Tag Archives: #WFD8

Cambium Networks’ Quick Deploy Positioner is a Force-Multiplier

PTP_Positioner_300x300a

If you’ve ever installed point-to-point bridges to extend a network, you know that alignment can be the hardest part. The longer the link is, the more difficult alignment gets, and even those of us in the business who have a good knack for alignment can get thrown for a loop on occasion. To compound matters, sometimes wireless bridges get installed in tricky, dangerous places. It’s not uncommon to use bridges for short-duration connectivity needs, like for events or even battlefield operations. I’ve set up my share of wireless bridges, and I’ve that occasional situation where even after a few days, the alignment bolts are starting to strip and we’re no closer to getting a stable link. I have a feeling I’m not alone here.

Cambium Networks has recently introduced what can only be described as a “force multiplier” when it comes to getting their popular point-to-point hardware aligned. The Quick Deploy Positioner is not the only device on the market that promises to help with automatic bridge alignments, but Cambium does feel they have a winner in the Quick Deploy Positioner thanks to a number of differentiators:

  • Usable, optimized links are brought to life in under 5 minutes
  • Non-experts can successfully create high-speed links using the Positioner
  • Power options including PoE, AC, and even solar

I challenged Cambium on the Positioner’s list price (a little north of $18K) and was convinced that the cost very well would be justified in the right circumstances. According to Cambium:

  1. Some of these links are deployed in extremely remote areas where travel would be difficult and time-consuming. Sending an extra person just to align the antenna could cost them a day out of the office every 30 days for every positioner deployed.
  2. For emergency response and disaster recovery there isn’t always room to take along someone else in the vehicle to perform this function.
  3. In some cases (Border Patrol and Dept. of Defense applications, for example) there is danger to the personnel on-site.  So each additional person requires extra security, and adds extra risk to the mission.

The Positioner looks pretty sweet, and I can see it earning it’s keep on the Cambium bridges that it’s compatible with (PTP 650, PTP 700, PTP 450i and PMP 450i).

Read more in the press release above, or at the Positioner’s product page.


 

Related- I had the pleasure of meeting Cambium’s staff in person, at Wireless Field Day 8. See their presentations here.

I was not compensated by Cambium in any way for this blog- I just think the Quick Deploy Positioner happens to be a slick bit of kit, baby. 

Quien es Mas Macho? A Beacon Battery Brouhaha!

There’s not a lot of networky substance here, so if you’re looking for that, well- you just keep moving. But, if you’ve been following what’s going on with beacons and location services that use these little gems, you might want to keep reading.

I give you… Exhibit A.

Beacon2

At the top, we see The Aruba (Meridian) BT-100 beacon, which was given to me at Wireless Field Day 8 as I sipped a cold one and got briefed on lofty tech topics at Levi’s Stadium by Aruba’s SMEs (I run in those circles). At the bottom, we have the Gimbal beacon, by Qualcomm. This was another freebie, which I scored during a promotion. Each has it’s place in the beacon universe, with the power to help build amazing success stories in the field of location based applications and services.

This isn’t a Beacon X vs Beacon Y smackdown in the making- but it is an opportunity to point out a pretty important point about beacons.

I give you… Exhibit B.

beacon 1

Using my world-class Leatherman Skeletool CX (special Kieth Parsons Edition), I jimmied my way into the innards of each beacon with the precision maneuvers of a skilled surgeon. And what I saw made me do some thinkin’ about the powerful lonely feeling that grips a man when batteries go dead and whatever the thingy is in play stops working. Which brings me to the points of this blog:

  • Some batteries are bigger than others
  • Bigger batteries have more capacity
  • More batteries combine for more capacity
  • More batteries that are bigger combine for even more capacity

Sounds so simple, right? The implications aren’t so profound if whatever you’re doing with beacons only needs a few of them in easy-to-reach places. But I have been to Levi’s Stadium, oh yes I have, and I can testify that copious amounts of beacons are in use and not all are easy to get to. This is an example of a place where beacon battery brevity blows. 

You want loooong battery life in many beacon situations, and out of the box the BT-100 promises an impressive 1,460 days. For those not up on Common Core math yet, that equals 4 years. By contrast, the Gimbal above is rated for “many months” (I got about 6-7 months out of mine).

The Gimbal uses the CR2032 battery, whereas the BT-100 uses two of the phat-daddy CR2477 cells. This is the biggest “watch battery” I’ve ever seen, personally.

What’s the Big Deal?

To me, battery refresh on deployed beacons has the potential to significantly add to total TCO where hundreds are deployed, especially if ladders need to be climbed and maintenance windows need to be followed. This simple example shows that not all beacons will have the same battery life, based solely on the battery used (note- I’m leaving out some important operational parameters that impact battery life, but these are beyond what I’m trying to get across here).

There are many, many more beacons on the market than just these two, but if you’re going down the beacon path, make sure you consider expected battery life as you make your choices.


Just getting started with beacons? Here are a couple of blogs I wrote up as I went from knowing absolutely nothing about beacons to knowing enough to be able to not be totally clueless.

