Imagine not having backup for your personal computer or your computer system at work. Unimaginable? Perhaps, but many devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) do not have a backup option when their connectivity goes down during a network outage, which is why an automated failover solution is so critical.
Failover is defined as a backup operation that automatically switches to a standby network connection if the primary network fails or if it is shut down for servicing or other reasons. For example, if your Internet cable is accidentally cut in two by a backhoe down the street, or if your credit card processing comes to an abrupt halt, this is something your organization cannot afford or tolerate.
There is a solution. Wireless failover connectivity lets your business communications processes immediately switch from a disrupted wired connection to an always-on, low-cost standby network connection. In fact, the Digi SureLink™ platform offers a dual-SIM capability, so that if your router cannot communicate with the primary wireless network, the second SIM card will automatically establish and maintain a connection with the backup wireless network – which allows you to keep your wired and wireless network connectivity – and your staff and operations up and running.
>>Watch this brief network failover solutions tutorial from Digi Key Electronics to make sure your business operations are always connected.
Digi is proud to be an AWS Advanced Technology Partner with IoT Competency certification. Thanks to the integration of AWS IoT and AWS Greengrass, Digi is making it easier to build, connect, and manage products. Digi and AWS Greengrass combine secure edge intelligence, smart IoT endpoint connectivity, and intelligent cellular networking to provide the following features:
Filter and process data locally – this means sending less data to the cloud, and saving more money.
Avoid latency by staying local – this will remove the issue of internet accessibility and bandwidth.
Improve security and compliance – keep local copies of data or even run entire systems without sending anything to the cloud if desired.
Being an AWS advanced technology partner provides users the ability to accelerate from idea to prototype to deployment using local instructions of AWS lambda, Digi Remote Manager® and Digi TrustFence™ security framework to bring enhanced security and manageability to devices running AWS Greengrass. This powerful combination embodies a series of critical features that enable top-to-bottom security assurance; features like secure connections, authenticated boot, secure physical ports, and more.
In addition to joining the AWS Partner Network, Digi is excited to be a sponsor of AWS re:Invent 2017, Nov. 27 – Dec. 1 in Las Vegas. The Digi team will be at booth 209 in the Quad at the Aria to discuss how we can help you build smart IoT devices using AWS Greengrass and AWS IoT with secure and pre-certified connected system-on-modules, single board computers and wireless modules that enable fast and simple design integration in industrial applications. Stay tuned for event updates, information on how to win a Digi ConnectCore® 6UL Starter Kit, and details about the our joint speaking session with AWS, Leaves to Lawns: AWS Greengrass at the Edge and Beyond, at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28 at the MGM Grand, Level 1, Ballroom 119.
Designing embedded Internet of Things (IoT) systems for the next wave of IoT connected devices requires research into current trends, an understanding of wireless technologies, and how to be prepared. Leaders from Digi Wireless Design Services (WDS) joined top electrical engineering talent on stage this week at the Minneapolis Convention Center to discuss designing for the next wave of IoT and to share technical and business lessons learned when connecting IoT devices.
Kyle Sporre, RF Hardware Engineering Manager and Kevin Eichhorst, Senior Solution Architect will provided the following takeaways during their presentations at the Embedded Systems Conference:
Python developers just got more help in creating solutions with Digi XBees. In order to make it as simple as possible to write Digi XBee applications, Digi just released an official Digi XBee Python Library. This library supports multiple Digi XBee protocols including LTE Cellular, NB-IoT, Zigbee, 802.15.4, DigiMesh, Point-to-Multipoint and Wi-Fi.
The open-source project includes all the Python code, multiple examples that show how to use the available APIs and a collection of functional tests. Main features of the Python library include:
Support for ZigBee, 802.15.4, DigiMesh, Point-to-Multipoint, Wi-Fi, Cellular and NB-IoT devices.
Support for API and API escaped operating modes.
Management of local (attached to the PC) and remote XBee device objects.
Discovery of remote XBee devices associated with the same network as the local device.
Configuration of local and remote XBee devices:
Transmission of data to all the XBee devices on the network or to a specific device.
Reception of data from remote XBee devices:
Transmission and reception of IP and SMS messages.
