Choosing the Best Communication Method for LED Signs
LED signage is an important means of communication for businesses and organizations. As a digital sign owner, it is essential that you know how to communicate or deliver content to the screen.
There are many ways to communicate with your digital screen. An important factor that you must understand is that the display requirements depend on your specific type of installation. This will help you choose the right technology for your application. Email center manufacturers can provide some or all of these methods of communication with their displays.
These methods of communication may be: wired or wireless
Wired communication methods
LED signs were generally wired in the past using telephone modems or serial cables. Previously, this method was used because the panels were not as sophisticated and there was less data sent to the panel. As the technology evolved, panels required larger file sizes. Telephone and serial cable communications were replaced with an Ethernet or fiber optic network cable. Ethernet and fiber optics have become the standard wired method, while older options are used in special situations such as factory production floors.
1. Ethernet TCP / IP
The TCP / IP over Ethernet network is the most common method of communication.
This method uses the Ethernet communication card installed on your computer and used to communicate with the LED display. Most LED panel manufacturers offer this type of connectivity without special adapters. It is generally used for wall signs and street signs that are closer to the fall of the building or the network. Ethernet TCP / IP is more durable than optical fiber.
The Ethernet cable must not exceed 300 feet in length. If the distance is greater than 300 feet, extend it by connecting to an Ethernet hub or switch.
2. Fiber Optic Cable
Optical Fiber is a method of communication that uses fiber optic cables that use light to send information from your computer to the LED panel.
Optical fibers can go further and have a lower transmission delay. However, this is risky and expensive to run and repair. Military signages generally use this method of communication.
Distances up to 40 miles in single mode and 10 miles in multi-mode mode.
High speed communication for fast sending of large files
When you need to access the panel from a corporate network
When you need a method of communication at medium cost and high speed
3. Phone Modem
The telephone modem is a method of communication that uses a telephone line to communicate with the sign.
The communication speed is controlled by the modem and depends on the integrity of the telephone lines. The telephone company usually charges a fee for this access. Contact the local phone company to check if they have phone lines near the sign. Your computer also requires an external telephone modem to access the LED panel.
4. Series Cables
RS232: RS232 is a two-wire communication method. It’s a simple connection system, easy to use and install. It is used when only one LED screen is connected to the computer.
When the distance between the computer and the LED screen is less than 50 feet (15m)
When you communicate with the sign using a laptop.
When sending messages, no big files
RS485: RS485 is also a two-wire communication method. This can connect multiple LED signs to a computer. This connection is simple, easy to use and install. It requires the use of a converter since most computers do not have this port.
When the distance between the panel and the computer is less than 5000 feet (1500m) but greater than 50 feet.
When sending messages only
When connecting multiple screens using a single computer
Wireless Communication Methods
Wireless communication is best used for LED displays located within 100-200 meters of the transmission point. The site line should be clear, with no walls or buildings between the radios.
This method has a low cost of infrastructure to implement. Wireless communication methods for LED signaling vary in price, reliability and capacity.
Common frequency types:
900 Mhz: longer distance but slower data rate
2.4 Ghz: standard WiFi frequency
5 Ghz: higher data rate and more secure
1. Radio Frequency
Radio Frequency uses modems that operate in the 900 MHz range. It consists of a transmitter connected to the computer and a receiver that resides in the sign. This method is recommended for outdoor applications. Most manufacturers prefer this method because it allows a wide range of types of installation and does not require the installation of a duct in the ground.
There should be a clear line of sight between the transmitter computer and the LED panel.
Supports transmission distance of up to 2 miles.
2. Wireless Ethernet
Wireless Ethernet is sometimes called WiFi or a bridge. This method usually has data encryption or a key to access the network and prevent unauthorized access.
Using this method, a site survey is required to ensure that wireless Ethernet will work properly. There should be no excessive interference of the sign at the location of the transmitter.
When you need a broadband connection to send large video or image files to the sign.
Signage can be accessed from multiple computers or from one network to the enterprise scale.
3. Cellular Modem
The cellular modem method is gaining popularity but is still not used frequently. This allows access to the sign on the same data network as your smartphone (3g, 4g, LTE, etc.). It can be configured anywhere as long as the cellular signal is loud and available.
When using this method, a monthly “Data only” fee through a wireless service provider is required. The wireless carrier will then provide an external Internet IP address that the cellular modem (ATT, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint) will use. This cellular modem is connected to the panel with the help of a secure router. Messages to the sign are sent using the unique IP address.
For signs in controlled off-site and remote locations.
For a cloud-based content management system.
Communication with your sign is important. Understand the pros and cons of using each method before making a decision. Consult your reseller or manufacturer of trusted signs to ensure you receive the best solution and the best equipment possible.