This guide provides information about how to install a set of Disruptive Technologies sensors and cloud connectors.
The goal of the installation is to achieve a robust sensor installation that can reliably deliver measurements in more than a decade without further maintenance.
No expert knowledge of sensors or radio equipment is required to achieve a high quality installation of sensors from Disruptive Technologies.
The focus of the guide is to provide practical advice, rule of thumb guidelines and suggestions based on installation experience. Depending on the actual installation environment these suggestions may not be optimal, but should be a decent trade off between required installation effort and achieved results.
The key element of a healthy installation is the connectivity between sensors and cloud connectors. Every sensor needs to have a decent signal to at least one Cloud Connector. As a rule of thumb, a Cloud Connector can be thought of as a high quality WiFi router with a similar coverage area.
As with all radio equipment installations, end results are a product of many factors of the environment that will influence the setup, such as :
- Radio interference and other radio signals
- Wall compositions, internal dry walls vs. thick outer walls or metal cabinet walls
- Density of people in area
- Height and layout of rooms and surfaces
To achieve the best results, the installation should be tested when the activity in the installation area is representative of normal use. E.g. if the installation is verified in an empty building, results may differ when the building is filled with people on a busy day.
In general it is better to add margins on connectivity than spend time optimising max distance between sensors and Cloud Connectors.
Quick Installation - Step by Step
Setting up Cloud Connectors and Sensors
What you will need to carry out an installation
Step 1 : Plug in Cloud Connector
Place the Cloud Connector high on the wall. Avoid placing it in metal cabinets or behind metal doors.
Place the Cloud Connector in the middle of the installation area.
Placing the Cloud in the corner of the installation will limit the achieved range.
Step 2 : Look for white cloud on Cloud Connector
If a white cloud symbol appears on the Cloud Connector, it has successfully connected to the Cloud. The dots beneath the cloud symbol indicate the cellular signal strength.
If a Red Cloud appears on the Cloud Connector, go to troubleshooting.
Step 3 : See sensors in Studio, close to Cloud Connector
- Go to www.studio.disruptive-technologies.com
- Navigate to the project you are currently installing
- Go to Sensors & Connectors in the project
- Press Identify Sensor within DT Studio
- Press the physical sensor
This will bring up the detail view for the sensor that has just been pressed. Confirm that the signal strength is strong.
If you are not able to identify your sensor or the reported signal strength is weak, go to troubleshooting.
Step 4 : Check range at installation point
- Bring your sensor to the installation point
- Mount the sensor with the non-permanent adhesive included in your kit
- Verify the range by pressing the sensor and seeing a response in DT Studio
If the sensor does not report at the installation point (no signal icon) or the sensor reports in boost mode (boost icon) we recommend installing an additional Cloud Connector to ensure coverage.
Step 5 : Place sensors
Peel and stick to surface
The sensors are equipped with a strong adhesive for permanent installation. When the final location is verified, make sure the surface is clean and dust free. Peel the protective film from the backside of the sensor and place it. Firm application pressure helps develop better adhesive contact and improve bond strength.
Placement on metal
If a sensor is placed directly on a metal surface the wireless range will be severely affected, therefore some caution is needed for such placements. In cases where there is considerable distance between the Sensor and Cloud Connector we recommend to not place sensors directly on metal. If the installation point requires placement on metal and wireless range is crusial, the sensor should either be placed halfway on metal or an installation bracket orienting the sensor perpendicular to the metal surface should be used (see illustration below). For more information on sensor placements on metal goto Range in various environments.
Name the sensor
We highly recommend to name the sensors when placed. The naming of sensors is done in DT Studio.
When placing a door sensor, place the sensor in the top part of the door frame on the opposite side of the hinge. This placement ensures minimal dust build-up on the sensor and allows the sensor to detect slight door openings.
The Door Sensor can robustly detect objects 2mm from the surface of the sensor.
Recommended temperature range for robust operation
The Door Sensor has a recommended operating temperature range of 3 to 50 degrees celsius (37.4–122 °F).
Avoid buildup of condensation and ice on the sensor as this may trigger false detections. Also avoid placement where dust and dirt will set on surface.
Due to the small size and a robust build, the temperature sensor can be placed practically anywhere you wish to measure temperature.
Avoid heat sources when measuring room temperature
Avoid surfaces with direct sunlight or heated surfaces if you want accurate representation of room temperature.
Also note that the thin double sided tape on the back of the sensor will attach the sensor close to the mounting surface with a relatively low thermal resistance. This means that for installations on surfaces with high thermal capacity (e.g. a concrete wall), temperature measurements will not be representative of the air temperature. For mounting options with increased thermal resistance, please visit Mounting DT Wireless Sensors.
