Ethernet Radio Support
What is an Ethernet Radio?
Baseline’s Ethernet radio is a spread spectrum (902-928 MHz), unlicensed radio solution that allows a Baseline irrigation controller to connect to a network when geographical separation prohibits the use of other networking options such as Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Ethernet radios also allow multiple controllers to share a single wired network connection or to create a stand-alone network (for use with a FlowStation, for example).
What is a Radio Site Survey?
As with any radio frequency-based wireless system, many factors can prevent the radio frequency (RF) signal from reaching all parts of the site. A site survey helps determine where each radio and antenna should be located and helps select the proper equipment in order to ensure the most robust communications. A radio site survey is a crucial step in the deployment of a wireless radio network for an irrigation system.
Baseline recommends that a radio site survey be specified as part of a site plan whenever Ethernet radios are expected to be used. The radio site survey helps ensure the best possible outcome and can save a significant amount of support costs later on. The radio site survey documentation serves as a guide for designers and installers. We also recommend that the installation contractor be required to demonstrate that post installation results match the results of the radio site survey.
While a radio site survey dramatically improves the chances of a quick and painless installation, it does not guarantee long term success because conditions are likely to change on a site over time. For example, if a building is built in a radio’s line of sight, that location may cease to communicate and changes may need to be made. Baseline recommends that all such considerations be taken into account when planning and implementing a radio project.
A radio site survey is a contracted service offered by Baseline. For pricing information, or to schedule a radio site survey, please contact your Baseline representative or distributor.
What are the steps of a Baseline Radio Site Survey?
To complete this step, the customer, or an authorized representative, fills out and submits Baseline’s Site Survey Request Form. The completed form provides important information about the intended location for each radio and which radio location(s) may have access to the local network with an Ethernet cable. The form also gathers information about buildings, trees, etc. that could impede RF signals. It is also strongly recommended that a map or site plan be submitted with the form whenever possible.
The completed form is submitted to Baseline, and this information is used for the preliminary analysis and radio path study.
Step 2: Complete the Preliminary Analysis
A Baseline representative uses the information from the Site Survey Request Form to perform a preliminary analysis of the project. The objective of this analysis is to anticipate potential problem areas including elevation changes, radio path distances, etc. As a result of this analysis, Baseline may also propose alternative gateway radio and repeater locations. Even though the preliminary analysis cannot identify all potential sources of interference that may exist on the site, it is still a valuable source of information for the actual site survey.
In some cases, Baseline may also perform a path study. In a path study, software analyzes the information from the Site Survey Request Form and the preliminary analysis and predicts RF coverage for the site. The path study is a predictive tool that can be helpful in some cases, but it cannot guarantee results.
A certified Baseline representative will visit the site to visually inspect each proposed radio location and perform a radio verification test with a radio test kit.
For the radio verification test, a Gateway radio and Endpoint radio are placed at the predetermined locations. The radio antenna at each location is positioned so that it mimics the final recommended installation as closely as possible. A ping test is used to verify communication between the Gateway and Endpoint radios. A radio location is considered qualified if it has a signal-to-noise delta of at least 20 and has zero packet loss.
The Baseline representative will document the signal-to-noise delta for each Endpoint radio location and the type of antenna and antenna placement that was required to qualify each location.
The Baseline representative will also identify any potential RF obstacles at each Endpoint radio location (foliage, buildings, elevation changes, etc.) and make recommendations on how to remediate the challenges.
Step 4: Compile the Survey Results
The site survey report includes the results of each step listed above. However, the most important content is the result of the actual radio site survey. The report documents the results of the ping test and signal-to-noise delta, what antenna type was used to qualify each location, and any pertinent information about each location.
The information enables the customer to purchase the right equipment, install that equipment correctly, and verify communication by comparing post installation results to the radio site survey results.