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Wireless Networking Hardware

One-Watt Wireless Radio Modem Reaches 40 Miles 240

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the bits-over-blocks dept.
maxstreampr wrote in to plug their radio modem. It's the size of a credit card, one watt, and can transmit 40 miles line of sight or 3000 feet indoors. Something about using the AT command set to fire off a command 40 miles through the air amuses me.
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One-Watt Wireless Radio Modem Reaches 40 Miles

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  • by LazyPhoenix (773952) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @04:49PM (#10249870)
    makes me think of riding around in the AM radio days and going silent when going under an overpass.
    • by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:00PM (#10250008) Homepage Journal
      ...for those of us lucky enough to live close to Chicago (I'm just over 100 miles away), we can continue to experience the wonderful long-range AM radio while we listen to Pat Hughes and Ron Santo cover the Cubs game on radio 720.

      It comes in great on my car, but hardly at all on any of my other radios. Of course, there are a few spots I avoid because they kill the reception. I'll even drive five miles out of the way just to avoid that patch.
    • makes me think of riding around in the AM radio days and going silent when going under an overpass.

      Reminds me of a customer we had to support, his radio wouldn't work on his vending machine. We knew we had coverage in his area, and we drove to the building, perfect. Finally the guy walks down the basement to show us the vending machine......

      YA, we couldnt stop laughing either.

      These are more for stationary devices like, hvac, meters, pumps, vending machines, cash/pos machines, etc. Its amazing how many
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @04:49PM (#10249873)
    +++ATH0 on a cloudy day. With a repeater.
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @04:50PM (#10249884) Homepage
    If everyone bought one of these and ran them in peer-to-peer mode, we could all dump our ISPs!
    • I'd rather keep mine. The article says that the max speed is 230kbps, and the max sustainable is 115.2 kbps. It won't be too long that you can get that with a cellular modem.
      • Yeah and the far range is at 9600. If you live in the relative boons like me, you're better off with cable.
      • I'd rather keep mine. The article says that the max speed is 230kbps, and the max sustainable is 115.2 kbps. It won't be too long that you can get that with a cellular modem.

        I'm getting 2meg on my UMTS ATTWS Nokia phone. :)
    • I don't know, 9600 baud? I remember those days, I don't want to go back.
    • by YankeeInExile (577704) * on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @04:59PM (#10249984) Homepage Journal

      If you could live with a shared media with a peak throughput of 115 kbits, sure.

      I do not want to rain on anyones parade, but ISM band FHSS FSK modems are kinda cool-for-1997 ...

      That being said, if maxstream had a reasonable price for onesey twoseys, (Their web site [maxstream.net] has a promotion for what appears to be this series at USD 90 for qty ten) there could be some cool hack value for moderately low speed stuff in portable projects.

      • It seems like a decent value to me considering what it is for. You can drive around in a truck along a pipeline and have a wireless access point at each pump station which will indicate its status. You can be at a chemical plant and wirelessly place monitoring equipment. If you are on a large construction site or mining operation a central computer will know when your truck, excavation equipment or hauler will need more fuel because you can broadcast that data. This has obvious implications for ports, d
    • There is an article around somewhere about the "Lillypad effect" with each person's wireless device being compared to a littly pad in the pond (the world). Each person's wireless would make up a piece of the wireless pond overlapping and connecting the whole together. There was a mention of expanding coverage through hotspots installed in your car, wi-fi phones, and handheld portables. Essentially recreating an internet by just obtaining hardware no ISP required, just adhearance to a set of communication
      • Re:Ribbit! (Score:3, Informative)

        by ScuzzMonkey (208981)
        I shudder to think of the size of the handset needed to hold the processing power required for the insanely complex smart routing this concept would take to realize. Not to mention the batteries!

        I agree that it's a neat concept, but early experiments with WiFi meshes seem to indicate that it will have problems scaling without a lot of horsepower behind it. And that's with fixed "pads" as it were.

    • At 9600 baud? I think not......

