IQNET

IQNET is a powerful new capability in IQ Network application and design. The basic system level communication structure is the same, but now you can make the host PC a server and access it from anywhere on a TCP/IP network. Scroll down to continue reading or use the links on the right to jump to the section that interests you:


IQNet Overview

IQNet describes a network configuration that that can operate over any type of network hardware (e.g. Ethernet) over which the TCP/IP protocol suite can be used.

The uses for IQNet will vary as much as the uses for IQ Systems. For example, the first large portable application for IQNet was at the Indy 200 and Chevy Truck Challenge auto races at Walt Disney World, Florida. An IQNet Server PC was serving the IQ Network while two other PCs running IQ for Windows in client mode controlled the system. One PC was in the audio control center while the other was a laptop connected via wireless Ethernet from the grandstands. Any medium to large facility can benefit from networking their IQ Network.

Aside from the solutions provided by multiple points of control, using a standard network such as Ethernet can provide powerful installation solutions as well. While the twisted pair cable used in the IQ Bus is easy to work with, it may not always be as easy or economical to implement as a network node. Most facilities today now include network cabling as part of the architectural design. It is easy to wire and almost every electrical contractor knows how to put in a network wiring backbone. This allows access to IQ Networks in remote equipment rooms without the need to run long IQ Bus data loops.


IQNet Communication Structure

In an IQNet system, a networked PC running IQNet Server software is dedicated to the IQ Network. Any other PC on that network can then control and monitor that IQ Network using the IQ for Windows software in client mode.  The diagram below demonstrates a simple example:

IQNet Example

As you can see, IQNet is really just a communication layer above the IQ Network. The IQ Network itself is the same as it always has been: A PC connected to the system via RS-232. The IQ Network interface breaks the communication out to the individual components on IQ Bus serial data loops. You can still run long data loops using fiber or wireless RS-232, or even use modems between the server PC and the interface.

The question will come up, when looking at the diagram above, of whether you may have more than one IQNet Server on a network. The answer is YES! Beginning with version 4 of IQ for Windows, you may now have multiple IQNET servers as well as multiple clients. This means you may operate your IQ Network as a set of several smaller systems, each connected to a server on a computer network.

The next question that will come up is whether you may run the client software on the same machine as the IQNet Server. The answer again is YES! Note that unless it is a very high speed computer you will suffer a reduction in performance, but otherwise it works just as if it were a separate client computer.


Ethernet LANs

Ethernet LANs are certainly the most common type of network backbone used for general network applications today. You can find Ethernet in almost any office or facility. If you don't know much about Ethernet, here is brief primer for you. Note that if you have or are designing a system for a facility with a network administrator, please defer to your administrator for additional network details. This information is very generalized.

There are two basic forms of Ethernet commonly used. These 10Base-T and 10Base2. These 10 megabit networks are very cost effective. 10Base2, also known as Thin Net, is rarely used in new installations. High speed (100Base-T) Ethernet works basically the same as 10Base-T. Whichever type of Ethernet implementation you use, you will need a compatible network card in each computer.

10Base2 or Thin Net:

10Base2

10Base2 uses BNC connectors and coax cable to interconnect network devices in a linear fashion. The limitations are cable distance and maximum number of nodes. Max network cabling: 3000 feet (1000m); max segments: 5; max nodes per segment: 30; max cable per segment: 600 feet (185m). Use 50 ohm terminators.

10Base-T:

10Base-T

10Base-T uses Cat-5 cable (twisted pair with RJ-45 connectors). It uses a hub to interconnect all network nodes. In larger 10Base-T networks, additional hubs, concentrators, and other network hardware are used to allow the network to reach almost any size. 10Base-T may have up to 1024 segments and up to 512 nodes. Maximum unshielded segment length is 300 feet (100m). Use 150 ohm terminators.

It is recommended that you use 100Base-T with IQNET.


Network Software Setup

After the network hardware is in place the software needs to be installed and configured. Microsoft  Windows includes network utilities and support for TCP/IP protocol communication. Setting up and configuring network support is beyond the scope of this article. If you have access to a network administrator or professional installer, it is best to work with them, especially if you are going to make use of an existing network infrastructure. If you will be setting up the network yourself, we recommend you purchase one of the number of good books available geared toward the particular version of Windows you are using. Most of these books contain one or more chapters on setting up local area networks and TCP/IP support.


IQNet Software Setup

When the network hardware is installed and the network software is configured for the operating system you can then install, configure and run the IQNet Server software. When the software is first run, it will perform a roll call through which it discovers all the component in the IQ Network.  When the IQNet Server software it will appear as an icon in the system tray along with your clock and other background utility programs. To access the IQNet Server control window, right click on the icon in the tray and select Open. The main window looks like this:

On the top half of this window is a list of all the components in the system. The bottom half is a list of all the clients running IQ for Windows that have connected to this server.


IQ for Windows Software Setup

To run IQ for Windows in client mode, select Setup->Communications from the main menu.

The Enable box under IQNET must be checked. IF you are using a dedicated network for IQ, you will want to set Poll Rate to 0 for maximum performance. If you are sharing a network with other non-IQ users, you may want to set Poll Rate to 50 to avoid slowing down the network. To select which IQNET servers to connect to, click the Servers button:

Click the Query button to see all the available servers on the network, and check the box under Active for each server you want to access.

Now when you perform a Roll Call in IQ for Windows, you will discover all the components that exist in each of the servers you selected.


Advanced Network Applications

There are a couple of things you can do to really add power to your network. The first is wireless Ethernet. Wireless Ethernet allows you to roam a facility with a laptop running the IQ for Windows application. This is a perfect way to setup speaker zones from the zone itself. The disadvantage is cost. Wireless Ethernet remains a very expensive option.

Dial-up Networking is another powerful way to access an IQ Network. This is a great way to handle system adjustments or troubleshooting from your home or office.