Tag Archives: wireless

Three networking solutions for remote HVAC control

Here’s how industrial switches, media converters, and wireless Ethernet extenders enable one person to oversee the HVAC systems of several buildings in a large apartment complex.

In this scenario, a community of apartment buildings is spread out over a five-acre campus. Each has its own boiler room in the basement to house its heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment. The housing complex, while large, employs only one facilities contractor to look after the heating and cooling system. During an update of the HVAC system, the contractor wanted to make it possible for the entire system to be controlled from one central location.

1. Industrial Ethernet switches
Unlike the Ethernet switches in a wiring closet or computer center, Ethernet switches in harsh environments have to endure humidity, and temperature fluctuations. In this building automation application, Industrial Managed Gigabit Switches are used in the boiler rooms to connect and monitor the HVAC system. Encased in IP30-rated metal cases, the switches withstand extreme temperatures ranging from -40°C to +70°C and are protected from dirt and moisture. The switches also operate in a ring topology simplifying wiring and providing instantaneous failovers in case of a link break.

2. Industrial media converters
Copper cable connects the switches to the boilers, hot water tanks, HVAC, and other equipment. But a fiber backbone is used in the buildings for the range it provides and for its immunity to EMI/RFI from elevators, motors, and other building infrastructure. To make the connections, Industrial Media Converters are used to convert copper to fiber and back to copper again.

3. Wireless Ethernet extenders
To connect the Ethernet networks between the multiple apartment buildings, Wireless Ethernet Extenders are used to eliminate the cost and hassle of trenching new fiber cable between buildings. More industrial media converters are used to convert the fiber backbone to copper on each rooftop.

Each Ethernet Extender is mounted on a pole on the roof of each building, creating a “hub and spoke” arrangement, with the “hub” residing on the roof of the control room building. The configuration is simple, as the extenders are pre-configured to work with each other. Their tough, waterproof enclosures make them ideal for outdoor use.

Total control from one location.
The network provides visibility into all four buildings, enabling the facilities contractor to monitor and control the entire HVAC system via IP.

Additional Resources
White Paper: 5 Questions You Need to Ask When Choosing Wireless Ethernet Extenders
White Paper: Media Converters: The Time for Fiber is Now

3 Ways to Extend Your Ethernet LAN

Copper CATx cable supports Ethernet distances up to 100 meters. That’s not a problem when you’re connecting workstations in a building. But what happens when you need to extend the reach of your LAN beyond 100 meters to connect a distant department, a building across campus or across town, Wi-Fi access points, IP security cameras, or even remote monitoring stations in industrial environments.

That’s where Ethernet extension comes in. Depending on your environment and application, there are three ways to extend your Ethernet LAN beyond the nearest closet.

1. LAN extension over fiber optic cable with media convertersExtend-Ethernet-LAN
Media converters are a popular and economical solution for converting Ethernet cable runs from copper to fiber. They can be used in pairs (near-end/far-end) or with Ethernet switches.

Fiber optic cable offers the best performance for long-range network extension. That’s why the telephone and cable companies made such a big deal about using it. Multimode fiber has a range of 550 meters for 10/100/1000 Ethernet links. Single-mode fiber offers distances of more than 30 km for 10/100/1000 Ethernet extension.

Fiber also offers the advantage of being immune to electromagnetic interference (EMI), surges, spikes, and ground loops. That makes it well suited for connecting buildings across campus, across town, and in industrial environments.

There are a number of different types of media converter options ranging from simple, unmanaged, compact converters that mount on panels or DIN rails to managed converters that mount in equipment racks. There are also converters available for commercial and industrial applications. A common industrial application is to use a media converter with PoE capabilities to power and backhaul an IP camera signal over fiber.

2. LAN extension over existing copper cabling with Ethernet extenders.
In some cases, it’s possible to use existing facilities to extend your LAN. If there is an existing twisted-pair copper or coax cable run, then you can extend your network with a pair of Ethernet extenders. Use one at each end to convert Ethernet to DSL (digital subscriber line) and back again to Ethernet. Extenders can deliver 50-Mbps speeds over 300 meters or about 10-Mbps at 1400 meters.

Using existing twisted-pair cablingtwisted-pair-extend-LAN
A common application is a security checkpoint services upgrade. The checkpoint may have originally been connected only with twisted-pair cable to support an analog phone. By using a pair of Ethernet extenders (near-end/far-end), the checkpoint can be upgraded to support an Ethernet LAN connection, a VoIP phone, and an IP camera.

Using existing coax cabling
Another common application is a security camera network upgrade. When you replace older, analog security camera systems with newer, digital IP cameras, you can save a lot of installation time (and labor costs) by using the existing coax cabling with Ethernet extender on each end.