      I do wish they would standardise on frequency allocations worldwide, as I live in the UK and might have a use for one of these, as it might be cheaper than what we have, the 458MHz band where things like this have been around for a long time, similar power, same baud rate, similar range with a directional antenna. I note that this one seems to be specified with a 4dB external antenna gain. Now that would be about a 4 element yagi, or a helix or dish, but maybe more as you woul

  • Additionally, rumor has it that this device will burn a hole in your pocket. (Thank you, I'm here all week.)
  • by koreth (409849) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @04:52PM (#10249901)
    Someone's going to, so it may as well be me...

    "Site" - a location.

    "Sight" - something visual.

    "Line of sight" - a line along which you can see (i.e., an unobstructed line.)

    "Line of site" - evidence that what you've written matters so little to you that it's not worth the effort to proofread. You don't care; why should we?

  • by grunt107 (739510) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @04:52PM (#10249905)
    The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is used with a 256-bit key, the highest encryption standard available.

    The real question is, did they use Lexar programming techniques?
  • Wireless... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    My Grandma loves all this talk of 'Wireless' again..
  • by Ignignot (782335) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @04:53PM (#10249911) Journal
    Using the AT command to set a fire 40 miles off? Or has it just been too long a day at work? My office has been regularly swept for mines.
  • by ARRRLovin (807926) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @04:53PM (#10249912)
    What kind of antenna did they use? "High gain" isn't all that descriptive.
  • by icekillis (777986) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @04:53PM (#10249915)
    Do you mean PCMCIA-sized?
    • I think you were trying to make a joke (although I'm not sure exactly what .. that so few slashdot readers know what a credit card is, but do know what formfactor PCMCIA is?)

      I think the reason they avoid using that acronym is to avoid confusing their potential customers -- saying something is PCMCIA-sized might lead people to leap to the assumption that it has meets PCMCIA interface specifications.


    • Well you wouldn't want to accidentally buy one of those debit-card-sized modems, would you?
  • Where's the coupler?
  • Speed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @04:53PM (#10249919) Journal
    The speeds indicated look too slow to be useful except for remote low overhead / slow data acquisition stuff.

    9600 baud is pretty darn slow, even with compresion.
    • Re:Speed (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wg0350 (753504)

      This is ideal for certain applications. Environmental monitoring and remote metering are two technologies where dial-up modems are still used at speeds similar to this. These are prime candidates for upgrading to wireless. Despite their lack of publicity there are still thousands of low data rate products in use today. You could have 10s - 100s of these devices reporting to one local substation with a broadband connection to a main monitoring station somewhere else in the world.

      Not everything has band

    • by G4from128k (686170) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:12PM (#10250118)
      Although 9600 could never handle today's internet and web activities, it is amazingly fast for TTY and CLI type applications. Having started with 110 baud mechanical TTY and 300 baud acoustical coupler modem on a green screen, I well remember my first experience with a 9600 baud hardwired Lear Siegler terminals [old-computers.com] -- WOW very fast.

      9600 baud is good enough for modem-to-modem chat, e-mail via pine, text processing with vi or emacs, or almost any *nix command. Thinking about this reminds me of how terribly bloated everything has become with verbose formatting and styling of pages. Pictures may be worth a 1000 words, but they require 10 to 100 times the bandwidth of those words.
    • 9600 baud is pretty darn slow, even with compresion.

      Not for straight stats, pumps, hvac, meters are very low bandwidth, you could get by with 2400 without compression. Now if its XML based with pretty pictures or microsoft powerpoint, yes, 9600 is slow.

    • by mvdw (613057)
      Yes, they do. However, there is an awful lot of "remote low overhead / slow data acquisition stuff" out there. Much of it doesn't even have Ethernet (or code/ram space for TCP/IP stack), so Wi-Fi is pretty much out of the question. Small embedded systems with a serial port are the target market. No, it's not sexy or cool, but industry doesn't want sexy or cool. They want cheap and reliable, with no extra overhead.
  • by MikeMacK (788889)
    MaxStream, Inc., 355 South 520 West Suite 180, Lindon, Utah 84042

    Lindon, Utah is sure a happening place.