Reception of network status changes related to the local XBee device.
IO lines management:
Support for explicit frames and application layer fields (Source endpoint, Destination endpoint, Profile ID, and Cluster ID).
Multiple examples that show how to use the available APIs.
So, you’ve designed your wireless product and time-to-market is of the essence. It’s time to build your prototype and get your product into production, right?
Yes, but first you want to think about certification requirements. If you take a few important steps in the early stages, you can increase your chances of success in the certification process and actually improve your time to market.
Here are three important practices that can get your product to market faster, with fewer board spins and at a reduced cost:
Don’t go worldwide just yet: If you design a new product for multi-regional roll-out with a single SKU or design, you will encounter huge certification hurdles. This is because RF (radio frequency) regulations and testing requirements vary by region. For multi-region rollout, your design will need an antenna and radio that support the various regional frequency bands, and pass certification for each. The wider bandwidth requires a physically larger antenna and a costlier radio, which affects your entire design. And everything that affects your design affects certifications. Therefore, sometimes a better practice is to start with one locale for initial rollout and then add geographic regions in phases with additional SKUs.
Build certification success into your design: It’s critical to understand the standards and tests involved in the certification process before you start to design. In Digi’s Wireless Design Services (WDS), we often see situations where an organization launched into development without clear understanding of requirements or RF design best practices, only to have serious emissions issues with their electronics, or performance problems with their antenna, resulting in certification failures at the end of their development cycle and subsequent board spins.
As mentioned earlier, the exact certification requirements vary depending upon the regions your end product will support. Certification requirements also depend on your communication method, as cellular products must pass additional certifications. See the related previous post, Preparing for Wireless Design Certification, to read about the most common certification requirements.
Test at critical junctures: Testing aspects of your design along the way is a great practice. The goal is to be certification-ready and pass the first time in the actual certification process. Work with your test lab at phases throughout product development to do pre-scans and spot-check high risk areas. While this process can result in changes to your PCB layout and antenna implementation, the earlier you can identify issues, the lower your risk of failure in the formal certification process.
If you run into challenges or just need some assistance to put your best foot forward, a professional wireless design service like Digi’s WDS team can help. The support you require may include anything from advising on your basic design principles to providing a complete reworking of a design that is not passing certifications. While the best possible strategy is to design for certifications to avoid failures, even failing designs can be rescued and turned into successful products that pass certifications with flying colors.
>>DID YOU KNOW? DIGI’S WIRELESS DESIGN SERVICES TEAM CAN HELP YOU PASS CERTIFICATIONS ON THE FIRST TRY. SEE THE WDS CERTIFICATION PAGE.
Knowledge is power, as they say. When building a wireless product, understanding and preparing for certification requirements can help optimize your design from the beginning so you can pass certifications on the first attempt. This article will cover the key certifications to prepare for as you begin planning your product design.
Any product to be sold in the U.S. must pass FCC certifications, which include the following:
FCC Part 15, subpart B – Unintentional Radiator (EMI): Electronic devices with oscillations greater than 9 kHz that do not deliberately generate radio frequency emissions must comply with FCC Part 15, subpart B emission limits. Today, because devices have much faster clock speeds, this test can be difficult to pass. Faster clocks mean shorter wavelengths; as a result, smaller structures on your PCB can act as an antenna and propagate unwanted emissions. So you really need to minimize this noise in your electronics design.
Part 15C, 22, 24, 27 – Intentional Radiator: These tests assess output power and other signal characteristics for products with RF transmitters. Harmonics are the most common cause of test failure, and there are several typical reasons. Here are two common examples:
Non-linear power amplifiers in the transmitter chain can generate harmonics which are then radiated by the antenna.
Non-linear PCB components can pick up the fundamental frequency radiated from the antenna and then generate and radiate the harmonics of the fundamental frequency.
Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) –This test measures how much the product’s RF transmissions heat human tissue, and is designed to prevent health hazards. If the end product will be used within 20 cm of the human body, you must perform a maximum permissible exposure (MPE) calculation, at a minimum, to determine whether SAR testing is required.
