SNAP PAC provides wireless IEEE-802.11 Ethernet as standard

Opto 22 provides both wireless and wired Ethernet as standard on its controllers.


Opto 22, developer and manufacturer of the SNAP PAC System family of programmable automation controllers and accessories, is providing wireless and wired Ethernet networking options as standard on its SNAP PACs (programmable automation controllers) and I/O systems.

er at Opto 22 .

Availability and pricing for SNAP PACs and SNAP I/O with wireless networking expected in summer 2009.


Availability and pricing for Opto22's SNAP PACs and SNAP I/O with wireless networking expected in summer 2009.

The wireless technology in the devices is based on the IEEE-802.11 specification with support for a, b, and g networks operating in the license-free 5 GHz (802.11a) and 2.4 GHz (802.11b/g) frequency bands. That means wireless access points, routers, and repeaters from nearly any vendor can co-exist with SNAP PAC wireless technology.

“The 5 GHz (802.11a) option is particularly significant--and unique in industrial I/O systems--because it allows users to deploy SNAP PAC wireless in a frequency other than the typically crowded 2.4 GHz band, where interference from other 2.4 GHz devices, such as microwave ovens, could reduce performance,” says Riley.

Security is provided via the latest and most secure transmission algorithms, including WPA (TKIP) and WPA2 (802.11i/AES), to help build the robust and secure wireless communications system typically required. In addition, SNAP PAC wireless supports either infrastructure mode, where communication among devices is routed through an access point, or ad hoc mode, where each device can detect and communicate with any other similarly configured network device within range.

Wireless local area networking (WLAN) capabilities have been added to all of Opto 22's Ethernet-based SNAP PAC System components, including its full line of intelligent SNAP I/O processors ("brains") and all standalone and rack-mounted programmable automation controllers (SNAP PACs). Control system designers can now architect systems with traditional Ethernet wiring, wireless Ethernet (also known as Wi-Fi), or any combination of the two, delivering a new level of networking flexibility.

"Similar to the way you use your laptop, our SNAP PAC controllers and I/O allow you to choose wired and wireless networking based on your environment and other factors," explains Riley. "Engineers now have an effective, lower-cost way to provide proof-of-concept for their projects-before investing in costly permanent wiring or building a wireless infrastructure throughout their factory or facility. It also gives them flexible options for segmenting their network."

Riley says the wireless capabilities in Opto 22 SNAP PAC I/O and controllers are unique in the automation industry because most other industrial wireless networking solutions are completely separate from a vendor's standard line of components. Users are often required to purchase different or additional components-such as special module carriers or custom wireless I/O modules, racks, and terminations, which in turn requires them to carry a separate inventory of spares and networking gear.

“Opto 22's wireless technology also offers the faster 802.11a and 802.11g radio technologies (54 Mbps), which differs from competing vendors' products that use only 802.11b (11 Mbps),” says Riley.

To download the Overcoming Concerns about Wireless PACs and I/O in Industrial Automation whitepaper, visit:

– Edited by Renee Robbins , senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk

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