Use L-com's Online Wireless Calculators for Site Planning

February 27, 2014 at 10:00 AM


Are you doing an installation, looking to understand a particular network conversion, or trying to determine what equipment to use for your wireless network?


Give our wireless calculators a try! L-com can help you plan your wireless network installations. These handy tools provide detailed information such as Power Budget, Free Space Loss, Fresnel Zone and more. By using these free tools you can better understand the equipment required to accomplish your wireless link.


Here are some examples of Wireless Calculators:


Power Budget Wireless Calculator


Use this wireless calculator to determine your Power Budget. The 'Power Budget' is the total power being output from the wireless system, or the total system gain. The FCC regulates 36 dBm as the maximum output for 2.4 GHz ISM band applications, so use this calculator to make sure you aren’t exceeding the legal limit and to determine the right antenna and radio to use for your application.


The total power is the sum of:

  • PLUS Radio Transmit Power 
  • MINUS cables and connectors losses 
  • PLUS antenna gain 


Note that in order to enter your amount of cable loss you’ll need to know what type of cable you are using.





Free Space Loss Wireless Calculator

Free Space Loss is the loss of power over distance (assuming there’s noFresnel Effect and nothing is in the way). In practice, everything interferes with the signal but this will give you a reasonable approximation of the signal loss over distance.





Fresnel Zones Wireless Calculator

This calculator defines how much clearance you need (you will require more than simple Line-of-Sight). For longer links > 3 Km (2 miles), you can determine whether you may have a ground clearance problem.




View all of our Wireless Calculator Tools


One thing to note however is that due to the nature of radio frequency propagation and the numerous factors that can affect operating range, we do not guarantee that you will achieve any specific range for your application. These wireless calculators are for estimation purposes only.



BICSI: What You Can Discover

February 20, 2014 at 10:00 AM

In the trenches with L-com’s David Gallagher 



Perhaps you’ve already attended a BICSI conference and you’re not sure if this post is for you. Hang in there. We’ll share some ideas that may shed new light on your BICSI experience.


For those who haven’t yet gone to BICSI, you may be unsure of its worth or are simply curious about what goes on. We interviewed L-com Product Manager, David Gallagher, to give you some insights on what he observed at the show.


Gallagher attended this year’s 2014 BICSI Winter Conference and has attended several in the past. It’s no secret that going to the show gives him or any other Product Manager a first look at what’s trending in the new year or what the “hot technology” on the street is. This year though, Gallagher noticed a shift in the climate. “The dynamic of the show seems to have changed. There’s a bigger focus on Fiber Optics and Facility Security,” said Gallagher.


According to Gallagher, the hottest topics in Fiber Optics at the show were data center port density, cable management, LC connectors, and cabling.  Gallagher also noticed a huge focus on security camera installs. “The number of security integrators and equipment providers at the show was surprising,” said Gallagher.


“Companies are also a lot more interested in installing security monitoring systems now because of recent issues,” Gallagher continued.


Finding these trends buzzing at the show helped Gallagher (and hopefully you too) to hone in on what new products and technologies are at the forefront of the Information Technology Systems space and how L-com’s products could be best utilized for these hot applications.


Another advantage Gallagher highlighted about not missing BICSI is the opportunity a Product Manager has to learn a new perspective about their product. Yes, most Product Managers know their product inside and out and could list off features and benefits in their sleep. But, there’s always a “fresh look” that could be waiting behind the next door. Or at the next trade show.


One attendee claimed “This looks like it’s pretty tough!” referring to our IP68 and UL rated Industrial Ruggedized Ethernet Cable. Sure, yes, it’s virtually unbreakable. Gallagher knew this wasn’t any news.


But what he found is that as he observed BICSI goers conversing and getting excited over our Ruggedized Ethernet Cable, it made him stop and think about what kinds of tools he actually could break the cable with.


This was something he hadn’t considered before, and put the product’s features in another light. As Gallagher did, you might discover a new way your product is viewed by potential customers or what feature strikes them the most (therefore giving you a hint on what you should play up in your marketing campaigns).


“It is always great to interact directly with customers and learn what issues they see in the field.  This helps us find new and better product designs based on their extensive experience,” said Gallagher.


Another opportunity at BICSI that Gallagher was pleased about was the ability to build relationships. BICSI brings together a wide variety of professionals in the Information Technology Systems field, all in the hub of Orlando where there’s much attraction. Whether they were clients, vendors, or future customers, it was advantageous to be in the mix. BICSI offered another opportunity to meet and greet some clients whom Gallagher had never met, and as a Product Manager with thousands of customers it’s common to have missed some.


Additionally, at BICSI there’s a chance to rework or fine tune your marketing strategies. By managing the booth as Gallagher did or observing the reactions at other booths, you’re able to see what works and what doesn’t. For instance, are people drawn to the display case or to your catalog?