Place the sensor so it is easily accessible at a sensible height, depending on use.
Avoid placing the sensors where it can be covered by books, paper or other objects.
Step 6 : Verify device list in DT Studio
The last step is to open up the project you are currently installing in DT Studio and verify that all sensors are reporting and that the signal strength for the whole installation is good.
If all sensors are reporting with no warnings or indications on the signal strength, the installation is complete. If one or more sensors are in boost mode(boost icon) or are not reporting (no signal icon), go to troubleshooting.
If a sensor is transmitting in boost mode (boost icon), using high energy transmissions, the sensor will be listed as shown below. The warning indicator highlights that this should be looked into.
Placing an additional Cloud Connector closer to the sensor in boost mode (boost icon) will allow the sensor to report in normal mode. The sensor transitions between transmission modes automatically.
Range in various environments
To achieve a healthy installation, the critical factor is radio connectivity between the sensors and the Cloud Connector. The key factors to consider when placing Cloud Connectors in addition to distance are :
Materials in walls and ceilings.
- Metal acts as a mirror to radio waves and can both block signals in some directions and reflect them further in another direction.
- Drywalls dampens signals slightly, whereas brick walls dampens signals significantly.
- Simple windows may let signals through with little loss, whereas tinted glass or modern windows with UV-blocking coatings may cause significant signal loss or act as signal-mirrors.
Material of the surface where the sensor is fixed
- If sensors are placed directly onto metal surfaces signal strength will suffer and result in reduced range. For such installations a plastic bracket orienting the sensor perpendicular to the metal surface should be considered.
Alternatively if the installation surface is partially metal, i.e. a metal sheet incorporated in a wooden structure, placing the sensor half way on the metal surface and half way on the wooden surface will positively effect the sensors internal antenna, resulting in better range.
- If mounting the sensor directly on metal can not be avoided, beware of reduced range. E.g. for detecting the opening and closing of a metal door, the Cloud Connector might need to be placed closer to this sensor than sensors placed on other materials.
Line of sight vs. indirect signal paths
- The more complex the geometry of the installation site, the more difficult it is to predict the signal paths. In some cases such as concrete shafts, the signal may bounce its way along the channel.
Unblocked signal paths
- It is alway better for the sensor to have as little obstruction between it and the Cloud Connector as possible. In environments where people and trolleys / crates etc. move around, signal strength may vary significantly depending on time of day and activity. Placing Cloud Connectors high in the environment reduces many of these effects.
Avoiding closed metal boxes
- Metal reflects radio signals. A completely closed metal box will drastically reduce range. Placing sensors in rooms with metal floor, walls and ceilings will need a Cloud Connector inside the room, and in many cases will require the Cloud Connector to be connected through ethernet.
- Closed fridges and freezers generally have non-metallic openings, such as flexible material around doors and hinges. The signal can thus escape the metal case, but not without loss.
- The Cloud Connector should not be placed in a metal cabinet, such as a power installation cabinet.
Noise in the environment
- In a room full of people speaking at the same time, it is hard to hear anyone but the person next to you. If range is far below expectations in direct-line-of-sight setups, background radio noise should be investigated. Damaged or low quality radio equipment may be sources of noise.
For a more detailed introduction to Range and Cloud Connector placement, see separate white paper on Range.
Radio transmission modes
The sensors and Cloud Connectors can communicate in different radio modes. The normal mode is optimized for low energy usage. If the sensor is unable to reach the Cloud Connector in the normal mode, it will try a different high energy mode, referred to as “Boost” as it will boost the communication range. In DT Studio, sensors transmitting in boost mode have yellow warning signs on their signal indicators (boost icon).
In Boost mode the sensors use a different channel, spends longer on transmission and thus drains more energy from the battery. The slower transmission mode and higher latency translates into better range.
In an attempt at getting measurements through when the installation provides insufficient connectivity between the sensor and the Cloud Connector, the sensor will thus trade off energy use for increased range. If sensors often fall back to Boost mode, this is an indication that the installation should be modified. Better placement of and possibly additional Cloud Connectors should be considered. A sensor constantly staying in boost mode will have its life expectancy reduced to around a fifth.
Number of Cloud Connectors required
While planning an installation a conservative estimate is that a Cloud Connector will cover 200 square meters, similar to a high end WiFi base station. In some environments, such as tall spacious rooms, much larger areas can be covered by a single Cloud Connector.
The ideal way to decide on the number of required Cloud Connectors is thus to perform a trial installation in a representative installation environment and use the initial trial to extrapolate numbers for a complete installation.
