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John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6

1 edit

OT - Site Monitoring Device - Input Needed

I have a small project that I am engineering, and have given some thought to putting it into "mass production". In my view, it has an application within the WISP community, and yields a positive cost/benefit ratio.

Essentially, it is a small box that is attached to your network at your POP site by Cat5 cable. For WISP use, it has eight (8) channels configured as such:

• Channel 1 - Temperature (Analog Input)
• Channel 2 - Battery voltage (Analog Input)
• Channel 3 - Door Contact (Digital Input)
• Channel 4 - Door Contact (Digital Input)
• Channel 5 - Available (Digital Input)
• Channel 6 - Available (Digital Output)
• Channel 7 - SPDT Relay #1 (Digital Output)
• Channel 8 - SPDT Relay #2 (Digital Output)

The objective is to measure the local battery temperature, measure the local battery voltage, monitor the doors/cabinets and give you the capability to turn on fans or lights as needed.

This is a network-accessible device, and is polled as necessary to return the most current values. It returns CSV data and can be used in any fashion (think Excel).

This device can be powered by wall-wart or POE, so it is flexible in that regard.

It has minimum "bells-and-whistles" for local observation...indicators are Link, Data and Action. Link indicates that a link is established with the upstream device, Data indicates that data transmission is taking place, and Action indicates that some action has been taken by the device. It is presumed that the people using this device understand it and can use it appropriately.

My target retail pricing for this device is $79. Now, my question(s) to you are this:

1 - Does this device respond to a need that you have (for example, remote monitoring)?

2 - Does the price seem fair for its capabilities?

With this device, you can interrogate the status of your remote site at any time, without making the physical trip.

Is this of value to you?

Inquiring minds want to know...!
--
The most powerful weapon in the world is ignorance. Politicians exploit it to achieve almost anything they want.



funkyfelty
Armament For Peace

join:2002-10-01
Lebanon, PA

I saw that it can be polled, but can it send traps?

If it can send traps, I would buy a few. It is actually hard to find a board that does all of that.
--
Soldier, Firefighter, Proud to be an American



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6

Traps are available in the next device up...the "Advanced". Of course, it has more features including wireless and more computational functionality. Think 'standalone device".

Just to cut the suspense in advance , there is a "Professional" device being considered for $199 that does everything (more channels (16) and dual band wifi).



jcraner

@in-addr.arpa

What is the self consumption wattage of the standard device? Sounds like exactly what I am looking for (Mikrotik voltage monitoring is so inconsistent, and I am currently working on interfacing the Morningstar serial connector right now), so you could sign me up for 5 at that price.



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6
reply to John Galt

The objective is to learn what constitutes the maximum functionality for the least cost...and what that particular price-point is.

In other words, at what point would you consider stop driving and buy one of these devices to monitor your site?


prairiesky

join:2008-12-08
canada
kudos:2
reply to John Galt

Sounds similar, but better than the mFi, in that it has way more channels.

Can it do email alerts? What i'd like to see is,

-outdoor temp
-An alert that tells me when the box power has gone out and when you're on UPS, so i can get out there with a gen set
-email alerts
-data/event logging
-maybe a current sensor to monitor power draw.



jcraner

@in-addr.arpa
reply to John Galt

$100, because I can do it "close enough" with other equipment



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6
reply to John Galt

The hardware designer is confronted with many choices when engineering the device. In this project, there are three variations of the device, each with three considerations:

BASIC $79
1 - Cost
2 - Functionality
3 - Expandability

ADVANCED $139
1 - Functionality
2 - Cost
3 - Expandability

PROFESSIONAL $199
1 - Expandability
2 - Functionality
3 - Cost

The target retail price is shown since there needs to be some constraint on the cost. Otherwise, "mission creep" occurs and you get a product with a cost that exceeds the willingness of the customer to purchase it.

There's always somebody who wants to add "just one more thing".
--
The most powerful weapon in the world is ignorance. Politicians exploit it to achieve almost anything they want.



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6
reply to prairiesky

said by prairiesky:

Sounds similar, but better than the mFi, in that it has way more channels.

