How SignalFire’s Direct To-The-Cloud ‘RANGER’ Compares with Other Telemetry Products

How SignalFire’s Direct To-The-Cloud ‘RANGER’ Compares with Other Telemetry Products

How SignalFire’s Direct To-The-Cloud ‘RANGER’ Compares with Other Telemetry Products

A new telemetry solution from SignalFire – the RANGER Sensor-To-Cloud Transmitter – expands the applications and markets in which SignalFire’s telemetry systems are used to remotely manage and control different assets in remote locations.

Significant features of the RANGER are:

  • Battery-powered operations (sensor and radio systems – no external power required for the installation)
  • Intuitive and easy to set up and install
  • Direct connection to the Cloud over existing LTE cellular networks
  • Internal GPS Reporting
  • Monitoring (analog and digital inputs) and Control (relay output)
  • Rugged outdoor Enclosure (oil field tested)

Operating on a LTE-M Cellular Radio

The main difference between the Ranger and SignalFire’s 900 MHz product line is that the RANGER’s sensor data travels directly to the cloud over the LTE cellular network.

Our 900 MHz radio frequency telemetry systems concentrate data from remote nodes at a Gateway located in the field. The Gateway provides a wired Modbus connection to a local controller or other backhaul network. This architecture lends itself to applications with multiple measurement points within radio range of the Gateway (1/4 mile to 3-mile radius depending on product) for aggregation to a single point for data acquisition.

The RANGER uses a specialized cellular radio designed for low-data rate, (no voice or video) sensor-type information (see Graphic 1). This new technology called LTE-M or CAT-M1 has been adopted by both Verizon and AT&T in the US. LTE-M is designed specifically for low-power, Internet-connected devices, making battery power possible. The RANGER’s internal battery pack can operate both the sensor and radio for years depending on the update rate and attached sensor. For example, a RANGER attached to a 4-20mA pressure transmitter, with a reporting interval of once every 5-minutes, would have a battery life of more than 3 years.

Since the RANGER communicates directly to existing cellular towers, it is most suited to isolated measurements or situations with only a few measurement points per location. Additionally, since the Ranger is available complete with the SignalFire Cloud, it is perfect for situations where users do not have an existing SCADA system or other cloud service.

Graphic 1: What makes the RANGER unique is that it provides power to the sensor you pick and then sends the measurement directly to the cloud using the embedded MQTT & SparkPlugB communication layer. You then choose the IIoT cloud application best suited for you.


Sensor Interfaces

The RANGER shares a similar sensor interface system with other SignalFire nodes. The RANGER contains the following I/O:

  • One Analog Input (4-20mA or 1-5V) with sensor power delivered by the Ranger (externally powered sensors may also be connected to the Ranger)
  • Two Digital Inputs (state or frequency measurement)
  • One Relay Digital Output (see data sheet for relay details) – low power, bi-stable relay

The analog and digital inputs are the same as those used in other SignalFire products. The digital output utilizes a bi-stable relay that can be opened or closed using the battery power. However, once in a state, no power is required to maintain that state. This allows for remote battery powered on/off control using a relay, which can be very useful for monitoring and control applications where you need to shut down a system under an error condition.

SignalFire will be releasing expansion cards for the RANGER that will support expanded I/O including HART and Modbus.


Applications

The RANGER is better suited to assets remotely located and with only a couple of sensing points per site. Ranger has no Gateway (in effect, the cell tower is the “gateway”), making it a true wireless (no on-site power needed at all) system for monitoring and controlling assets.

Some applications for the RANGER are:

  • Pipeline Monitoring
  • Remote Tank Level and Pump Control (chemical, fuel, water, fertilizer,… tanks)
  • Flood Level Monitoring
  • Agriculture – Center Pivot Water Use Monitoring

Data Visualization and Storage

The RANGER comes complete with the web- and mobile-friendly SignalFire Cloud interface to monitor, trend and get alarms either by text or email. The SignalFire Cloud is designed to allow users to instantly see and trend your data from the Ranger without any other software or hardware.

This Sensor-to-Cloud Transmitter uses the MQTT protocol secured by TLS (latest in internet security) that can be integrated with a private cloud platform, if desired. The data is published natively using the popular MQTT/SparkPlugB format, which is being utilized by many hosting platforms.

One breakthrough that SignalFire has pioneered is the ease with which the user can bring a node online. Like SignalFire’s other products, the process is intuitive and easy.