Irrometer’s IRROmesh product is a wireless soil moisture data collection system for managing irrigation. The original design used GSM cellular modems for worldwide application, but increasing domestic demand was driving the need to access CDMA networks. But the move to CDMA wouldn’t be as simple as just switching modems.
Because IRROmesh is deployed in farm fields and runs on a small solar power collector, energy efficiency was critical. Firmware controls the modem’s sleep/wake cycle, operating for just seconds every hour to conserve power. “The vendor of our GSM modem didn’t have a CDMA option, so we needed both a new modem and a partner that could help us develop entirely new code,” says Irrometer President Tom Penning. “We looked at numerous modem providers and their abilities to help write the many commands the new firmware would require. NimbeLink’s Skywire™ modem was compact, had reasonable power requirements, and had the best documentation. Equally important, their engineers seemed both interested and capable of working with us in an agriculture application.”
NimbeLink not only had a compatible base modem package with the communication and power requirements we needed, but fit nicely into our existing enclosure. Having a vendor with the right product and a cooperative attitude is key.
~ Irrometer President Tom Penning
NimbeLink worked closely with Irrometer over several months to develop hardware and software for Irrometer’s CDMA-based offering. The end result, which Tom Penning describes as a “plug and play” solution, utilized NimbeLink’s Skywire S2C Link, which takes serial output and converts it to cellular signaling for upload to the CDMA network. “NimbeLink not only had a compatible base modem package with the communication and power requirements we needed, but fit nicely into our existing enclosure. Having a vendor with the right product and a cooperative attitude is key,” says Penning.
Irrometer has begun shipping the CDMA version of the IRROmesh product and is anticipating excellent sales in the U.S. Midwest and South, where CDMA coverage is strong in rural markets. “We are currently shipping more units of the new version than our existing GSM version,” says Penning. “Performance is comparable to the GSM version; it’s working as expected, is very stable, and is being well received in the market. Working with NimbeLink we learned the importance of comparing specs of product offerings and choosing a well-documented product that simplifies firmware development.”