How Wired & Wireless Technology Is Helping Healthcare

June 29, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

Healthcare is a hot topic right now. It is something that touches everyone’s lives at some point, though we might not think about the technology that goes into building healthcare devices and keeping hospitals running smoothly. Here, we’ll look at the healthcare industry and how technology is used in devices and to build communications networks to keep medical centers connected.

 

OEM Medical Devices

 

A medical device may only be as good as the parts that it’s made ofand if you’re ever in need of a defibrillator, you’re surely going to want it to have been constructed with quality parts. Medical manufacturers use all types of connectivity products to build medical devices, these include USB cables and adapters, HDMI, VGA and D-subminiature cables and adapters. For all of these parts, there are strict design requirements that must be met to comply with federal safety regulations.  We work with medical device OEMs around the world to provide solutions to fit their requirements to build medical devices that will perform when they’re needed most.

 

In-Building Wireless Networks

 

Many of today’s hospitals and medical facilities have replaced old-school patient charts with portable, wireless tablets to keep track of patient information and records. Thus, they depend on reliable cellular and Wi-Fi coverage to keep devices used by doctors and nurses connected, plus those used by patients and visitors. Distributed antenna systems (DAS), access points, RF amplifiers and low-loss coaxial cables are used to ensure that medical staff and patients can stay connected with seamless cellular and Wi-Fi coverage.

 

Medical Campus Networks

 

When a medical facility spans across several separate buildings, a high-speed communications network is needed to share vital information such as patient records and test results. Wireless point-to multipoint networks use directional and Omni-directional antennas to send wireless signals throughout the campus. If a wireless network can’t be used because Line of Sight conditions are less that optimal, a wired fiber backbone can be implemented to connect the buildings. In this case, an intricate network of fiber cabling, media converters, routers and Ethernet switches are employed to provide comprehensive campus-wide coverage.

 

Wired Infrastructure/Data Center

 

Within hospitals and medical centers there can be numerous floors that all need to be connected to a main data center. A wide variety of cabling and connectivity products are used to build this wired communications infrastructure from the ground up, running from the IDFs to the data center.  Category 5e/6/6a cables, OFNP and LSZH cables, server racks, patch panels, switches, routers and more are all used to build a high-speed, fault-tolerant medical communications network to keep every floor, device and user connected.

 

For more information on how wired and wireless technology is helping healthcare, and how L-com’s products are being used, read our full healthcare industry overview.

 

RF Antenna FAQs

June 22, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

 

Antennas are critical components to any wireless network, so having a good grasp of antenna technology can be very important for anyone engineering, designing or managing a wireless network. With so many antenna options and so much information to digest, it’s no wonder people have a lot of questions when it comes to antennas. Here, we’ll highlight some of the questions we’re asked most frequently.

 

How do I choose the correct Wi-Fi antenna? 

There are two main types of antennas - Directional and Omni-directional:

          

-   Directional antennas emit an RF signal in a focused beam, like how a car headlight focuses light in one direction. They are great if your application is a  point-to-point Wi-Fi link. For example, if you’re transmitting a signal from one building to another, you would use a directional antenna.

 

-   Omni-directional antennas radiate an RF signal in a 360-degree pattern. These antennas are ideal if you need the Wi-Fi signal to cover a 360-degree radius.

       

-   If you have a point-to-multipoint application, such as a campus environment, using a combination of directional and Omni-directional antennas would be your best bet.

 

What is antenna polarity?

Antenna polarity is the orientation of the radio wave’s electric field with respect to the Earth's surface. Antennas can be vertically polarized, horizontally polarized or a combination of the two. For more information, check out our antenna polarization blog post.

 

What is antenna gain? 

Antenna gain is a relative measure of an antenna’s ability to direct or concentrate radio frequency energy in a particular direction or pattern. Antenna gain is typically measured in dBi or dBd. Click here for more info.

 

What is 802.11? 

802.11 is an IEEE standard for implementing wireless local area network (WLAN) communications in the 2.4, 3.6 and 5 GHz frequency bands. There are numerous 802.11 standards and new versions continue to be developed. Existing standards include 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n, 802.11ac, 802.11ac Wave 2, 802.11ah, 802.11ax, 802.11ay and 802.11af.

 

What is a decibel (dB)? 

A decibel (dB) is a unit of measurement for the intensity of a sound or the power level of an electrical signal by comparing it with a given level on a logarithmic scale. Decibels are commonly used in radio and sound measurement. One decibel is 1/10 of a Bel.

