Guides

In their simplest form, beacons can be used to pinpoint your location. At their most complex, beacons can transmit and receive data from sensors and other beacons. Beacons enable (but are not limited to) the following use cases:

  • triggering relevant mobile content for education and shopping experiences
  • initiating data transfer between a mobile device and usb or OEM beacon at point of sale computer to redeem offers
  • logging and reporting temperature data
  • notifying a quick service restaurant of your arrival for order pickup
  • tracking the location of assets in real time

Getting Started

Beacons are essentially broadcasters of data. This data can be static, such as an identifier, public or obfuscated, or data from sensors.

Getting Started With Your Beacon Project

Getting Started YouTube Tutorial

Troubleshooting Your Beacons

Understanding Beacons

Beacons are devices that use the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol to repeatedly send short transmissions, called advertisements, to mobile devices and other. Advertisements can contain identifier and/or sensor data and the brevity of these advertisements allows for battery operated use lasting several years.

Beacons 101

Different Beacon Settings

What Target Speed or Loudness?

Advertising with Beacons

Proximity marketing allows you to send soft notfications to Android devices so that you can advertise to people. For more information check out our Advertising with Beacons guide below:

Advertising with Beacons Guide

FAQs

What is a Beacon?

Beacons are devices that use the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol to repeatedly send short transmissions, called advertisements, to mobile devices and other. Advertisements can contain identifier and/or sensor data and the brevity of these advertisements allows for battery operated use lasting several years.

Broadly, you can use Beacons for two main things:

    1. Asset and People tracking
    2. Marketing or Retail
What can I do with Beacons?

In their simplest form, beacons can be used to pinpoint your location. At their most complex, beacons can transmit and receive data from sensors and other beacons. Beacons enable (but are not limited to) the following use cases:

    - triggering relevant mobile content for education and shopping experiences
    - initiating data transfer between a mobile device, beacon and point of sale computer to redeem offers
    - logging and reporting temperature data
    - notifying a quick service restaurant of your arrival for order pickup
    - tracking the location of assets in real time

Beacons are essentially broadcasters of data. This data can be static, such as an identifier, public or obfuscated, or data from sensors or devices such as order ID.

Which Beacons should I use?

All of our Beacons' settings like transmission speed and power level are configurable. It should be noted that similar to WiFi, Bluetooth signal can get blocked by cement, metal, water, and even people!

Coin and AA Beacons

Our two most popular Beacons are the Coin and the AA Beacons. The Coin Beacons and the AA Beacons are functionally the same units (they have same internal module). They will both get around 100 meters.

The main differences are form factor and battery life. The Coin Beacons will last anywhere between 3 months, while the AA Beacons will last around 2 years. If you are going to leave the Beacons in one spot, I definitely recommend the AA Beacon for less maintenance.

USB Beacon

Our USB Beacon is a great alternative if you have a power source. The Beacon has a distance of 20-40 meters.

Here are the details on volume pricing for our USB Beacons, AA Beacons, and Coin Beacons:

Beacons 0-100 101-500 501-1000
AA Beacon (313) $30.00 $28.10 $26.23
Coin Beacon (413) $15.00 $14.02 $13.05
USB Beacon (202) $25.00 $23.16 $21.75

Technical Specification Sheets:

How do I advertise with Beacons?

What you are going to want to use is either Eddystone URL or Nearby notifications.

For more information visit our: Advertising with Beacons Guide

What is the Edge Relay?

The BlueCats Edge Relay is a powerful device that is a Bluetooth Scanner that can send raw, filtered, or intelligently processed BLE scan data and events to whatever MQTT, HTTP, and UDP endpoint that you desire.

You can supply power to the Edge Relay via Power over Ethernet (PoE) or micro-USB. It can attach to Local Networks and the Internet via dual Ethernet ports or as a WiFi Client, and can additionally act as a WiFi Access Point

For more information and getting started visit here:

Edge Relay Guide

Beacon Guides

Can't Update Beacon Settings or Firmware?

Some reasons of why the Beacon cannot be connected could be a range, phone, or battery issue. For these troublesome Beacons we are going to want to get the firmware updated:

- Open the Beacon up and remove the battery

- Put the Battery back in

- Open up BC Reveal

- There are two ways to click on Beacon:

ç 1) Pull down on Sniffer screen to refresh Beacons. </ol>
    2) Click on the Beacon and then scroll to the Bottom.
    Go to Teams > Beacons > Click on that Beacon

- Click Update firmware

You may have to try this a few times to get it right.

Troubleshooting Guides:

How do I change my Beacon Region, Beacons's Major/Minor, or Instance ID?

