View Full Version : Wireless networking in shop environment

07-04-2003, 08:22 PM
I'm thinking of adding a computer or two on the shop floor networked to the office to make updating production lists and manuals more streamlined.

I was thinking wireless might be cool. Any reasons why not?

07-05-2003, 12:19 AM
*Most* of the time I am able to link up to the wireless hub in the house which is about 30 feet away and through 2 walls. I am running a NetGear 8.11g setup, which is 2.4 GHz. At the moment...the woman is on the 2.4G phone and it steps all over the reception of the card...so I just jacked into my wired LAN in the shop to write this
There is a 5.4G version which is known as 8.11a (I believe...), but there are also 5.4G phones on the market as well.

As far as interference goes, it's hit or miss. I would recommend using a wired connection because not being able to connect to a hub/card that you spent $250+ on is mighty frustrating. Not only that, but if you don't configure security on your wireless hub, any toad in your parking lot can get into your network...


07-05-2003, 08:27 PM
I've heard that you need to be careful when using your computer that runs your shopbot on a network. Some folks have said something about the bot hanging sometimes during a cut. It kind of makes sense because Intel based computers use interupts to gain control of the processor for short periods of time. It stands to reason that the fewer devices competing for processor time the better.

My 2 cents

07-05-2003, 08:48 PM
I run three of my computers on a wired network with NO problem.It became necessary when the 3D file sizes got too large to move back and forth without burning CD's.
I just make it a point not to transfer any data while I am in the middle of running any files. I transfer the files from my office/design machine to either of the two 'Bots, and then just run the file. I was also afraid of electrical interference with a wireless system. As long as you make sure that you only "share" those folders that are specific to your work I think you'll be fine..

07-06-2003, 03:12 PM
my 'bot is run with a laptop mounted on the y-carriage. it's networked with a wireless pcmcia card and I don't have any trouble.


07-08-2003, 10:41 PM
My shop and bot are about five miles from my home office which makes networking impractical without tying up phone lines. I got a "pocket hard drive"
that is USB and 128 mb. Simply load it, take it with me to the shop and plug it into a USB port and my files are there.

07-13-2003, 12:40 PM
I'm running my ShopBot with the Windows beta software on a notebook linked to my workstation by wireless. I design on the workstation and then save the .sbp files to the notebook. No problems so far.

07-14-2003, 02:22 PM
Just a note...

I recently helped a neighbor upgrade their CNC
milling business to use a wireless environment
in the shop. They use non-Shopbot equipment
however. We also installed project automation &
tracking software, and several serial port buffers
between PCs and equipment to prevent overflow /
underflow problems and also provide electrical isolation.

At first I had concerns if wireless would provide
acceptable performance in a "noisy" industrial
environment, however after three weeks everything
appears to be doing quite well.

I work full-time for Cisco with a background in
datacom...so applying my networking skills in an
industrial environment was an interesting task.

- GB (gboop at cisco.com)

07-15-2003, 06:48 AM
I guess that I'd better chime in again. I am a Cisco engineer, Novell and NT also. The only reason that I mentioned the potential issue with networking is because it was specifically brought up as an issue by Sallye, of Shopbot fame, at the 2003 Jamboree. Apparently one of our fellow Shopbotters had just the problem I mentioned in the previous post. Maybe it was chatter on his NIC, maybe not. Could have been many things.

BTW, being a former computer engineer, I have the inside track on most of this equipment. Shop networks have great potential for good, and great potential to FAIL in the middle of your work. If you can avoid a shop network you should simply because you are creating many, many more points of failure.

I have a great network at home, as do most Cisco engineers. I have seen the best networks in the world fail as they all do from time to time. No network = no network failure.

Good luck to those who choose to network their bots. You may never have problems.


07-15-2003, 07:23 AM


Good point on the network and "I have seen the best networks in the world fail as they all do from time to time. No network = no network failure."

The Lotus 7 was known for it's light weight. It has a saying, "If it's not on there, it doesn't weigh anything."

In several years of running my old 486 and transferring files with floppy discs, I had one "A Drive" failure. I have had several floppy's fail. All in all, it was a faithful computer setup and I only went to a WinDoze 98SE computer anticipating the new software and wanting to be able to use VECTOR in the shop for file modification. A "Pocket Drive" on the USB port is nice and I don't think it is a susceptible to dust as a floppy drive and discs.

WinDoze is not as stable as DOS, no matter what version one might be using.


Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock. - Will Rogers

07-15-2003, 07:46 AM
I use a pocket hard drive as well. For those that are not familiar with this term. It is a small hard drive that looks like a key chain. they very in holding capacity. Mine holds 64megabytes which is tonnes. i found it quicker than burning Cd's and I can format it when needed. it has never let me down.

you can get them at Best Buy or Radio shack for about $50.00 to $90.00, depending on the size you want.

They reformat very quickly and transfer files even quicker.

A safe alternative to a wirless network.


07-15-2003, 07:56 AM
I have to give Sallye @ ShopBot credit for the Pocket hard drive. When I was down there for training, I saw her using one and after burning a bundle of cd's for single files went out and bought one. Much more ecenomical than burning cd's


07-15-2003, 09:31 AM

I have a 64Mb and a 128Mb. I kept leaving one in the shop and having to fetch it. They cost the same bought 6 months apart. Bill Young introduced the things to me. Now, when I forget to retrieve one, I will need to fetch two....

Another approach might be the little memory cards and readers. I like the ability to have a bunch of information in a compact space.

07-15-2003, 09:44 AM
A couple of weeks ago Best Buy had 128 meg PNY pocket drives for $29 after rebate. It seems like a nice drive so far and pretty durable...I had to epoxy my first drive ( a 64 meg Lexar) back together after the case cracked.


07-15-2003, 10:01 AM
Maybe you modern guys should remember that the "pocket drives" can only be promoted to us simple folk who might have:
1. USB ports
2. those ports easily accessible

07-15-2003, 11:20 AM
1. USB ports
2. those ports easily accessible
1- you can buy a kit to add the ports
2- you can plug the extention that probably can with the "pocket drive" into the hard to access port and put it where it can easily be accessed!
3- sometimes you will need to add a driver(it comes with the "pocket drive", normally)
4- it may be necessary to be on the proper side of the Equator to understand the directions.

07-15-2003, 11:48 AM
Would that be the left side of the equator? Next thing you are going to tell me is that you drive on the right side too. Did you know that our routers turn counter-clockwise, viewed from your end?

Ron Brown
07-15-2003, 12:14 PM
MY side of the "line". DOH!