What to do when a Field Unit is Offline

Peter Edmonds

Created: ; updated: .

For more on this topic, see How to Troubleshoot Hardware Communication ProblemsTroubleshooting With Observant Global and Technical Note: Antenna Installation Guidelines.

Likely Causes

Occasionally, you may find that an Observant field unit has gone offline and is reporting out-of-date information, as described in Why Monitoring Data May Become Outdated on the Software Platform.

The most likely causes of a field unit being offline are:

Both the C3 and the Solo field units have multi-color LEDs to provide information on the power level and charging state of their battery packs as well as their radio's communication status. 

Check Battery Status

 This icon identifies the LED that provides information on a field unit's power level and its battery pack's state of charge. For both the C3 and the Solo, you can determine their battery pack's status by comparing the color and number of flashes of their battery LEDs to the following table.


Table 1.

A low voltage state of charge on a unit's battery is often caused by inadequate, solar-panel charging conditions. See this article for more details. 

Check Radio Status

 This icon identifies the LED which reports a field units radio status, and, thus, the ability of the unit to communicate with Observant Global. You can determine its 3G/Radio state by comparing the radio LED on the front of the field unit to the following table. As before the color and number of flashes encode the radio's status for either the C3 or the Solo field units.

Table 2.

Check Site Radio Coverage

 For 3G Units

 - Ensure you can download a webpage on your phone at the site

 - To Test the Field Units, move the unit to a location with known good 3G coverage

 For 900MHz Units

 - Ensure you have line of sight to the Gateway unit.  Crops and other foliage that grow over the antenna height will break radio communications.


To improve reception

 - Raise the antenna as high as possible, by mounting on a pole.

 - Check the antenna installation agains the Installation Note

 - For C3s, you can upgrade the antenna to a higher gain one (eg. whip antenna).

Check for Physical Damage

Finally, inspect the field unit for any signs of physical damage to the enclosure, cabling, antenna, or the field unit itself. Check that:

  • The antenna is undamaged.
  • The antenna is properly connected to the C3 and there is no damage to the antenna cable.
  • The unit itself has not been damaged by water, farm machinery, or insects.
  • All cabling is undamaged.

For C3s you can take the following steps :

 - Unplug all cables and clean connectors, ideally using a water displacing lubricant.

 - Test the Field Unit with a known working antenna, either purchased new, or from another Field Unit that is online.

 - Power cycle the C3 using the front panel button. Remove all power sources from the unit (plug pack or solar panel input). Tap once, then immediately tap again and hold until you here a long beep. For step by step instructions, see How to Power Down an Observant C3 or How to Power Down an Observant Solo


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