For live wireless demos at a fair, bring a box of cables
Stepping out of the daily routine is always good. Especially when you have the opportunity to showcase the fruits of the work that kept you busy for the last months and you invested a lot of your time into. Going to the Embedded World 2018 in Nuremberg last week was such an event.
Presenting at a fair with a startup of our size (around 14 people) is an event that affects everyone on board a couple of weeks in advance. This applies first and foremost to the guys planning the booth and organising meetings, but also steers the thinking and planning in the development teams: a lot of decisions have to be made and dependencies kept at bay to finally arrive at a point where everything works smoothly together. Besides that, a lot of equipment needs to be packed: tons of cables (funny for a company developing wireless communications, huh?!), network equipment, diagnosis tools, laptops, power supplies – nothing important must be left behind. Something that I guess all exhibitors who rely on live demos share, is this feeling that something important is missing and compromises the entire thing. There is this urge to bring just another box of support cables and put it right next to the other 5 spare ones – just in case.
All testing and preparation are only enough as long as one can accurately predict the environment and the conditions on site. That is also the reason why we always bring measurement equipment for on-site diagnosis. So, guess what happened when someone dropped a prank on the train to Nuremberg about the crucial spectrum scanner having been allegedly forgotten in the office. First, almost heart attacks all over the place. Second, kicks in survival mode. Third, crazy plans to overcome this issue the following day at the fair. Forth, the prank is revealed. Fifth, the kicks go to the pranker! This spectrum scanner actually played a significant role next day, when we saw really weird signal emissions on our channels (remember, that wireless communications suffer from interference… ^^’). As the frequencies we operate on are usually unused and free, these weird signal emissions made us run up and down like chickens with the scanner for a while before we figured out that the fair’s Wifi infrastructure was the perpetrator. Lesson learnt – next time we will be even more prepared.
Then, during the second day and right when an important customer just arrived at our booth, we had a power shut down. Not at the entire hall of course, only at our booth. And with it we lost our demo with hours of accumulated impressive performance data. Technical joke coming… It turned out our fridge had killed the 100 amperes construction sites fuse!!! (Theory was it was a construction-site fridge…). This issue happened a couple of times more until we decided that we don’t like cold water anyways (and who needs cold when Nuremberg is at -8ºC??!!).
All in all, the point is that even if you prepare an event like the Embedded World until the last detail, even if you try to predict all possible challenges, even if… Something can challenge you on site. And then, when you face that challenge and seems that everyone freaks out, then is when you can step in and say: “Do not worry, I brought another box of cables with me ;-)”
PS: Of course, it was again a lot of fun to attend a fair as exhibitors and to get in touch with new people, new ideas and interesting discussions.
PS II: I am convinced that next time it will be more relaxed – because I will bring another extra box of cables with me… Just in case 😉
PS III: For those who don’t know how I look, I do not like to have my feet on the ground… (Check picture!)