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Truckers Stay in Touch with Data over Voice Radio

Whether hauling a load from the warehouse to the distributor or making deliveries all over town, truckers have always been in the lead when it comes to communications. They were using two-way radios long before the CB craze in the 1970s and have been at the forefront of digital communications as well.

One US firm realized that trucking companies and other companies with mobile workers can't afford to put satellite dishes on the roof of every service or delivery vehicle. But most vehicles have two-way radios. So they saw the opportunity to create wireless data networks to extend corporate applications into the field.

On their network, text or binary data from a mobile radio is picked up by a modem and passed through a wireless server to the LAN at the base station. A good deal of network programming went into the initial system which ran on a DOS machine. Due to the growth in network traffic and a need for multitasking, they switched from DOS to OS/2.

"We had written a lot of the low level code to move the data through the different network layers," explains their principal engineer. "From radio to modem to wireless server to LAN, and each step requires bit-by-bit knowledge of the hardware. We were going to have to rewrite the interface between the communications co-processor and DOS, so the co-processor would talk to OS/2. It was going to be a big job."

That's when they discovered the qCF programming tools from Quadron Corporation. In their opinion, "qCF takes the sting out of software development for communication cards."

Communication cards from Quadron are specifically designed to increase a PC's speed and efficiency. These cards are equipped with their own CPU, additional memory and input / output lines. "By putting the co-processors between the modems and the wireless server we can manage more data streams at the same time. With qCF, we can access the disk directly from the cards. That speeds up the whole process," added their engineer.

The best part was using qCF, instead of porting all the interface code from the DOS system. "qCF gave us all the low level communications code we needed to get the network up and running in record time." They admit it would have taken significantly longer to port, debug and test the software without qCF. "Even with other tools we couldn't have done it as fast. The Quadron tools let you develop faster with fewer errors. In the long run, it means we can add new features sooner than we had planned."

The firm's customers and resellers are happy about the switch as well. "Now we can do high level programming right on the card. That means the overall throughput is faster, because the wireless server doesn't have to do all the interrupt-driven network protocol work," says their principal engineer. "The information ends up getting through to the customer's LAN faster and that makes everybody happy."

He is also happy with the service he gets from Quadron, "None of the problems or bugs I had came from Quadron, but they were real helpful when I didn't understand something. They have real good support and when I had questions, they were ready with the answers."

"I'd recommend using communications cards and Quadron's qCF to anybody who wants to write their networking software faster and improve their system processing speeds."


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