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Smart City Series: 4G LTE & Smart Infrastructure – Q&A Follow-Up

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If your inbox is anything like ours, it’s full of emails touting “Smart Cities” as the next big thing, but how are cities actually using cellular technology to run smarter?

In a recent webinar, Digi’s Cellular Product Manager, Andrew Lund, shared real-world examples of 3G/4G LTE in infrastructure applications, along with the challenges and questions that need to be answered to get there.

smart cities

Below, Andrew covers questions from the Q&A that we didn’t have time to answer live. If you’d like to watch the webinar recording and learn more about how Digi enables Smart Cities.

Miss the webinar? Here’s where you and watch the webinar recording and learn more about how Digi enables Smart Cities >>

What accelerated lifecycle testing have you performed on the Digi TransPort® WR31 and are you able to share your results?
Specific test results are shared on a business case basis and only under NDA, but we can share that the WR31 was subjected to a Highly Accelerated Life Test (HALT) in line with our standard testing.  This testing is divided into three sections: temperature, vibration and a combination of vibration and temperature.

In each section, the Unit Under Test (UUT) is tested at the operational limit, the functional limit, and the destructive limit (if applicable). For the WR31, the functional limit was above the operating limit, meaning it functioned above and beyond the threshold we expected it to.

Who does the integration with energy meters / HVAC controllers ? Does Digi do that type of integration or is it some system integrators who are Digi partners who are responsible for integration?
Both options are available, depending on the customer and the goals. In cases where, for example, an OEM wants to add cellular connectivity to their offer, Digi and its partner would work directly with the OEM. In cases where the customer is an end user, for example an city or state department, Digi would work with a system integrator or value added reseller to deliver the final solution.

Can you please share how the Garbage Collection and Emailing System was implemented?
This was done by Digi’s Wireless Design Services group. More details and a video can be found here.

Does the WR31 product have the relevant Australian compliance e.g. C-Tick, A-Tick?

Are there plans to support LTE 700 Mhz Band 28 in future?
Yes—stay tuned for details.

Rather than offer a device management application for us to use, does Digi offer a managed service for its product set?
Digi has implemented bespoke managed services programs for customers, but it is more common for us to partner with 3rd party managed services companies.

Does the WR31 support DNP3/IP?
Yes, the Digi TransPort WR line supports DNP3.

Does the WR31 has an LTE to NextG fallback?
Yes, the WR31 offers LTE with fallback to Telstra’s NextG (i.e. 850 MHz) network.

Do you have an example of an application in France?
We have many, many customer and applications in France—please contact your Digi rep or Digi partner for details.

WR31 is a nice product, but how to beat the competition having this form factor in the market for many years. E.g. Welotec, Moxa, etc.
“How to beat…” questions are a bit tough to answer in the abstract, but you can discuss specifics with your Digi rep or partner. Nor now, let’s focus on positioning the WR31 where it will have clear advantages. The WR31 is the best fit in applications that DO NEED: LTE, strong price/performance (i.e. affordable), Modbus/DNP3 bridging, and advanced security and routing (VPN, authentication, encryption, etc, and DON’T NEED vendor-specific object libraries or Modbus/DNP3 translation.

Is there a version that supports XBee® 868 LP?
No, currently there are no versions of the WR31 with an XBee radio, although that is an interesting concept, and worth discussing further with your Digi rep or partner.

Is it possible for the hardware to move from Cellular communications to a WiFi network and use this to communicate, WiFi becomes available – and if so – what product fits best?
The Digi TransPort WR44 supports Wi-Fi and 4G/4G LTE comms and is used in this kind of least cost routing scenario.

What is different in terms of speed in WR21 and WR31?
The WR21 and WR31 share the same WWAN radio and processor architecture—there is no material performance difference between the two.

Introducing the XBee SX Module

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Welcome the latest addition to the XBee® family, the XBee SX! This is truly the muscle module of the XBee ecosystem. Don’t let the standard XBee surface mount form factor fool you, it packs a punch with 1-watt of output power. It’s a perfect embedded wireless solution for OEMs that depend on reliable wireless communication.

Some of the key specs you’ll want to know:

  • Maximum 1-Watt Output Power
  • 256-bit AES Encryption
  • DigiMesh Protocol

Just like every other XBee, it’s easy to use and configure with the popular software tool, XCTU. Here is XBee Product Manager, Matt Dunsmore, introducing the brand new module:

Want more details? Click here and visit the XBee SX product page.

