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Key Features

The following sections briefly summarize the key features of the NEEM-112 unit.

Hardware Summary
Web Browser Connection Capabilities
Data Storage Capabilities
Operations Using Thresholds for Sensor Data Comparisons
Electronic Data Sheets
Configuration Console - Setup Program
MicroWeb Server Address
Primary Sensor Selection
Sensor Property Sheets - Electronic Data Sheets
Time and Date Information Set by the Configuration Console
Weblog - Sensor Notes
Operations using the Software Development Kit's ActiveX Control
Data Logger - Sample Application using the Software Development Kit
Spreadsheet for Sensor Data Collection

Hardware Summary

In its 6.8" x 2.3" x 8.2" enclosure, the NEEM is able to convert raw sensor output into meaningful, downloadable data. The internal analog to digital conversion (ADC) circuitry allows the user to connect different types of common analog sensor signals to the NEEM input connectors. Once the user's sensor signals are converted to digital signals, the NEEM transforms these digital signals into digital information suitable for storage in the NEEM's non-volatile memory circuits. This information is also formatted so that it can be provided in response to network requests for information. The NEEM unit contains it's own real-time clock/calendar unit that attaches a time and date stamp to all measured data.

The NEEM unit also contains a microWeb server that serves web pages to Internet browsers that request services. The microWeb server has password protection features that can be enabled or disabled during the set-up process.

Web Browser Connection Capabilities

A remote PC can interact with the NEEM to view current and stored sensor data using the Microsoft Internet Explorerô "Browser" program, version 5.5 or later. Sensor data from the primary sensor or any of the other sensors can be displayed in tabular or graphical form with the standard Web Browser interface. Users can also view sensor properties "sheets" for any of the ten sensors channels available on the NEEM unit. In addition, users can control the two-state, 0 and 5 volt output channel. Permission to use any of the these Web browser accessible features depends on the status of the NEEM-112 Password feature. If the NEEM-112 password feature was enabled in the Configuration Console settings, then only users with the correct password can access the NEEM sensor data or any other features.

After the hardware and software network connections have been established, the Microsoft Internet Explorer "Browser" program serves as the software interface to the NEEM unit. Once connected, the user can request data from any of the sensors attached to the NEEM-112 unit. The data can be displayed in the Web Browser program in a table display format or in a graphical display format. The user's Web Browser program can also request the display of previously stored data from the NEEM-112.

Data Storage Capabilities

During the initial setup, the user designates one of the 10 possible sensor channel connections to be the "Primary Sensor". Measurements for this primary sensor are made every 20 seconds as long as the NEEM-112 is connected to AC power. This detailed information with 20-second resolution is stored in the NEEM unit's non-volatile memory for one year.

The data from the primary sensor is also averaged over 15 minute periods and the average values are stored in the NEEM's non-volatile memory and saved for 4-years.

These detailed (every 20 seconds) and average (average during a 15 minute time period) measurements on the primary sensor are made and this data is stored in the non-volatile memory in the NEEM unit regardless of whether any Web Browsers are connected to the NEEM's microWeb server.

Operations Using Thresholds for Sensor Data Comparisons

In addition to detailed and average measurements, the NEEM unit has the capability to measure a sensor against a threshold value and compute the fraction of time that the primary sensor device connected to the NEEM unit complies with the user defined threshold condition. For example, this feature can be used to determine what fraction of the work-day a particular piece of equipment is in use. The set-up program allows the user to enter which hours in a seven-day week are considered normal working hours and the NEEM unit will use this information together with the threshold information to determine what fraction of the work week the attached equipment complied with the indicated threshold condition.

The comparison operations can also be used to determine what fraction of all time - 24 hours a day, seven days a week - that a sensor violated a specific threshold level. During the set-up operations, the user can select a threshold level and a comparison operator. Threshold levels can be set for any valid sensor value and comparison operators include the five most common operators - Greater Than, Greater Than or Equal To, Less Than, Less Than or Equal To, Equal To. Based on the user's selection of a comparison operator, the NEEM unit will keep track of the length of time that a sensor violated the comparison condition within the sampling limits of the NEEM unit.

Electronic Data Sheets

The NEEM unit includes 10 separately customizable sensor data sheets for recording specific details about the sensors attached to the NEEM interface channels. These self-documenting, data sheets are used by the NEEM to convert measured electrical signals into physical units meaningful to users. Calibration coefficients or sensitivity data is either entered or measured during the set-up process so that measurements can be reported in calibrated units.

The electronic data sheets also associate sensors with identification information so that the measured data displayed on the screen can be unambiguously associated with a specific model sensor, corresponding to a specifically defined sensor location, and correlated with a specific sensor application.

Configuration Console - Setup Program

The Configuration Console provides simple wizard like programs to help the user set-up the NEEM for first-time operations. This program will automatically verify the electrical connections between the NEEM unit and the desktop or laptop computer used to "setup" the NEEM.

First-time operation of the NEEM unit will require the user to enter very limited amounts of information; typically this information entry session can be completed in 5 to 10 minutes. The only required information will be the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the NEEM and the selection of the primary sensor interface channel.

MicroWeb Server Address

The IP address is the numerical address identifier that will be used to access the NEEM from Web Browser programs on the user's network. If the NEEM is used in a simple local area network, the default address included with the NEEM may suffice. If the NEEM is used in a more extensive network such as a wide area network or the global Internet network, the user will be asked to enter the static IP address that can be assigned to the NEEM unit, the "net mask" and the "gateway address". This information should be readily available from a network administrator. The NEEM does not support DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol) since the NEEM needs a fixed (static) IP address that users can enter into their web browsers and find the NEEM. If this address changed daily, as is the case with DHCP assigned addresses, the new address would need to be broadcast to all NEEM users each time the DHCP server changed the NEEM's address.

