Sierra Wireless Raven XT Definitively Back In Production And Available Now

If you power the cell modem that you are using for remote monitoring using a solar array, you can breathe a sigh of relief. It is a very common complaint from our clientele that they have had issues with the power requirements of cellular modems, routers and gateways, but an old favorite is coming back

In March, Sierra Wireless will definitively re-start production of the Sierra Wireless AirLink Raven XT (V2227-VD and V2227-VA) for the Verizon Wireless EVDO Rev-A (CDMA) network. For those of us who actively serve clients who are powering their wireless data acquisition devices “off-the-grid” using solar panels or wind turbines, this is very good news because the AirLink Raven XT sips power like a hummingbird. It sets the bar of a cellular device with low power requirements.

The Sierra Wireless next generation product lines, the LS300 and the GX440 are excellent devices but their power draw is very high compared to the Raven XT. (These two devices can be put into “low power mode” as a work-around.) However, many hours have been spent trying to find a top-tier cell modem replacement for the Raven XT with an equally low power consumption. We were able to get close in comparison, but not quite there…

But now we don’t need to! The Raven XT V2227, with its very small foot-print and attractive power draw is back. When the NEW units ship, they will have a slightly different part number. However, our company has stock now on the Raven XT V2227 in limited quantities.

The device can be procured with immediate availability here.

Sierra Wireless Raven X Power Issue

Recently, we have had reports regarding “blown” power supply circuitry with Sierra Wireless AirLink Raven X cellular gateways. Sierra Wireless states that this is a  known issue, albeit a small one, with the power supply circuit on the Raven X modems manifesting the issue in approximately 1% of all Raven X’s sold early-to-mid 2012.

NOTE:  Raven X’s with this issue may fail at any time. Some evidence points to the fact that higher supply voltage (24 Vdc versus 12 Vdc) stresses the faulty circuitry more and makes the issue more likely to manifest.

All modems exhibiting this issue should be returned to Sierra Wireless  and will be repaired at no charge under Sierra Wireless’s warranty program. The device will be repaired or the unit will be replaced.  The issue has be traced to a faulty component, so once the unit has been repaired, the issue will be mitigated.

This technical issue is very similar to an earlier power circuitry problem with the GX line that Sierra Wireless has since rectified.

Installing A SIM Into A Sierra Wireless GX400W Or GX440W With WiFi

Many of our clients who order Sierra Wireless AirLink GX400 or GX440 cellular gateways with WiFi (like these models 1101531,  1101691 ) find out the hard way that the SIM is very difficult to install. The SIM does not come pre-installed, and the process is not quick to perform. Do it incorrectly or incompetently and risk doing damage to the device itself.  I highly recommend opting to have the SIM installed at the time of sale. Companies like USAT Corp. do that service for a very nominal fee and it comes as a standard part of the device provisioning (DevProv+) professional services. However, if you find yourself in the situation of having to install the SIM yourself, know this key information:

The SIM slot is located on the front left (as you are looking at the side with the lights and the reset button) behind the plastic cover. To access the SIM slot on the device you must remove the plastic cover with a 2mm or 5/64” hexagon Allen wrench.

Step 1: Unplug your GX400/440 from power source.

Step 2: Remove the four hex screws on top of the unit (used to secure the black cover) using a 2mm or 5/64” size Allen (hex) wrench. Place screws in a safe spot, these screws will be used again.

Step 3: Remove the nut and washer from the front facing SMA connector using a 5/16 or 8mm socket torque wrench to a torque spec of 8in-lbs. Place nut and washer in a safe spot, these will be used again.

Step 4: Slide the top black cover off of the device.

Step 5: Install the SIM card with the gold contacts facing down and the cut-out facing to the right.

Re-Installing The Cover Plate

The cover has a tab to mechanically secure the SIM in place during extreme vibration. When replacing the cover:

Step 1: Install the black cover by lining up the SMA antenna connector with the hole in the cover, tilt the rear of the cover slightly to make sure the front bottom of the cover seats in the front ridge, and then push the top of the cover down.

Step 2: Re-install the 4 hex screws on top of the unit.

Step 3: Place the lock washer onto the SMA antenna connector and push to the face of the cover.

Step 4: Install then tighten nut with a 5/16 or 8mm socket torque wrench to a torque spec of 8in-lbs.

End-Of-Life For Sierra Wireless AirLink Raven X Sooner Than Expected

To borrow from Edgar Allen Poe, Quoth the raven, “nevermore”

Sierra Wireless has made it official this week that the AirLink Raven X line is going end-of-life (EOL) sooner than their past manufacturing roadmaps indicated. For Raven X the date for the last order placement has been pegged at June 30th 2013. For Raven XT (Verizon Wireless) the date is May 31st.  For Raven XE the date is August 31st.

The Sierra Wireless AirLink Raven X, XT, and XT has long been the standard for M2M cell modems in use for Smart Grid applications in the U.S.A..  Sierra Wireless has released the Sierra Wireless AirLink LS300 (1101489, 1101490, 1101491) cell modem as a replacement for this line and many of utility industry clients are currently testing it. Feedback has been good so far, but change is never easy, especially for utility and energy companies where long test-cycles are a part of the best practices.

Is Sierra Wireless going to be firm with their scheduled sunset of the ultra-profitable Raven X line? My inclination is no, however, prudence dictates that the alternative LS300, GX400, and GX440 be tested immediately in order to move them through the standards department and into production.