    • Re:Friends of SCO (Score:3, Interesting)

      by weston (16146)
      The Canopy Group has a set of office buildings in Lindon that has great connectivity. SCO occupies one of them, and some Canopy companies occupy others, but the rest are rented out to other companies, one of which I work for, which have nothing to do with SCO, and are happy about that.
  • MaxStream RF modem (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mknewman (557587) * on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @04:55PM (#10249936)
    Anyone notice the 9600 baud bit rate? Marc
  • Testimonial (Score:2, Informative)

    by TheVampire (686474)
    Our company uses the MaxStream RS485 modems, and I can attest that they do work very well.
  • Not very impressive (Score:5, Informative)

    by jandrese (485) * <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @04:57PM (#10249957) Homepage Journal
    Wow, that's some marketing. The "40 miles" claim is when you're in deep space and using high gain antennas. Actual performance will be less than a mile. Also, in case people want to compare this with 802.11 (which is difficult because they are in different bands), a typical 802.11b card radiates 30mW, instead of the 1W these guys are apparently claiming. The data rate is nothing exceptional either, 115.2kbps (and these are 1000 bits/kb sized), which pales in comparison to 802.11g at ~55000kbps. This technology would have a much higher "wow" factor 5 years ago, but nowadays that kind of range for that kind of throughput just isn't all that new or special.
    • by javaxman (705658) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:26PM (#10250239) Journal
      From TFM :
      * Up to 3000 feet range (Indoor/Urban environments, @9600 RF data rate)

      We're talking about this thing for what reason?

      CmdrTaco, please, drink some Jolt and wake up. That's twice in one day you've made me want to smack you around for wasting my time. 9600 baud? Really, why would we want to use this?

      To compare this to 802.11b, they have what looks like a version [maxstream.net] that operates in the 2.4GHz band, guess what? 1500ft range, at 9600 baud.

      While I'll admit this thing might have some very specific uses, like remote data collection where you don't have a lot of data, but you want it delivered at regular intervals over a distance where it'd be hard to put in relays or run a real link... but the damn thing costs more than $400 [google.com], so if you *can* use 802.11g instead, you'll probably want to!

    • by Sleuth (19262) *
      Sounds like it would be easier to go pick up a couple used Richochet modems on ebay. 128kbps and 1 mile line of sight out of the box. USB interface and all. Linux has the network drivers already.
    • Right on. I also didn't see any possibility of hopping and running the link in industrial noisy environment.
      • I've been a long-time customer of MaxStream, and as an application developer, I've used a previous version of this product in a practical industrial environment (arc welding equipment, tool stamping devices, secretaries using word processors, the works for what you would expect, and some RF noise that is more unusual than a typical industrial facility) and I got to about 1000 meters (yes 1 km) before I had more than 50% packet loss using a good packet checking algorithm. Line of sight (i.e. to the side of
  • Perhaps I missed it but did anyone else find a price (even in oem qtys) for this device?
  • by Chuck Bucket (142633) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @04:59PM (#10249979) Homepage Journal
    I'd never heard of this, but after some reading: Wireless over modems [hp.com] it's out there, and well supported. I can see it being a less touchy solution in that it's old school analog, but 40 miles? THat's hard to believe.

    CBSD
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:00PM (#10250006)
    For what it's worth, I once used a 5 watt HF radio to contact the Canary Islands from Atlanta, GA. The signal was not strong, but we had no trouble carrying on a brief conversation. RF is pretty amazing stuff when the conditions are right.
  • by phyruxus (72649) <jumpandlink&yahoo,com> on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:00PM (#10250012) Homepage Journal
    Mordac: I am Mordac, preventer of information services! I deny your request for specifications! In retribution for disturbing me, I sentence you to one month without email!

    Dilbert: okay.

    Mordac: What?! No engineer gives up email so easily. Assume the position!

    Dilbert (at home, to Dogbert): So, he found the modem strapped to my ankle, but he missed my wireless pen modem.

  • Nothing amazing here (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:01PM (#10250020)
    Amateur radio operators have been doing this for years. The higher the antenna, the better. Put up a tower, say 50-60ft, put the antenna on top using good feedline and fittings, and you will get out to good distances. Better yet, take your laptop up to a mountain location, and you will be able to tx and rx for easily many times that distance. Hams do this routinely.
    • Hams do this routinely.

