Get On Board, Get a Leg Up and Get Free Gas

by Woody Myers 25. September 2009 08:38

RACO Industries cordially invites you to tour an impressive mobile interactive experience and pick up a complimentary $25 gas card. The Motorola Mobile Briefing Center is coming to Cincinnati and this is your chance to get a sneak peak at products and services that will help you get a leg up on the competition.  Reserve with RACO and we will give you the fuel to get here while Motorola will provide a world of information designed to help you and your company learn more about enterprise mobility, wireless, wireless security, RFID and data collection.

When you step on this travelling showcase, you will find out how you can reduce the cost and complexity of Mobile Office solutions while driving business value and increasing productivity. While visiting the Briefing Center you will experience:

- Interactive demonstrations of Motorola hardware and systems
- Displays and solutions targeting vertical market segments such as transportation and logistics, manufacturing, healthcare, distribution, and more
- Expert’s recommendations and presentations on how solutions are being deployed in different vertical segments
- Technical expertise for your individual applications or solutions
- All of the newest products from Motorola


Personalized Tour if you reserve your spot, otherwise, please come when it is convenient for you.  For additional information and questions, (or if you don’t live near Cincinnati) please contact your RACO Account Manager at 1-800-446-1991.



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Asset Tracking Application - University Marching Band

by Larry Sherman 6. July 2009 17:24

We were recently challenged to track several hundred uniforms and musical instruments for a major university’s marching band. The quantity was not the problem…. determining which student musician has what uniform and instrument was. The total value of the equipment is in excess of a million dollars and ‘were given out to 18 – 21 year old college students with no means, other than paper and pencil, to track the assets.’

We proposed Z-Space Technologies’ Check In/Check Out Solution Pack; a configurable software solution built upon a SQL database, Crystal Reports, and Z-Space’s ITScriptnet data collection and development/communications software application. This solution is basically designed to track any asset that is frequently in and out of the hands of people. With minor configurable adjustments, it can be used very effectively for the university’s purpose. When integrated, the software solution allows the user to manage the assets and answers the three fundamental questions of asset tracking – Who has it? What is it? and Where is it?

Once the solution is implemented, the process is very simple. Each student utilizes the university-provided ID card with a bar code associated with the student’s ID number. All of the uniforms have a bar code label inside each piece i.e. pants, jackets, hats, shoes as well as all of the instruments. The bar code contains the university’s asset and serial number for accounting and tracking purposes. Labeling the actual instrument proved a little difficult. However, since each instrument has a case, we bar coded the case instead. The band director is provided a handheld mobile computer, like the Motorola MC55 or Unitech PA968, with the application configured on the device.  Now all he needs to do is scan the labels and the student ID barcodes and the application does the rest. To further the cause, we added customized reports and configured the devices and wireless network to communicate in real-time to the host PC.

For more information about this or other Check In/Check Out applications, contact RACO Industries at 1-800-446-1991 or visit us at www.racoindustries.com

 



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applications | barcode | Motorola | scanners

How to Program Enter, Carriage Return or Other Post Amble Data to Scanner

by Ben Warner 18. March 2009 07:17

Save the Tech Call

What many people don’t realize after the purchase of a handheld scanner, editing capabilities are already programmed in when the product leaves the factory. Scanners such as the Motorola LS2208, Honeywell 3800g or the Datalogic Powerscan are configured with a simple editing tool that allow the users to make changes in the scanner without making costly changes to the software application. 

The most common problem that arises is when the scanner arrives and either the Enter Key has been programmed in or not programmed in at all. For example, when any of the scanners from Motorola –either corded or cordless – are shipped, they are pre-configured with no post amble. In other words the data that is scanned is sent to the screen ‘as is’ with no CR / LF / RETURN or Enter Key. However, many users want the Enter Key to be automatically sent to the application after a scan. This allows users to do a scan one bar code after another without having to hit an Enter Key on the PC keyboard.  

The solution is quick and simple. Get the reference guide or the product manual from you handheld scannerThen go to Scan Data format page and scan the Data + suffix barcode. This will add the Enter key or CR/LF to be automatically sent with the data stream. In case you should ever need to remove the CR/LF or Enter Key, just scan the Data as is barcode.  That’s all there is to it. 

The manufacturer’s product manuals provide instructions to do more advanced formatting, such as tabs or other special characters, but this can be tricky. Contact your RACO representative for assistance with additional handheld scanner programming instructions.



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datalogic | Honeywell | Motorola | scanners | symbol

Top 5 Considerations Prior to Installing a Wireless LAN (WLAN)

by Jason Yoder 18. February 2009 09:48

If you intend to design an Enterprise Wireless Network that performs well, detailed planning is critical.  Today I'm going to examine 5 key things to consider before moving forward with an Enterprise WiFi installation.

