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

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.

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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 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?
Yes.

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 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. 850MHz) 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 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.

Fog Computing in the Internet of Things (IoT)

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The Open Fog Consortium defines Fog Computing this way: “A system-level horizontal architecture that distributes resources and services of computing, storage, control and networking anywhere along the continuum from Cloud to Things.” In his recent Fog Computing report, Aapo Markkanen at Machina Research puts Digi in this category. He says, “Digi is well placed to a make a play in fog computing, given its strong communications portfolio and additional capabilities [such as] Device Cloud and device management.” We couldn’t agree more!

Intelligence on the edge of the network allows our customers to store, shape and translate machine and sensor data to maximize connections from the device to the cloud. Digi Device Cloud enables our customers to bring enterprise routing features to the edge of their networks enhancing security, storage, and redundancy.

The concept of Fog Computing accurately describes the way our customers are managing mission critical applications across multiple wireless protocols making it easier to configure, deploy and manage devices on the edge of their networks.

Click here to learn more about Digi Device Cloud >>

 

 

Which Mesh Technology is Right for You? – Q&A Follow-Up

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Are there tutorials available for XCTU, or user manuals?xbee-zigbee (2)
Yes, there is a complete help system built into the XCTU interface. Visit the Digi YouTube page for video-based tutorials.

Can you program DigiMesh with legacy XCTU?
We recommend customers use the new and improved XCTU. Legacy XCTU may still work with some products, but it is no longer supported or updated for new releases.

Can I use the new XCTU on older versions of Xtend RF Radios?
Yes, but certain features of XCTU may not work with older versions of XTend radios.

Does hardcoding PAN ID and Channel as used in DigiMesh modules have any disadvantage?
Hardcoding the PAN ID does not have any significant disadvantage, but note that some products require the use of multiple channels, but the channel range can be selected and configured as desired.

Digimesh networks are configured by setting the Pan ID and operating channel. This method lends itself to very simple network formation as no association mechanism is involved. Zigbee uses an association process where routers and end devices receive the operating PAN ID and channel upon joining the network. One advantage of this system is that joining can be disabled.

For a network of 400 nodes, with up and down communication, which is preferable, ZigBee or DigiMesh?
Both mesh protocols can work for this network if configured appropriately. DigiMesh is slightly easier to architect simply because there is no need to select different node types.

Can we use your gateway and connect it to our cloud?
Yes, this is an option for most XBee modules.

Can out-of-the-box configuration items be modified via a broadcast or unicast in both ZigBee and DigiMesh?
Yes, ZigBee and DigiMesh nodes can be configured over-the-air.

What’s the range of these 900HP DigiMesh Kit modules?
Range for the XBee-PRO 900HP is up to 9 miles with high-gain antenna. This can be increased by adding additional hops to the network.

We are planning to use ZigBee Mesh network to collect the data from battery powered movable sensors. The sensors will be distributed in two physically apart buildings where there are no wireless connection from one building to another building. Could you please let me know the best way to setup the network, considering moveable sensors will move from one building to another building and should join the network as soon as they enter the range of ZigBee network in another building.
With ZigBee you would need to have some mechanism to instruct the module to leave the current network and attempt to join the other. This could be accomplished with a network watchdog timer that checks for the presence of a coordinator and if none is found will reset and join another network. XBee Zigbee radios also have a feature called join verification that can be set to check for the presence of a coordinator on a power reset and reset its network settings if none is found. Digimesh could accomplish this by setting both networks with the same PAN ID and Channel credentials, then moving from one network to the other would be seemless.

Any DigiMesh Kits including Raspberry pi projects?
We don’t have any Raspberry Pi projects in our current kits. However, there are plenty of RPi project examples on the web.

What comes in the kits that are on the screen?
ZigBee Mesh Kit:

  • 3 – XBee Grove Development Boards
  • 3 – XBee ZigBee Modules w/ PCB antenna
  • 3 – Micro USB cables
  • 2 – XBee stickers

900HP DigiMesh Kit:

  • 3 XBee Grove Development Boards
  • 3 XBee-PRO 900HP Modules for US/Canada
  • 3 Micro-USB Cables
  • 2 XBee Stickers

Do these modules require a Digi concentrator and/or cloud or are they compatible with 3rd party systems?
Digi Gateways can be used with our ZigBee and 900HP DigiMesh modules to connect them to cloud-based applications. ZigBee modules can also be used with 3rd party gateways, but there could be some compatibility issues depending on the implementation of the ZigBee protocol on the 3rd party gateway. Customers that need a gateway to connect their devices to an IP-based system are suggested to use Digi gateways.

