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Network considerations when using BenchVue Mobile application

Question asked by GPETEBlog Employee on Feb 18, 2014
The BenchVue Mobile application for Android and iOS devices provides a convenient tool for monitoring and controlling a measurement without being tied to the location of your instruments. In this post we will cover how to use the BenchVue mobile app inside and outside of your company’s network and issues you may encounter. If you are looking for general information on how to connect the BenchVue Mobile app to the BenchVue PC software see the forum post entitled “Using the BenchVue Mobile application to control and monitor your instruments.”

The BenchVue Mobile 1.0 application supports controlling and monitoring BenchVue supported DMMs, Power supplies, and oscilloscopes. Future releases will support more instruments. To connect, control, and monitor supported instruments the BenchVue Mobile application does not connect to the instruments directly instead it connects to them through the BenchVue PC software. To connect to the BenchVue PC software the mobile device that is running the BenchVue app must be connected via WiFi to the same local network or company intranet that the PC is connected to. Let’s look at two network scenarios and considerations in each to connect the mobile app:

1.     If the PC running BenchVue is connected to your company’s network either via WiFi or LAN, then your mobile device must be connected to the company’s network via WiFi. The only exception would be if you have software on your mobile device that allows you to create a virtual private network (VPN) connection to your company’s network, this will be discuss later in the post.
2.     If the PC running BenchVue is connected to a router with WiFi capability, then the mobile device must be connected to the router’s WiFi signal (router’s local network) to access the PC. If you try to connect to the PC from outside of the routers local network (even if the router is connected to the internet) the router’s firewall will block the mobile application’s connection attempt. There are methods to get around the router’s firewall that will be discussed later.

If your PC running the BenchVue software is connected to your company’s network and your mobile device running the BenchVue Mobile application is connected to your company’s network via WiFi and you are not able to connect you will want to contact your IT department to see if they can help diagnosis the problem. The issue might be that for security your IT department is blocking all commonly unused network “ports.” BenchVue uses network port 8766, ask your IT department if they block this port and if so ask them to unblock it because you would like to use this port inside the company network.

If you would like to access your instruments using the BenchVue Mobile app from outside your company’s network you will need virtual private network (VPN) software on your mobile device. VPN software allows your device to access of the company’s network securely from a remote location outside of the office. Consult your IT department to see if they support VPN access for iOS or Android mobile devices. With VPN capability on your mobile device you could access your BenchVue connected instruments from anywhere, such as your home or from a sidewalk using a cellular connection.
If the PC running BenchVue is connected to a router, the mobile device must be connected to the router’s local network as mentioned above because the router’s firewall will block the mobile device from connecting to any device connected to its local network. Routers are configured like this to protect your PC and other connected devices from outside malicious attacks. This is true whether the router is in your home or connected to your company’s network. The only way around this is to use the DMZ or port forwarding capabilities in the router settings to essentially poke a hole in the firewall to allow the BenchVue Mobile application to access the PC running BenchVue that your instruments are connected to. See the router’s manual for using the DMZ or port forwarding capabilities. If you are using port forwarding, the network port that BenchVue uses to communicate is port 8766. Please note that these router features will make the devices connected to your router more open to attackers.  

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