      But only with a license.

      I can find no reference to license requirements for these devices, and since they're operating in the 900 MHz band, I'm assuming they're unlicensed.

      This makes me wonder about these, and things like the WiFi shootouts. Are there or are there not FCC regulations regarding these antennas and transmitter power? Obviously there are, but what are those limits? 1 watt? 4 watts? 50 watts? And what about encryption, even on good old 802.11? The FCC has alwa

      • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @06:27PM (#10250679) Homepage
        But only with a license.
        Yes, but it's not hard to get one.
        I'm assuming they're unlicensed.
        Well, they're likely FCC certified, but the spectrum they use is unlicensed, so ...
        Obviously there are, but what are those limits?
        For most of the unlicensed bands, under 1 watt. The WiFi `shootouts' and the like typically do not use amplifiers at all (microwave amplifiers are expensive), just high gain antennas, though I don't think the Part 15 rules (which is what things like this and WiFi are allowed under) allow the use of high gain antennas for transmitting. (If correct, this is very often violated, though obviously the FCC doesn't care that much.)

        As for encryption, it's only the ham rules (part 97) that prohibit encryption. They also require that you ID yourself at the end of each message (and at least every 10 minutes) and that the usage be non-commercial. The FCC itself doesn't frown upon encryption, at least not publically.

        I guess I need to read up on my FCC rules
        Yup. This link [qrpis.org] might be an interesting place to start.
  • Wow! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Guano_Jim (157555) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:05PM (#10250055)
    I'm using one of these right now and it's gr345l;@!@*!bbg

    NO CARRIER
  • by Aggrajag (716041) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:05PM (#10250056)
    Our radiolinks (which are like wi-fi) were sending line-of-sight transmissions, 9600 baud, with about 3 milliwatts. I cannot remember the frequencies we used but they were in the microwave range so I'm not sure it's comparable with the radiomodems mentioned in the article using 900 MHz band. Cool stuff anyway!
  • no time penalty (Score:5, Interesting)

    by airConditionedGypsy (703864) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:06PM (#10250061)
    From the article:

    No time penalty is incurred during AES encryption or decryption.

    That's pretty interesting. Perhaps they meant to say that there is no additional processing overhead beyond that which is introduced by performing the full number of rounds for a 256 bit key in hardware.

    It seems you still need a shared secret. I assume it isn't doing any authenticated Diffie-Hellman to establish a session key.

    Sorry, it's just kind of irritating when you hear things like "security through encryption." Great. You get integrity protection and data confidentialy while the data is in trasit. There are many other opportunities for an attacker to get your data besides when it's flying around in mid-air.

  • it's 900MHz (Score:4, Informative)

    by Koyaanisqatsi (581196) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:07PM (#10250075)
    40 miles alone is not impressive, HAMs talk all over the world on less than a watt (QRP) routinely, on HF bands off-course

    But than I read this modem works on 900MHz, so that's quite a feat, worthy of a "Pringles can award"
  • /.ed (Score:3, Funny)

    by TarlCabbot (778401) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:08PM (#10250087)
    Looks like their web server went under a bridge.
  • by Omega1045 (584264) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:13PM (#10250125)
    Q: How can you tell if someone is a complete geek?

    A: If they say, "Something about using the AT command set to fire off a command 40 miles through the air amuses me."

  • is the world flat?
  • by leighklotz (192300) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:25PM (#10250230) Homepage
    In ham radio, there's a 1000 miles per watt [qrparci.org] award that's not particularly hard to get....I made 1842 miles per watt [wa5znu.org] (Palo Alto, California to Sakhalin Island in Russia) using a data modulation called PSK-31 [wa5znu.org] and a wire antenna on my roof, and just over 1000 miles per watt [wa5znu.org] from San Luis Obispo, CA to Estonia using CW [netwalk.com]: 5700 miles with 4.5 watts to a 28 foot wire thrown from a second-story window into a small tree, running on a pack of AA batteries.
    • True. QRP (low-power operation) is lots of fun. Just keep in mind that PSK31 is a whopping 31.25 bits/second. Not kbits, BITS. Works fine for keyboard-to-keyboard - I can out-type it, but I eventually run out of stuff to say and it'll catch up. Varicode makes it even more interesting - throw in some less common characters and it really slows down. Cartoon profanity (@&$@#$%&*!!!) gives it fits.