Sierra Wireless Airlink LS300 Is Available

For those who are interested in keeping informed about the latest wireless connectivity options available for electric utility distribution automation and transmission automation, there are many exciting developments at DistribuTECH 2013. Today at DistribuTech in San Diego, Sierra Wireless announced the immediate availability of their new, ultra-compact, intelligent modem, the Sierra Wireless Airlink LS300. With external dimensions of about 3′ by 3.5″ this wireless gateway is a smaller footprint than the Raven X or the GX400/440, which means it fits well into environmental enclosures and NEMA cabinets. Although the Sierra Wireless LS300 is small in size, it is very rich in features. It has an Ethernet port, a serial port (on the side) and also contains a GPS reciever. The price of this device is  less than the Raven X and the GX400 platforms even though it exceeds or matches the feature set of both of these cellular network devices. Clearly, the intent of Sierra Wireless with the Airlink LS300 is that this device will replace the Airlink Raven X going forward. Key clients have already been seeded with test/demo units of the Sierra Wireless Airlink LS300. For those evaluating  M2M communication device, the LS300 is  worth considering when researching cellular Ethernet/serial gateways. It is worth noting that the Sierra Wireless Airlink LS300 is available only for the Verizon Wireless and AT&T 3G cellular networks, not their LTE networks. Clients that want LTE will have to opt for the Sierra Wireless Airlink GX440.

See more information about the Sierra Wireless Airlink LS300 here http://usatcorp.com/line/sierra-wireless/airlink-ls300.

CradlePoint Improves GPS Functionality On Some COR IBR600 4G/3G WWAN Routers

For those who were disappointed with the limited GPS functionality in the first release of the CradlePoint COR IBR600, know that CradlePoint has released a new version that should address the GPS functionality limitations inherent in their first design. CradlePoint has released a redesigned version, the COR IBR600LE-PWD for Verizon Wireless (VZW) and the CORIBR600LP-PWD for AT&T, that has active, powered GPS. What this means is that for these two models a separate GPS co-ax connector is present so that a fully-powered external GPS antenna can be used. This feature set upgrade is crucial for any application that needs real-time long/lat data.

Issues For M2M Devices Using The Sierra Wireless AirPrime MC7750

After getting sporadic reports of issues from our clients using Verizon Wireless 4G LTE devices, we have worked with our manufacturer partners and VZW to connect the dots. Here are the facts. There is an issue with the Qualcomm chipset used on the Sierra Wireless AirPrime MC7750 LTE radio module. The chipset issue does not manifest in all geographical regions, but when it does the following problem can be experienced:

4G WWAN devices have trouble staying connected to the Verizon Wireless network. Apparently, if the device drops out of 4G coverage into 3G coverage, it then has a problem reconnecting. We have seen clients experience this scenario using devices as diverse as a Panasonic Toughbook H2 with embedded VZW LTE, the Sierra Wireless AirLink GX440 1101414, 1101413, 1101531, 1101530 and the CradlePoint IBR600-LE.

Currently, we have been informed by contacts Panasonic and Sierra  Wireless that a firmware fix will be available for this issue at the end of November. VZW confirms that these devices are in their labs and that a November date is accurate for VZW to finish necessary testing.

After the new firmware is available, detailed instructions will be posted here to explain how the fix can be applied. It is strange that initial carrier certification testing did not expose this potential issue…

 

Transmitting GPS Data Using Sierra Wireless's GX400/GX440 With WIFI

Recently, a client had a question about whether GPS data could be transmitted to a laptop wirelessly using the wireless LAN access point built into the the GX400 or GX440. The answer is “yes, you do not need to use the an Ethernet cable to pass this data.” More info on how to set this up can be seen at USAT’s Common Questions page. 

Please remember that NOT ALL of the Sierra Wireless AirLink GX400 and GX440 line contain WiFi access point functionality. This feature is limited to the following Sierra Wireless GX400/GX440 part numbers:

  • 1101524
  •  1101525
  • 1101522
  • 1101523
  • 1101529
  • 1101528
  • 1101530
  • 1101531
  • 1101690
  • 1101691

The MP597W and the MP890 can be set up in much the same way.

 

Static IP For AT&T LTE Not Yet An Option

Since the the Sierra Wireless GX440 for AT&T LTE was just released, I’ve been making some inquiries to ensure that our projects involving this device proceed very smoothly. Two bits of info that I would like to share:

  • A special SIM for AT&T LTE will be required to run on the AT&T LTE network the SIM that we used for 2G/3G deployments will not work.
  • At this time AT&T’s LTE Network does not support CCS or I2Gold. What this means is that Static IPs are not yet available on the AT&T LTE network. A resolution is being worked on and I hope to have an update on this to share soon.

Sierra Wireless AirLink Releases GX440 4G LTE AT&T Gateway

Sierra Wireless released the GX440 4G LTE device for the AT&T network today, doubling the GX-line’s options for operating on LTE. The part numbers and manufacturer suggested pricing follows. See more details here.

1101689

GX440   LTE/HSPA+ AT&T (incl. AC power cable and 5 year warranty)

$799

1101688

GX440   LTE/HSPA+ AT&T (incl. DC power cable and 5 year warranty)

$799

GX 440 WiFi

1101690

GX440   WiFi LTE/HSPA+ AT&T  (incl. AC power cable and 5 year warranty)

$899

1101691

GX440   WiFi LTE/HSPA+ AT&T  (incl. DC power cable and 5 year warranty)

$899