Though wireless wheel alignment systems are not new in the automotive service industry, AeroComm Inc. hopes it will corner the market with a 2.4 GHz wireless module.
The system uses a spread spectrum, meaning it will ``hop'' to another frequency if one is running into interference.
``Chances are the new frequencies are not interfered with,'' said Jim O'Callaghan, vice president of sales for the Lenexa-based company.
AeroComm develops the radio modules, which are then sold to other manufacturers of alignment systems. The radios by themselves cost between $89 to $179 each for up to 10 receivers. One set is typically five radios-one for each wheel and the console-and can cost $445 to $895.
Mr. O'Callaghan said various wireless systems had generally been preferred over systems with cables that can be a safety hazard. But complications arose with many other wireless systems, he said. For example, early infrared systems removed the umbilical cords but were complicated because the sensors had to be lined up without any obstructions to interfere with their operation.
That created line-of-sight problems, ``and you'd have to line the car up pretty accurately,'' he said.
Other radio systems could not be used globally because of various countries' frequency restrictions, he added.
``Virtually all countries in the world adopted the 2.4 (GHz) spectrum,'' Mr. O'Callaghan said.
As AeroComm designed its system, it was mindful of the requirement for a low latency, wire-like communication performance, the company said. Wheel alignment systems are comprised of a control loop. As a mechanic makes an adjustment, a sensor reads that adjustment and sends the data to the control console. The system must also be fast enough to enable frequent updates from four different wheels, AeroComm noted.
In operation, the system communicates sensor data read by each wheel head to the central console, where the information is displayed on the screen. The central console may also provide the technician with voice instructions to adjust wheel alignment, according to the company.
Typically, the system uses an integral antenna as transmission ranges are short and, the firm said, large external antennas are not necessary-also eliminating the potential of an external antenna getting damaged in a workshop environment. The server transceiver within the central console may connect to custom base station electronics, or optionally may connect to a RS232 port on a PC-based central console.
AeroComm's system already is available to customers, Mr. O'Callaghan said, though he declined to name manufacturers who use the company's radios.
Formed in 1990, the company claims it was the first manufacturer to gain FCC approval for 2.4 GHz spread spectrum transceivers. In addition to the FCC, the firm said its radios also are approved by the IC in Canada and the ETSI in Europe.