The Sky(wire) that Stayed Out in the Cold

You can’t watch the news these days without noticing how many places are experiencing unprecedented extremes of weather. There have been hurricanes and typhoons along the coasts, tornadoes inland, and unprecedented cold just about everywhere. Here in Minnesota, where NimbeLink lives, sub-freezing, even sub-zero temperatures are not unusual, though the bitterest temperatures seem to have arrived a bit earlier than we’d normally expect, and that’s given us a chance to freeze test the TextAlert cellular remote monitoring system and the new Skywire plug-in cellular modem.

The Skywire modem is being used in all new TextAlert cellular monitoring devices, and since a lot of TextAlert applications expose the system to extremes of temperature we wanted to make sure it would work. The specs say it should, but there’s nothing like a night out in sub-zero temps in the Great White North to put those theoretical numbers to the test. The test was set up as follows:

The Skywire-equipped TextAlert with internal temperature sensor was deployed outside in a standard outdoor box. The box is designed solely to protect the device from rain and snow, but is unheated, so the temperature inside the box mirrors that outside. TextAlert was equipped with its standard, rechargeable, internal 9-volt battery. The device stayed out all night in temperatures that reached -22°C (-8°F), actual temperatures, not wind chill, which was considerably lower. The system was tested first thing the next morning, started without a hiccup, took an accurate temperature reading, made the expected cellular connection, reported the sensor data, and ran for three hours without external power.

Frankly, we weren’t all that surprised, since the system—sensors, gateway components, modem, etc.—was specifically designed for the kind of challenging conditions found in agricultural, construction, and similar applications. Still, it’s nice to have your faith in carefully selected components justified at 40 degrees Fahrenheit below freezing.