For L-com, Gallagher noticed the usefulness of product samples. “People want to see and feel the product in their hands. Have the ability to test it, bend it, and look at it closely,” said Gallagher. “Especially if they’re a potential buy, but also to compare quality and competition.”


Lastly, don’t forget about social media. According to Gallagher,  techies and engineers do participate.


“I didn’t expect Twitter to play a part in the show,” said Gallagher.  “Someone actually walked up to our booth and asked if we were the culprit who sent a Twitter invitation to visit.”


8 Reasons Why a 3D Printer Can Make Your Job Easier

February 13, 2014 at 10:00 AM

You’ve put all your brain power and muscle into this design.


Each specification and measurement has been plotted with precision and then double checked again. You’ve even made the proper re-adjustments.

So you send your specifications out for production.

But then your client informs you that the design needs tweaking. It won’t work unless their request is facilitated. Without delay, but maybe a bit of frustration, you adjust again and then the tooling process begins…



Here’s an alternative

A 3D printer might just be what you need.

If your work world is composed of complex processes that dictate the design and testing of product models, there’s finally a way to cut out some element of surprise.

The 3D printer has erupted as one of the hottest new technologies generating a buzz of discussion on its endless possibilities. Home-users could make toy trucks and dolls for next year’s Christmas gifts. Or even turn on their printer that’s housed in the kitchen to make “homemade” raviolis. A Chocolatier is able to use their 3D printer to craft the next batch of chocolates. A medical lab can test a prosthetic leg with nothing more than a customized design and a click of the PRINT button.

It doesn’t stop here.

Our engineer’s here at L-com have discovered that this manageably sized machine allows them to see the results of their designs within a matter of hours. It can crank out product after product in a short amount of time. They are able to try out various shapes and sizes before going to market, as they did with an L-com field termination cover that will be going to production soon (shown above).


"Our 3D printer allows us to have almost instant feedback without spending the money or time on tooling, which can cost over $2,000 and take over three months to build,” said David Frisello, Design Engineer at L-com. “It takes the guesswork out of our job. And it's like a toy."


3D printers work by adding layer upon layer of plastic (or other required material) through holes in a printer head to compose a solid three dimensional prototype from a digital model. This tool let’s engineers turn an idea or a sketch into an object that can be turned over in your hands and passed to co-workers to prove the idea works.


As if these printers aren’t already cool enough, our engineers toyed with the 3D printer to find that it can actually manufacture one solid model that turns into two movable pieces (shown at left). Since each prototype is made in a foundation of a chemical material, this one was peeled away to reveal the two “keys” that are looped together.




The Weigh In

We’ve discussed what the 3D printer can do. So how will it help you?

Here’s the list of reasons we think the 3D printer is worth its weight in gold for an engineer’s job:

1.  It provides almost instant feedback on a design, as it takes only about 2 hours or less to print a functioning prototype.

2. It saves time. The 3D printer cuts down the process of getting a product to market by eliminating steps along the way (i.e. sending out for tooling).

3. When printing your product first on a 3D printer, it eliminates guesswork. You’re able to test out a prototype’s functionality- see, feel, and even smell or taste what the final product will be like. If that’s your thing, we won’t be tasting any connectors or termination covers over here.

4. It’s precise. You can be sure that the specifications imputed into the 3D printer will come out exactly the way you directed (unless the printer malfunctions, of course). In our experience, it will provide nothing but accuracy.

5. Communication is easier since a customer or colleague can physically see how the product will turn out. Dan Desjardin, Mechanical Engineer at L-com noted that “many times it’s easier to communicate with 3D models to convey something as opposed to strictly words or 2-D drawings. It helps to overcome any language barrier and reduce confusion between both parties.”

6. Cost. The printer will pay for itself if the tooling process for your products is costly like ours. It can cost anywhere from $600 to $3,000 for one tool (depending on intricacy of the product), which would need to be remade a second time if the measurements needed adjusting. If with every product release the testing is accomplished by only using 3D prototypes until the final tool is made, then the long term effect is cost saving.

7. Efficiency. We’ve found 3D printing to be clean and non wasteful. We never encounter drips or sprays of material around the prototype or see excess material being lost. Plus, it’s easy to use. Once the product design is programmed it’s a hands free process. Hit print, walk away, and return to find your glory.

8. Customers will be pleased that you/your company are using the newest, cutting edge technology for your products and services. You’re keeping up with the times. Everyone knows a happy customer equals a successful business.


Here are a few more prototypes that our 3D printer has created (white material only):





Visit our Facebook page to see how a giant 3D printer can build a house in 24 hours!


How to Utilize an RF Splitter

February 6, 2014 at 10:00 AM


True or False: Will an RF splitter help connect more than one antenna to a single radio?


The answer is true. This question commonly comes up at our technical service department so we wanted to share the facts with you.