Site Survey      Do I need to get a site survey?   The answer depends on the expected use and performance of the WLAN. A site survey involves two different things - spectrum analysis and coverage mapping.  The spectrum analysis checks to see if there is any interference with other frequencies.  The coverage mapping simulates the access point placement to ensure proper coverage requirements.   Can a wireless system be installed without a site survey?   Yes, however proper coverage and optimal functionality can never be guaranteed.  Imagine building a model car in a dark room, it is going to take longer and you really don’t know what it looks like until the light is turned on.  A proper site survey allows you to see what you’re working with before, during and after the installation.  Also, it is important that a site survey be conducted during a normal working environment - with machines, forklifts and or people moving around - to ensure the operation will be properly scrutinized. 

Usage   What type of data will be going through the wireless network:  small data collection transactions, phone calls (VOIP/SIP), and or large file transfers?  Will users require the use of the wireless network while moving from one area to another?  Each of these types of questions corresponds to important design requirements.   For instance, if users will be moving around then 100% coverage will be required to and from each of these areas and the system must be capable of roaming users between access points.

Coverage    What are my coverage needs?  Do I need to cover the entire building/facility?  Can this change in the future? This will answer how large the wireless system needs to be initially and does it need to be scalable enough to facilitate the rest of the building or another building entirely in the future. Planning in the beginning will save future costs in time, performance and money.  

Cabling       Each access point will need a CAT5e/6 network cable run from it to the nearest IDF (Intermediate Distribution Frame).  These are commonly referred to as wiring closets.  The cable length is limited to 100 meters or roughly 330 ft.  If an area cannot be reached via cable, it is possible to connect an access point to another access point via wireless, through the concept of meshing.  Several manufacturers’ access points have this capability: Motorola’s AP-5131 and Cisco’s AP 1500 to mention a few.

  

Area Layout and Obstacles   The thing to remember here is that metal is the enemy; it can completely block signals as well as create multipath, which can confuse access points.  Special considerations need to be taken when looking to install wireless infrastructure in an environment that contains a lot of metal – including the building’s construction.  Water and other liquids can present problems as well. Since the human body is composed of mostly water, people can also obstruct wireless signals and limit the utilization of a WLAN.

If you are looking for additional assistance, contact RACO's Advanced Solutions Group (ASG).  RACO's team of network engineers are certified in both Motorola and Cisco wireless networking technologies and have integrated these components into a multitude of corporate networks.



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Setting up an RFID portal with a Symbol/Motorola XR400 tag reader.

by Jason Yoder 3. February 2009 10:58

To encode the tags we are using a Zebra R110Xi RFID printer. 

 

The configuration is for vendor compliance in a 3PL or third party distribution center.  The tags will be read as the SKUs are moved through the dock doors and read again as they enter their vendor destination.

 

Setting up the reader

 

The XR400 has 4 possible antenna pairs.  Two antennas, a Tx and Rx.  Each pair can be one choke point or portal.  A shipping dock door for instance would be a good choke point.  Using epcSolutions software simplifies the setup process since it is designed for vendor RFID compliance.   There were three main troubleshooting issues we ran into while configuring the software to start the reader polling and setting the proper RFID tag type.

 

The first problem was actually finding the reader on the network in order to enable us to log into the Administrative Console via its IP address a web browser.  The “default” IP address was not correct and even after resetting the XR400 it did not take on the default IP.  By plugging the XR400 into a switched network and running Wireshark on another computer, we were able to see broadcast packets coming from a 192.168.0.73 address. Putting that address into a web browser got us into the Administrative Console.  The default user name is admin with a password of change. 

 

The second problem was that the epcSolutions software was unable to “start the reader”. Through some trial and error we discovered that the XR400’s polling was the issue and had to be disabled in the Administrative Console in order to let the software start the polling itself.  With polling enabled the software is unable to start the reader and gives an error that says, “Symbol reader returning error status 0x80”.  The polling option is under the “Scan Control” menu item.

 

Next the tags we needed to read were Generation-2, Class-1 (G-2, C-1). 

This is setup within the XR400 Administrative Console, under the “Read Point Class” menu option.  Then assigned to an antenna pair/portal.

 

After clearing those hurdles the tags are now being read and all the lights are green.  One of the major problems that must be dealt with when configuring RFID is that tags are automatically read and will continue to be read every 1 or 2 seconds for as long as the tag remains within the polling area.  Therefore, whatever data collection software is used as an RFID manager it must be ready to manage multiple reads.  

The little screencast Video shows how often or quickly the tags are read and reread.

http://www.screencast.com/t/nQ3TyCV82



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Package Tracking Application for Delivery and Courier Services

by Larry Sherman 29. January 2009 17:42

Our client is a small package delivery company that employs more than fifty employees and provide package delivery services via eight hubs in five states. The client specializes in time-sensitive packages for medical and optical labs. Its customer base is requiring higher levels of service, most notably, the ability to track packages via a web-based portal similar to large package delivery services like FedEx and UPS.