Beacon Baby Steps
A Little More on Beacons

My Wireless Field Day 8 Posts

Just aggregating my writings after the event.

IT Toolbox

  1. There’s Wi-Fi, Then There’s Aruba Networks’ Wi-Fi at Levi’s Stadium
  2. Wireless Controllers Are Dead, They Just Don’t Know It
  3. Cradlepoint Shows Out at Wireless Field Day

Wirednot

  1. Wireless Field Day 8 Takes “Wireless” Up a Notch
  2. Traveling in Cardboard Class (foolish fun)
  3. Cambium Networks Bridging- Reviewed By Chris Lyttle
  4. Doing a Tech Presentation? Cover the Basics!
  5. A Voice of Clarity in the Fog of LTE-U
  6. Quien es Mas Macho? A Beacon Battery Brouhaha

A Voice of Clarity in the Fog of LTE-U

Open your web browser. Type in “LTE-U” news. Note the 19 million or so results that are returned.

Now scroll a bit through the first dozen, and you’ll pretty quickly see a mish-mash of opinions both pro and con. You’ll also get lost real quick in a sea of acronyms, political posturing, and turfy claims by all sides right before your brain starts to numb up. But let’s back up a bit…

For those who don’t know, LTE-U is the twinkle in the eye of the mobile carriers that expands the use of their services out of licensed frequencies and into the same unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum that the WLAN community has come to hold sacred. It could be devastating to Wi-Fi, or it may be non-disruptive. It all depends on what rhetoric you believe, and how it will be implemented. Notice that I didn’t say “how it MAY be implemented”, because it will absolutely become a reality in some form despite those of us on the WLAN side that don’t want it to. And the meanderings of the issue can be really, really hard to follow because tech + politics + emotion = confusion.

But I found my light in the fog, at Wireless Field Day 8. He works for Ruckus Wireless, and his name is Dave Wright.

I knew Dave just a bit before hearing his excellent presentation on LTE-U. I knew that he’s a straight-up guy, a gentleman with a good sense of humor, and just a pleasure to talk with about technology and things in common. But after Dave’s presentation at Field Day, I also realized that I finally found someone who not only gets the big picture of the LTE-U situation, but is also actively trying to guide it to a reasonable conclusion for both Ruckus’ product aspirations and the WLAN industry.

Dave’s presentation is a must-see. My friend and WLAN biggie Keith Parsons was also at Wireless Field Day, and did a nice job with his own treatment of both the topic, and Dave’s session.

I won’t say that I agree with every opinion Dave might have on LTE-U, but I will say that when he explains the various groups involved and potential technical outcomes of the LTE-U battle, you can actually understand them.

Given the complexity of the issues, that’s saying a lot.

Doing a Tech Presentation? Cover the Basics!

I just flew home from San Jose, and boy are my arms tired. Ah, that corny old joke… Having wrapped up my stay at the Wireless Field Day 8 event, I found that I had made a list of things through the week that were decidedly NOT funny during the presentations. By offering where I’m about to go with this blog, I promise there is no meanness intended. I spend a fair amount of time doing presentations, and things can and do go wrong. At the same time, when a high-stakes presentation is on the line (like those at WFD), I constructively offer the following feedback and advice to anyone that finds themselves in front of a group– especially one that you want to impress with your content, as opposed to being remembered for the little things that went wrong.

Be On Time. I learned way back when in my military days that it’s good protocol to be at any and every appointment 15 minutes early. Even if you are simply the speaker and setup duties are left to others, it’s important to be where you’re supposed to be with at least a few minutes to spare. Chances are, the people you are presenting to also have a busy schedule and your lateness will be noticed, and talked about after.

If You Can’t Read the Screen, Neither Can We. Live demos are always risky, and seasoned IT folks get that. It’s easy to sympathize when Murphy’s Law hits and some part of the demo doesn’t quite respond right. What’s harder to forgive is teenie-tiny font on a faraway screen that’s integral to your message and that you assume the audience can read. Do a run-through first, get a variety of people to comment on whether they can actually read what’s being shown from where the audience will sit, and find some way to correct it if it’s not crystal clear even for weak eyes. Remote monitors are good investment in these situations. And if it’s a super-important presentation, have a backup room ready in case the display mechanism in your first room craps out- better to take a few minutes to relocate than to take the same amount of time to pop up a substandard replacement display in the same room.

Show Some Enthusiasm Already. Not all subject matter experts are great presenters. The truly gifted ones manage to convey not only “the message”, but also their own enthusiasm for what’s being discussed. When you know that the presenter believes in what he or she is presenting and is excited about it, that vibe is infectious. But even the best narrative  becomes snoozy when delivered in a monotone voice that lacks any obvious sense of belief in what’s being talked about. If your SME is boring, get a co-speaker to help balance the blah with some buzz.