Can it do email alerts? What i'd like to see is,

-outdoor temp
-An alert that tells me when the box power has gone out and when you're on UPS, so i can get out there with a gen set
-email alerts
-data/event logging
-maybe a current sensor to monitor power draw.

This functionality is available on the Advanced device. The Advanced and Professional devices have the computational power to do any task a computer can do and hence the same functionality.

I am considering optional add-on sensor packs...temp, current, photocell to make it easy to install in the field.

The Advanced and Professional devices have USB so the use of a UPS with connectivity shouldn't be an issue.

Email, SMS, FTP, scheduling and such are no problem.
--
The most powerful weapon in the world is ignorance. Politicians exploit it to achieve almost anything they want.



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6
reply to jcraner

said by jcraner :

What is the self consumption wattage of the standard device? Sounds like exactly what I am looking for (Mikrotik voltage monitoring is so inconsistent, and I am currently working on interfacing the Morningstar serial connector right now), so you could sign me up for 5 at that price.

For the Basic device, as low as possible. My thinking is that it should be optimized for low-power solar installations. For example, the indicator LEDs (which are SMD) could be disabled.
--
The most powerful weapon in the world is ignorance. Politicians exploit it to achieve almost anything they want.


voxframe

join:2010-08-02
reply to John Galt

I think it's a great idea, provided it fixes the problem that I commonly see with other manufacturers and that is *FULL* support for things like SNMP, or other "open" protocols.

I can/do homebrew most of this stuff for a lower cost, and the honest reason why I don't bother with any pre-built solutions is they all lack simple options like this. You either are stuck using some 3rd party software for monitoring and control, or it speaks some obscure broken version of SNMP, just to fuck you up from using other vendors etc.

I can see a lot of these issues being addressed by Ubnt's Mfi, but from what I'm gathering more and more, the units don't support a lot of basic things that people want, or they are tied into some specific software.

What I loath the most with these devices is the lack of all around sensor inputs. Oh you want temperatures, that's an upgrade, this one only gives contacts... Oh you want voltage with that too? Go up to a higher model.

The "base" version should have at least ONE of everything, then the higher level ones should be multiple ones etc for a larger site deployment.

The absolute base should be
-TEMP
-VOLTS
-2 Contacts
-2 Relays

(Which is what I think you have here)

Also they should include the sensor for each contact.
Let's be honest to build a temperature sensor is peanuts, but I see asshole companies selling them for 40-99$ each.
Put the sensors with the package so there's no "option" crap (At least with base model) and it makes it worth considering.

Also, sensors should obviously speak "English" and not output some other obscure signal that nothing else understands, or works with. Again I can't believe how many vendors "dick" with their sensors just to make them incompatible with anything standard.



imanon

@comcast.net
reply to John Galt

I'm a little confused - how do you think your going to sell this 'new' device when plenty of these already exists in the market...

»www.itwatchdogs.com/product-cate···s-1.html
»www.controlbyweb.com/products.html
»dataprobe.com/ipio8-web-relay-control.php
»www.controlanything.com
»www.apc.com/products/category.cf···subid=94
»www.serverscheck.com/sensors
»www.networktechinc.com/enviro-monitor.html
»www.sensatronics.com/solutions_d···dex.html

or if you're in the cheaper is best, I like to tinker all day to make it work, kind of mood...
»www.kickstarter.com/projects/520···onnected

voxframe

join:2010-08-02
reply to John Galt

Most of those are overpriced, and lack a lot of basics (A few of them have either limited or no SNMP support, and that qualifies as the dirt basic necessity)

That's what kinda pisses me off with the sensor/monitoring products out there. They are wickedly overpriced shit. There's nothing in there that even costs a 20th of what it takes to build them, and the software that drives them are absolutely horrible. Use MT or Ubnt as an example, the hardware is also dirt cheap, but a lot goes into programming them.

