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Blog: Introduction to Wireless Mesh

What is wireless mesh?

A wireless mesh network is one that is made up of separate inter-connected nodes that organise to form a communicating mesh topology through radio. In control and monitoring infrastructure, nodes are made up of adapters, interface modules, sensors and access points, which in turn enable devices to connect to each other and the World Wide Web, if desired. Nodes can be fixed or mobile, providing a diverse range of applications.

A traditional network topology will use routing and switching devices to move traffic from one device to another across a series of paths and bridges via wired and wireless technology. If one of these bridges (say, a switch) goes down, the entire pathway for a cluster of devices could go offline.

 

How does it work?

Nodes are programmed with software to tell them how to communicate and interact with the other nodes and other users on the network. Each node on a wireless mesh network also contains a small radio transmitter (using the same technology as a wireless router) that can communicate with users, access points and crucially, other nodes on the network.

When information is intended to pass from one section of the network it can do so in the shortest, easiest, or most logical wireless path as deemed by the wireless mesh software (known as dynamic routing).

Even if one node drops off (power failure, physical damage, software failure or for another reason) the information can still find its way to the destination due to the availability of other nodes on the network.

 

What are the features and benefits?

Wireless mesh reduces and often removes the reliance on powerful transmission antennas as each node of the mesh network acts as a relay point to ensure maximum wireless coverage is achieved. This ensures resilience and removes over-reliance on one radio antenna.

With wireless mesh there is a significantly lower requirement for network cabling, which in turn reduces the need for specially created cabling runs, trays, and building modifications. By reducing the physical infrastructure required and the labour to install it, wireless mesh becomes a very competitively priced option when cabling incurs high costs.

Because of the way the wireless mesh node data ‘hops’ from one to another and the abilities of radio signals to penetrate walls, doors, etc., there is no requirement for line of site and therefore wireless mesh can be used in non-traditional applications and unusual environments.

As wireless mesh nodes come online, they are able to learn about the network topology around them and effectively self-configure themselves. In addition, when one or more nodes drop off the network, nodes can heal by rerouting data and learning the new most efficient route.

Wireless mesh nodes, including the RDM line of wireless mesh products, are easy to install and uninstall, making networked control and monitoring set up easy and cost efficient.

 

RDM Solutions and Products

RDM supply a comprehensive number of wireless mesh products including access points, connection/probe modules, and stand-alone probes to complement our control and monitoring solutions.

Our PR0730 Wireless Mesh Interface Module adds wireless functionality via the Ethernet port on a compatible Mercury, Intuitive Mercury or Intuitive controller. Wireless Mesh functionality can be internally added to a Mercury Intuitive controller with the (PR0772) Internet Wireless Mesh Network Card.

The PR0731 devices add input and output to your control and monitoring strategy without the need for a controller. Our 2I2O module adds two inputs (analogue or digital) and two outputs, the 4I variation supports up to four separate inputs (configured as digital or analogue). For standalone product monitoring, the wireless mesh sensor (PR0773) records temperature data for up to 72 hours without access to the wireless mesh network.

RDM supply two access points for wireless mesh networks – one (PR0732) for connecting directly to an outside network and the other (PR0734) for connecting to a Data Manager or Intuitive TDB controller.

 

 

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