3. Wireless Ethernet extensionWireless-Extension
2.4-/5-GHz radio extension
Wireless Ethernet extenders provide a very cost-effective method for extending a LAN/WAN beyond 100 meters. They eliminate the need to buy new cable, dig expensive trenches for fiber cable, and also the time-consuming waits for rights of way.

Wireless Ethernet extenders are the most seamless way to extend LAN connections up to several miles across office parks; on business, educational, and medical campuses; in enterprise business complexes; and in industrial settings, such as factories or oil/gas field drilling operations, and even in traffic control.

Wireless Ethernet is frequently used to connect line-of-sight networks that are miles apart. While wireless extension is often used in enterprise business applications, where it really shines is in industrial applications, such as data acquisition, control, and monitoring; HVAC controls; and security and surveillance, to name a few. The extender radios can also be PoE powered to simplify installation.

Cellular extension
Cellular wireless routers provide an alternative to wireless Ethernet extension. Anywhere you can get cellular phone reception, you can set up a network. Cellular routers can be used to provide the primary network connection for industrial environments where it’s too expensive or impractical to run a wired access network, such as cable or DSL. Cellular routers are also used in factories, oil/gas field drilling operations, and in traffic control.

Cellular routers are available for all the major carriers (AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon) and all networks (3G, 4G, and LTE). Cellular routers eliminate any line-of-sight and distance limitations that may exist with radio wireless extension.

Additional resources:
White Paper: Media Converters: The Time for Fiber is Now
White Paper: Power over Ethernet in Industrial Applications
White Paper: 5 Questions to Ask about Wireless Ethernet Extension
Webinar: Wireless Solutions for M2M, Security, and Mobile Data Networks
Video: Wireless Ethernet Extenders

A Comparison: Google Chromecast and Black Box Wireless Presentation System

Millions of Google Chromecast™ devices have been sold since its 2013 release date. The popular device, a small HDMI dongle, streams video from your phone or tablet straight to the TV. The setup is easy too; plug in, connect to WiFi, and cast apps from mobile devices to the TV. It does a lot for just $35. However, it cannot function without WiFi and does not perform well at longer distances from its access point.

If you want more versatility for your video and presentation system, you will have to dig a little deeper into your pockets. But, the added functionality is worth every penny. A wireless presentation system, for example, offers presentation, collaboration, and content sharing capabilities. It’s ideal for small conference rooms, huddle rooms, lecture halls, and offices.

The Black Box Wireless Presentation System offers superior versatility. Since it has both HDMI and VGA connectors you can use it with an array of projectors and displays. Depending on your application, you can connect the plug-and-play receiver to your wired Ethernet LAN. Or, connect it to your wireless 802.11b/g/n network.

How the Black Box Wireless Presentation System works.
The self-contained System functions as both a wireless receiver and 802.11 b/g/n access point (router). So you don’t need any extra dongles to carry around. It enables as many as 32 users to log in and display their computer screen video and audio from up to 300 feet away. The System’s application software captures the images and sends them through 2.4 GHz radio waves to the receiver for output.

Meeting participants can open a PowerPoint presentation or other file, such as a Word document or JPG image, and the presentation is then sent wirelessly to the System for overhead display.

The setup is easy too; just link your PC or Mac to the System through a WLAN or an Ethernet connection, and plug the token into a USB port. In mere seconds your screen is wirelessly sent to the System and visible to the entire room.

More about the added functionality.wps-chromecast
The Black Box Wireless Presentation System does much more than just act as an access point and stream content.

It also gives you control. The System’s conference control function gives you the ability to act as conference moderator. Use it to control who can present and the order of presentations. It also gives you the ability to switch presenters with easy one-click switching. Start collaborating right away without wasting time on logistics.

If security is a concern for you, you’ll appreciate the System’s session login and WEP/WPA/WPA2-PSK security. You act as the gatekeeper controlling who can connect to your wired or wireless networks. You can also give conference participants access to the Internet, while keeping them off your network.

The System is also great for when you want to show more than one media simultaneously. Its 4-to-1 split-screen feature allows you to display up to four different user screens at the same time. The individual screens are shown in quadrants, which makes it great for education and training applications where the audience can make side-by-side comparisons. You can also assign specific quadrants to each presenter. This takes the interactive experience to a new level.

The System supports remote desktop function as well as mobile device support. Enjoy being able to move around when presenting at a podium or anywhere in a meeting room. The remote desktop function allows you to control a presentation from a wireless USB mouse/keyboard or to toggle between slides in a presentation using a USB wireless clicker. Better yet, control the presentation from your personal tablet or mobile device.