(Yeah that's another gripe, I've never seen a single sensor board driven by any kind of software/interface that was reliable, or even "decent" as far as I'm concerned)

The best interface I've ever seen in any kind of package like these is the DLI interface for their power relay stuff, and that interface is HORRIBLE, and lacks SNMP, but it's still better than most of the above stuff. (Minus the heavy duty $5K site monitoring systems used by the big carriers, I've never seen a decent interface on any sub $1K relay/monitoring box)



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6
reply to imanon

said by imanon :

I'm a little confused - how do you think your going to sell this 'new' device when plenty of these already exists in the market...

Price my device functionality using the devices you suggested then get back to me.

or if you're in the cheaper is best, I like to tinker all day to make it work, kind of mood...
»www.kickstarter.com/projects/520···onnected

This is good (we're thinking along the same lines), but lacks the number of I/O that my device has.

The other issue is having the conditioning right on the board so the user doesn't have to deal with that aspect of it. It is easy enough to do, but most people don't have that knowledge.

My professional experience is in industrial instrumentation and controls, so I know the market pretty well. I know what things cost.

Pricing on these devices is paramount. It drives everything. The objective is to drive the price low by using every advantage that the current technologies offer. By using non-bleeding edge devices (because they are not needed in this application), it is possible to reduce the cost significantly.
--
The most powerful weapon in the world is ignorance. Politicians exploit it to achieve almost anything they want.



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6
reply to voxframe

said by voxframe:

Also, sensors should obviously speak "English" and not output some other obscure signal that nothing else understands, or works with. Again I can't believe how many vendors "dick" with their sensors just to make them incompatible with anything standard.

The I/O will accept industry-standard 4-20mA and 0-10V.

public

join:2002-01-19
Santa Clara, CA
reply to John Galt

said by John Galt:

My professional experience is in industrial instrumentation and controls, so I know the market pretty well. I know what things cost.

Pricing on these devices is paramount. It drives everything. The objective is to drive the price low by using every advantage that the current technologies offer. By using non-bleeding edge devices (because they are not needed in this application), it is possible to reduce the cost significantly.

A board with similar functionality sells on ebay for $20.
While old company industrial buyers are willing to pay $600 for $25 shaft encoder, you may not be able to easily reach that market.
If you select a good distribution channel, even a me too product can be successful.

Chele

join:2003-07-23
kudos:1
reply to John Galt

said by John Galt:

said by voxframe:

The I/O will accept industry-standard 4-20mA and 0-10V.

Make it able to handle up to 36v so that it can be connected directly to solar power systems. We have had to use voltage regulators only because UBNT won't work on anything above 24-25v, my gripe with that is not the cost of the voltage regulator but it's just one more piece that can fail. Let the units have dual input sensors--one to measure the solar feed and another to measure battery condition. I know it's going above and beyond your initial intentions, buuuuuut-----------make a unit with remote rebooting/ping watchdog capabilities. It goes without saying, make it rugged! It's amazing the working conditions we subject the equipment to and ask(demand!!) that they work reliably. As always, pricing is an issue--most WISPs will have several POPs and it begins to add up.


John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6

said by Chele:

Make it able to handle up to 36v so that it can be connected directly to solar power systems.

Units will accept up to 48V at either the power connector or POE.

Let the units have dual input sensors--one to measure the solar feed and another to measure battery condition.

Gots!

I know it's going above and beyond your initial intentions, buuuuuut-----------make a unit with remote rebooting/ping watchdog capabilities.

Done.

It goes without saying, make it rugged! It's amazing the working conditions we subject the equipment to and ask(demand!!) that they work reliably.

Various cases are an option for demanding conditions (IP65 and such).

As always, pricing is an issue--most WISPs will have several POPs and it begins to add up.

But of course! That is the whole objective here...to reduce the cost of such technologies significantly.
--
The most powerful weapon in the world is ignorance. Politicians exploit it to achieve almost anything they want.


Chele

join:2003-07-23
kudos:1

Well, never mind, if you're going to be difficult about it Put me down on your list, it sounds promising!



