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Tech Tips

Technical Support Checklist

To help expedite the troubleshooting process, please gather the following information, if possible, before contacting Technical Support:

  • The Model and Serial Number of the malfunctioning equipment and any other equipment used in conjunction with it (e.g. sensor, readout, datalogger, etc.)
  • Date the equipment was installed
  • Date the issue arose
  • What software program is being used to view the data?
  • Have any splices or repairs been performed on the cable? If yes, what type?
  • Do the factory zero readings closely match the field zero readings?
  • Are other gauges installed in the same borehole or connected to the same datalogger? If yes, are those gauges functioning correctly?
  • Has the faulty gauge been tested using another readout or datalogger?
  • Are there any sources of electrical noise near the instrument or cable (e.g., generators, pumps, high-power utility lines, etc.)?
  • Take pictures of the installation, including the wiring inside the datalogger or readout.


The Importance of Initial Zero Readings

Initial zero readings are very important in helping ensure improved accuracy with your measurements.

An initial zero reading establishes a baseline measurement, from which all subsequent data values are calculated.

In general, the initial zero reading is obtained by taking a measurement of the instrument on-site, prior to installation. Use of this field zero reading, instead of using the factory zero reading, will improve the accuracy of your calculated data values. On-site zero readings should closely coincide with the factory zero reading provided on the instrument’s calibration report (after any necessary temperature and barometric pressure corrections have been made). There are several different ways of taking an initial zero reading, and the exact steps involved vary by instrument. Consult the instruction manual provided with the instrument for specific instructions.


Troubleshooting Vibrating Wire Gauges with an Ohmmeter

Has the reading from a GEOKON vibrating wire instrument become unstable?

Has the instrument stopped working altogether?

This may be a sign that the cable has been broken, cut, or crushed. A quick and easy way to determine if the cable has been damaged is to use an ohmmeter to measure the resistance between the gauge leads. The expected resistance for the various wire combinations can be found on the VW Sensor Resistance Worksheet.

  • If the resistance is very high (>1 megohm) or infinite, the cable is probably broken or cut.
  • If the resistance is much lower than the gauge resistance specified in the instruction manual, the gauge conductors may be shorted.

Cable resistance should be taken into account, especially for long cables. Cable resistance for 22 AWG wire is approximately 14.7Ω per 1000 ft.(48.5Ω per km). Multiply this factor by two to account for both directions.

The internal thermistor can be checked in a similar manner by connecting the thermistor leads of the instrument to the ohmmeter. Standard thermistors have a resistance of 3,000Ω at 25 °C. High temperature thermistors have a resistance of 10,000Ω at 25 °C. For other temperatures, consult the thermistor resistance to temperature conversion tables in the instruction manual.


Unstable Gauge Readings

A constantly fluctuating vibrating wire reading may be caused by electrical interference.

Common sources of electrical interference include, generators, motors, arc welding equipment, high voltage lines, etc. If possible, move the instrument cable away from power lines and electrical equipment or install electronic filtering.

Another common cause of reading instability is a misconnection between the instrument conductors and the readout/datalogger, or incorrect readout/datalogger settings. Consult the instruction manual provided with the instrument to verify that all gauge conductors have been properly connected, and that the readout or datalogger has been set up correctly for the type of gauge being read. (If using a datalogger to record readings automatically, make sure the swept frequency excitation settings are correct.)

If the above suggestions do not correct the problem, the readout or datalogger may be malfunctioning. Try connecting a different gauge to see if the problem persists.


Understanding GeoNet Mesh Radio Networks (Models 8800, 8901, 8903)

A GeoNet Network consists of a certain number of loggers and one gateway.

  • Loggers:
    • Collect data from sensors (piezometers, strain gauges, etc.)
    • Forward the collected data to the gateway
    • Relays data from/to other loggers as necessary to reach the gateway
  • Gateway:
    • Controls the network
    • Central collection point for all data

GeoNet operates on a self-healing, mesh radio network.

To create the best radio environment possible, follow these guidelines:

  • Always mount GeoNet devices so the antenna is pointing up.
  • Create as much clear space around the antenna as possible and remove any nearby obstructions.
  • A minimum mounting height of six-feet is recommended.
  • Common mounting mistakes include:
    • Not enough clear space around the antenna
    • Mounting devices horizontally
    • Placing the device inside an enclosure
    • Metallic objects nearby
    • Mounting on mesh fencing or surrounding the device with mesh fencing

GeoNet devices can only communicate with other devices that are set to the same radio channel and are within range of their radio signal.

  • All GeoNet devices are set to operate on the same channel at the factory
  • Channels only need to be configured if multiple networks will be operating within radio range of one another

GeoNet loggers can communicate with the gateway over greater distances, and work around obstacles, by using other loggers as repeaters.

  • Each transmission from logger to logger, or from logger to gateway is known as a “Hop”
  • Up to four hops can be made between a logger and the gateway
  • The network will automatically find the ideal path between each logger and the gateway

There are two modes of network operation: Deployment mode and Normal mode.

