Prodigy on TestEquity Thermal Chambers
Prodigy, a product design and development firm, recently purchased a TestEquity thermal test chamber and provided the following feedback on its remote monitoring and control capabilities.
Prodigy purchased a new chamber at the beginning of the year to help expand our capabilities by bringing more of our pre-compliance testing in-house. Naturally, our staff was excited to get the new equipment up and running, and in short order we used our new chamber to investigate a concern one of our clients was having with their product. Like most engineers who operate a chamber, we found it extremely convenient to monitor what is going on from our desks. It didn’t take long for management to take an interest in what the chamber could do.
One of the first things we implemented was the ability to remotely monitor and synchronize with the new chamber through its ethernet connectivity. Our engineers quickly developed a way to track the chamber across our internal network and found it very easy to provide limited access over the internet.
Why Remote Chamber Access?
Developing remote monitoring and control capabilities has several tangible benefits. First and foremost is the convenience of not having to be at the chamber to see results and respond to events. This is a distinct advantage when the chamber is not easily accessible from the office area. Remote access allows easy storage, retrieval, and transfer of data in real time. Alarms can be set to prompt timely responses to testing events. More advanced remote-control features allow us correct issues, change test profiles, and start or stop processes. Information from the chamber can be shared with other stakeholders easily.
Connecting New Capabilities
Remote control via web server is only limited by the chamber communication protocols, and by what can be implemented in the server. Many capabilities can be added. Prodigy engineers developed a web server that allows us to set the temperature units to Celsius, read the current temperature, setpoint, and active profiles. It also records and stores the last ten activated profile results and can start, stop, and pause any existing profiles stored on the machine. We can adjust setpoints and ramp times to run automated testing directly from the server.
We also used our server to log data that users can download as a CSV spreadsheet directly from their web browser. Chamber usage statistics can be stored in a database, displayed as a dashboard on a web page, or downloaded.
Point-and-Click Chamber Control
To share the benefits of remote monitoring and control of the chamber across our organization, Prodigy engineers developed an intuitive Graphical User Interface, or GUI. This made retrieving data, changing parameters and profiles, and starting and stopping processes as easy as point and click. Data from the chamber can be evaluated and provide warnings and even send alerts if certain conditions occur. This allowed us to expand remote monitoring and control from local networks to use in web-based access.
Connecting with a Web Server
One of the best things about interfacing with the chamber through a server is that an unlimited number of people can view the data. One only needs to connect to the same network as the server and type in the IP address and port in their web browser. No additional software is required.
Pushing the Chamber to the Cloud
Expanding access outside the local network introduces the need for security features. A cloud site is an easy way to achieve this. Pushing data to the cloud allows access to the data from anywhere in the world without having to make the server itself accessible. Prodigy uses the Losant IoT cloud platform which allows the server to push the setpoint and temperature data every time the server reads the data from the chamber. This feature took only a couple of hours to design and test.
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