When addressing a ZigBee node, is it required to use both the 64-bit address AND the 16-bit ID address?
Frames may be addressed using either the extended(64 bit) or the network address (16 bit). If the extended address form is used, then the network address field should be set to 0xFFFE (unknown). If the network address form is used, then the extended address field should be set to 0xFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF (unknown). If an invalid 16-bit address is used as a destination address, and the 64-bit address is unknown (0xFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF), the modem status message will show a delivery status code of 0x21 (network ack failure) and a discovery status of 0x00 (no discovery overhead).

If a non-existent 64-bit address is used as a destination address, and the 16-bit address is unknown (0xFFFE), address discovery will be attempted and the modem status message will show a delivery status code of 0x24 (address not found) and a discovery status code of 0x01 (address discovery was attempted).

What relative humidity or IP rating can the “raw” PCAs operate in?
0-95% humidity

Do you have any office in India which can support us in developing the application, across the table or over the phone?
Digi no longer has an office in India, but support is available through our US offices.

Is there a DigiMesh kit available for Europe (868 or 2.4)?
There is not currently a DigiMesh kit available for 868LP or DigiMesh 2.4 modules.

Does DigiMesh come with a cellular and or satellite gateway?
Yes, available in the ConnectPort X4 and X4H.

Is there a notion of sustained broadcast rate that can be claimed? Like 9600 baud, 19200, etc. What is expected of transmitting node, in terms of backing off?
Each node that transmits the broadcast will also create an entry in a local broadcast transmission table. This entry is used to keep track of each received broadcast packet to ensure the packets are not endlessly transmitted. Each entry persists for 8 seconds. The broadcast transmission table holds 8 entries. This process creates an approximate once per second maximum sustained broadcast rate. System generated broadcast events can also occur so careful testing should be performed to estimate any network’s specific throughput capabilities.

Can XCTU be used remotely?
XCTU can be used to configure locally connected nodes and ‘remote’ nodes connected to your network over-the-air.

What’s the difference between the 900HP modem and the Xtend modem?
They are similar in terms of performance and functionality. The 900HP modem is less expensive, and slightly lower range than the XTend.

Which antenna are recommended to maximize transmission across water?
High-gain directional or omni antennas provide strong performance across water and land. Note that over both water and land, the higher the antenna, the more likely you are to achieve unimpeded line-of-sight range.

What do you mean by complex deployment?
Large mesh networks are considered complex deployments. ZigBee networks can be slightly more complex than DigiMesh, simply because the node types need to be defined for every node on the network and there must be a powered coordinator defined for the network to operate properly.

ZigBee nodes: What if a coordinator stops working?
The coordinator can be a point of failure for a ZigBee network.

Can ZigBee module work like mesh?
Yes, ZigBee modules operate in mesh networks.

DigiMesh why no 433MHz?
Not a strong market opportunity to drive the creation of this product. If you have customers interested in this technology, please let the Product Management team know.

How do the modules differentiate between the line-of-site and a reflected packet?
Multipath signals can create destructive interference when they arrive out of phase with a direct signal at the receiving antenna. This generally results in fading or weakening of the received signal.

Is there a limit on the size of data that can be transmitted? Or a good practice / recommendation to deal with larger datasets?
If using API mode, there is a maximum payload size that can be included with each API frame. This size will vary with different versions of XBee module but can always be queried with the NP command.

With unicast will each node of a network repeat packets or does the mesh network only repeat packets on nodes that it knows are on the path to the final node?
Only modules involved in the routing of the data will retransmit the packet.

Which module you recommend for smart street lighting , and how is the communication traffic managed? Can every lamp on the network talk to each other?
We have intelligent street lighting customers using ZigBee and DigiMesh technology. In both network types, every lamp on the network can communicate with one another. Each technology has pros and cons, it comes down to customer preference.

Two part question:What is the advantage of directed broadcasting (i.e., defining a destination address)? Does this improve communication speeds of data to the ‘host’?
Directed broadcasting does not improve the communication speed of data to the host but it does simplify addressing as it allows you to address data to a specific module. Otherwise you would need an identifier in the payload of your broadcast packet to inform the desired module to reply. It also limits the amount of extraneous data that will be presented to host applications.

