True Analytics™ - Energy Savings, Comfort, and Operational Efficiency
|Hobby Microcontrollers The Future Of The BAS Industry?
The people adapting and modifying new technology for fun yesterday will be shaping the building automation offerings of tomorrow. The differences in outlook and output will not be minor.
Founder, Owner, Publisher AutomatedBuildings.com
I contacted Rick on LinkedIn to have him share more of his thinking;
Good talking to you on the phone today!
I will be in touch as I check off some of my workload over the last
quarter here. For your records, here is my contact information:
Rick Stehmeyer | Senior Engineer Cx Associates, LLC | Achieving
Efficient Building Performance
I have pulled the following words from this article for discussion
Hobby Microcontrollers And The Future Of The BAS Industry
The people adapting and modifying new technology for fun yesterday will be shaping the building automation offerings of tomorrow. The differences in outlook and output will not be minor. Take a look at what the future might hold for facilities, consulting firms, and manufacturers.
Today, in 2016, we
often see BAS installed in new commercial buildings with
microcontroller hardware that was designed up to 10 years ago.
Meanwhile, there is a growing market for cutting edge, new hobby
microcontrollers outside of the BAS controls industry. Compared to
commercial building microcontrollers which can cost upwards of $3,000,
microcontrollers in the hobbyist market which can be as, if not more,
powerful than those available commercially, cost less than a hundred
This new market is flourishing as everyday people program these microcontrollers to hack cars, build 3-D printers, and augment drone functionality. You may be unfamiliar with this technology, but soon it will be everywhere. This situation begs the following questions:
• Why are building control systems lagging so far behind the hobby controls market?
• Why does the HVAC industry accept the replacement of legacy controls with 10-year-old technology?
This article explores the current state of technology and the coming changes we should expect as the BAS controls market evolves to incorporate newer, cheaper, and faster technology under a modified paradigm. I’ll explore the significant potential for hobby microcontrollers to positively impact the BAS controls industry’s lifecycle and business model. Because many readers may be unfamiliar with the technologies available on the market, I present a comparison of a contemporary BAS controller and a typical hobby controller.
Then I’ll discuss some of the pros and cons of change from the perspective of BAS industry insiders. I cover the hardware, software, and my experience with microcontrollers in a commercial setting and as a hobbyist. I will conclude with how I see the influence these hobby microcontrollers are having on the next generation of industry professionals and how that influence will spill into our industry. My hope is that as we all learn more about what is possible, we will increase our expectations and manufacturers will respond with better products offered at lower prices.
The article goes on to define what a microcontroller might be
Let me introduce
you to the Raspberry Pi (RasPi). It is a $50 credit card-sized
Linux1-based computer with which you interface via a monitor/TV through
an HDMI port and via USB keyboard and mouse. First introduced in 2012
by the Raspberry Pi Foundation as an educational tool to teach children
computer science, the RasPi has already undergone three major
iterations and the current version is called the Raspberry Pi 3
(RasPi3). It runs one of the most popular versions of Linux and has a
1.2GHz processor with 1 GB of RAM onboard. RasPi3 has double the
capacity, longer battery life, and more USB ports than the 600Mhz Dell
laptop that got me through my undergraduate computer programming degree
12 years ago. RasPi3 is so adaptable and easy to use that it is readily
poised to upend the BAS industry in a good way.
I was extremely pleased to have long
time friend and industry expert George Thomas comment on the
possibility of these new low cost high power devices having an impact
on our industry. In this article he shares his thoughts:
Hobbyist Platforms for Powerful Edge Controllers - but what Control Language? - George Thomas, President, Contemporary Controls
feel platforms such as the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone are best used as
benchmarking platforms facilitating product design by allowing your
software engineers the opportunity to begin development before hardware
design is completed. You can also verify the intended performance
of the proposed design on one of these platforms to ensure design goals
will be met. I agree that if you want to use one of these
platforms in your final design, it would be cheaper to purchase the
assembly versus using their BOM and making it yourself. If your
product is to be a head-end supervisor, gateway or router you could
probably use one of these platforms. If it is to be a field
controller I question the decision. Here are some of the
challenges:.......be sure to read on
Hobbyist reference needs to go away but George is speaking to the
original article how these powerful new devices will change
everything. I remember when personal computers were the hobbyist platform at the start of the DDC revolution.
But is PC's a hobbyist platform? not now but in my day .....the late 70 early 80 yes it was for sure.... only a few of us had PCs and they were jokes..... hobbies at the best the likes of pet commodore, apple, then break through Corona.... IBM luggables. We were playing with what the microprocessor could do. We had to breadboard everything making low production boards which we had to backup on cassette tape because the floppy disk had not been invented yet.
This is how the DDC revolution occurred; it was Hobbyist hacking with marginal PCs and flaky microprocessors to build a new breed of BAS so we see a strong parallel.
These new low cost powerful edge boards are open architecture hardware, that runs open source software plus they come with millennium maker culture and the tinker kids to make anything happen. These kids do not well understand our industry pain and that is a tremendous advantage because they will not approach our problems like we did. We could all learn a lot if we just talk to each other and get on with the new revolution.
So what will we build on them?????
Radical new products for sure but with completely new approaches, but
now it gets very interesting..... a revolution is underway that will
completely change our industry. It will be as significant as the DDC
The descriptor Maker culture needs to be used to replace the word hobbyist.
I Just Googled "maker culture" and found out about this new to me culture......interesting.
Helps me better understand the term "maker edge devices" we need to educate our readers as well to these evolving new words.
I have this comment from James McHale memoori.com
Very interesting theme for September. There is a definite parallel to be drawn with the DDC revolution, but BIoT has the chance to be even more pervasive as it will cut across ALL industries. Fully automated 'self learning' buildings don't seem that far off! Regards, James
This Inforgraphic does a good job of depicting one flavor of the edge new devices - raspberry.
Raspberry Pi is a low cost, case-less computer, the size of a credit card. It plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. The device was created to be a low-cast computer that would enable kids to play around with computer projects and programming without fear of an expensive mistake.
So are real products for our industry being build? Yes take a look at this one http://pigeoncomputers.com/
Powered by Raspberry Pi CM Broadcom BCM2835 CPU 700 MHz ARM1176JZF-S GPU Broadcom VideoCore IV 512MB RAM 4GB eMMC Flash
inputs and outputs
8 x digital opto isolated inputs
4 x dry contact inputs
8 x open drain outputs
4 x analog inputs 0-10V
2 x analog outputs 0-10V
Rich set of interfaces Ethernet CAN RS-232 RS-485 1-Wire HDMI 3 x USB
There are a lot of programming languages which can be used to program Pigeon: C/C++, Python, Java
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