CMack

join:2004-07-30
canada
reply to John Galt

here is one sold in Canada John, we have used them before »www.remotemonitoringsystems.ca/r···ndex.php



PSWired

join:2006-03-26
Annapolis, MD

1 recommendation

reply to John Galt

Let's not forget about PacketFlux:

»www.packetflux.com/



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6
reply to CMack

said by CMack:

here is one sold in Canada John, we have used them before »www.remotemonitoringsystems.ca/r···ndex.php

Yep...this is what we use as a model for "our competition".

Even the RMS-100 is $595USD...ouch.

bburley

join:2010-04-30
Cold Lake, AB
reply to John Galt

said by John Galt:

said by Chele:

Make it able to handle up to 36v so that it can be connected directly to solar power systems.

Units will accept up to 48V at either the power connector or POE.

48V is not enough for 48V Solar systems. Our 48V battery bank can reach 64V during peak charging. I blew up two $700 boards that were rated at 70V due to the "stiff" supply voltage at the instant of turn-on. Finally had to install a 24V DC-DC Converter and run from that. Funny that the converter was also rated at 70V input but it survives. It was cheaper than blowing up another board.


TomS_
Git-r-done
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-19
London, UK
kudos:5
reply to John Galt

Make it rack mountable too.

I have used a device from these guys before: »www.roomalert.com/

Worked pretty well. Two temperature sensors and a couple of analogue/digital inputs to measure temperatures, voltages, and doors.

IIRC its modular, you just buy the type of module you need to measure voltage/temp/whatever and plug it in to a socket on the device. It recognises it and produces stats accordingly.

Can do SNMP, but we didnt use traps so unsure about that.

For the most part, our door, voltage, and temperature sensors all lived in our Eaton/Powerware rectifier units.


prairiesky

join:2008-12-08
canada
kudos:2
reply to John Galt

Actually, a great idea that I liked, It may have been on that room alert, was a light output.

So there was a light stack on top with a green, yellow and red, depending on the state, it would be light up accordingly. Great if your tower is in a yard and someone is keeping an eye on it.


gunther_01
Premium
join:2004-03-29
Saybrook, IL
reply to John Galt

Do not make it rack mountable. Make provisions to make it rack mountable. As small as humanly possible is ideal. If I can't fit it in the box I already have, it just adds to the cost of the unit for me to add another box to put it in.
--
»www.wirelessdatanet.net



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6
reply to bburley

said by bburley:

said by John Galt:

said by Chele:

Make it able to handle up to 36v so that it can be connected directly to solar power systems.

Units will accept up to 48V at either the power connector or POE.

48V is not enough for 48V Solar systems. Our 48V battery bank can reach 64V during peak charging. I blew up two $700 boards that were rated at 70V due to the "stiff" supply voltage at the instant of turn-on. Finally had to install a 24V DC-DC Converter and run from that. Funny that the converter was also rated at 70V input but it survives. It was cheaper than blowing up another board.

Talking with the interface engineer...he says that it can accept line voltage, properly protected (fused and current-limited).

Our objective is to limit the on-board working voltages to 50 volts or less, as this is the breakpoint for Class 2 devices. The requirements are far less stringent in many applications.

A voltage divider prior to the input is easy to do...more than happy to sell you one for $99.
--
The most powerful weapon in the world is ignorance. Politicians exploit it to achieve almost anything they want.


bburley

join:2010-04-30
Cold Lake, AB

A voltage divider is usually just two resistors which is only suited for steady current loads, unless you meant something else.

The DC-DC Converter worked out well. Everything but the touchy board was running on 48V. Having 24V available allowed me to add a MikroTik Router later on.

The touchy board had an on-board regulator which allowed it to work with an input voltage as low as 15V or so. It was the regulator that kept exploding at turn-on.


Chele

join:2003-07-23
kudos:1
reply to John Galt

John

What is your best guess for ETA on these products?



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6

1 edit

said by Chele:

John

What is your best guess for ETA on these products?

It's in the engineering phase (hence all the questions) so "not tomorrow" is probably a good answer.

But soon...!
--
The most powerful weapon in the world is ignorance. Politicians exploit it to achieve almost anything they want.