Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I have to have line of sight to use these remote controls?
- Is it possible to keep a relay energized so the operator does not have to hold the button down for the equipment to run?
- How many remotes can “talk” to a receiver and do I have to do any programming to add remotes later on?
- If I have multiple pieces of equipment to control but they are in separate areas in my facility, can I use one transmitter to control them?
- I’d like to send a signal to a remote receiver but the signal would be automatically generated by a piece of equipment rather than manually generated by a person pressing a button – can I do that?
- How can I be sure the signal went through to the receiver if I can’t see what I am operating?
- What if I need more systems than the maximum number of operating frequencies allows?
Do I have to have line of sight to use these remote controls?
While the max ranges we say we can get is based on having clear line of sight, it is not necessary to have it when using our 2.4GHz or 900MHz RF remote controls. When your application involves obstacles, it simply means you probably won’t achieve the max range.
The RF signal can go around and/or penetrate many obstacles and different materials have varying effects. For instance, glass, wood and drywall have little effect on distance. Brick and block are harder to get through and solid metal is nearly impossible. Vegetation and ground don’t block signal, but they absorb the RF. Sometimes as much as 50% of the range is lost when transmitting through heavy vegetation.
There are several things we can do when obstacles pose a problem. One is to add strategically placed external high gain antennas. Another option is to choose a more powerful system. The other is to add a repeater between the transmitter and receiver. In some cases a combination of these options is necessary.
As always, we are happy to review the details of your application and provide suggestions for the most cost-effective solution.
Note: Ranges are estimates, based on free-air terrain with limited sources of interference. Actual range will vary based on transmitting power, orientation of transmitter and receiver, height of transmitting antenna, height of receiving antenna, weather conditions, interference sources in the area, and terrain between receiver and transmitter, including, but not limited to, indoor and outdoor structures such as walls, metal objects, trees, buildings, hills, and mountains.
Is it possible to keep a relay energized so the operator does not have to hold the button down for the equipment to run?
Yes indeed! In most receivers, there are some user-selectable relay modes. We also offer custom relay programming at no additional charge.
The default relay operation is “maintained momentary”. This means the relay is energized the entire time the corresponding is depressed or contact input is closed. When the button is released or the input opens, the relay will de-energize.
The relays in all models can be changed by the user to be “toggle latching”. A toggle latching relay is controlled by a single button on the transmitter. The relay changes and holds its state each time the button is momentarily depressed. So press and release once – relay is energized and latched closed. Press and release a second time, relay de-energizes and remains de-energized until the button is depressed again. Note we only recommend using this type of relay operation if it will be clear to the user what state the relay is in. Otherwise there is too much room for human error.
Which brings us to our third option – “latching”. A latching relay is controlled by two separate buttons. Momentarily pressing “button 1” energizes and latches the relay. Momentarily pressing “button 2” de-energizes the relay.
Although these are the most common choices for relay operation, they are only a portion of what we can offer. Here are a few more options:
- Timed relay activation – both on-delay and off-delay
- Dual relay activation
- Disabled relay options (relay(s) can’t be energized unless another condition has occurred
- Passcode required relays
- Plus many more options!
How many remotes can “talk” to a receiver and do I have to do any programming to add remotes later on?
As long as the frequency of all the units that are operating together as a system is the same, a virtually unlimited number of remotes can communicate with the receiver. You can also have different types of remotes (handheld or stationary) talking to the receiver. In fact, you can have any number of remotes AND receivers working together as a system. And the same is true of our 900Mhz controls.
Often people confuse the operating frequency with the RF channels. When using a four button transmitter with a four relay receiver, each button is sending a different RF channel code, but the units are operating on the same frequency. The only time you need to concern yourself with frequency is if you are adding a second SYSTEM that will be used in the same vicinity as an existing system and you wish to have no interference between the two.
The Air-Eagle SR has 8 operating frequencies. Any time a system is ordered it is shipped from the factory at the default of frequency #1. In most cases when adding remotes to a system, nothing needs to be done because most people don’t change the frequency of their original units when they install them. So unless you know for sure that the system you are adding units to is a different frequency, you need do nothing in the way of programming. .