Olsbergs Uses XBee to Make Construction Sites Safer

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Olsbergs is a leading manufacturer of electro-hydraulic control systems for cranes. Olsbergs was looking to improve efficiency and safety for construction crane companies and crane operators. They wanted to turn to radio remote-controlled hydraulics. They needed a partner that would meet ETSI standards, as well as the high standards of their own company.

Digi was the company that they turned to. Olsbergs needed a radio module that would be risk-free and precise. With so many of their trucks being used in cities and other populated areas, risk had to be minimized as much as possible. It would have to utilize the entire ISM band to enable more channels and provide more security. The solution was the XBee 868 Low-Power RF module for Europe.

With their new remote controlled hydraulics, truck cranes which previously required two operators, a spotter and a driver, now only require one. With Digi’s help, Olsbergs has improved safety, accuracy, and reliability for crane operators, while reducing costs and saving money for construction companies.

See the full story and video >>

A Comparison of LPWAN Technologies

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The rise of connected devices has placed an emphasis on low power wireless communication. Like we outlined in our previous post about LTE categories, the need for connecting simple devices like sensors and actuators is rapidly increasing. You’ll typically hear these types of technologies referred to as Low-Power Wide-Area Networking or LPWAN.sigfox-logo

These technologies are all intended for use to connect low cost, low power, and low bandwidth devices, but there are some subtle differences which we share in this post.

SIGFOX is suited best for the lowest bandwidth applications with extremely tight energy budgets. What’s unique to SIGFOX is that it is an entirely separate network for IoT devices. Currently the infrastructure is up and running in Western Europe and San Francisco with pilot programs in South America and Asia in progress. It’s an open standard operating over the sub-GHz frequency bands (868 MHz in Europe and 900 MHz in USA) and any radio provider can use it.Logo-LoRa-300x185

LoRa Technology
LoRa is a technology developed by the chip manufacturer, Semtech. It offers fairly decent bandwidth compared to other LPWAN tech. Since it requires the use of Semtech’s chip, it’s not considered an open standard. LoRa has received traction in the European markets and there are a number of deployments today. 

The requirements of NB IoT have just been finalized as of early 2016. This new narrowband radio technology provides an appropriate LTE category for low-bandwidth IoT devices. It leverages the existing infrastructure of LTE and GSM network providers to facilitate low bandwidth communications for IoT devices.logo-Transparent

LTE-M is part of Release 13 of the 3GPP standard, to lower power consumption, reduce device complexity/cost, and provide deeper coverage to reach challenging locations (e.g., deep inside buildings). This standard will improve upon NB IoT in terms of bandwidth. It also boasts the highest security of LPWAN technologies.

Digi CTO Joel Young takes a closer look at how these LPWAN technologies compare:


Customer Showcase: Wireless Devices Around the World Rely on Digi

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Every day Digi works with customers around the world to deploy connected solutions that businesses rely on. From the ability to monitor device health to using data to make more informed decisions-connected devices are modernizing business operations. Here are a few of the many companies we are proud to work with.powerowners

PowerOwners | Solar Energy

How do solar energy providers  measure the effectiveness of their solar panel deployments? You’ll probably get a wide variety of answers depending on who you ask. PowerOwners saw this inconsistency in the solar industry as an opportunity to create a standard benchmark to measure the performance of solar assets.

The centerpiece of the system is the Deno Smart Sensor. The sensor measures sunlight and temperature to simulate an energy benchmark. It’s placed alongside solar panels, the Deno Smart Sensor is pictured to the right. Data is transmitted wirelessly by a Digi XBee PRO 900HP and collected within Digi Device Cloud. This service replaces the commonly used weather stations, which were difficult to deploy and provided inconsistent data. Read the full story here.

Powermat | Wireless Charging

powermatThere are few things more frustrating than a dead phone battery. Almost everyone relies on their smartphone to get through the day-whether it’s for business or entertainment.

Powermat developed a creative solution that involves wireless charging and ZigBee technology. Their mission? Ensure that smartphone users never have to worry about where keeping their device charged. It’s easy to use, requires no cables or outlets, and gives businesses a service to offer to their customers. Powermat is able to manage their global deployment of charging stations via the cloud since each charging network is IP-enabled with an XBee Gateway.

