity to make sure we’re giving our customers what they want. For CX Day, we let you choose the topic for our weekly blog post. The winner is (drumroll, please):  Wireless Mesh Networks.

 

Here is an overview of wireless mesh networks and links to additional materials that are sure to please. Thank you and Happy CX Day!

 

Industrial wireless networks have very different needs than traditional enterprise networks. If a business network or small home office loses its wireless connection, it may be an inconvenience but it can be tolerated. If an industrial network loses its connection, the entire operation is put at risk. Industrial networks rely on wireless connections to provide real-time communication between devices, keep production lines running and ensure safe and efficient operation of plants and processes.

 

Wireless mesh networks are one of the most popular technologies being deployed to support industrial applications. They were specifically designed to provide redundancy and self-healing capabilities.

 

Each node in the mesh network is connected to at least one other node and uses intelligent routing to make sure that data reaches its intended destination. This allows the nodes to seek out other nodes to maintain communication if the primary connection is disabled. The technology is so intelligent that the decision of which node forwards the data is made dynamically in that moment. 

 

There are two basic types of mesh networks, partial mesh and full mesh. In a partial mesh network nodes are only connected to some of the other nodes. In a full mesh network every node is connected. Your specific application will determine whether a full or partial mesh network is needed.

 

Many mesh networks use IEEE 802.11 standards that operate in the 2.4GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands. ZigBee and WirelessHART are both self-organizing, self-healing wireless mesh networks that provide the high levels of redundancy and availability needed to maintain a reliable connection.

 

To learn more about wireless mesh networks, read our wireless mesh whitepaper.

 

If there are other topics you would like us to cover, or if you have comments, please email us at engineeringhub@l-com.com.

 

Machine Vision and USB

September 22, 2016 at 8:00 AM

  

Machine vision systems are a great way for manufacturers to use advanced image capture and analysis to streamline inspection and production processes.

 

From military to medical to industrial, this technology can be applied across various industries to reduce defects, increase productivity and make manufacturing more efficient. As machine vision systems are being deployed globally, USB3 Vision cable assemblies are a top choice to support the technology.

 

USB3 Vision cables offer the ease of connection that we have come to expect from USB, with speeds fast enough to support machine vision applications.  With a data throughput rate 10 times faster than USB 2.0 (4.8 Gbps vs. 480 Mbps), USB3 Vision cables are perfectly suited to become the most popular machine vision interface.

 

The increased bandwidth substantially reduces the time required for transferring large amounts of data or video, even when supporting 4K UHD resolution. In addition to high data transmission rates, USB3 Vision cables also provide up to 4.5W of power over five meters or more and can easily be scaled to support multiple cameras.

 

Based on the USB 3.0 standard, the USB3 Vision interface uses USB 3.0 ports that are expected to become standard on most PCs in the near future. Having the plug-and-play interface readily available on most devices will make communication between devices from different manufacturers simple and easy.

 

With features including high bandwidth, ease of use, and low cost, USB3 Vision cables are ideal for machine vision applications across many sectors. To view L-com’s complete line of AIA-certified USB3 Vision cables, click here.

 

For more information on this topic, read our blog post How USB is Shaping the Future of Machine Vision.

 

The 411 on 4K

September 15, 2016 at 8:00 AM

 

High definition (HD) has gone to the next level – introducing Ultra HD, also known as 4K. The technology world and television buffs are all abuzz about this revolution in viewing pleasure. Here, we’ll give you the info you need about 4K.

 

4K resolution is used in digital television and digital cinematography and with four times the resolution of traditional HD, a 4K picture is like nothing we have ever seen before. A normal HD screen has a resolution of 1920 horizontal pixels by 1080 vertical pixels (1080p), whereas a 4K screen has 3840 x 2160 pixels (2160p). The name 4K comes from the almost 4,000 horizontal pixels. More pixels mean more information. With nearly 8 million pixels you get a clearer picture, crisper images and more detail than standard HD.

 

Now, all of that resolution sounds great, but is it really going to make a visible difference? The answer is, maybe. If you’re making a dramatic increase in screen size, like going from 32-inch standard HD to  70-inch 4K UHD, you will notice a big improvement in picture quality. But most importantly, you have to make sure that you’re watching 4K content and that you’re sitting close enough to the screen.

 

Unfortunately, there is a lack of 4K content available currently but there is more content being added all of the time. In regards to distance, you should sit closer to a 4K TV than you would a standard HD TV. A good rule of thumb is to sit at a distance of 1-1.5 times the diagonal measurement of the screen. For example, if you have a 60” 4K TV you should be sitting 60”-90” away to get the full effect. Here’s a chart for reference:

 

 

As the technology improves, the cost of 4K devices continues to fall, making it a more affordable option for the masses. By 2025, it is expected that more than half of US households will have a 4K-capable TV. Upgrading to 4K may not be an immediate necessity, but with more content coming available and prices dropping, you may not be able to resist a clearer picture.

 

Cliffs Notes: Industrial Wireless Network Frequencies

September 8, 2016 at 8:00 AM

 

Today’s industrial wireless networks use multiple frequencies in order to support a variety of applications. In a single industrial setting there may be two, three or more frequencies being used since each offers unique capabilities.

 

If you’re trying to decide which frequency would be best for your industrial wireless application, we’re here to help. We’re going old school with a CliffsNotes-style review to sum it all up for you.

 

Summary

 

There are three ISM wireless frequency bands: 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The most popular frequencies used in industrial networks are the 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz bands. Many industrial facilities have such diversified needs and processes that their wireless network uses multiple frequencies. For example, let’s say there’s an oil refinery using a remote monitoring system, a security system and high speed Wi-Fi in the central control office – this situation may require the use of all three frequency bands.

 

Facilities such as oil refineries, wastewater treatment plants and manufacturing operations may have wireless systems that utilize lower bandwidth communications. Simpler tasks like opening a valve or relaying temperature readings from a tank require less bandwidth. In this instance, the 900 MHz frequency band is often used because it allows for longer distance, more reliable transmissions and better penetration of obstructions. This frequency is ideal when remote monitoring of facilities requires a longer reach.

 

These facilities may also use video security systems which are very common in industrial installations. Most security systems use IP cameras which can be wired with cables or may be connected via wireless links. Wireless IP camera networks require higher bandwidth to send video and/or audio. In this case, 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi networks are the best bet. Using an 802.11g/n network provides security systems the speed they need with transmission rates of up to 300 Mbps.

 

5 GHz is not as commonly used as the 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz frequencies in industrial networks. It has the shortest range but offers very high bandwidth which can be overkill for many industrial communication applications.  Often 5 GHz systems are used as a backhaul link to connect two 2.4 GHz systems.

 

Study Guide

 

Here is a handy chart to give you an overview of the ISM band frequencies and how they are used in industrial wireless networks:

 

No matter which frequency best suits your needs, L-com has all of the products to build your industrial wireless network including antennas, amplifiers, splitters/filters and access points

 

For more information on industrial wireless networks, check out our blog post 5 Things You Need To Know About Industrial Wireless.

 

Comments on this post? Other topics you’d like us to cover? Email us at engineeringhub@l-com.com

 

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