Xfin Blade – Private Mobile Radio
SOFTWARE DESIGN, SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
To produce an IP enabled trunked radio system that was considerably cheaper to manufacture and required less storage space to operate.
While at Team Simoco I was part of an eight man development team which, conceptualised and developed a brand new trunked radio system called the Xfin Blade. The system was the first to sit on an IP backbone, offering faster data transfer speeds and better integration to 3rd party equipment. I was the lead developer on the applications side of the business that produced the management consoles which connected to, configured and monitored the base stations.
The core of the Xfin system is the Xfin Blade base station. Each single channel Blade unit is a replicable system component which when connected together enables the construction of single or multi site Xfin Systems, dependent upon the software option selected. Xfin IP Soft Switch connectivity between Xfin Blades enables up to 32 channel units at a single site and up to 300 networked sites.
The reliability of the software was paramount with the target customers being providers of infrastructure, utilities, emergency services, and rescue. Many deployments were in isolated locations where access to deployed infrastructure was both challenging and limited. This enforced how crucial it was to ensure only well tested and bug free code was released into the field.
We would take testing to the extreme by placing radio equipment into environmental chambers to test the units operation while under extreme cold and hot conditions. The temperature would effect the speed at which the hardware would operate at and it turn effect the code that was running on the unit!
A suite of 3 applications were produced to configure and monitor the Xfin System
Xfin Blade Management Terminal
This application focused on the management side of the base stations. It allowed for the base stations to be configured and for their performance to be monitored in real time.
Xfin Blade Call Statistics
This application captured the call data from the Xfin system and exposed the statistics in a visual format allowing for trends in traffic channel usage to be spotted.
Xfin Blade Dispatcher
This application acted as a PC based radio, similar to that of a SIP softphone. An operator of the dispatcher is able control and manage a fleet of radios from their desk.
We created our own TCP/IP message protocol between the Xfin units and the configuration / monitoring software. This protocol kept the data packets extremely small by having individual Bits representing configuration.
The communication monitor was an essential part of the Xfin Management Terminals debugging tools. It offered the ability to show what was occurring on the control channel of the base station in realtime.
The Xfin system’s control channels would broadcast their availability to connect. The Xfin Management Terminal would discover these broadcasts and initiate a 3 way hand shake to establish connection and commence heartbeats.