RF401A 900 MHz Spread-Spectrum Radio

Overview

The RF401A is a 900 MHz radio designed for license-free use in several countries, including the United States and Canada. It provides a hassle-free way to create long-distance wireless links between your computer, dataloggers, and measurement devices. The RF401A has a 910 to 918 MHz operating-frequency range and a configurable transmit-power output of 5 to 250 mW.

Campbell Scientific recommends the RF401A radios for existing installations that require compatibility with products such as the RF401, CR206X, CR211X, AVW206, and AVW211. For new installations, Campbell Scientific recommends using the RF407 or RF451.

Note: The image depicts the RF401A with an attached antenna. The antenna is sold separately.

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Benefits and Features

  • Rugged, low-cost transceivers
  • Can be used in the field as a transceiver or in the office as the base station
  • Individual FCC license not required
  • Transmits up to one mile with omnidirectional antenna; up to 10 miles with higher gain directional antennas at ideal conditions
  • Settings stored in non-volatile memory
  • Frequency-hops over 25 channels avoids interference from other spread spectrum radios
  • Optional extended temperature testing
  • Faster communication due to elimination of some small "link state packets"
  • Ability to have stand-alone RF router/repeaters (up to 8 repeaters)
  • Greater immunity to interference and RF collisions by using RF retries
  • Reduced power consumption by the datalogger, as the radios perform "packet address filtering"
  • Designed for use in PakBus networks
  • Built-in setup menus allow access to advanced functionality

The RF401-series and RF430-series spread-spectrum radios are similar. The models in these two series differ in their ports used for connecting to computers/dataloggers, in their frequencies, and in their transmitting power. Refer to the following table for specifics.

RF401
(retired)
RF401A RF430
(retired)
RF411 (retired) RF411A RF431 (retired) RF416 RF432 (retired)
Frequency 910 to 918 MHz
US & Canada
920 to 928 MHz
Australia & New Zealand
2.450 to 2.482 GHz
USB Ports
CS I/O Ports
RS-232 Ports
Transmitting Power 100 mW 250 mW 100 mW 100 mW 250 mW 100 mW 50 mW 50 mW

Images

RF401A with attached antenna (sold separately)
RF401A with attached antenna (sold separately)
RF401A with attached antenna (sold separately)
Front view of RF401A with attached antenna (sold separately)
Back view of RF401A with attached antenna (sold separately)
Top view of RF401A with attached antenna (sold separately)
Bottom view of RF401A with attached antenna (sold separately)
Left view of RF401A with attached antenna (sold separately)
Right view of RF401A with attached antenna (sold separately)

Detailed Description

The RF401A is a frequency hopping spread spectrum radio designed for 900 MHz license-free ISM band operation. It has a 910 to 918 MHz operating-frequency range and a configurable transmit power output of 5 to 250 mW. It provides one of three selectable active connections including CS I/O, RS-232, and USB. It has a reverse polarity SMA (RPSMA) antenna jack connection. It is over the air compatible with legacy 9XStream products including the RF400, RF401, RF430, CR205, CR206(X), and AVW206.

 

Specifications

Radio Type Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS)
Frequency 910 to 918 MHz
Power Output 5 to 250 mW (software-selectable)
Receiver Sensitivity -109 dBm
Channel Capacity 7 hop sequences share 25 frequencies.
RF Throughput Data Rate 9.6 kbps
Data Rate 10 kbps
Antenna Connector Reverse Polarity SMA (RPSMA) jack
LEDs Power on, Tx, Rx
RS-232 Baud Rate 1200 to 115200 bps
CS I/O Modes SDC 7, 8, 10, 11, and ME master
Power 9 to 16 Vdc
Power Connector 2.5 mm DC power jack
Operating Temperature Range
  • -25° to +50°C (standard)
  • -40° to +85°C (extended)
Current Required
  • Transmit: 80 mA (250 mW TX power)
  • Receive: 15 mA
  • Sleep: 0.5 mA (depending on power-saving mode)
Communication Ports
  • RS-232 9 pin D female
  • CS I/O 9 pin D male
  • USB Type B jack
Dimensions 11.1 x 6.9 x 2.7 cm (4.4 x 2.7 x 1.1 in.)
Dimension are from the tip of antenna connector to other side of case, and from the bottom of case to the top of DB9 connector jack screw. The width includes the thickness of the screw heads on the screws that hold the case together.
Weight
  • 136 g (4.8 oz) without "Ships With" items
  • 283.5 g (10 oz) with "Ships With" items

Certifications

United States (FCC Part 15.247) MCQ-XB900HP
Industry Canada (IC) 1846A-XB900HP

Compatibility

Communications

The RF401A is over-the-air compatible with the RF401, RF430, CR206, CR206X, and AVW206. 

