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Radio Modems

2013-5-30 9:55:54



Wireless communication has revolutionized industrial communications and radio modems are on the forefront of the revolution.

Industrial radio modems encode, transmit and decode the data. They use radio waves for data transmission. And this medium of transmission gives user a lot of advantage over the wired data transfer.

How industrial radio modems operate?

Radio models operate in a similar fashion to your radio station. There are three stages of communication:

  • Data encoding: Transmitting radio modem takes data from the source system and encodes it
  • Data transmission: Once encoded, the transmitting radio modem transmits the encoded data as radio waves with certain pre-defined frequency (Just like our radio station broadcasts the program)
  • Data Reception: The receiving radio modem receives the radio waves transmitted on the pre-defined frequency (like our radio instrument), decodes the data to its original format and provides it to the connected device

Most radio modems have RS232, RS485 or RS422 ports for communicating with the devices they are connected with.

What are applications of radio modem?
Applications of radio modems are limited just by imagination. Today radio modems are used in video security applications to mining applications and from oil and gas platforms to sports. Here are some examples, which can help you visualize how you can make best use of radio modem technology:

  • Video surveillance: Wired connectivity of video cameras used for surveillance systems in large, widespread geographic area has limitations. It is costly and difficult to maintain. Radio modems overcome this limitation. They transmit video surveillance information in the form of radio waves to central surveillance unit, where another radio modem receives it and decodes it. It saves huge wiring expense and maintenance costs.
  • Mining: Mining is possibly the biggest industry using industrial radio modem communication. Radio modems find many applications in mining such as data communication between moving units to centralized data center, automated ore processing and water treatment applications.
  • Oil Platforms: Wired data communication between offshore oil platforms and land based control units can be very expensive and difficult to maintain. Radio modems are used extensively for oil data acquisition systems.
  • Sports: Sports are also not far behind in using radio modem technology. Long distance outdoor sports such as marathons, cycle races, and car rallies use of radio modems to keep track of participants at every crucial location.

Selecting the right radio modem

Though radio modems offer a great promise to the industrial world, they also come with technical limitations. The prominent factors affecting the performance of radio modems include:

  • Transmitter power: The distance for which the receiving radio modem can receive the radio waves without any loss of data
  • Receiver sensitivity: How sensitive is the receiving modem to catch faintest radio signals?
  • Battery life: For how much time a radio model can function without changing or recharging the batteries?
  • Terrain: Can the selected radio modem work on uneven terrain or does it require line of visibility to receive the radio signals?
  • Antenna height: Antenna height can be a problem when radio modems are used in the cramped space or when a moving person carries them.
  • Antenna feeder cable loss: how much power is lost while transmitting or receiving data from or to the antenna through the cable?

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