My question is why South America (Argentina) is not listed in market for 900HP Digimesh?
900HP DigiMesh modules can be used in Argentina, there are no specific certification requirements for that region.

I already got the zig bee mesh kit a couple weeks ago… I have an xbee shield for arduino, do I need anything else to get started?
Nope, you are ready to go build your own XBee-enabled prototype!

Is there any possibility to compress/decompress data before/aftrer zb/digimesh transmission?
The XBee radios are serial radios. Any binary data can be transmitted via an XBee Radio. A JPEG image is a good example of a compressed file that could be transmitted via an XBee.

Would you briefly compare these to the Wireless HART and ISA100 devices/standards?
WirelessHART and Zigbee share IEEE 802.15.4 as the basis of their physical layers. This allows them to use essentially the same hardware at about the same cost for transmitting and receiving. WirelessHART uses TDMA, which allots individual time slots for each transmission. ZigBee uses CSMA with collision detection. In WirelessHART, each node operates as a router, which is similar to that of DigiMesh.

Can I code the modules or must I use an external processor?
Digi does offer ‘programmable’ variants of both ZigBee and DigiMesh modules, which includes an 8-bit microprocessor onboard the module that can be programmed with a custom application. In most cases, customers use their own external microprocessor with our standard XBee modules.

Starbucks and Other Retail Outlets Offer Wireless Phone Charging with Digi Technology

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As everyday life becomes more and more dependent on smartphone usage, always ensuring that your battery is charged has become a necessity. Powermat provides wireless charging stations that offer convenience and security. Instead of crowding the lone wall with an outlet at Starbucks or always bringing your charger with you, Powermat provides an easy alternative. Powermat’s App even warns users when their battery is low and notifies them of the nearest charging station.

Powermat needed a technology partner with wireless expertise that could help them to connect thousands of networks distributed around the world and enable to administer them across their global network. Additionally, Powermat needed to integrate all that data into the end-user application. They sought a simple solution which would provide a secure connection to the cloud and data integration for partner businesses to connect with customers through the app.

Powermat-Content-Calendar-wo-October-19_East-Coast-Facebook-(1)

Each wireless charging station is embedded in tabletops and connected on-site with ZigBee Technology. The ZigBee technology makes the network simple and easy to deploy. It enables integration of data which allows users to find charging stations and enables businesses to offer targeted ads via the Powermat App.

ZigBee offers cost-effective local wireless communication on a massive scale. To enable the global network Digi created a custom SKU of the XBee Gateway. The new variant ships with the Powermat logo, additional security features, and Powermat’s custom Python application. Powermat is now the fastest growing wireless charging network in the world. They’re featured in many businesses such as Starbucks, McDonald’s, Dupont, and General Motors. And they can be found in cities across the globe such as London, New York, and San Francisco.

Read the full story on how Powermat powers phones around the globe with Digi here >>

The Future of Mesh Networking: XBee Thread Demonstration

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Digi is hard at work developing the next-generation XBee module based on the Silicon Labs EM3587 chip, which will support the new IoT protocol, Thread. Due to Thread’s unique advantages like easy commissioning and robust mesh capabilities, the new module will be a valuable addition to the XBee ecosystem. With that in mind, we thought you might want to get a behind-the-scenes look at what we’re doing with this new technology.

Our development team out in Lindon, Utah created this informative demonstration showing a network comprised of both Thread and ZigBee devices and how they can all be controlled via a mobile application.

This is just step one in our development process so stay tuned for updates. Check out these resources to learn more about Thread:

And, if you have any Thread-related questions shoot as a tweet at @digidotcom or @XBeeWireless. You can also visit the official Thread website for more information.

Digi Goes to Nuremberg for Embedded World 2016

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At last week’s Embedded World, we made two exciting announcements. First off, this summer we’ll begin shipping the ConnectCore 6UL development kits. This tiny module, based on the NXP i.MX6UL processor, is just 29mm x 29mm. The CC6UL’s low-power consumption combined with high performance and easy wireless integration will make the module a true game-changer in the Industrial IoT space. More info on the ConnectCore 6UL module is available here.

cc6ul-dimensionsWe also announced a new XBee module in order to support the emerging wireless protocol, Thread. The module will be made available this spring and allow our customers to start designing and testing Thread networks. Thread is an exciting new wireless standard created to improve network reliability, security and power efficiency. We are extremely excited about this new member to the XBee family. Click here to read more about Thread.