      Someone better at math (and less lazy) than myself could probably explain the bit about the amount o
      • Here's a nice link that might explain it:

        packetradio.com [packetradio.com]

        By comparing the small bandwidth of PSK31 and measuring its gain against a CW filter of 500 Hz; 10 * log (500/31) dB = 12 dB, quickly reveals that a CW transmitter must put out 15 to 18 times more power than a PSK31 transmitter, just to achieve the same signal to noise ratio at the receiving station. This is the reason the PSK31 operating mode has gained so much popularity in such a very short period.

        I work PSK31 occasionally and have worked Euro

  • Distant Horizon. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DunbarTheInept (764)
    On earth, the horizon is about 5 miles away if you are in a totally flat plain or ocean, and you're eyes are 6 feet up off the ground. Stand on top of a 100 foot tower and the horizon becomes 36 miles away. So, what planet is this 40-mile line of sight transmission designed for?
    • by pclminion (145572) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:46PM (#10250390)
      So, what planet is this 40-mile line of sight transmission designed for?

      Don't be cynical. I can look out my office window and see a mountain which is 65 miles away from here. The world is not a "totally flat plain or ocean."

      Do you live in the Midwest or something? The entire world isn't all like that, you know!

    • Two 100 foot towers comes to mind. Though that might need to be two 100 foot towers with a valley between them.

      Anyone planning a long haul like this would do well to read up on "fresnel zones". I have a 10mbit link that works well with more than 10 knots of wind. Below that the water between gets too shiny and the signal falls apart from multipath reflection problems.
    • by Zakabog (603757)
      Actually it's 40 miles in deep space, but if you've ever visited New York City? We have quite a number of buildings above 100ft. The top of my house is 100 feet from the ground, and I'm on a hill so that helps too.
  • I'm curious. . . What's the longest FSO (laser) link that anybody's heard of, and what's the throughput on it?
  • Cool Stuff (Score:2, Informative)

    by soapee01 (698313)
    I'm faimiliar with MaxStream, good company, good products. They even gave us a little student discount. Used their 9xStream in my senior design project. Great for low bandwidth/low power embedded applications and extremely easy to integrate (simple UART IIRC). Just pick your own protocol and let the radio do its magic (ie nothing but basic RF knowledge required). This makes me think about picking up that project again and seeing what the extra distance might do.
  • by don.g (6394) <{don} {at} {dis.org.nz}> on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @06:12PM (#10250587) Homepage
    I'm not really sure why this was worthy of a slashdot article -- judging by most of the posts, people are just complaining that it's slower than 802.11*.

    But that's not what it's aimed at. Look at the interface it has on the non-RF side: multidrop serial. It's designed for telemetry applications. And when you're doing telemetry, lower power usage is good (as you may be running off solar-charged batteries) and bandwidth needs are minimal - you're not going to need more than a few bytes for a current water level or similar :-)
  • With one of these at home, and one in your laptop you can run around town and have a direct connect back home to check your email with no surcharges..

    Been looking into using HAM packet radio for this very purpose..

    Or us it in the back 40 of your yard, where wifi is too weak..

    Its *plenty* fast enough for a terminal desktop session, connections to imap, etc...

    It didnt mention costs.. any ideas?


  • Receive sensitivity is good down to -110dBm which is just fantastic for a radio that size - Cisco Aironet cards are only good down to about -95dBm.

    HOWEVER ... have you looked at the noise floor for the 900MHz band in your area? Better bet its -100dBm minimum, maybe much worse if there are a good crop of 900MHz phones in the area, and woe unto you if a poorly maintained 929Mhz pager (250 watts!) is right near your stuff.

    Its not magic, but its cool - 9600 baud at a cheap price with a band that has

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