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Black Box Explains...Media converters.



Media converters interconnect different cable types such as twisted pair, fiber, and coax within an existing network. They are often used to connect newer Ethernet equipment to legacy cabling.... more/see it nowThey can also be used in pairs to insert a fiber segment into copper networks to increase cabling distances and enhance immunity to electromagnetic interference (EMI).


Traditional media converters are purely Layer 1 devices that only convert electrical signals and physical media. They don’t do anything to the data coming through the link so they’re totally transparent to data. These converters have two ports—one port for each media type. Layer 1 media converters only operate at one speed and cannot, for instance, support both 10-Mbps and 100-Mbps Ethernet.


Some media converters are more advanced Layer 2 Ethernet devices that, like traditional media converters, provide Layer 1 electrical and physical conversion. But, unlike traditional media converters, they also provide Layer 2 services—in other words, they’re really switches. This kind of media converter often has more than two ports, enabling you to, for instance, extend two or more copper links across a single fiber link. They also often feature autosensing ports on the copper side, making them useful for linking segments operating at different speeds.


Media converters are available in standalone models that convert between two different media types and in chassis-based models that connect many different media types in a single housing.




Rent an apartment

Standalone converters convert between two media. But, like a small apartment, they can be outgrown. Consider your current and future applications before selecting a media converter. Standalone converters are available in many configurations, including 10BASE-T to multimode or single-mode fiber, 10BASE-T to Thin coax (ThinNet), 10BASE-T to thick coax (standard Ethernet), CDDI to FDDI, and Thin coax to fiber. 100BASE-T and 100BASE-FX models that connect UTP to single- or multimode fiber are also available. With the development of Gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbps), media converters have been created to make the transition to high-speed networks easier.




...or buy a house.

Chassis-based or modular media converters are normally rackmountable and have slots that house media converter modules. Like a well-planned house, the chassis gives you room to grow. These are used when many Ethernet segments of different media types need to be connected in a central location. Modules are available for the same conversions performed by the standalone converters, and 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 100BASE-FX, and Gigabit modules may also be mixed.

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Black Box Explains...USB.

What is USB?
Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a royalty-free bus specification developed in the 1990s by leading manufacturers in the PC and telephony industries to support plug-and-play peripheral connections. USB... more/see it nowhas standardized how peripherals, such as keyboards, disk drivers, cameras, printers, and hubs) are connected to computers.

USB offers increased bandwidth, isochronous and asynchronous data transfer, and lower cost than older input/output ports. Designed to consolidate the cable clutter associated with multiple peripherals and ports, USB supports all types of computer- and telephone-related devices.

Universal Serial Bus (USB) USB detects and configures the new devices instantly.
Before USB, adding peripherals required skill. You had to open your computer to install a card, set DIP switches, and make IRQ settings. Now you can connect digital printers, recorders, backup drives, and other devices in seconds. USB detects and configures the new devices instantly.

Benefits of USB.
• USB is “universal.” Almost every device today has a USB port of some type.
• Convenient plug-and-play connections. No powering down. No rebooting.
• Power. USB supplies power so you don’t have to worry about adding power. The A socket supplies the power.
• Speed. USB is fast and getting faster. The original USB 1.0 had a data rate of 1.5 Mbps. USB 3.0 has a data rate of 4.8 Gbps.

USB Standards

USB 1.1
USB 1.1, introduced in 1995, is the original USB standard. It has two data rates: 12 Mbps (Full-Speed) for devices such as disk drives that need high-speed throughput and 1.5 Mbps (Low-Speed) for devices such as joysticks that need much lower bandwidth.

USB 2.0
In 2002, USB 2.0, (High-Speed) was introduced. This version is backward-compatible with USB 1.1. It increases the speed of the peripheral to PC connection from 12 Mbps to 480 Mbps, or 40 times faster than USB 1.1.

This increase in bandwidth enhances the use of external peripherals that require high throughput, such as printers, cameras, video equipment, and more. USB 2.0 supports demanding applications, such as Web publishing, in which multiple high-speed devices run simultaneously.

USB 3.0
USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed) (2008) provides vast improvements over USB 2.0. USB 3.0 has speeds up to 5 Gbps, nearly ten times that of USB 2.0. USB 3.0 adds a physical bus running in parallel with the existing 2.0 bus.