A quick look at the differences between the Wireless Presentation System and Google Chromecast:

Black Box Wireless Presentation System Google Chromecast
Supported Devices Mac, Windows PC, Android phones and tablets, iPhone, or iPad Mac, Windows PC, Android phones and tablets, iPhone, iPad, or Chromebook
Plug and Play Yes Yes
Multi-User Support Yes No
Multiple Video Streams Yes No
Screen Mirroring Yes Yes
Wireless Security WEP, WPA/WPA2 WEP, WPA/WPA2
Wireless Presentation Yes Yes
Wireless Range 300 ft. (91.4 m) Signal degradation when not close to access point
Power External adapter output: 5 VDC, 2.5 amps USB
Display Resolution 1080p 1080p

Want to learn more about Black Box Wireless Presentation System capabilities? Comment below, or contact a technical engineer at Black Box at 877-877-2269.

See also: 7 Reasons You Need a Wireless Presentation System

7 Reasons you need a wireless presentation system

Preparing content for a presentation is daunting enough. You shouldn’t have to worry about how the presentation system works. If you’re a company that meets regularly or has reoccurring presentations, you need a wireless presentation system.

There are many reasons to use this cost-effective and flexible solution. Here’s seven to start:

1. No cables.
Ever have to get up and interrupt an important presentation just because you needed to swap cables in and out of the projector? Save yourself from the hassle of figuring out what cable goes where. Plus, cables add unnecessary clutter. Let’s not add them where they aren’t needed.

2. Display from any device.
We work in a mobile-centric world. To be efficient and user friendly, your meeting space should cater to all mobile devices. That includes tablets, smartphones, and laptops. Most wireless presentation systems allow you to display content from any of these devices. Oh, and save yourself the cost of buying a remote presenter. You don’t need it. Just install a smartphone application. The wireless connection enables the application to communicate with PowerPoint, for example, to remotely control your presentation slides from the convenience of your personal mobile device.

3. Multi-user collaboration.
Several users can access the system at once. Changing presenters is as simple as one click. This interactivity is perfect for open-forum discussion in conference rooms, classrooms, or lecture halls.

4. Long-range connectivity.
Some wireless presentation systems, like the Black Box Wireless HDMI Presentation System, can reach up to 300 feet! Ideal for large rooms like auditoriums and lecture halls where users are stationed far from a projector.

5. Multi-screen distribution.
Show multiple sources at the same time on one screen. This is great for education and training applications where the audience can make side-by-side comparisons.

6. Free up your IT team.
There’s no need for audio-visual support when you’re using a wireless presentation system. Just fire up your laptop, tablet, or PC; connect to the network; and open the wireless presentation system software. Then, it’s go time.

7. Take presentations on the road.
Slim, compact versions are available for when you need to travel or move frequently from room to room. These devices fit in your pocket. When you’re ready to present, simply plug it into a display or projector for quick presentation sharing. Some models, like the Black Box Micro Wireless Presentation Tool, provide 802.11n Wi-Fi support, which delivers up to five times the throughput and greater range of earlier Wi-Fi technology.

Need more reasons to go wireless? Comment below, or contact a Black Box technical engineer at 877-877-2269.

Additional Resources
Case study: Research Laboratory

3 Ways to use wireless Ethernet extenders

IT professionals are the unsung heroes when it comes to Ethernet LAN extension. Network users don’t care how the network is extended, they just want it to work.

Why wireless Ethernet extension.
Ethernet has a maximum distance or range of 100 meters over CATx cable. If the network needs to go beyond that, fiber is the best medium. But it’s not always practical or economical to trench new fiber. That’s where wireless Ethernet extension comes in.

Here are three examples of how you can extend an Ethernet network quickly and economically with wireless extenders.

Application 1: Point-to-point enterprise LAN extension.
This is the simplest form of wireless Ethernet extension between buildings, such as in a business park or a school campus. Point-to-point LAN extension can also be used to connect networks between buildings across town at data rates of 40-80 Mbps up to six miles apart.

Extenders, like the LWE120 Series, usually come in kits for this type of application. The kits give users a fast deployment time because the access point and the subscriber unit are already pre-synchronized to work together right out of the box. These units feature internal directional antennas with LED indicators for alignment. Dual antennas are used for better speed and range. Power over Ethernet simplifies installation.

Application 2: Hub andWireless Ethernet Extenders in Oil/Gas spoke extension topology for security/surveillance.
For security, cameras are installed around the perimeter and entry/exit points at well sites, booster pumping stations, and gas processing facilities in the oil and gas industry. Wireless networks are then used to aggregate IP security camera traffic to a central node or operations center. The network consists of wireless extenders with directional antennas that point back to a central AP with an omni-directional antenna. In a point-to-multipoint or star topology, the access point can be connected to up to 32 subscriber units.

Application 3: Hub and spoke extension topology for the hospitality industry.
This is one of the easiest methods for extending network and Internet access up and down ski slopes and across sandy beaches to outlying cabins and cabanas without worrying about running fiber cable. Wireless extenders are also practical for connecting a digital signage network used for wayfinding, information, entertainment, and menus.