Accent Overload. One of the great things about being in IT is the diversity of people involved. The accents alone are often one of the highlights of a presentation to me, and I love to hear from individuals who are obviously from other countries. This can be overdone though- too many speakers in a row with thick foreign accents can be tiring to keep up with from the audience, especially when the content is a bit dry or when a lack of real enthusiasm is also in play. Again, I suggest getting a co-speaker to provide balance and variety.

Stay Out of the Weeds, While Being Prepared to Go There. Unless you’re doing actual training, it’s risky to spend too long in any one user interface or deep technical topic. Keep it high-enough level to allow for covering the several topics you want the audience to hear in the time allotted, while expecting the occasional “how does your system do ______?”  that will give you a chance to dig deeper. But if you start deep, and stay there over a couple of hours, expect to see some nodding off. It’s all about striking a balance.

Wireless Field Day 8 was a pretty awesome event, and each vendor generally did well to get their messages out. This blog is not a critique of any single vendor, but just food for thought for anyone who might present at similar events.

Cambium Networks Bridging- Reviewed By Chris Lyttle

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Cambium Networks and hearing what they have going on with Point to Point and Point to Multipoint Wireless bridging. This technology is an absolute game changer for linking your sites and providing services to customers (think Wireless ISP), and in my opinion, very few vendors in this space are as polished as Cambium these days. Of course, Cambium has deep roots in the industry- but you can read more on that in a minute.

At the Cambium session (At Wireless Field Day 8), I was lucky enough to spend time with one of my favorite wireless colleagues, Chris Lyttle. Chris did an excellent review on Cambium’s presentation and offerings, and rather than duplicate his efforts It would be more productive to steer my readers to his write-up, which can be found here. It’s amazing how these products have evolved, and Chris did great with his treatment of Cambium.

Do you do PTP or PMP bridging? Are you a WISP? Have you used Cambium products yet? If so, how have you found them to perform? I’d love to hear from you- and thanks for reading.

Traveling in Cardboard Class

I was recently reminded of how little value I really have in the grand scheme of things. Forget if you will that I served my country (with distinction) for over a decade, that I have been a Deputy Mayor and little league coach, and that I work hard and pay taxes. Those things mean little when you belong to the Cardboard Class.

As I returned from an IT conference recently, my lowly status was brought home to me yet again once I set foot in the airport I was flying out of. You see, I’m not one of those fancy TSA Pre-Check people. I only fly on occasion, and don’t know all of the angles. But as I waited in line to go through the Common Folk Harassment Portal, I could see the royalty that do get Pre-Check, and it was a sight to behold. As those better than me sauntered through the Pre-Check line, TSA agents in smoking jackets showered them with “sir” and “ma’am”, as they hugged each passenger and gave them a smooch on the forehead. There were shoe-shines, massages, and bags of money handed out to each passenger. The sequence was capped with the distribution of the most elegant take-out containers full of Mongolian BBQ and bottles of French champagne to each traveler. High times in that line, I assure you.

As I was lost in all that, the closest TSA agent to me put an electric cattle prod to my buttocks to snap me out of it. She looked all of 18 years old, and lectured me repeatedly in loud voice that I had goddam well better not have any water in my pockets (what does that even mean?).  Next I was ordered to half-strip while other agents laughed at my shoes and made fun of the size printed on the back of my belt as I was herded towards The Humiliator.  As I stepped into the empty chamber, a deranged John Candy look-alike agent bellowed at me “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING? I HAVE NOT YET ORDERED YOU TO STEP FORWARD INTO THE SACRED CHAMBER! GET OOOOOOUT! NOW COME BACK IN BECAUSE I AM TELLING YOU TO!” After getting all of my belongings back, I proceeded to my gate with my fellow unwashed lemmings.

This is where those of the Cardboard Class really get reminded of their lowly place on the airline travel food chain. For the fifty minutes I had before boarding, I was reminded at least two-hundred times that only special passengers are allowed overhead bin space so I should probably throw my belongings in the nearest waste receptacle, and that people as ugly and unaccomplished as myself at no time were to come near the Special Red Rug.

Then came the actual boarding process. Starting with Shiny Golden Gods, the airline staff worked their way through getting the elite among us seated. I listened as they called out Diamond Members, Platinum Blondes, Snappy Dressers, Chess Champions, Men Named Sterling and Women Named Tatiana, and so on. Oh these dukes and duchesses walked that red carpet with pluck and swagger, and I was privileged just to watch it. Then the grand process made its way closer to me (YOU GET YOUR ASS AWAY FROM THAT RED CARPET YOU ZONE 2 LOSER).

As they worked through Tin Members, The Sawdust Club, and People With an Extra Toe or Finger, it finally came my turn- they called all of the human refuse with no other traveler’s pedigree, and we made our way across the soiled blue carpet with holes in it. The check-in lady used hand-sanitizer every time she so much as made eye-contact with us, and when I said “thank you”, she muttered something that sounded like “just get on the plane before I punch you in the throat”.

But I did make it on and eventually home, and once on board it only cost me $340 dollars for eight minutes of Internet and a Slim Jim. Thankfully, the airlines care enough about even Cardboard Class to provide such amenities.