XM Assistant is an application to assist XM Satellite Radio service technicians in diagnosing and maintaining the terrestrial repeater network. It utilizes RS-232 serial technology to communicate with the proprietary equipment, and provide a more intuitive, friendly interface to the various maintenance and configuration functions of the hardware. This includes graphical gauges and color-coded readings and a real-time strip chart for various system metrics, which formerly would have required two separate applications (which could not be run simultaneously). In addition, it helps track site details and history, and manages some of the maintenance paperwork generation and online submission.
This was a joint project between Blue Ninja Software and Quantified Communications of Manchester, CT. Quantified Communications provides various technical and communications services for companies, including the installation of satellite communications equipment, upgrading data systems for large chain stores such as Target and Kohl's, and maintenance of XM Satellite Radio's Terrestrial Repeater Network equipment for parts of the northeast market covering Connecticut, Massachusetts, upstate New York, and Rhode Island.
Our lead developer also does technical work for XM Radio through Quantified Communications. It was through the course of this work, and the use of the very basic, low-end tools available at the time, that he determined that there was a better way. Thus was born XM Assistant, a pet project primarily for himself to simplify his own job.
Since then, XM Assistant has grown to encompass a wider range of capabilities and has been in use for over 3 years. While never officially supported by XM Satellite Radio (it is currently being reviewed by XM), it has saved countless hours of time while on-site, and provides many handy features for comparing site metrics over time and analyzing trends to spot potential issues, or identify their origin. The hours saved in submitting monthly maintenance data alone is remarkable: What used to take approximately 20 minutes per site, now takes about 1. And given the large number of sites maintained by Quantified Communications across 4 states, the value there is very significant.