Primary Sensor Selection

The primary sensor interface channel selection identifies to the NEEM unit which sensor channel data should be saved for future reference and future data requests. The NEEM -112 will save extensive amounts of sensor data information for one of the 10 possible connected sensors. Although "current" sensor data can be acquired and displayed for any of these 10 sensors, only the primary sensor data is independently saved by the NEEM unit. Once the NEEM-112 has been initially set-up by using the Configuration Console program and the Primary Sensor channel is selected, the NEEM will begin saving "detailed" sensor data every 20 seconds for 1-year. After the NEEM has been connected for more than 1-year, it will selectively remove the oldest data and keep sensor data for the prior 12 months - as long as the AC power line is live and connected to the NEEM's power supply unit. In addition, as noted in the "Data Storage" section, the NEEM will save average data and data generated by comparing the measured data to a threshold value. If the NEEM is unplugged, it will retain all of it's saved data but it will not acquire new sensor data until power is restored.

Sensor Property Sheets - Electronic Data Sheets

The Configuration Console program will allow the user the option of entering additional amounts of information about each sensor as appropriate for the user's needs. This additional sensor information is stored as a Sensor Property Sheet; sometimes these electronic representation of sensor properties are referred to as an Electronic Data Sheet. These "on-line" information sheets include items such as sensor name, sensor model number, sensor calibration factor, installed sensor location, sensor use, last calibration date, and sensor notes. The Configuration Console uses "Wizards" to help users enter some of this information to further expedite the setup process.

The Configuration Console Wizards combined with the Help Screens and Configuration Console Information Prompts make the entire setup process self-documenting.

Time and Date Information Set by the Configuration Console

Since an important aspect of the NEEM's data collection is the connection of sensor data with a sensor data acquisition time and date value, the Configuration Console allows the user to set the date and time in the NEEM's real-time clock in a very simple manner.

In addition to setting the real-time clock, the Configuration Console allows the user to specify the time frame for the threshold-based comparison operations. For example, if the user wanted to use the threshold-based comparison operations to determine what fraction of the standard work week a high-valued piece of equipment was in-use, the use would use the Configuration Console to setup the standard work-week days and times of operation. The NEEM would then use this information in calculating the percent utilization based on the normal workday hours and the value of a sensor compared to a user-set threshold value.

Weblog - Sensor Notes

Each of the 10 connected sensors contains a special notes area for comments, sensor diary or other logging information that can be entered and later displayed in Web browser programs run by remote users connected to the NEEM unit. This "Web Log" type of information is permanently stored in the NEEM's non-volatile memory and provides a different free-form notes page for each of the 10 available sensors.

This information can be remotely retrieved and displayed for each of the sensors by using an Internet Browser to connect to the NEEM's microWeb server. After establishing a connection and viewing the "home" page, selection of the "Properties" tab will allow any authorized viewer to connect to the properties sheets for any of the indicated sensors. The user will be able to view the free-form notes pages and any of the detailed electronic data sheet properties for the selected sensor.

Operations using the Software Development Kit's ActiveX Control

The NEEM-112 comes with a software development kit and a special tool known as an "ActiveX" control. This software tool enables users to integrate data collected from a remote NEEM unit into ActiveX enabled applications with a minimum amount of effort. The ActiveX control distributed with the NEEM-112 was developed by Sensor Synergy to enhance connectivity of NEEM interfaced sensors with common enterprise software. The included ActiveX control is particularly well suited for connecting NEEM sensor data to general-purpose programs enabled with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). Some common examples of VBA enabled programs include Microsoft's Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Access and other ActiveX compatible programs.

The ActiveX control performs all of the detailed operations required to connect to a NEEM unit with a specified IP address and gather sensor data from any of the 10 interface channels on the NEEM unit.

Data Logger - Sample Application using the Software Development Kit

The NEEM-112 unit is provided with a sample Visual Basic program that demonstrates the use of the Sensor Synergy supplied Software Development Kit in an application that can serve as a Data Logger. This example application can be custom modified to meet the specific needs of a project or this program can be used in its current mode without any modifications. Using the provided ActiveX control to connect a remote user to a specified NEEM unit can greatly simplify the process of integrating remote sensor data into a custom, enterprise-wide application. With less than 4 hours of programming effort, an experienced Visual Basic programmer can use the included ActiveX control to create a program with features and complexity comparable to the Data Logger. This approach makes it easy to integrate sensor data into enterprise applications through the NEEM interface.

Spreadsheet for Sensor Data Collection

The ActiveX control is well-suited to integrate sensor data into common end-user applications including Microsoft's Word, PowerPoint, Access or Excel. The NEEM unit accessory CD disc includes an example Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that illustrates the integration of an ActiveX control into a standard spreadsheet to collect data from multiple sensors on a single NEEM unit and display this data in both a tabular and graphical format. Microsoft's Visual Basic for Applications programming code is used in the Excel spreadsheet as a "Macro" program to integrate the ActiveX control and insert the data collected from the NEEM unit into the tables and graphs displayed in the spreadsheet. This spreadsheet can be used as a starting point and modified for a user's custom application, or this spreadsheet can serve as an example of one method to integrate NEEM sensor data into end-user applications.

 

 
 

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