USB 3.0 is designed to be backward compatible with USB 2.0.

USB 3.0 Connector
USB 3.0 has a flat USB Type A plug, but inside there is an extra set of connectors and the edge of the plug is blue instead of white. The Type B plug looks different with an extra set of connectors. Type A plugs from USB 3.0 and 2.0 are designed to interoperate. USB 3.0 Type B plugs are larger than USB 2.0 plugs. USB 2.0 Type B plugs can be inserted into USB 3.0 receptacles, but the opposite is not possible.

USB 3.0 Cable
The USB 3.0 cable contains nine wires—four wire pairs plus a ground. It has two more data pairs than USB 2.0, which has one pair for data and one pair for power. The extra pairs enable USB 3.0 to support bidirectional asynchronous, full-duplex data transfer instead of USB 2.0’s half-duplex polling method.

USB 3.0 Power
USB 3.0 provides 50% more power than USB 2.0 (150 mA vs 100 mA) to unconfigured devices and up to 80% more power (900 mA vs 500 mA) to configured devices. It also conserves power too compared to USB 2.0, which uses power when the cable isn’t being used.

USB 3.1
Released in 2013, is called SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps. There are three main differentiators to USB 3.1. It doubles the data rate from 5 Gbps to 10 Gbps. It will use the new, under-development Type C connector, which is far smaller and designed for use with everything from laptops to mobile phones. The Type C connector is being touted as a single-cable solution for audio, video, data, and power. It will also have a reversible plug orientation. Lastly, will have bidirectional power delivery of up to 100 watts and power auto-negotiation. It is backward compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0, but an adapter is needed for the physical connection.

Transmission Rates
USB 3.0: 4.8 Gbps
USB 2.0: 480 Mbps
USB 1.1: 12 Mbps

Cable Length/Node
5 meters (3 meters for 3.0 devices requiring higher speeds).
Devices/bus: 127
Tier/bus: 5
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Black Box Explains... Spread Spectrum wireless technology.

Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum wireless communication provides error-free transmission, top security, and high levels of throughput without the need for an FCC site license. The key to Spread Spectrum is a... more/see it nowfrequency-hopping transceiver.

Narrow-band frequency hoppers use a predefined algorithm to maintain synchronization and high throughput between master and remote modems. They achieve this by continually switching or “hopping” from one transmission frequency to another throughout the Spread Spectrum band. The sequence of frequencies is very difficult to predict and thus nearly impossible to eavesdrop on or jam. If interference is encountered at any particular frequency, the built-in error correction detects it and resends the data packet at the next frequency hop. Because EMI/RFI interference rarely affects the entire available bandwidth, and each frequency hop is at least 6 MHz, the radio transmitter has access to as many as 100 frequencies within the spectrum to avoid interference and ensure that data gets through. collapse


Black Box Explains... Advantages of the MicroRACK system.

• Midplane architecture—Separate front and rear cards make changing interfaces easy.
• Multiple functions—Supports line drivers, interface converters, fiber modems, CSU/DSUs, and synchronous modem eliminators.
• Hot swappable—MicroRACK Cards can be replaced... more/see it nowwithout powering down, so you cut your network’s downtime.
• Two-, four-, and eight-port MicroRACKs—available for smaller or desktop installations. They’re just right for tight spaces that can’t accommodate a full-sized (16-port) rack.
• Optional dual cards—Some Mini Driver Cards have two drivers in one card. One MicroRACK chassis can hold up to 32 Mini Drivers!
• All standard connections available—DB25, RJ-11, RJ-45, fiber, V.35.
• Choose you own power supply—120–240 VAC, 12 VDC, 24 VDC, or 48 VDC. collapse


Black Box Explains...How MicroRACK Cards fit together.

Slide a function card into the front of the rack. Then slide a connector card in from the back. The rest is simple. Just press the cards together firmly inside... more/see it nowthe rack to seat the connectors.

Changing systems? It’s easy to change to a different connector card. Just contact us, and we’ll find the right connection for you.

Add a hot-swappable power supply (AC for normal operation, VDC for battery-powered sites), and you’re up and running. collapse


Black Box Explains...Selecting fiber line drivers.

When choosing a fiber driver, you should make a power budget, calculate the speed and distance of your cable run, and know the interface requirements of all your devices.