The Powermat stations can be found at large retail chains like Starbucks, a select number of universities, and airport terminals. Users can install the Powermat app on their phone so they can locate the most convenient location for their next charge. Learn more about the Powermat service here.

MicroPower Technologies | Remote Video Security Systems

css-inline-solveilUtility providers often have assets widely distributed across remote areas. Ensuring security of substations or monitoring weather conditions can be a costly endeavor. And, when millions rely on your company for power, an outage can have large consequences. MicroPower works with utilities to create an easy to install solution that gives energy providers the ability to ensure their customers have reliable power. A means to remotely monitor their sites also allows for faster troubleshooting and fewer unnecessary maintenance visits.

MicroPower Technologies’ solar powered video system is made possible by the Digi TransPort WR21. The wireless cellular router is easy to install and provides the connection needed to stream video to a central database that can be accessed by network operators. Click here to read more about this solution.

Read more about how Digi customers are inventing new business models and changing their respective industries, visit our customer success page.


XBee Tech Tip: Digital IO Line Passing with XBee

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A unique feature of the XBee 802.15.4 modules is the ability to perform digital I/O line passing. Essentially, this feature enables the user to toggle the state of any DIO pin on a transmitting radio and have that same pin on one or more receiving radios toggle their state to match the change. This functionality is an easy way to wirelessly control relays or any other switched equipment.

Note: DIO line passing can only be done with XBee 802.15.4 modules.wck_logo

Components used in this tutorial:

  • Two XBee 802.15.4 radios
  • Two XBee Grove Development Boards
  • Two Micro USB cables

To get started with this example, configure the pin of the XBee where the button is connected as digital input, and configure the pin of the XBee where the LED is connected as digital output. You will also need to configure the first XBee to send a notification to the other XBee when the button changes state.

Let’s get started.

Here are the configuration settings that need to be written to the XBee modules. In this example, XBee A is the transmitting radio and XBee B is the receiving module (click image to enlarge):

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 9.29.24 AM

More of a visual learner? No worries. Follow along with this video as we write the parameters described above to both of our XBee radios.

Bonus Tip: Boost the reliability of the XBee connection by setting a sample rate on the transmitting XBee (Parameter: IR). If there happens to be interference while the data is being transmitted, it might not be received by XBee B. Setting a sample rate will ensure the change of state is communicated by the following sample rate packets.

Have the radios all set and ready to go? When the button connected to the the transmitting XBee is pressed, the LED of the receiver will light. Cue the drum roll….

If the application requires multiple receiver nodes, the change of state can be sent as a broadcast. To do this, modify the destination low address to “FFFF” on the transmitting radio. Note that this concept of DIO line passing is not specific to only pin 4, it can be applied to any DIO pin on the XBee 802.15.4 module.Wireless-Connectivity-Kit-DMG (1)

For this tutorial we used the new XBee Grove Development Board found in the Wireless Connectivity Kit. Visit Digi-Key to learn more about this new kit.


XBee Tech Tip: How to conduct an XBee range test

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Have you ever wanted to test the strength of connections in your XBee network? Within the XBee configuration software, XCTU, you can perform a range test. This will tell you the amount of packets received and the RSSI values at the local and remote nodes. This video will take you through the steps necessary to perform a range test.

You can download XCTU at this link: http://www.digi.com/xctu

We hope you found this tutorial helpful! Let us know what you’d like to learn in the next XBee Tech Tip: http://bit.ly/xbeetechtip

Digi XLR PRO long-range radio: Connects over 100+ miles with Punch2 Technology

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As wireless networks become more and more ubiquitous, so does the need to deal with noisy RF environments. This problem is especially relevant for businesses that depend on reliable communications for their operations and can’t risk losing critical data._xlr_Pro_side1

This is where the Digi XLR PRO comes in. Using patent-pending Punch2 Technology, this 1 watt, 900 MHz radio, punches through noise and achieves exceptional link quality at long distances– even in the most difficult RF conditions. We’ve even tested this radio and established a link at 150 miles, one of the limiting factors being the curvature of the Earth (more about that soon)!

Enough talking, check out the video below to see what the Digi XLR PRO is all about.

Have any questions? Click here to get all the Digi XLR PRO specs and information.

Contact a Digi expert and get started today! Contact Us