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System Problems

My Devices have stopped talking..

Communications hardware and Electronic devices are generally very reliable and are designed for use in Australia’s harsh climate. 

When problems occur it’s rarely the fault of the hardware or the software that runs the hardware.

The most common things to look for are generally the most obvious:

  • Is the power supply healthy?

  • Are internal batteries in sensors healthy (these generally last for years and are monitored, giving you a warning if the battery is reaching a low level)?

  • Has the sensor become buried in grain or covered in mud?
  • Has cabling to the devices been damaged or chewed?  Rodents, Cockatoos, and Galahs have one thing in common – an enthusiasm for chewing cables.

  • Is there a new obstruction in line with the radio path (a new silo, metal clad shed, or simply a truck parked in the way might make all of the difference to the radio signal.  Like battery strength, radio signal strength is monitored and if it’s becoming marginal you can receive an alarm before it becomes a problem.  When a device goes ‘off-line’ for a specified period you will also be notified.

How far away from my Gateway can my Devices be?

In the world of marketing, companies are keen to advertise the highest possible number. In radio terms that means free-air or Line-of-Sight, which represent the best possible conditions. Needless to say, those conditions are unlikely to be met in real life.

The 15km figure you often hear being mentioned originates from a series of measurements conducted under perfect conditions. Obviously, this can be achieved under favorable conditions. In urban areas and in typical applications, you might expect much shorter distance.  In fact, that figure could shrink to a kilometre or two.

  • In radio, height is everything. You want some good, well-matched antennas, with a few obstacles.

  • Power helps. why some methods don’t work well (ie. a few mW for typical Bluetooth connection).

  • Low frequencies i.e. longer wavelengths fare better. This is partly because they penetrate better (depending on the medium) but also because the antennas often are bigger and therefore collect more of the RF energy.

  • Space is good. Avoid large bodies of water, lumps of metal, dense bush, masses of concrete or lots of walls.

  • Don’t expect success with both ends sitting on or near the ground (the earth is curved after all)… and factor in the competition for (radio) space with other users.

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