Brian's Blog

Brian Foster is new to blogging but definitely not new to talking about legacy devices and data connectivity. A former career submariner and Navy man, Brian brings an extremely organized mind, a willingness to work in a very small office, and a love of acronyms to his work. Check in with him and weigh in on what you think matters. Feel free to congratulate him on the 10 straight Navy wins in the annual Army/Navy game.

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USB in the Field

USB was intended to simplify and standardize the connection of computer peripherals.  It has proven to be a great improvement over RS-232.  Connectors have been standardized, devices are hot swappable, and many can even be powered by the host USB bus. But the devil is in the details. USB was designed for the office, not for troubleshooting equipment out in the field. BBAdmin | 10/10/2016 2:14:41 PM | 0 comments

Looking Up Certifications

There are times when our customers need an “official” document to certify compliance for a product, even if the same information appears on the product’s datasheet.   This is often the case for many of the European CE standards.  We make these additional documents readily available on our web site BBAdmin | 10/3/2016 8:45:02 AM | 0 comments

Looking Up Advantech B+B SmartWorx Certifications

Our datasheets normally include all of our certifications and compliance information, and the official documents that support these certifications are easy to find on our web site.  If you wanted to certify compliance with European CE standards, for example, you’d be able to find the appropriate documentation very quickly.
BBAdmin | 1/13/2016 8:23:51 AM | 0 comments

What's So Special About Dual-Band Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi can use both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies.  But all radio frequencies behave differently in different environments, depending upon the presence of things like reflective surfaces and the amount of moisture in the air. BBAdmin | 10/14/2015 2:21:05 PM | 0 comments

Well Grounded

The terms “2-Wire” and “4-Wire” are often used when discussing RS-422/485 installations.  These terms can be misleading, as they suggest that there is no need for an additional ground wire.  That isn’t the case.  Without proper grounding you’ll be vulnerable to common mode voltage transients that can compromise your data or damage your equipment. BBAdmin | 9/1/2015 1:11:38 PM | 8 comments

Value Added Modifications: A Horse of a Different Color

At B&B, part of our business model is to offer low cost customizations. Since we have our own factory here in Ottawa, IL – we can do this at some pretty low quantities also. You may ask, what exactly is a customization? It can be many things; a special connector, labels and packaging branded with your logo, different input power options, or even a different color. BBAdmin | 5/7/2015 12:06:28 PM | 0 comments

What is a Port Powered Serial Converter

A “port powered” converter is a serial conversion device used to convert RS-232 into RS-422 or RS-485. They are often used by field service technicians or even in cable harness assemblies.  The advantage of these devices is their compact size and the ability to take power directly from the RS-232 port. 
BBAdmin | 5/4/2015 3:16:20 PM | 0 comments

Isolation vs Surge Suppression for Serial Communications

Serial data communications lines can carry damaging electrical transients caused by anything from ground loops to lightning strikes. So where do you deploy isolation, and where do you use surge suppression? Brian Foster | 12/9/2014 12:00:00 AM | 0 comments

Input or Output, and Other Confusing Things About RS-232

I just got off a tech call with a customer that was as confused as confused can be. All over what I thought was a simple RS-232 concept. Thinking about it now, RS-232 is actually not that intuitive or easy. For someone that grew up on the modern convenience of Ethernet, I guess RS-232 can be just plain complicated. 
Brian Foster | 9/15/2014 12:45:11 PM | 0 comments

Special orders don’t upset us…

Product customization has always been core to B&B Electronics. Over the years, we have provided custom data communications products to a multitude of customers in virtually every market, including point of sale, oil and gas, weighing and measuring, industrial automation, military, and many more. 
Brian Foster | 6/6/2014 11:47:24 AM | 0 comments

Tech Tip for UE204 Ethernet Enabled USB Hub

We had a customer that changed the password on his UE204 and forgot it. Unfortunately, the only way to recover from this situation is to reset the product to its factory default condition.  BBAdmin | 4/24/2014 11:38:12 AM | 0 comments

Caught in the Vortex

I finally understand how the characters in the Stephen King novels must feel when they find themselves being attacked by unusual things like automobiles and hotels.  Just last Monday my own furnace tried to kill me. Brian Foster | 1/13/2014 10:00:00 AM | 0 comments

You Need USB Surge Suppression

USB has become so ubiquitous that it wouldn't surprise me to find a USB port on a bowl of bean dip. But any time you connect two devices with copper cable, you're creating a pathway that electrical transients can follow. Brian Foster | 7/15/2013 10:18:39 AM | 3 comments

You need to know your ABC’s – Especially in RS-485

Whether you’re wiring up a controller for the first time or stuck trying to figure out why an installation that has been working fine for many years suddenly refuses to communicate, it helps to understand the data line and how it is labeled. This is important because the positive and negative relationship between the lines must be maintained. Brian Foster | 7/11/2013 2:24:22 PM | 1 comments

If It’s Tuesday This Must Be the Czech Republic

USB isn’t just for the office anymore.  It’s being used in enterprise and industrial settings all over the planet.  But when you take it off the desktop it’s susceptible to EMI, ESD, and ground loops and you’re asking for trouble if you deploy it without the right precautions.  
Lynn Smith | 7/1/2012 10:32:57 AM | 0 comments