If I have multiple pieces of equipment to control but they are in separate areas in my facility, can I use one transmitter to control them?
Yes you can! And you can control them either simultaneously or independently based on how the receivers are wired or in some cases by requesting free programming from us.
For example, say you have 4 lights at different points on your property and you wish to press a single button and have all of them come on at the same time. Simply purchase four single relay receivers, that by default respond to a “button 1” command and one single button transmitter. Wire each light to the single relay in the receiver and when the button on the transmitter is depressed, the relay in all four receivers will energize at once turning all the lights on simultaneously.
Now, say you have the four lights but you want to be able to turn them on separately. In this case you would purchase a four button transmitter and four 4-relay receivers. Each relay responds to the corresponding button on the transmitter, so by wiring light #1 to relay 1 in the first receiver, light #2 to relay 2 in the second receiver, light #3 to relay 3 in the third receiver etc. you can turn each light on independently by pressing the button number of the light you wish to operate.
Another example would be if you had two pieces of equipment, each needing to have four functions performed and they are not near each other. In this case, the most cost effective set-up would be to use one 8-button transmitter and two 4-relay receivers. The second of the two 4-relay receivers would be factory programmed to respond to commands from buttons 5 thru 8. (Programming like this is done at no charge). It would be assigned a separate model number for identification. Now you can use buttons 1-4 for receiver #1 and buttons 5-8 for receiver number two.
These are just a few examples of ways to use our remote controls effectively. We are always available to help you set up a system that is tailored to your needs so you can accomplish your goal using the least amount of equipment!
I’d like to send a signal to a remote receiver but the signal would be automatically generated by a piece of equipment rather than manually generated by a person pressing a button – can I do that?
Absolutely! We make stationary transmitters that can be triggered by a dry contact input device such as an external switch, relay or PLC. The transmission occurs automatically when there is closure on the input. These “contact input transmitters” models are available with one, four, eight or twenty independent channels. In some cases, the customer may prefer to supply voltage as a trigger. For these applications we can make the units accept either 120VAC or 5-24VDC to the terminal strip and when the voltage appears across the input the transmission goes out.
All of our stationary units can be customized to include manual controls for some or all of the channels. That gives a nice option for manual control when there is concern that a handheld transmitter may be too easily lost or destroyed.
The contact or voltage input transmitters can be powered by 120VAC, 9-36VDC or internal battery, and come equipped with a portable TNC “rubber duck” antenna. .
How can I be sure the signal went through to the receiver if I can’t see what I am operating?
There are two types of signal receipt feedback we can provide with our remote controls. One is a “confirmation only” feedback, the other is “true” feedback.
The confirmation only feedback tells you that the relay in the remote receiver energized. It doesn’t tell you that whatever the relay is controlling is actually running, just that the relay got the signal. We can give this type of feedback with a handheld transmitter, by means of a brief vibration or flashing LED or with a stationary transceiver, typically by way of a flashing LED.
The “true” feedback tells you that the relay in the remote receiver energized AND that the equipment is running. This type of feedback requires two transceivers. Transceivers have both dry contact inputs and relay outputs in one unit. In input command from the control transceiver transmits to energize the relay in the remote transceiver. At the remote transceiver, a dry contact “run” input from the equipment being operated is wired into the unit. When the equipment starts, it creates a closure on that input that automatically transmits back to the control transceiver and energizes the corresponding relay output. That relay output can be used to drive any audible or visual indicator of your choice, thus letting you know the remote equipment has indeed been actuated.
What if I need more systems than the maximum number of operating frequencies allows?
In addition to multiple frequencies, some units also have user-selectable digital addressing. The default digital address on every BWI Eagle model is “0”. So with all units, you would have either 7 (900MHz models) or 8 (2.4GHz models) frequencies available under digital address “0”. To add more than that, you would set the digital address of the next group of units to “1”. You then will have another 7 or 8 frequencies under digital address “1”. Each time you increment the digital address you have 7 or 8 additional frequencies. The user-selectable digital address models have 16 addresses so ultimately you can have 116 “900MHz” units (7 x 16) or 128 “2.4GHz” units operating side by side with no interference!