Find Ideal Sensor Placement with the Site Survey Tool
Monnit’s ALTA Wireless Site Survey Tool is a powerful device that helps you plan the placement of ALTA Wireless Sensors by measuring the strength and quality of the radio frequency (RF) signal from an ALTA Gateway. In this article, we will provide you with useful information on configuring and using the Site Survey Tool.
Upon opening the protective carrying case, you will find the Site Survey Tool and two antennas nicely packed. Take note that you will need to ship the tool back in the box it arrived in. There is a QR code on the back of the device and on the case that houses the device. Scanning either code will quickly take you to the quick start guide, data sheet, user guide, and return shipping instructions.
Why Two Antennas?
The device comes with two antennas: a larger, articulated antenna, and a smaller antenna. The larger, articulated antenna is a dipole configuration and emulates the behavior of Monnit’s industrial sensors with their external antenna. If you are planning to buy and install ALTA industrial sensors, connect the dipole antenna to the site survey tool. The smaller antenna is a monopole configuration and emulates Monnit’s commercial sensor with the wire antennas found on the coin cell and AA battery versions. Connect this antenna if you plan to deploy any of the ALTA commercial sensors.
Turning On Your Device and Finding Your Gateway
To power on the device, press and hold the Find Gateway/ On/ Off button for three seconds. Upon pressing the button, the device turns on, and the LCD flashes as the device starts searching for the Gateway it was assigned to. After showing the “Gateway ID” the survey tool is connected to, the ID will scroll across the screen twice. The screen will then show (ready) rdy, indicating the tool is waiting for the next button press. If the Gateway ID on the LCD is not the gateway you want to connect to, see our user guide for further steps.
Signal Test Button
After the tool connects to a “Gateway” and displays (ready) rdy, press the Signal Test button to begin scanning the RF environment and the TRUESIGNAL assessment. The screen starts flashing the intermediate TRUESIGNAL results. Note that the result will be “a number” if the intermediate tests were successful. However, if the intermediate tests were not successful, the result will be a “dash”. Once the test is completed, the device will display Pass, Poor, or Fail, and then displays the average TRUESIGNAL percentage. These results will show twice before the screen displays “rdy”. After displaying “rdy”, the device is now ready for the next signal test.
What is TRUESIGNAL?
TRUESIGNAL is a simple scale created by Monnit to express the amount of usable signal at a test location, as calculated from the measured wireless signal strength and background interference. The result is expressed in percent and is directly correlated to your selected “Reliability Setting”, with Pass corresponding to the percentages in green, “Poor” to yellow, and “Fail” to red for the various reliability settings.
What do the reliability settings mean and which one should you use?
The “Signal Reliability Level” allows you to select the Pass/Poor threshold point. The device ships with “Strong” as the default. There are three reliability settings available:
Mission Critical - Optimizes deliverability over range
This means that it is more important the data get through 100% of the time and sacrifices range in the signal calculation.
Use this setting if you cannot afford to miss a data point each and every transmission.
Strong - Balances deliverability and range
This is the default setting and what Monnit uses when we reference our “1,200-foot range inside traditional commercial facilities.”
This setting is a good balance between the two.
Functional - Optimizes range over deliverability
Selecting this function means the data will usually get through on its first try.
However, sometimes the data may not make it because of some unaccounted-for variable, such as a truck parked between the sensor location and the gateway.
In this case, the sensor can’t reach the gateway, so it stores the data at the sensor and will attempt to deliver it the next time the sensor checks in.
While we think it would be valuable for everyone to rent a site survey tool during installations, there are some scenarios and environments where it is recommended. Those situations and environments would be:
- Distances greater than 1200 feet (400 meters) are desired and possibly achieved due to greater open spaces with less obstructions, such as greenhouse businesses, oil/gas plant installations, and farms.
- Buildings where heavy use of concrete and rebar were used to increase stability, such as high rises, sporting facilities, school buildings, hospitals, churches, etc.
- Indoor installations with traditional commercial building structures with large architectural footprints (large amounts of square footage)
- Warehouse environments with lots of obstructions.
- Shipping containers or tractor trailer yards
Helpful tips for using the Site Survey Tool
- It is important not to stand in the path of the site survey tool while pressing the button, as this will add an RF inhibitor between the tool and gateway that will not be present when the sensor is deployed.
- It is important to make sure the antenna on the tool is upright and not horizontal, as antenna orientation in relation to the gateway is important for maintaining an excellent RF link.
Returning a Rented Device
When returning a rented device, scan the QR code on the device or the box it arrived in and follow the instructions on how to return it. Alternatively, contact a Monnit sales representative for further information on how to correctly return the device.