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Initial Setup

Requirements

There a a few requirements for NFCS installation:

  1. A dry and relatively clean location
  2. A 110Vac wall outlet to plug the power supply into
  3. A network connection (standard Cat5 cable)

The NFCS must be installed in a dry location that does not experience condensation and where temperatures do not exceed 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Since it has no fan and is in an enclosure dust is not a serious problem, although electrically conductive or corrosive dust should be avoided. It does not need to be physically near the equipment that is to be controlled, although it is desirable to choose a location that minimizes the length and installation effort of the cables between the NFCS and the equipment that is to be monitored and controlled.

Internet access is not required, although it's desirable. At a minimum, a crossover cable can be used to connect the NFCS directly to a computer. A computer with a web browser is needed to configure and program the NFCS. Once it's set up, network access is not necessary.

No tools are required, but a labelmaker is strongly suggested. It's very helpful to label sensor cables and other wires as they're connected.

Physical Setup

Unpack the controller and place it in a convenient clean and dry location. It may be mounted on any horizontal or vertical surface that's protected from water. Intially, only network and power connections are needed. Plug an Ethernet cable into the connector on the right side labeled 'Ethernet'. Make sure that the front panel power switch is in the Off (down) position, and connect the wall-mounted power supply to either of the connecters labeled 'Power'. The connector is keyed so that it can only be connected in one orientation.

DO NOT plug in the power supply unless the power switch is in the 'Off' position. Reverse polarity will destroy the CPU card. The connector cannot be inserted the wrong way, but a determined effort could make momentary electrical contact.

Turn on the power. If the NFCS is set up in a standard configuration, the green status lights for 12V and 5V should illuminate. If the NFCS is in its as-delivered configuration one of the red LEDs should illuminate after about 30 seconds. This indicates that the NFCS is running.

The NFCS has a pre-assiged IP address that should allow it to be visible on your network. The address is on a label inside the front cover. Start a web browser on your computer (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari) and type the IP address of the NFCS into the URL bar. Press 'Enter' and the NFCS home page should appear.

In this example, the IP address is 192.168.1.8 and the display shows configuration details that may differ from unit to unit. If this does not work, refer to the next section for network configuration.

Web Interface

In almost all cases, all configuration and interaction with the NFCS is through a web interface. The NFCS has a built-in web server which provides access to the system.

As delivered, the NFCS is set up with minimal configured I/O. The home page displays current values for all configured inputs and outputs. Refreshing the home page will refesh the values as well. The home page does not have any security, since it provides only a passive view of system data.

All the other tabs require a username and a password, which are on a label inside the front cover of the NFCS. This is to prevent unauthorized changes to your system.

At this point, plugging a sensor into the first connector on Panel 1 (left side, labeled 'P1') should result in a display of the sensor's temperature. The pages in the web interface do not refresh automatically - you'll have to click the tab (or click reload on your browser) to display fresh data.

Front Panel

The front panel of the NFCS has a system power switch at the bottom left corner. This switch turns off all power for the controller. To the right of the power switch are fuses and status lights for 12V, 5V, and optional 24Vac power. At this point the 12V and 5V status lights should be illuminated.

Along the right side there are four LEDs and a small three-position switch. As delivered, the LEDs and switches are connected to NFCS discrete inputs and outputs. There are also some simple rules defined that illuminate LEDs based on switch position. Try moving the switch and observe what happens to the LEDs and to the NFCS web interface.

This switch and these LEDs can be used for any desired purpose. In particular, they are good for developing and testing rules before assigning the rule to real hardware. They are unlabeled so that the user can apply whatever labels are desired.

System Settings

Clicking the 'System' tab on the web interface brings up a page where some basic system settings can be configured. Most important of these is the 'Centigrade' checkbox. While the system can be switched between Centigrade and Farenheight at any time, any numeric values used in rules will NOT be converted and will have to be manually re-entered in the new units. For instance, if the system was originally programmed in Farenheight and there was a rule to turn on a circulator any time room temperature dropped below 70 degrees, the rule would have dramatically different effects if the system were then changed to Centigrade. 70°C is a pretty high room temperature! It's good to choose units at initial setup.

This page also allows setting the execution interval for various NFCS tasks. Units are tenths of seconds.

I/O PeriodDetermines how often the NFCS reads and writes data to and from sensors and discrete I/O. Hardware constraints prevent this task from running much faster than about twice a second, which corresponds to an interval of 5 tenths. During development a value of 5 provides faster response. In actual use, 10 is a reasonable number in most cases.
Rule PeriodDetermines how often the NFCS calculates and applies the ruleset. There's no point in having this value any less than the value for I/O. Again, a small number makes the system more responsive during development. In actual use, an interval of 10 or even 30 seconds is reasonable in most cases. This would correspond to 100 to 300 tenths.
Log PeriodDetermines how often the NFCS logs system data to the log file. The default is 600, which means that the system logs data every minute. Values lower than this will eventually exceed the system's storage capacity.

Make any changes and click 'Update'. Changes take effect on the next exection cycle of each task.

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