  • Deployment Mode:
    • Allows Loggers to be quickly added to a network and verified
    • Must be used when setting up a network or making changes to the network (adding Loggers, changing batteries, resetting a device, etc.)
    • Indicated by the LEDs on the gateway flashing every 10-15 seconds
    • Automatically activated when the gateway is powered on
    • Active for 60 minutes by default (the deploy period can be changed using Agent software)
    • Can be reactivated/reset by pressing the status button on the gateway (may take up to 3 minutes to take effect)
    • Though deployment mode can be activated in Agent software, it is best practice to physically press the status button on the gateway
  • Normal Mode:
    • Less battery usage than Deployment mode
    • Default mode of operation when not in Deployment mode


Troubleshooting GeoNet Mesh Networks (Models 8800, 8901, 8903)

No Power:

  • Loggers and Local Gateways:
    • Check the batteries to make sure they are properly installed
    • Replace batteries if they are depleted
    • Make sure the power switch is set to the correct battery type: lithium or alkaline
  • Cellular Gateways:
    • Make sure the AC adaptor or other external power source is connected correctly (Cellular Gateways must have an external power source)
    • Make sure the power switch is set to “INT BATTERY” (the EXT BATTERY position is only used for subpolar climates: see the manual for more information)

Logger will not join the network:

  • Make sure deployment mode is active (indicated by one or both of the LEDs on the gateway flashing every 10-15 seconds)
  • Verify that channel dipswitches inside the logger are set to the same position as the switches inside the gateway
  • Cycle the power on the logger while it is in close proximity to the gateway and see if it will join the network
  • If a logger will not join the Network after the previous suggestions have been tried, it may be out of sync with the gateway and needs to be reset
  • To reset a logger, hold down the status button until the red and green LEDs turn on, then release (NOTE: Press and hold the status button on the logger ONLY, do not do this on the gateway)

Weak radio signal (red and green LEDs flashing), or loss of radio signal when moving logger to its final location:

  • Try to improve the radio signal by:
    • Mounting the device as high as possible
    • Making sure there is plenty of clear space around the antenna
    • Removing obstructions from the radio path (clear line of sight is best)
    • Moving the logger to a better location (splice additional cable onto the instrument if necessary)
    • Adding more loggers to the network to provide alternate radio paths
  • If the above suggestions do not correct the problem, a high-gain, directional antenna may be required: contact GEOKON for more information

Agent can’t connect to the Gateway:

  • Cellular Gateways:
    • Ensure that the gateway is connected to an external power supply and that the power switch is set correctly
    • Verify the gateway is connected to the cellular network by pressing the status button and observing a green, or green and red flash on the LED indicators
    • Make sure the token entered into Agent software is correct, and that the correct “Cloud Network” has been chosen
  • Local Gateways:
    • Ensure that the D batteries are properly installed
    • Replace batteries if they are depleted
    • Make sure the power switch is set to the correct battery type: lithium or alkaline
    • Make sure the USB or RS-232 cable is securely connected to the gateway and the PC
    • Make sure the address (COM port) entered into Agent software is correct

No Data from a Logger:

  • Take a test reading by pressing the status button on the gateway (reading will be available for download within the next 6 minutes, depending on radio cycles and gateway type)
  • If necessary, data can be retrieved directly from a logger by following these steps:
    1. Connect a PC to the USB port
    2. Create a new network in Agent software
    3. Enter the COM port the logger is connected to as the Network Address
    4. Download the data

Logger data is present (e.g., battery voltage or signal strength), but the Vibrating Wire or Thermistor Reading is Missing, Incorrect, or Unstable:

  • Verify that the gauge leads are wired correctly (refer to the GeoNet instruction manual for wiring information)
  • Multi-channel and addressable loggers stop trying to read empty channels after two attempts; additional attempts occur at the top of every hour (reset the logger to initiate an immediate retry)
  • Move any sources of electrical noise away from the transducer cable (generators, motors, arc welding equipment, etc.)
  • Check sensor operation with an independent readout, such as a GK-404 or GK-406


USB Drivers

A USB driver is a file that allows GEOKON dataloggers, readouts, and other hardware devices to communicate with the operating system of a computer.

Installing USB drivers is an essential part of the setup process; if they are not installed correctly the device will not work.

USB drivers for GEOKON devices can be downloaded from www.geokon.com/software. If you have installed the USB drivers but they are not working, the drivers will need to be reinstalled as follows:

  1. Right click on the CDM.zip folder and then select “Extract All…
  2. A new window will open. Select a location for the file and then click “Extract”.
  3. Locate the extracted CDM file. Right click on the file and then select “Run as Administrator”.

If the USB drivers still don’t work after installing them in this manner, please contact your IT department.


Agent compared to Third-Party Data Acquisiton Software

Agent Third-Party Software
GEOKON Agent is a basic data collection and visualization software that makes the tasks of configuring hardware, monitoring sensors, collecting data, managing data files, and applying corrections easier and faster.

Agent compared to Third-Party Data Acquisiton Software:

Industry-leading data visualization software platforms have dozens of visualization and analysis tools to help the user understand complex data and make informed decisions.
Data Acquisition
X Automatic Data Collection X
Edit/Recalibrate Logged Data X
Add Manually Taken Readings X
Remove Data Noise by eliminating random disturbance in sensor readings X
X Export Data Files X
X Populate Calibration Factors Automatically from GEOKON calibration database (Not available for all sensors)
X Converts Raw Data to Engineering Units X
X Perform Powerful Math Calculations X
Visualization and Analysis
X Display Numerical Data in Versatile Tables X
X Customizable Trendline Graphs X
Custom Dashboards X
Overlay real-time data on an image, webcam, or GIS map X
Contour Plotting displays measurement distribution over a given location X
Over 30 Visualizations and Analysis Tools X
Reports, Alerts, and Collaboration
Create, Design, and Schedule Reports for daily, weekly, or monthly delivery X
X Visual and Audio Alarms for out of rangedata and sensor malfunction X
Manage Stakeholder Access to Features and Data with fine-grained user roles X
Customizable Interface and Login Page can display user’s brand logo and colors X