TRBOnet Beacon Setting Tips

TRBOnet is Motorola MOTOTRBO 2-way radio control room software. The system uses GPS outside and beacons indoors. The handsets detect iBeacon advertising that shows on TRBOnet plans or maps in the control room.

Here are some tips for setting up beacons for TRBOnet:

  • Each beacon has a unique UUID, major and minor values. Change the UUID from the default to prevent overlap with someone else’s iBeacon network. The actual values you should use are ‘invented’ by you. We have an article on Choosing UUID, Major, Minor and Eddystone-UID For Beacons.
  • Set the beacons to ONLY send out iBeacon advertising. This shows in the manufacturer configuration app as using just one channel for iBeacon. If extra channels such as Eddystone or ‘info’ are enabled, the beacon will still be detected but the beacon battery will be depleted much sooner.
  • Motorola has a useful table that specifies the recommended beacon advertising interval based on the handset scan interval. See our post on Why Bluetooth LE Scanning Doesn’t Always See Devices to better understand this mechanism.
  • When the beacon device is configured for a lower advertising interval it consumes more power. There is a roughly 1:1 correlation between beacon advertising interval and battery life. Longer scan interval ON times increase the probability of beacons being detected but increase the time (latency) to detect beacons and report new positions in the control room.
  • Some radio vendor guides mention a specific to-the-millisecond advertising period so as to prevent beacon advertising and handset scanning from being permanently out of sync. This is a misleading information. All Bluetooth advertising includes a small randomisation in time between successive advertising to prevent this situation.
  • Use standard 0dbm transmit power unless you have special need to boost or reduce the beacon range. We have an article on Choosing the Transmitted Power. See our post on Testing if a Beacon is Working that shows how to measure the received signal strength (RSSI). This allows you to determine the area covered by a beacon and detect areas that are not covered.

Which Beacons for 2-way radio Motorola TRBOnet Plus?

TRBOnet is a 2-way radio dispatch system sold and supported by Motorola. It can use iBeacons to provide for locating where the Motorola radio GPS doesn’t work. This allows radios and hence people to be located indoors or undercover areas such as trees.

TRBOnet Plus beacons
TRBOnet Plus

TRBOnet Plus will work with any iBeacons. The ones with higher battery capacity tend to be used so that batteries don’t have to be replaced for years.

i3 Beacon for Motorola TRBOnet Plus
i3 Beacon for Motorola TRBOnet Plus

The i3 is popular for use with TRBOnet as it takes AA batteries that can be easily sourced and the unit has screw tags for permanent mounting. Some sites also use USB beacons that can be powered from the mains via USB power supplies.

If you use the i3, or any beacon using AA batteries, we recommend you use lithium AA batteries rather than alkaline. This will not only provide a longer battery life but will also provide better resilience at lower temperatures.

TRBOnet 5.5 Released

A new version of TRBOnet has been released. TRBOnet is usually used with Motorola TRBO 2-way radio to provide control room facilities. Beacons can be placed across a site, the 2-radio detects them and TRBOnet plots them onto maps or plans.

This release additionally allows Android and iOS smartphones to be used as personal safety devices sending SOS to the TRBOnet control panel with location information. The app also allows push to talk (PTT) over cellular and sending of pictures to the control centre.

TRBO.SOS includes other advanced personal safety features, such as Man Down, Lone Worker and No Movement

Quick Detection of Man Down with MOTOTRBO™, TRBOnet and iBeacons

TRBOnet is control room software for Motorola MOTOTRBO™ two-way radios. When used with iBeacons, it allows mapping of 2-way radio locations.

The location update rate depends on the degree of radio congestion. The more radios there are the greater the congestion. The use of iBeacons also increases radio congestion as they cause more location packets to be sent. This can become a problem in larger 2-way radio/beacon rollouts.

In cases where a 2-way radio can see more than one beacon, the TRBOnet server uses the relative signal strengths of the beacons to determine the nearest beacon. In the case of radio congestion, the location updates for the two or more beacons might be two far apart, in time, to allow an accurate location to be determined. In congested situations, location updates used for geofencing or man-down might also come in far too late, say 5 minutes late, to provide timely alerts that someone has entered/exited an area or has fallen.

Neocom Software, the authors of TRBOnet, have introduced an Option Board based solution (pdf), that fits in the 2-way radios, that solves these problems. It monitors beacons every 3-5 seconds instead of the standard 30 seconds. It does the comparing of beacon signal strength at the 2-way radio rather than at the server to reduce the number of sent location packets. It intelligently sends location packets as the user changes zone rather than continuously.