 

What is dBi ? 

Decibels-isotropic (dBi) are decibels relative to an isotrope. This unit of measure defines the gain of an antenna system relative to an isotropic radiator at radio frequencies. 

 

What is an isotrope? 

A theoretical isotrope is a single point in free space that radiates energy equally in every direction, similarly to the Sun.

 

What is frequency? 

Frequency is the number of cycles of alternating current in one second. It is measured in hertz (Hz).

 

What is a microwave? 

A microwave refers to all radio frequencies above the 1 GHz range. They are shorter than normal radio waves but longer than infrared radiation. Microwaves are used in radar, communications, for heating in microwave ovens and in various industrial processes.

 

What is multipath interference? 

Multipath interference is when signal reflections and delayed signal images interfere with the desired, un-delayed, larger signal. It causes picture ghosting in over-the-air analog TV and errors in digital transmission systems.

 

What is path budget?

Path budget is a mathematical model of a wireless communications link. It takes into account a wide variety of factors that can affect operating range and performance. Path budget is sometimes referred to as "link" budget.

 

What is path loss? 

Path loss is the weakening of a signal over its path of travel. This can be caused by factors such as terrain, obstructions and environmental conditions. It is measured in decibels.

 

What is fade margin? 

Fade margin is the loss of signal along a signal path caused by environmental factors such as terrain, atmospheric conditions, etc. It is measured in decibels.

 

What is a point-to-point network? 

A point-to-point network is a communications channel architecture that runs from one point to another. Directional antennas would be used in a point-to-point wireless link.

 

What is a point-to-multipoint network? 

A point-to-multipoint network architecture runs from one point to several other points. For this type of network, you would use both Omni-directional and directional antennas.

 

What is radio frequency? 

Radio frequency (RF) is typically a frequency from 20 kHz to 100 GHZ. RF is usually referred to whenever a signal is radiated through an enclosed medium, like a transmission cable or air.

 

What is a radio wave? 

A radio wave is an electromagnetic wave of a frequency used for long-distance communication. It is a combination of electric and magnetic fields varying at a radio frequency and traveling through space at the speed of light.

 

What is very-high frequency? 

Very high frequency (VHF) is the designation for radio waves in the range of 30 to 300 MHz.

 

What is ultra-high frequency? 

Ultra-high frequency (UHF) designates radio waves that are in the 300 to 3,000 MHz range.

 

Engineers’ Choice

June 15, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

Our engineers are the hub of innovative ideas that drive our company and we depend on them to have their fingers on the pulse of the industry. So we tapped into our engineering resources to ask what technology we should be blogging about this week. The technology of choice: M12 cables. Here is an inside look at M12 cables, what they are, what they’re good for and why our engineer’s chose them.

 

RJ45 plug connectors are the most widely used connection technology for Ethernet systems, but for Ethernet networks deployed in harsh outdoor or industrial environments, M12 plug connectors are often better suited for many applications. Here are some of the reasons why we think M12 connectors are an attractive option.

 

IP67 or IP68-rated – An IP67 rating means the cable is completely protected from dust and temporary immersion between 12 cm and 1m. A rating of IP68 means the cable is totally protected from dust and long periods of immersion under pressure. Both of these ratings are crucial for cables used in harsh industrial environments.

 

Compact Design – Even though M12 connectors are made to withstand rugged conditions, they still maintain a compact design which is perfect for saving space in often crowded enclosures and cabinets.

 

Reliable Connection – Despite their small size, M12 connectors are very sturdy and deliver a reliable connection even when exposed to shock or vibration.

 

Two Pin Configurations – M12 Ethernet connectors are offered in both 4-pin and 8-pin configurations. Four-pin M12 connectors with D-coding are perfectly suited for fast Ethernet transmission. Eight-pin M12 connectors are usually A-coded and can deliver higher transmission rates such as Gigabit Ethernet. L-com also offers 8-pin, X-coded M12 cables that support Category 6a applications and are rated for 10Gbps speeds.

 

POE – M12 cables and connectors can be used for Power over Ethernet applications. The four-pin connectors can be used for type-1 transmission where supply, voltage and data are transmitted together. Eight-pin configurations can deliver type-2 power with the two spare wire pairs being used to transmit the supply voltage separately.

