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October 2016
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Easy VRF & DSS Integration Solutions for BACnet, Modbus, Wifi
Intesis Software SLU

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Creators and Makers

Once we have tested and allowed a few of our friends to play with the controller we will be looking to fund a much larger run with the final design. Kickstarter or Indiegogo will be chosen to help us get the controller out to more individuals.
Clayton Plymill

Clayton Plymill
clayton@plymill.com
 
&
George Young

George Young


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Blue Ridge Technologies

People love to invent and make.  Today it is easier than ever.  The cost of making sophisticated devices is dropping. Open hardware is making a push and will be around for quite some time.  Open Software has been around for some time and only becomes stronger.  Two of the best companies that allow you access to open hardware and software are Sparkfun (https://www.sparkfun.com) and Adafruit (https://www.adafruit.com)  Both are led by makers who believe in teaching and giving.  Open hardware is making an impact.  It allows for many engineers to provide input and refine designs.  If you are looking for an example of open hardware making an impact, look no further than the 3d Printing industry.  The Makerbot is an early example. 

Here are some numbers to think about.

Maker Board Date first released Units Sold

Raspberry PI
(https://www.raspberrypi.org)
02/2012 over 10 million
Arduino
(https://www.arduino.cc)
2005 1 million plus
Open anyone can build

Odroid
(http://www.hardkernel.com/main/main.php)
2009 ?
Beagle Bone
(http://beagleboard.org/bone)
10/2011 250,000 plus

There are many more but these are my favorites.   All have significant following and sales.  All have many interesting versions. Each have thousands of users. Having such a strong following means that each design gets exposed to many different use cases. 

What does open hardware and software mean?  In general terms you are free to make, alter or use the design as you see fit.  Read the license that is attached for more specifics and to be sure that you are in compliance.  Makers often take these initial designs and alter, improve and exchange their vision.  Other makers don’t redesign the product but do use ready-made shields and capes to suit their purposes. More and more makers use these boards in real world applications.  Access control, HVAC control and lighting are common. 

The following protocols are common:

Protocol Link
Open Source Version
MQTT http://mqtt.org https://github.com/mqtt
CoAP http://coap.technology http://coap.technology/impls.html
ZigBee http://www.zigbee.org http://zboss.dsr-wireless.com
Thread https://github.com/openthread https://github.com/openthread
Modbus http://www.modbus.org https://github.com/infiniteautomation
BACnet http://www.bacnet.org https://github.com/infiniteautomation

There are also open Platforms:

Platform Link
Mango http://infiniteautomation.com
Sedona http://www.sedonadev.org/index.html
Fhem http://fhem.de/fhem.html
Kaa http://www.kaaproject.org
Node-Red http://nodered.org
Device Hive http://devicehive.com
IoTivity https://www.iotivity.org

My friend and I have been studying and love the IOT space.  We are Makers at heart.  George and I have set upon building an open hardware platform for makers.   We will release all the information that you would need to create the hardware for yourself.  Parts of the source code for the firmware will be available free as well.

There are lots of boards, shields and capes that allow for all sorts of creations.  Ours is simple, flexible and functional.  Our individual experiences are being integrated into our device.  Here is an image from eagle for our platform.

Platform Image

A BLE radio is used to make configuring and commissioning a breeze with your mobile device. With your phone (IOS or Android) you will be able to connect to the controller, configure it, set points to manual mode and do the same to any other controller on the network.  Each controller becomes a coordinator on the network when you connect to it via BLE.  You will be able to discover and link all other controllers and points because of this.

There is an on-board Micro SD Card to gather all data that you could or should want.  Large capacity inexpensive cards are available so the only limit is imagination.

The XBee socket allows for integration with many wireless devices including the one we are developing in conjunction.  It is based upon the JN5168 and will use a modified JenNet IP Stack or Thread.  Digi international has a plethora of modules as well. (http://www.digi.com)

Control Solutions, Inc An expansion port is included because Makers like to make!  We will offer “ready made” expansion devices as well.  Here are some that we have on our design table.

Modem CDMA/GSM The modem will be plug and play.  By using AT commands you will be able to upload data, remotely view and configure the controller.
RS485/Ethernet Switch/Webserver This allows for structured wired communications. The built in webserver will be for those that want a light weight local HMI.
Extra I/O It never fails, someone always needs and extra AI, AO, DI or DO.

We gave it a battery and charging circuit to allow for proper shutdown and the possibility of running the controller on solar power alone.  The base battery will allow the controller to run for up to 24hrs without having to have external power.

General hardware I/O included:

2 Analog inputs (0-10 VDC)
2 Analog output (0-10 VDC)
2 Digital inputs (optically isolated)
4 Digital outputs (two latching, one NO and one SSR)

We have a first draft of our hardware.  The prototypes are on their way.  Communications and basic firmware are being developed.  Once we have tested and allowed a few of our friends to play with the controller we will be looking to fund a much larger run with the final design.  Kickstarter or Indiegogo will be chosen to help us get the controller out to more individuals and continue expanding and developing the system we have started to create.  Stay tuned for additional information.  We will be periodically posting through LinkedIn and twitter.  If you would like more information, please contact me at clayton@plymill.com.



About the Creators
 
Clayton Plymill
Clayton has spent the last 25 years in the HVAC / Automation industry. He has developed numerous commercial and industrial communication technology applications over his career. Career projects include power monitoring devices, remote monitoring, soil moisture sensing and controllers.
 
George Young
George recently completed a PhD in mechanical engineering at Princeton, focusing on controlling networked systems. He has prior degrees in robotics and mathematics. Past projects included determining and mitigating the effects of errors in complex networks, analysis of interactions in bird flocks, machine vision for real-time tracking of large groups and development of artificial muscle actuators. Simply put, George takes layers of engineering, mathematics, and robotics, to build simple machines that can work in unison to achieve difficult tasks.




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