A Radio Frequency (RF) Splitter/Combiner is a transmission component which divides or sums power between two or more ports. Typically they are used for connecting more than one antenna to a single radio and can also be used to connect multiple radios to a single antenna using the same frequency.


Generally most RF splitter products are 2 way, 3 way, or 4 way, and can split a variety of RF signals. At L-com, we offer RF splitters for 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, and 3.5 GHz, 5.4 GHz, and 5.8 GHz WLAN applications. Additionally, we offer wideband 750 MHz to 2.4 GHz RF splitter/RF combiners which are ideal for DAS applications.


RF splitters have weatherproof construction and can be installed indoors or outdoors. These flexible splitters can be used with amplified systems since they will pass DC power to all ports. Remember as always, the type of RF splitter you need would vary depending on your application.


The following are some examples of an RF splitter in action:




By using a 2-way splitter in an application that requires wireless coverage on two sides of a building, a single radio can be used to feed two separate antennas covering two sides of the building.

The corner mounting bracket used in this design example is available for purchase.



7 Deadly Counterfeit Cable Sins for You to Avoid

January 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM



What scares you more than a faulty, over-rated, counterfeit cable? If you’re like us and work with cables on a daily basis, then you know the answer: nothing.  


Shockingly, unscrupulous sellers have found many ways to cut costs on cables, drawing customers in for the low price. But what they don’t tell you is that it comes at a price- sacrificing safety, performance, and network stability.


So how do you identify them? Counterfeit cables are bulk cables or cable assemblies sold under false pretenses to undercut legitimate manufacturers.  Usually this means the cable specification does not match the actual product construction. Or it could be that the seller falsely implies that a cable meets a particular performance standard or flammability rating such as Category 5E or CMP/Plenum.  If you get a low bid for your next cable quote, check these factors to make sure you are getting what you are paying for:

1. Substituting steel or aluminum for pure copper: copper-clad-steel (CCS) or copper-clad-aluminum (CCA) are classic methods of saving on costly copper needed to make cables. Over the length of the cable, however, the signal integrity will drop below the noise and cross-talk levels. There's a good reason the EIA/TIA has not approved CCS or CCA cable for use in high-speed networks…

2. Deceiving Connector construction: This is a two-part deception. For "RJ-45" (8p x 8c) connectors, rejected molded plastic bodies can be re-ground back to pellets, added to new plastic, and then made in new bodies, which can lower the combustion rating for the overall connector. A good tip: check the connector body for foggy or yellowing plastic. Aside from the body, the metal contacts are first coated with nickel then with gold to ensure a good connection. Manufacturers have been skipping the nickel and skimping on the gold, sometimes called gold flash or selective plating. Contacts made this way will eventually corrode and fail to connect when mated.

3. Cable Jacket Material: For those applications that require CMP or CMR flammability rating, the requirement is critical. If it is specified that the cable meets CMP or CMR ratings (per the NEC code) and you get an unusually low bid, ask for proof of the jacket material. A legitimate business will offer a signed Certificate of Conformance (CoC) for the product they sell.

4. Selective Electrical Performance Testing: Some manufacturers will claim their cable or cable assemblies were "Fluke tested", but won't clarify that they only ran the channel test, not the full patch testing. Patch testing is difficult to pass and more expensive, but legitimate manufacturers will do it because it ensures the cable conforms to standards and is worth what they are charging.

5. Misleading Cable Markings: All cables sold in the United States will use a UL "E-file Number" or the manufacturer's name and model number that you can look up on UL's database. The problem is that the marking may conform to UL's standard, but the cable may not. Again, a signed CoC will protect against counterfeits so make sure you get one!

6. Wire Gauge Changes: Often 25 or 26 AWG cables can be mislabeled as 24 AWG. If you require 24 AWG, you should always request a sample cable, cut it open, strip the insulation off of the wires and measure them. Don't trust a manufacturer that claims something they aren't selling; if they are untruthful about the wire gage, what else could they be hiding?

7. The Golden Sample: While it is a good idea to get a sample up front, many manufacturers will make a "golden sample" to be perfect for what you need, sometimes at great expense. When it comes time to manufacture the rest, they scrimp and cheat all they can to deliver under cost. You should always set up a system whereby you QC some of the cables in each shipment-and without the manufacturer's prior knowledge.
This problem is much more common than you think!
L-com found counterfeit cables from both big and small manufacturers, and from both domestic and oversea sources. “Made in the USA” means nothing if the cable is made with poor components in order to offer a cheaper price. If price is your priority, someone can always make a cheaper cable. It doesn’t matter where a cable is made, but how the cable is made.
The key is to know that your seller or manufacturer (like us!) is checking cable assemblies, insisting on proving UL compliance, testing their cables, and always meeting standards. At L-com our Ethernet cables are made in our own factory versus in a sub-contractor’s, guaranteeing superior quality every time. 
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