 

Our complete line of M12 Ethernet cables include X-code, A-code and D-code versions that are IP67/68/69K-rated, high-flex, shielded and resistant to oil, weld splatter, and damaging UV rays.

 

Check out our complete selection of M12 cable assemblies.

 

Goodbye SSID, Hello Wi-Fi Passpoint

June 8, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

Say goodbye to needing that unrecognizable, seemingly endless, 32-digit SSID number needed to sign-in to a Wi-Fi network – and say hello to Wi-Fi Passpoint. Launched in 2012, Wi-Fi Passpoint, also known as Hotspot 2.0, streamlines the process of conencting mobile devices to Wi-Fi hotspots by eliminating the need for users to search for and authenticate a network or enter credentials each time they connect. Passpoint automates the process under secure conditions for a seamless way to connect to Wi-Fi neworks.

 

Developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance, Passpoint is an ugrade to W-Fi service at no charge to the user. Just like a network of cell phone towers passes your phone’s signal from one tower to the other when you’re driving down the highway, Passpoint allows your mobile device’s signal to jump from one Wi-Fi hotspot to the next. Normally, you would have to sign in to each hotspot to connect, but with Passpoint, after you’ve signed in once, your credentials are passed along to each hotspot supported by the network. These networks can stretch throughout an entire town or even between towns.

 

Thus far, Passpoint has largely been marketed to wireless providers to increase Wi-Fi uptake. As rollout continues, this new technology will allow people to remain completely connected via a Wi-Fi provider instead of using wireless plan data. Plus, recent improvements make it even easier for the user with a registration process that is  more efficient and secure.  Most newer smartphones and tablets support Passpoint technology, it just needs to be turned on, which may require changing the device’s settings.

 

Cable Shielding Deciphered

June 1, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

It’s no surprise that shielded cables are a hot topic, they can improve performance and are available in Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6a and Cat7 versions. In past blog posts, we’ve talked about the advantages of shielded cables and how they protect from EMI/RFI and alien crosstalk (AXT). We’ve dug deeper to explore the different types of shielded cables and their benefits. We’ve even shown how to make your own shielded cable. Now, we’re going to take a closer look at the acronyms used to designate the different types of cable shielding and how to decipher them.

 

Cable shielding, also called screening, can be made of a metallic braid, or metallic or polyester foil. The shielding is either wrapped around all 4 pairs of twisted pair cable, just the individual conductor pairs, or both the entire cable and individual pairs.  In a shielded code, the letters before the slash designates the shielding on the entire cable; the code after the slash signifies shielding for the individual pairs.  For example:

 

Here is a glossary of terms to help you decode cable shielding:

 

 

FTP – Foiled Twisted Pair : An additional layer of protection is created with shielding/screening wrapped around the individual twisted wires. 

 

STP – Shielded Twisted Pair : Braided shielding wrapped around the individual twisted wires adds a layer of protection.

 

F/UTP – Foiled/Unshielded Twisted Pair : An overall foil shield encases the 4 pairs of unshielded twisted pair. Commonly used in 10GBaseT applications.


S/UTP – Shielded/Unshielded Twisted Pair :  An overall braid shield is wrapped around all 4 pairs of unshielded twisted pair.


SFTP – Shielded and Foiled Twisted Pair : Foil shielding around the individual twisted wires and an overall shield that is sometimes a flexible braided shield. This provides the highest level of protection from interference.

 

SF/UTP – Shielded and Foiled/Unshielded Twisted Pair : Both an overall braid screen and foil shield with unshielded twisted pairs. Occasionally referred to as an STP cable, these cables are very effective at protecting EMI/RFI from entering or exiting the cable.


S/FTP – Shielded Foiled/Twisted Pair : An overall braid shield with foil-shielded twisted pairs. The shield underneath the jacket is a braid and each individual pair is surrounded by its own foil shield. The purpose of the additional foil on individual pairs is to limit the amount of crosstalk between them.


F/FTP – Foiled/Foiled Twisted Pair : An overall foil shield with foil screened twisted pairs. Like F/UTP, this cable is commonly used in 10GBaseT applications.


U/FTP – Unshielded/Foiled Twisted Pair : No overall shielding or braid with foil-shielded twisted pairs. This cable is also frequently used in 10GBaseT applications.

 

U/UTP (UTP) – Unshielded/Unshielded Twisted Pair : Pairs of wires twisted together that are not shielded at all. These cables are often referred to as UTP andare one of the most basic methods used to help prevent electromagnetic interference. 

 

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