The extenders provide a solution for:

  • Ski and beach resorts
  • Golf and country clubs
  • Conference facilities
  • Outdoor festival facilities

Line of sight considerations.
Generally speaking, you need a clear line of sight between the extender radios for reliable transmissions. In other words, no buildings or trees can be in the way. Typically, radios are mounted on poles, towers, or buildings 20 feet or more above the average terrain height. This is to avoid noise from ground reflections called Fresnel Zone losses. The best practice is to perform an RF link budget analysis that takes into consideration transmit power, receive sensitivity, cable/connector, and free-space path losses.

The advantages of PoE.
When it comes to PoE (Power over Ethernet), wireless Ethernet extenders can be a real convenience. Because many of them, like the Black Box ones described above, are PoE powered, worries about running electrical wires are eliminated. That’s a real bonus in difficult environments.

Additional Information
Blog Post: 3 Biggest mistakes in wireless deployment
White Paper: 5 Questions to Ask About Wireless Ethernet Extension
Video: PoE Explained

On-demand KVM and Wireless webinars

Catch up on our latest on-demand wireless webinars from this past month:

“Wireless Solutions for M2M, Security/Surveillance, and Temporary Data Networks”

  • In this webinar, learn how cellular wireless routers can be a reliable and cost-effective alternative for Internet or WAN/VPN access compared to POTS, DSL, and cable modem technologies.
  • Explore how cellular routers can support the necessary interface types, environmental requirements, and protocols associated with remote SCADA applications.
  • Understand how 4G cellular wireless routers support the throughput and latency requirements for backhauling security/surveillance video.
  • Learn how to quickly set up temporary, mobile networks in field applications, such as sporting events, outdoor gatherings, and digital signage installations.

“KVM Outside of the Data Center”

  • In this webinar, Acquire a high-level understanding of the KVM technology solutions spectrum. Understand the market forces that are shaping the need for KVM technologies in different industries.
  • Understand the thought process behind selecting a KVM technology for a specific application scenario.
  • Understand the return-on-investment benefits that KVM solutions can provide.


PPP, EAP, 802.1x … what’s the difference?

The PPP, EAP, 802.1x protocols are often confused with each other, which is no wonder because they’re all interrelated and involve authentication.

Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) was originally a protocol for connecting and authenticating dialup modems. Today’s PPP is usually encapsulated in Ethernet frames and operates over Ethernet as PPP over Ethernet (PPPoE). PPPoE is commonly used for cable modem or DSL connections to an ISP for Internet access. PPP includes two authentication mechanisms: Password Authentication Protocol (PAP) and Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP).

Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) is an authentication protocol framework that works inside PPP to provide support for authentication protocols beyond the original PAP and CHAP protocols. EAP supports a wide range of authentication mechanisms including Kerberos, passwords, certificates, and public key authentication, as well as hardware schemes such as authentication dongles, smart cards, and USB tokens.

802.11x simply takes the EAP framework out of PPP and puts it into Ethernet, packetizing it for transmission over a wired or wireless network. 802.11x has three parts:

• Supplicant: A user who wants to join the network.
• Authenticator: An access point, switch, or other device which acts as a proxy between the user and the authentication server.
• Authentication Server: A server, usually a RADIUS server, which decides whether to accept the user’s request for network access.

When a user tries to access a network through a wireless access point or by plugging into an Ethernet port, the authenticator—usually an access point or switch—consults with the authentication server before allowing the user onto the network.

Five questions to ask before opening your network to BYOD

There’s a lot of excitement nowadays about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, in which employees use their own smartphones, tablets, or laptop computers to access the corporate network via wireless. But before you set up those wireless access points, there are a number of questions to consider.

Who’s allowed into the network?
The first step to managing BYOD is to decide who gets on your network. Do you have an open BYOD policy that lets any device connect to your network through wireless? Do you let anyone in, but make him or her register? Do you authenticate users via password? Do you allow only known devices onto the network? Do you support all devices and operating systems?

How much access are BYOD devices allowed?
Do you allow employees’ personal devices full network access or restrict them to Internet access only? If you allow full network access, is there a security policy in place to prevent company confidential information from being loaded into devices that may be lost or stolen?

How safe are BYOD devices and what are you going to do about them?
There’s more malware out there all the time, and it’s affecting more devices than ever. This is a problem not limited to laptop computers—the popular Android™ operating system for phones has a large amount of known malware. How will you screen connecting devices to make sure they have updated patches and don’t contain malware?

What about licensing? 
Do employees want to use corporate software on their personal devices? Do your software licenses have terms that enable you to install the software on machines that are not company owned?

How will you handle roaming?
Can your wireless system handle users who move from access point to access point without dropping sessions or requiring users to log in again?