DT Studio has an interactive feature which displays the connectivity between a selected sensor and each of the Cloud Connector that picks up its signal:
Open this view by clicking the “DETAILS” link underneath the connectivity bar on the sensor detail page. Whenever the sensor is touched, an updated reading of signal strength from each Cloud Connector will be displayed.
As holding a sensors in your hand influences radio signals it is recommended that the sensor be placed onto a surface matching the target installation and then touched.
When moving away from the Cloud Connector, signal strength will drop depending on the sensors distance from the Cloud Connector as well as the signal reflection in the environment. At some point sensors will resort to Boost mode and eventually not get through at all. Place more Cloud Connectors until the installation area is sufficiently covered.
For increased reliability, let each sensor reach two or more Cloud Connectors.
Multiple floors, covering large areas.
When covering building over multiple floors, consider that placement of a Cloud Connector on one floor may give some coverage at the floor above and below. The coverage will depend on the construction of the building, especially the material of the floors. Try placing Cloud Connectors on each floor shifted horizontally to maximize the signal coverage.
Tools supporting installation and verification
DT Studio on mobile
DT Studio will show signal strength as a number of bars for each sensor and whether the sensor is operating in normal or high power (Boost) mode.
The UI is optimized to work on a mobile phone and can be used as an interactive tool to inspect the signal range in the target environment.
When touched, each sensor will trigger a Connectivity Status update to DT Studio.
After having placed the Cloud Connector, a rough outline of the coverage area around the Cloud Connector can be found by carrying a sensor around - regularly pressing it to check connectivity at that spot.
Cloud Connector Mode for activity monitor
If a sensor is not responding, the Cloud Connector has an activity monitor mode, which can be used to verify that a Sensor is transmitting.
Use this to confirm that the sensor is operational.
Cloud Connector installation
Installing a Cloud Connector is as easy as plugging it into a power socket. The Cloud Connector will start and connect to DT Cloud via its built in cellular modem. When the white cloud indicator lights up, the connector will be ready to act as a gateway for sensors around it.
Cloud Connector mounting
To maximize the value of the cloud connector, provide it with direct signal path to the sensors
- Place it high up on a wall or right above ceiling panels
- Place it in the center of the room / area to cover
- Do not place it in a metal cage
- Do not place it in a bundle of power cords and next to other equipment emitting radio noise
- Rather use an extension cable, than accepting a sub-optimal location.
Cloud Connector cellular connection
When the Cloud Connector is connected through the cellular modem, we recommend reviewing the connection after some time. DT Studio provides historical data on the Cloud Connector cellular connectivity.
The illustration below shows one acceptable installation with a slightly low average signal strength, but with few connection drop-outs, and one unacceptable installation where the signal strength is sufficient, but connection drop-outs occur periodically. Periodic drop-outs like this, may indicate that the power socket in use is powered down each night, and is not suitable to power the Cloud Connector.
Cloud Connector ethernet network requirements
If high-quality ethernet access to the internet is available, the Cloud Connector would benefit from being connected via this vs. the built-in cellular modem.
- Cellular modem latency is generally higher than land-based cable access.
- Cellular signal strength is an additional factor that can influence the robustness
- The Cloud Connector will still fall back to cellular if the ethernet provided does not perform well enough.
Please make sure that DHCP is activated on the Ethernet network - the Cloud Connector will ask for an IP address automatically when connected.
Sensor not reporting
- Bring sensor close to Cloud Connector and see if it will start reporting. It may take several hours before the sensor will automatically detect and reconnect to the network if it has been completely offline for an extended period of time
- Use the Cloud Connector activity mode to verify if the sensor is transmitting. Go to www.d21s.com/help to learn how to initiate the activity monitor.
Too much boost mode traffic
- If caused by low signal
- Add Cloud Connectors
- If possible move sensor into line-of-sight or similar better placement
- Move existing Cloud Connector - e.g. middle-of-the room, above the ceiling.
- If caused by other issues
- Make sure the Cloud Connectors has good cellular connectivity. If the connectivity between the Cloud Connector and the cloud is intermittent, this will generate boost mode traffic even if the reception between the Cloud Connector and the Sensor is good
- Measure signal background noise to establish if the environment is noise challenged.
- Get in touch with DT personnel to help debug the situation.
Cloud Connector Offline
Goto www.d21s.com/help for a comprehensive troubleshooting guide for the Cloud Connector.
Network security configuration
When connecting the Cloud Connector to the local network via ethernet, the network security configuration must allow the Cloud Connector to access required network ports and resources :
- Port 123 udp - For NTP time synchronisation.
- Port 53 udp - For DNS name resolution
- *.resin.io port 80, 443
- *.pubnub.com port 80, 443
- sds-receiver-grpc.prod.disruptive-technologies.com port 443
- ccon-manager.prod.disruptive-technologies.com port 443