BlueCats come in the Bluecats region by default. The instance ids and major/minors are not editable to anyone. The way to pick your own instance id and major minor is to create your own region.

Creating a New Region

    1. Go to and login at BlueCats Web App
    2. Click on the tab Regions
    3. In the top right corner, Create New Region
    4. Create your Region Name
    5. Open up a New Tab
    6. Go to this GUID generator or another GUID generator of your choice
    7. Make sure Uppercase and Hyphens are clicked
    8. Click Generate some GUIDs
    9. Copy the generated GUID "D1B2BBAE-4241-4CD0-9BF3-FDF0DE693672"
    10. Go Back to the BlueCats App Tab
    11. Paste the GUID under iBeacon Proximixty UUID
    12. Next Check "Use region proximityUUID for KeepAlive"
    13. For the Eddystone UID, you will remove the part from the first hyphen to the last hypen
    14. For example "D1B2BBAE-4241-4CD0-9BF3-FDF0DE693672" change to "D1B2BBAEFDF0DE693672"
    15. Copy “D1B2BBAEFDF0DE693672”
    16. Paste the GUID into Eddystone Namespace
    17. Click Save

For iBeacon, the identifier you will keep is: "D1B2BBAE-4241-4CD0-9BF3-FDF0DE693672"

For Eddystone UID, the identifier you will keep is: “D1B2BBAEFDF0DE693672”

After this, to get the settings sent the Beacons, you will want to change it on the BlueCats Web app.

    1. You are going to want to go to: https://app.bluecats.com/beacons
    2. Go to the Beacons tab
    3. Click the gear tab
    4. Click Edit
    5. If the Beacon is in your region, you should be able to click and add the instance ID as the serial number
    6. Then apply those settings with BC Reveal
Why don't I see any metrics in the BlueCats dashboard?

Unless you build a mobile application with our SDK, you will not see any metrics on the BlueCats web app. It is built to only receive data from developers who created mobile applications.

Google Cloud does not have any data reporting. It will tell you if there is high or low activity. However if you want more data, you can set the unique links to Google Analytics or another web analytic tool to find how often the link is visited.

Trouble connecting to a beacon? Peripheral is Null?

If you are having issues connecting, or if you receive a message Peripheral is Null means the phone is not contacting the Beacon. If your Beacon is in older firmware, you will want to update it to the newest firmware.

A couple things to try:

    1. Try shutting down the app completely.
    2. Try shutting off Bluetooth.
    3. Try removing the battery and then updating the beacon once you put the battery back in.
How do I get my signal to go farther?

All of our Beacons' settings like transmission speed and power level are configurable. It should be noted that similar to WiFi, Bluetooth signal can get blocked by cement, metal, water, and even people!

So be noted if you put it in buildings or cars or the like.

Battery Life?

For AA Beacons, they do not come with batteries. Make sure you get fresh batteries in there. Sometimes the Coin Beacons tab does not prevent the battery from making contact, and therefore drains the batteries. Also, batteries are imperfect and discharge at a non-linear rate!

If you are seeing low battery, check the battery life expectancy and replace if it is low.

Important: The power level will only affect about 20% of the battery life. The advertisement speed is what drains the battery the most!

Battery Life Expectancy

Below are the battery life expectancies for AA Beacons and the Coin Beacons, based on the settings for transmission power and advertisement speed.

AA Beacon: Battery Life

Whisper (-21 dbm) Mutter (-15 dbm) Talk (-9 dbm) Shout (0-1 dbm) Scream (5 dbm)
Sit (1285 ms) 90 months 91 months 89 months 86 months 77 months
Stroll (760 ms) 58 months 57 months 56 months 52 months 49 months
Walk (319 ms) 26 months 25.5 months 25 months 22 months 21 months
Jog (153 ms) 13 months 12.5 months 12 months 11.5 months 11 months
Run (100 ms) 9 months 8.5 months 8 months 7.8 months 7 months

Coin Beacon: Battery Life

Whisper (-21 dbm) Mutter (-15 dbm) Talk (-9 dbm) Shout (0-1 dbm) Scream (5 dbm)
Sit (1285 ms) 12.2 months 12 months 11.9 months 11.5 months 10.3 months
Stroll (760 ms) 7.8 months 7.6 months 7.5 months 6.9 months 6.6 months
Walk (319 ms) 3.4 months 3.3 months 3.2 months 3.0 months 2.8 months
Jog (153 ms) 1.7 months 1.6 months 1.5 months 1.5 months 1.4 months
Run (100 ms) 1.3 months 1.2 months 1.1 months 1.0 months 0.9 months