Many of... more/see it nowour fiber drivers are for single-mode fiber optic cable. Compared to multimode fiber, single-mode delivers up to 50 times more distance. And single-mode at full-duplex enables up to two times the data throughput of multimode fiber. collapse


Black Box Explains...How a line driver operates.

Driving data? Better check the transmission.

Line drivers can operate in any of four transmission modes: 4-wire full-duplex, 2-wire full-duplex, 4-wire half-duplex, and 2-wire half-duplex. In fact, most models support more... more/see it nowthan one type of operation.

So how do you know which line driver to use in your application?

The deal with duplexing.
First you must decide if you need half- or full-duplex transmission. In half-duplex transmission, voice or data signals are transmitted in only one direction at a time, In full-duplex operation, voice or data signals are transmitted in both directions at the same time. In both scenarios, the communications path support the full data rate.

The entire bandwidth is available for your transmission in half-duplex mode. In full-duplex mode, however, the bandwidth must be split in two because data travels in both directions simultaneously.

Two wires or not two wires? That is the question.
The second consideration you have is the type of twisted-pair cable you need to complete your data transmissions. Generally you need twisted-pair cable with either two or four wires. Often the type of cabling that’s already installed in a building dictates what kind of a line driver you use. For example, if two twisted pairs of UTP cabling are available, you can use a line driver that operates in 4-wire applications, such as the Short-Haul Modem-B Async or the Line Driver-Dual Handshake models. Otherwise, you might choose a line driver that works for 2-wire applications, such as the Short-Haul Modem-B 2W or the Async 2-Wire Short-Haul Modem.

If you have the capabilities to support both 2- and 4-wire operation in half- or full-duplex mode, we even offer line drivers that support all four types of operation.

As always, if you’re still unsure which operational mode will work for your particular applications, consult our Technical Support experts and they’ll help you make your decision. collapse


Black Box Explains...Multimode vs. single-mode Fiber.

Multimode, 50- and 62.5-micron cable.
Multimode cable has a large-diameter core and multiple pathways of light. It comes in two core sizes: 50-micron and 62.5-micron.

Multimode fiber optic cable can be... more/see it nowused for most general data and voice fiber applications, such as bringing fiber to the desktop, adding segments to an existing network, and in smaller applications such as alarm systems. Both 50- and 62.5-micron cable feature the same cladding diameter of 125 microns, but 50-micron fiber cable features a smaller core (the light-carrying portion of the fiber).

Although both can be used in the same way, 50-micron cable is recommended for premise applications (backbone, horizontal, and intrabuilding connections) and should be considered for any new construction and installations. Both also use either LED or laser light sources. The big difference between the two is that 50-micron cable provides longer link lengths and/or higher speeds, particularly in the 850-nm wavelength.

Single-mode, 8–10-micron cable.
Single-mode cable has a small, 8–10-micron glass core and only one pathway of light. With only a single wavelength of light passing through its core, single-mode cable realigns the light toward the center of the core instead of simply bouncing it off the edge of the core as multimode does.

Single-mode cable provides 50 times more distance than multimode cable. Consequently, single-mode cable is typically used in long-haul network connections spread out over extended areas, including cable television and campus backbone applications. Telcos use it for connections between switching offices. Single-mode cable also provides higher bandwidth, so you can use a pair of single-mode fiber strands full-duplex for up to twice the throughput of multimode fiber.

Specification comparison:

50-/125-Micron Multimode Fiber

850-nm Wavelength:
Bandwidth: 500 MHz/km;
Attenuation: 3.5 dB/km;
Distance: 550 m;

1300-nm Wavelength:
Bandwidth: 500 MHz/km;
Attenuation: 1.5 dB/km;
Distance: 550 m

62.5-/125-Miron Multimode Fiber

850-nm Wavelength:
Bandwidth: 160 MHz/km;
Attenuation: 3.5 dB/km;
Distance: 220 m;

1300-nm Wavelength:
Bandwidth: 500 MHz/km;
Attenuation: 1.5 dB/km;
Distance: 500 m

8–10-Micron Single-Mode Fiber

Premise Application:
Wavelength: 1310 nm and 1550 nm;
Attenuation: 1.0 dB/km;

Outside Plant Application:
Wavelength: 1310 nm and 1550 nm;
Attenuation: 0.1 dB/km collapse


Black Box Explains...RS-232.

