Electronics Production | March 04, 2008
Digi provides ZigBee solution for<br>cash control in gaming industry
JCA Systems Ltd is a UK based specialist in the design and production of electronic solutions for the vending, gaming and amusement industries. Its products allow gaming establishments to more easily manage, meter and audit gaming machines.
JCA needed a way to more easily provide automated counting and auditing with the ability to automatically update records on the casino’s computerised databases. With restrictions on cost and the difficulty of running Ethernet cables in many areas, the company had limited options. However, JCA found a wireless solution using a combination of XBee and XBee Pro ZigBee modules plus Rabbit Semiconductor RCM3720 core modules from Digi International. Historically, cash in gaming machines has been tracked by means of electromechanical meters, which need to be checked manually while takings are recorded using a paper based process. This has always been prone to error plus the meters are not totally reliable. Operator error is a further concern as workers can write meter readings down incorrectly. Moreover, there is the risk of theft by workers who can report fewer takings than there actually are. JCA wanted to offer its customers an alternative that would ensure greater accuracy while saving them time, without increasing costs dramatically. It was also essential that high levels of security be maintained. JCA initially tried a solution based on a Wi-Fi connection using serial-to-Ethernet connections over wireless. This solution met the company’s needs, however the cost of the counters was too high for most casinos. Digi was able to provide the solution needed thanks to its XBee and Rabbit Semiconductor product lines. Digi was able to inexpensively create a mesh network connecting all machines in a casino together using its XBee modules. Then, an XBee Pro was added to a Rabbit RCM3720 core module, which converts the ZigBee signals to Ethernet. The result, marketed as the Site Manager range, is a complete solution that can continuously monitor every gaming machine in the casino and update a computerised database automatically so that at any given point the management at the casino can see how much cash is in every machine. Additionally counting machines are electronically connected so that when machines are emptied instant reports compare the amount from the counting machine to the amount reported by the gaming machines, alerting operators to any discrepancies.