Cellular over-the-air (OTA) tests are required for cellular designs with antennas located less than 20 cm from the radio, and are very challenging to pass. Cellular certification testing often includes the following, depending on carrier selection and geographic region:
Total Radiated Power (TRP) – Measures total power radiated from the device and is a function of the antenna radiation efficiency, impedance match, and radio output power.
Total Isotropic Sensitivity (TIS) – Measures radiated receiver sensitivity integrated over a sphere around the device. It is a function of antenna radiation efficiency, impedance match, and radio receiver sensitivity, but is often limited by noise radiated from host electronics.
Relative Sensitivity Intermediate Channel (RSIC) – tests for receiver sensitivity degradation on specific RF channels.
Radiated Spurious Emissions (RSE) – evaluates spurious emissions from the cellular transmitter as well as the host electronics
RF Engineering Manager, Kyle Sporre, summarizes PTCRB test requirements, and the regions where they are applicable in the simple whiteboard video session below.
It is very important to understand the design principles that affect certification testing early in your process and to apply best practices. Effectively controlling noise prior to performing radiated cellular tests such as TIS and RSIC can help you achieve the low EMI required to pass certification testing. TIS requires even quieter PCB emissions than FCC certifications, and failures caused by noise coming from the host electronics are common.
Note that products that do not include an antenna within 20 cm of the device are not subject to OTA tests. For example, this includes box products with an antenna port that requires the customer to supply the antenna, or products with cabled antennas that are more than 20 cm from the device. To ensure success, design your product up front with certification requirements in mind. If you need assistance, Digi’s Wireless Design Services (WDS) team can help with your product design, or even correct design issues that can lead to certification failures.
In order to make street lights more intelligent and connected, DimOnOff created a Centralized Adaptive Lighting System also known as Central Management System (CMS), to centrally manage street lights across a city using dimming and other adjustment methods. This smart streetlight solution is compatible with LED conversion, as many cities transition away from traditional expensive high-pressure sodium (HPS) streetlights to more energy efficient LED fixtures.
This complete front-to-end smart wireless control system has saved cities 40-50% in maintenance costs, while other municipal customers have achieve their ROI within three years because they can better predict and prepare for what needs to be fixed and they are saving on energy costs due to the intelligent lighting system adjusting to the unique needs of a specific location. But, the biggest benefit is enhanced safety for citizens with streets that are safer for walking, riding bikes, and driving.
DimOnOff’s intelligent, addressable modules use Digi XBee wireless RF modules to communicate on a secure mesh network – the Digi DigiMesh® network solution. DigiMesh offers added network stability through self-healing and dense network operation while reducing costs to about $.04 per light pole, in comparison to $1.00-$2.00 using alternative technologies.
Earlier this week, the Digi XBee Cellular introduced three new variants to the lineup and announced the new features and upgrades of the module platform that combines global connectivity, built-in security, and design flexibility for Internet of Things (IoT) applications:
Provide OEMs with a simple way to integrate low-power narrow-band cellular connectivity into their devices.
These advanced, smart, cellular modems strengthen the already robust Digi XBee product line and are capable of meeting all wireless needs – from cellular, to Zigbee, to Wi-Fi protocols. The platform offers complete design freedom for cellular IoT connectivity integration from LTE Cat-1 all the way to LTE-M and NB-IoT LPWAN technology.
With the new upgrades and features below, organizations looking to integrate cellular connectivity and the ability to standardize on one module platform with a single hardware footprint across products, regions, applications, and cellular networks for everything from local applications to global solutions – regardless of the complexity level.
Programmability: Local intelligence programmed on the modem itself. Business rules engines and application logic can transform data, control local I/O, connect to Bluetooth sensors, actively manage utilization of the cellular link and optimize cellular data plans.
Full USB Support: Supports wide range of applications, from basic to more complex Linux-based applications/systems; direct USB communication for apps with native control requirements.
Bluetooth® Ready: Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Bluetooth Mesh connectivity. Allows simple and quick local setup, provisioning, and troubleshooting capabilities using modern mobile phones and tablets.
Advanced Manageability Features: Support robust over-the-air (OTA) firmware upgrades, Digi’s easy-to-use RF management and configuration tool Digi XCTU, and remote management through Digi Remote Manager™.
Built-In Security: Hardened with built-in Digi TrustFence™ device security.