RS-232, also known as RS-232C and TIA/EIA-232-E, is a group of electrical, functional, and mechanical specifications for serial interfaces between computers, terminals, and peripherals. The RS-232 standard was developed by... more/see it nowthe Electrical Industries Association (EIA), and defines requirements for connecting data communications equipment (DCE)—modems, converters, etc.—and data terminal equipment (DTE)—computers, controllers, etc.) devices. RS-232 transmits data at speeds up to 115 Kbps and over distances up to 50 feet (15.2 m).

The standard, which is functionally equivalent to ITU V.24/V.28, specifies the workings of the interface, circuitry, and connector pinning. Both sync and async binary data transmission fall under RS-232. Although RS-232 is sometimes still used to transmit data from PCs to peripheral devices, the most common uses today are for network console ports and for industrial devices.

Even though RS-232 is a “standard,” you can’t necessarily expect seamless communication between two RS-232 devices. Why? Because different devices have different circuitry or pinning, and different wires may be designated to perform different functions.

The typical RS-232 connector is DB25, but some PCs and other data communication devices have DB9 connectors and many newer devices have RJ-45 RS-232 ports. To connect 9-pin PC ports or RJ-45 to devices with 25-pin connectors, you will require a simple adapter cable. collapse


Black Box Explains... Industrial modem benefits.

Not all modems shuttle data in air-conditioned, climate-controlled comfort. And modems that operate in cozy environments have absolutely no business being exposed to harsh industrial conditions or to the elements.

But... more/see it nowjust because you work in a rough-and-tumble place doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the convenience of a good modem. Instead, you should opt for an industrial modem. There are many industrial modems built for various degrees of extremity.

Survivability depends on reliability.
Sure, standard modems give you access to data in remote sites or enable you to service equipment on the plant floor—and you can do all this from the convenience of your office. However, these benefits are only possible if your modem can continue to function in its environment. And since standard modems aren’t built for adverse conditions, they’re not going to be reliable.

No penalties for interference.
Electrical control equipment—such as motors, relays, compressors, and generators—emit electromagnetic interference (EMI) that can affect the performance and reliability of a standard telephone modem.

EMI is emitted through power lines, the RS-232 communications cable, or through the telephone line itself. The very means of data communication, cable, is often the worst enemy of the standard modems that use it.

An industrial modem, on the other hand, has filters and superior EMI immunity to protect itself and your data. If you build your electrical cabinets to UL® or CSA standards, remember that your modem must also conform to UL® standard 508.

They go to extremes.
Temperature is the biggest killer of electronic equipment in industrial environments. The heat generated by industrial equipment in sealed enclosures or where space is a premium can make the temperature as much as 50 °F higher than the surrounding environment.

So standard modems can’t take the heat. But what about being outdoors in the other extreme, cold weather? Well, standard modems can’t take the cold either.

If you install your equipment in remote outdoor locations, it must work on the coldest days— especially those cold days when you least want to get in the car and go to the site to repair a standard modem that froze up.

Whether they’re placed in manufacturing environments or the great outdoors, industrial modems get the data through when you need it. They go to extremes for you.

Heavy metal for all kinds of banging around.
Industrial modems are built with durable metal enclosures that protect circuitry in rough conditions and ward off signal-disrupting EMI. Plus, they feature steel-bolt flanges to anchor them. In short, industrial modems can take the physical, heavy-duty punishment thrown their way.

So where exactly can you use an industrial modem?
• Heavy industry and manufacturing
• Oil and gas fields
• Refineries
• Storage sites
• Utility substations
• Agricultural projects
• Military facilities
• Research installations
• Water/wastewater systems

…and another thing!
If dedicated copper lines can’t be run through industrial environments, or if the fiber optic option is cost-prohibitive, there are also wireless industrial modems that make line-of-sight connections. If there’s a way to get the data through, industrial modems will get the job done.

Industrial-strength assurance.
Industrial modems remain in service for a very long time. But if you ever need a replacement that is hardware or software compatible, be assured that Black Box continues to support its products year after year—so you don’t spend your time re-engineering systems if you have to make a replacement. collapse

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