Scanning for ideas: Wireless for harsh environments

Jan. 10, 2008
Wireless sensors and other equipment might eliminate wiring going through dusty, oily factories or wet and cold outdoor spaces, but the transmitters must still withstand the abuse.

To make sure the messages get through, Banner Engineering, Minneapolis (bannerengineering.com), designed the housing for its DX80 SureCross wireless network to be easy to use and rugged. For flexibility, the housing comes with four threaded PG-7 glands that accept cables or blanks, a 0.5-in. NPT threaded port that accepts larger cables, and 16 built-in wiring terminals that can be accessed without removing them from the housing. A five-pin euro-style connector simplifies installation.

The units include an internal antenna, but an external antenna is optional and can be turned or aimed to simplify installation. Rotary switches and pushbuttons are said to make it easy to set up a network and assign addresses. LEDs keep users aware of RF link status, how much serial-communication activity is on the network, and if there are any errors. There’s also a six-character LCD that shows run-mode and I/O status and lets users modify network parameters. The devices use frequency-hopping, spread spectrum technology to reduce radio interference and improve signal security. It broadcasts on 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz to accommodate worldwide communication standards.

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