Customer Demos
In our booth, we shared the numerous ways our customers are using Digi embedded technology today. Featuring the ConnectCore 6 module, we had our customers Fraser Nash and Furuno on display. Fraser Nash builds zero-emissions taxi cabs for the city of London, while Furuno provides a next-generation platform for commercial marine navigation. Watch the video below to see the Furuno demo in action.

Another fun demo we had was the Parallax ELEV-8 Quadcopter. The quadcopter is equipped with an XBee based telemetry system. Along with the quadcopter, Parallax provides free software to graphically view data from the device such as battery voltage, pitch, orientation, throttle position, and much more. Attendees could power up the quadcopter, pick it up, adjust the throttle, and see all of the telemetry data streaming live on a laptop.

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Digi Partners
As we explored the show floor we found an awesome IoT demo in the Digi-Key Electronics booth. It was a wireless sensor network application featuring XBee, Nimbelink cellular module, BeagleBone board, and the Exosite cloud platform. This was truly an end-to-end IoT solution from sensor to cloud.

And just 5 steps away from that end-to-end IoT demo was a wireless charging demo which used XBee to send display information and charging status data between the two devices.

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Our partner, Mouser, held a development tool giveaway at their booth and one of the prizes was an XBee Wireless Connectivity Kit. Klaus Peitzch was one of the XBee kit winners and he has already started putting it to use! Check out his blog post where he shows how to get started with XBee enabled wireless communications.

img_0370Thanks to everyone that stopped by at Embedded World. It was a valuable show for us and we enjoyed connecting with our partners and customers from around the world!

Here are more links sharing the Digi happenings at Embedded World:

Prototype XBee and Other Wireless Projects with Tinylab

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You might remember our post about the XBee product turned Indiegogo superstar last year–Plexidrone. Well, there’s another XBee related Indiegogo campaign making headlines. Tinylab is a prototyping platform, developed by Bosphorus Mechatronics, simplifying IoT development with an all-in-one Arduino-based solution.

Tinylab reduces the need to stack multiple Arduino shields, pull out the breadboard and jumper wires, or hunt down that spare LTH sensor in your drawer. This flexible and extensive development board supports Arduino and other development environments, hosts 20 Digital I/O, and additional sensors come pre-attached. And, perhaps most exciting, is the support for a number of wireless technologies like XBee, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi with the ESP8266 chip as seen in the graphic below.

 

tinylab-schematic
 

The Indiegogo campaign got off to a great start and Bosphorus Mechatronics quickly exceeded their goal of $25,000. The crew is shipping development kits to their campaign supporters in May and one level of support will even earn contributors a development kit that includes XBee RF modules.

Also, to demonstrate the board’s capabilities, the team at Tinylab created an wireless lighting demo. The video is showing wireless control of a lightbulb with commands sent over XBee. Check out the video below.

If you are interested in learning more about the Tinylab prototyping platform, click here to visit the Indiegogo campaign and support! You can follow their updates on Twitter or visit the Bosphorus Mechatronics website here.

Introducing XCTU 6.3

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A new version of everyone’s favorite XBee configuration software, XCTU, is here! Among a few small updates like a refreshed look and feel, UI enhancements, and minor bug fixes, the XBee team has introduced three brand new features to the software. Here’s a look at what you’ll find in XCTU 6.3.


Command Line Interface Support
New to XCTU is Command Line Interface (CLI) Support. Now, users can execute the application in CLI mode without the graphic interface. This is primarily useful for scripting and automation purposes when managing large scale XBee deployments. The following features are supported within CLI mode:

  • List ports – A list of serial and USB ports can be retrieved in
    command line mode.xctu_welcome
  • Update firmware – Firmware of any radio device can be updated in this
    mode.
  • Load profile – Now it is possible to load profiles to connected
    devices through the CLI of XCTU.

Spectrum Analyzer
From within the XCTU interface, users can test and measure the spectrum of the radio’s band. The analysis displays average, maximum, and minimum values of each channel. This is helpful to determine which channel to set your XBee radios to and troubleshoot network issues.

Throughput Tool
With the Throughput Tool users can measure the maximum transfer ratio from one radio module to another within the same network. The tool provides three session modes and several payload configuration options to test different combinations and understand the performance of your wireless network.

Download
If you haven’t already updated from within XCTU, just click here to download the software to your computer. Have fun and if you have questions feel free to tweet us at @XBeeWireless.

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