Other Radios

The RF401A is also compatible with the RF400 and CR205, but the communication protocol must be set to transparent. Also, if RF400 and RF401A radios will be in the same RF proximity, do not use 28, 44, 52, 56, or 60 for the RF400 Net Address. RF400 radios with Net Addresses of 28, 44, 52, and 56 interfere with RF401A radios with Net Addresses of 0, 1, 2, and 3, respectively. The RF400 Net Address of 60 interferes with all RF401A Net Addresses.

Campbell Scientific does not recommend using the RF401A in networks containing FGR-115 or RF450 radios.

Transparent and PakBus Protocols

Do not mix RF401A radios using the Transparent protocol setting with RF401A, RF401, RF430, CR206(X), or AVW206 devices using a PakBus protocol setting. This will produce RF traffic without any RF communications. However radios with the PakBus Aware and PakBus Node settings can coexist in the same network.

Datalogger Considerations

Datalogger RS-232 CS I/O
CR200(X)
CR800/CR850
CR1000
CR3000
CR5000
CR9000(X)
CR300 *
CR6
CR510-PB
CR10X-PB
CR23X-PB
Mixed-array dataloggers **

Notes:
*Use a 18663 null modem cable.
**It is possible to connect a mixed-array datalogger (e.g., CR10, CR10X, CR23X, 21X, CR7) by using an SC932A or SC105 between the datalogger's CS I/O port and the RF401A's RS-232 port.

Downloads

RF401A Series OS v.05 (438 KB) 07-22-2015

Current RF401A and RF411A firmware. Requires the Device Configuration Utility.

View Update History

Device Configuration Utility v.2.16 (46.3 MB) 08-18-2017

A software utility used to download operating systems and set up Campbell Scientific hardware. Also will update PakBus Graph and the Network Planner if they have been installed previously by another Campbell Scientific software package.

Supported Operating Systems:

Windows 10, 8.1, 8, and 7 (Both 32 and 64 bit)

View Update History

Frequently Asked Questions

Number of FAQs related to RF401A: 19

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  1. The COM220 and the RF401A can coexist on the CS I/O terminal, provided that they are assigned two different SDC addresses.

  2. There are many cavity- and notch-type filters available from third-party manufacturers.

  3. There is a good chance that they would. However, the RF401A radios have been designed to work with Campbell Scientific dataloggers. There are more generic spread-spectrum radios (off the shelf) that are designed to work in this type of configuration.

  4. The RF401A can be powered either from a 12 Vdc source via the field power cable, or from a datalogger via the CS I/O port.

  5. Yes, as do all radios. Adjacent radio equipment operating in the same frequency range can cause interference.

  6. For an RF401A to communicate with an RF400, the RF401A must be configured to use the transparent communications option.

  7. Yes. The RF401A protocol needs to be set to transparent, which will communicate with the RF400 devices. However, if there are RF400 devices that are set to addresses of 28, 44, 52, 56, or 60, they must be changed when the RF401A radios are added to the network.

  8. The RF401A and RF411A have distinct advantages over their predecessors, including greater maximum transmit power, lower average power consumption, improved packaging, and the inclusion of USB, RS-232, and CS I/O on a single device.

    • The RF401A is compatible with all of its RF400-series radio predecessors, including the RF400, RF401, and RF430. The RF401A is also compatible with the CR205, CR206X, and AVW206.
    • The RF411A is compatible with all of its RF400-series radio predecessors, including the RF410, RF411, and RF431. The RF411A is also compatible with the CR210, CR211X, and AVW211.