 

The client’s current application is a paper-based process and offers none of the package tracking features that customers are expecting. Additionally, recording and documenting package delivery information internally is to say the least, cumbersome. Lastly, the client is missing both new opportunities due to the perception of being small and the possibility of gaining efficiencies from its existing customer base. 

Ideally, the client wants to create and scan barcodes, capture signatures, and communicate through its existing T-Mobile APN wireless network or potentially another carrier back end to the website providing their customers visibility of the service they provide.  This will allow improved service for its customers and provide operational improvements resulting in measurable cost savings.

 

RACO Industries wireless team customized the core application of the Z-Space ITScriptNet Mobile Application Development Tool to create a complete mobile package delivery solution for the client’s mobile workforce. This improved the efficiencies of the routes and provided real-time information to the home office, hubs and its customers.  We also designed and built a customized web-based package tracking portal for the routing/delivery data and to give a user-friendly view for its customers. Although the solution is not as sophisticated as the big boys’, the solution does give the client everything it needs to exceed its current customer base’s expectations and create the ability to acquire new business from its competition.  

The hardware utilized in this solution include: Motorola MC70 Enterprise Digital Assistant (EDA) and Zebra QL220 receipt printer. The Motorola MC70 is a rugged handheld mobile device that incorporates a mobile phone, PDA, computer, scanner and imager in a single unit designed for the rigors of all-day, everyday usage. This compact, lightweight device combines multi-mode wireless networking, voice and data communications, and advanced data capture in an enterprise productivity tool that can support nearly any application in any environment. Coupled with the Zebra QL220 durable and lightweight printer, the solution provides the client’s mobile workforce with the optimal bundle for its requirements.  GPS technology can also be added to provide accurate, real time location data to the back end.  

For more information on the package delivery solution or other mobile worker solutions, contact RACO Industries.



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applications | barcode | GPS | Motorola | wireless

Loading DataWedge on a Motorola MC9090

by Ben Warner 15. December 2008 09:03
Annoyed that your new MC9090 can’t scan anything?  Here are the instructions on how to enable it to scan a bar code.
  1. Obtain the installation files from your RACO representative.
  2. Copy the DataWedge.exe to the Application folder on your MC9090 using Microsoft Activesync.
  3. Launch File Explorer on the MC9090 which is found in Programs
  4. Browse to the \Application directory
  5. Double tap DataWedge
  6. DataWedge will launch and you can now scan into any application

 

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Overlooked factors in commercial Wi-Fi deployments.

by Jason Yoder 13. November 2008 03:19
The most common wireless hot topic is security where encryption and guest access are concerned.  While these are important for production deployment, often times the equipment and physical characteristics of the Wi-Fi environment is overlooked.

Here are the five most common factors overlooked in wireless networks.

   ·         Wireless InfrastructureWhat works at home is not intended to work commercially.  Production environments require much greater levels of dependability, availability, and mobility.  The basic rule is anything available at the department or office supply stores, is not intended for commercial use.  What they lack is a more rugged dependability, roaming capability, and a single point of configuration.

  ·         Placement of Access PortsTake the high ground.  Whether 802.11b/g(2.4 GHz) or 802.11a (5.0 GHz), antennas need a good vantage point to effectively ensure Wi-Fi coverage.   Depending on the environment that a Wi-Fi network is in the signals will propagate differently.  For instance liquids and dense paper products will soak in and dampen radio signals, where metals will block and reflect.  Simply placing access points in the middle of each open area may well not be adequate.  

 ·         Channel SeparationA case of selective hearing.   If you turned on a radio and instead of hearing your favorite station, found yourself listening to all of the stations at once, it would be very difficult to filter out just the programming that you intended to hear.  In a multi access port environment, mobile devices can filter out anything sent from neighboring access ports through channel separation.   Below is a diagram of 802.11b/g channel separation.

Only three channels (represented in red) are able to be simultaneously used and remain completely separated.  These frequencies correspond to channels 1, 6, and 11.        

·         Antenna SelectionFitting a square into a round hole.  Omni-directional antennas are the simplest to plan and deploy.

With a limited number of channels however, omni antennas can be difficult to deploy in environments that are more complex than a simple four wall rectangular shaped building.  When dealing with troublesome Wi-Fi elements, (metal, liquid) directional or patch antennas offer coverage that is far more dependable.

 

             

 ··         Interference - Messed up like channel 8.  Television before the remote control have few channel choices, in my area channel 8 seemed worse than just snowy.  And the phrase was born.  Interference in the 2.4 or 5.0 GHz spectrums causes Wi-Fi networks to appear much the same.  Below is a spectrum reading depicting a clean network and also the effect of interference, with blue being clean and white being the worst interference.   

Clean Wi-Fi Network

 

With so much interference as shown here, the network is effectively silenced and completely unusable.

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RACO is a value added reseller of barcode scanners, barcode printers, RFID, data collection equipment and wireless technology. www.racoindustries.com

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