The Matscope app uses WLAN – also known as Wi-Fi – as interface to communicate with the microscope camera.
For the live image streaming to be smooth and with very low delay, and for fast data transfer during snapping and when copying files to/from a shared folder, certain conditions regarding the quality of the used WLAN infrastructure have to be fulfilled.
This article aims to provide the technical information necessary to decide whether an existing WLAN infrastructure can be used with Matscope, or whether it needs to be extended / upgraded. In scenarios where no WLAN infrastructure is present, yet, or where a separate microscope WLAN is to be installed alongside an existing WLAN, this article provides a list of tested WLAN equipment that is known to work well with Matscope.
WLAN types and frequency bands
- The newer the WLAN infrastructure is the better.
- Generally, WLAN routers for small office and home use advertised as 300 Mbit/s ("N300") and higher will work just fine.
- IEEE 802.11n and IEEE 802.11ac WLAN networks operating in the 5 GHz band (“dual band routers”) are recommended
- Older IEEE 802.11a, -b and -g networks will only work with single microscope/iPad setups, and are generally not recommended.
WLAN comes in different types: IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. The older types are IEEE 802.11 a, b and g, which were introduced at the end of the 1990s and early 2000s operate at data rates of 54 Mbit/s or less. For a single microscope + iPad installation these might work, but as soon as there are multiple iPads or microscopes, these old WLAN types will be overloaded.
IEEE 802.11n and -ac WLAN networks (introduced in 2007 and 2012 respectively) on the other hand operate at higher data rates (ranging from 72 Mbit/s for simple or older routers / access points, up to 600 Mbit/s). These types are generally suitable for using with Matscope.
There is another aspect to WLANs: IEEE 802.11n can be used on two different frequency bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Since there are only twelve available channels on the 2.4 GHz band, and only three of these do not overlap, with nowadays’ widespread use of WLAN devices it often happens that there are simply too many signals in the air (and sometimes not even from WLAN devices, but from microwave ovens and Bluetooth devices which all work in this frequency range) to allow for fast and low-latency data transfers.
We therefore strongly recommend using the 5 GHz frequency band instead, where there are more than 100 non-overlapping channels to choose from, and where congestion is generally not an issue.
Most high-quality WLAN routers / access points that have been bought in 2008 or later can provide signals on both 2.4 and 5 GHz, and are often marketed as “dual band” routers. Offering both bands is necessary because there are still lots of WLAN client devices, especially mobile phones, which can only work with 2.4 GHz signals. iPad generation 2 and higher can work with 5 GHz signals. These dual band routers usually provide two separate WLANs with different names for the two bands. If you see your WLAN twice in the WLAN settings of the iPad, once with a “-5G” suffix and once without, choose the “-5G” network to connect to the 5 GHz signal WLAN.
If the iPad is too far away from the WLAN access point, the data rate goes down, and the latency goes up.
A rule of thumb: if the signal strength indicator on the iPad constantly shows full signal strength or intermittently one bar below full, the signal strength is fine. If it regularly shows less than full signal strength, the WLAN might be acceptable for web browsing or other non-demanding applications, but it will not be suitable for being used as a microscope WLAN.
If the latter is true for your existing WLAN, we recommend repositioning or adding additional WLAN access points, or if this is not possible, creating a separate microscope WLAN by purchasing one of the recommended WLAN router models.
Recommended WLAN router models
We are constantly testing new router / access point models as they are available in our lab. Here are some WLAN routers that have passed our testing procedure.
- Apple AirPort Extreme (4 ports, 5 GHz, USB storage)
- Netgear WNDR3400 USB (4 ports, 5 GHz, USB storage)
- Netgear WNDR3700 (4 ports, 5 GHz, USB storage)
- Netgear WNDR4300 (4 ports, 5 GHz, USB storage)
- D-Link DIR-826L (4 ports, 5 GHz, USB storage)
- D-Link DIR-850L (4 ports, 5 GHz, USB storage)
- TP-Link WDR-7500 (4 ports, 5 GHz, USB storage)
- Asus RT-N56U (4 ports, 5 GHz, USB storage)
Minor limitation: iOS <6.1 incompatibility if not connected to Internet
Without USB file storage function or other limitation
- Apple AirPort Express
Limitations: for 1-4 stations, no USB port for data exchange
- TP-Link TL-WR710N (very compact, wall-plug style router, saves one cable)
Limitations: for 1-3 stations, no USB port for data exchange
WLAN router file sharing configuration
Most good routers have a USB port. When a hard drive or a USB stick is connected to the USB port, it automatically gets shared on the network. This chapter is intended to help set up Matscope with such a “mini NAS” solution, for known router models.
|Router model||IP address||Share path||Remarks|
|Apple Airport Extreme||10.0.1.1||<depends on the name of the connected USB drive, check/configure with Airport Utility app>||NTFS-formatted drives not supported, make sure the drive is FAT32-formatted|
||192.168.0.1||<depends on the name of the connected USB drive>||Default user name: Admin (no password)|
||192.168.1.1||volume1||USB port 1: volume1
USB port 2: volume9