The configuration guide (pdf) explains how the option board can be set up to detect events such as man down, geofencing, lone worker (no activity), no movement, crash detection and speed limit.

Are you an established 2-way radio company?
Contact us for advice on which beacons we have supplied for use with TRBOnet.

TRBOnet Update

There’s been an update to TRBOnet to allow DIMETRA Express to use iBeacon-based Indoor Location.

TRBOnet is the system used by Motorola for managing 2-way radios and pinpoints handsets on maps:

The 2-way radios upload GPS data but this obviously doesn’t work indoors where iBeacons are used instead. TRBOnet works with any iBeacons.

Are you an established 2-way radio company?
Contact us for advice on which beacons we have supplied for use with TRBOnet.

Beacons for Lone Workers and Workers Under Duress

A critical use for beacons is protecting lone workers or those that might experience duress. Lone worker solutions traditionally used RFID that required workers to manually check-in to locations. If workers forgot or were in trouble you only knew their last location. Newer systems such as Motorola TRBONet used with 2-way radios and BeaconRTLS™ used with generic beacons allow continual tracking of location.

Another usecase related to lone working is warning workers when they are about to enter a hazardous area. An example of this is Lone Worker Solutions’ Safe Beacon feature that creates a virtual perimeter. If a control room needs to know someone has entered (or left) a zone, real time locating systems (RTLS) like BeaconRTLS™ can be used to set up zones with alerts.

It’s also possible to have workers press a button on a beacon as a form of SOS when they are under duress. An example of this is HID Global’s new Badge Beacon that addresses the growing need to protect doctors, nurses and other caregivers from threatening situations that arise in the hospital environment. This can also been done in a generic way by using a RTLS and detecting a beacon button press. Simpler solutions are also possible by having a simple app on the worker’s phone detect the beacon button press and send an alert.

Read about BeaconRTLS™

Consider a Feasibility Study

Using iBeacons for Motorola TRBONet

Motorola MOTOTRBO range two-way Radios can be used with the Motorola-supplied TRBOnet PLUS (pdf) control room software to show the location of workers with digital radios on maps and plans. The radios contain both GPS and iBeacon detection to allow locating indoors.

There are three places where iBeacons need to be set up in TRBOnet:

In the GPS profile:

Placing beacon on the map:

Are you an established 2-way radio company?
Contact us for advice on which beacons we have supplied for use with TRBONet.

Read the full User Guide
View compatible beacons

Devices That Can See Beacons

When people think about beacons they often imagine them being detected in smartphone apps. This post explores other devices that can also see beacons allowing for different interaction possibilities and new scenarios.

Apps – Apps aren’t limited to just smartphone apps. You can run apps on TV boxes that run Android. Just make sure they have Bluetooth 4.3 or later.

GatewaysGateways are small single pupose devices that look for beacons and send the information on via MQTT or REST (HTTP) to any server. This allows web servers to see beacons.

Desktops and Laptops – PC/Mac devices with built-in Bluetooth or dongles can see beacons.

Walky Talkies – Motorola manufacture the MOTOTRBO range of digital radios that can detect iBeacons and show their location on a map.

Raspberry Pi – This has Bluetooth and can be used to detect beacons.

AndroidThings – This special IOT version of Android can run apps that detect beacons and store and/or forward information to other devices.

ArduinoArduino boards often have Bluetooth and can do things based on the presence of beacons.

Pixl.js – The manufacturer of the Puck.js also supplies a device with a screen that can detect and interact with beacons.

Single Board Computers (SBC) have an advantage over gateways in that data can be cached locally when there isn’t an Internet connection. They can also make decisions locally and send out alerts directly rather than having to rely on a server. This is so called ‘IoT Edge’ computing.

Motorola Radios and iBeacons

Motorola manufacture the MOTOTRBO range of digital radios that can detect iBeacons.

Used together with the TRBOnet PLUS (pdf) control room software, the location of people with digital radios can be plotted onto maps:

Supported handsets currently include:

  • MOTOTRBO DP4000e Series
  • MOTOTRBO SL4000e Series
  • MOTOTRBO DP3441e
  • MOTOTRBO DP3661e

Motorola handsets work with any iBeacons. We recently supplied beacons to a power station for lone worker monitoring using TRBOnet PLUS. Buy from our wide range of iBeacons.

Are you an established 2-way radio company?
Contact us for advice on which beacons we have supplied for use with TRBOnet.