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View Full Version : Wish list - addendum


Captain Quirk
11/14/2006, 08:44 PM
Not sure where that initial thread is (OK, I didn't look - it's been a LOOOONG day...).

At any rate, adding to the wish list: enable random mode for the wavemaker. That was one of the things I loved about the RK2; it would have any of the 3 pumps on at any given time. Sometimes it would be only one, however now and then it would be 2. I thought this was kinda nice... And is there a particular reason why the WM's are restricted to 3 channels?

And Robby, never got around to that programming. Haven't had an entire day at home to babysit it should something go wrong...

Hope all is well.

RobbyG
11/14/2006, 11:43 PM
Everything is good, and yes random waves and a special 4 plug non relay power bar would be nice.

Untamed12
11/28/2006, 01:21 AM
I would like a controllable plug accessory that wasn't a whole new powerbar. The powerbar is great except that you are limited to 18A or so. Past that and you need to get an entire new powerbar, regardless of whether you've used up the available sockets or not.


How about a sound sensitive detector? It could hear smoke detectors going off...or leak detectors going off...It could be a flexible accessory. You could program the controller to do something based upon hearing a level of noise - like call you!

Just some thoughts....

Captain Quirk
11/28/2006, 11:13 AM
I'm beginning to design my new tank and sump, and a thought occurred to me: make it possible to have remotely controlled power strips, either via CAT5 cabling or wireless, COMPATIBLE WITH STANDARD NETWORKING PROTOCOLS. None of this proprietary BS.

I have a 55g drum that I want to use for topoff and mixing water. I want to keep it in my garage, with a remotely operated pump. It sure would be nice to have it be able to be switched on and off via the float level switches. But because of the distance I'm looking at, that won't be possible (less than 100 feet, but still...). Any idea what the distance limitations might be for the signaling cables that control the power bars? If I could just toss some CAT5 up in my attic and put some USB ends on it, that'd be an answer to (one of) my problems (designing a tank takes a lot of work...).

Also, as an FYI, I was playing with my temp programs again this weekend, and any changes I made got screwed up as long as I used the PC software to do it.

Another "want": logging of when devices and programs are run. Memory is cheap - there is no excuse to NOT be able to do this, and inexpensively at that. Along with increased memory they'd be able to add more granularity to the other logging (I only log for a week now, as the monthly logs are so - well, USELESS...).

Any ideas on what they're looking at for the new firmware updates, and when that will be? And should the updates be avoided like the plague until they've been out in the field for a bit, having OTHER people test it first? I'm not one to do updates just because it's "new"...

???

RobbyG
11/28/2006, 11:44 AM
I dont think they are going to use non proprietary methods because they don't want someone with another PLC based unit or a competing system to just say "Hey buy our controller then all you do is use Aquatronica Power strips and Modules". I am pretty sure that's why the AQ USB is not regular USB gives them the ability to sue you if you try to pinch their system.

Captain Quirk
11/28/2006, 02:55 PM
Honestly, if i had access to the code on this thing, I'd stop posting to the "wish list" thread and either do the programming myself or hire someone else to do it.

I'm a HUGE fan of NON PROPRIETARY *ANYTHING*. Code, protocols, hardware - you name it.

I'm all for rewarding the designers of these things - believe it or not, I strongly believe in licensing and PAYING for that license. Closing the doors by being proprietary works well for the developers, but the consumers take it in the shorts. Allow others to use the code, but for a price. Open source is good, too, but has it's place (and, honestly, this would BE a good place for it...).

I've been trying hard to see the charms of this controller, but frankly, I haven't found a lot to be endeared about. The probe holders are all but useless, and the temp programming (using the delta min/max) is FAR from intuitive. That combined with the programming glitch in the PC software, well... AFAIC this product has quite a lot of maturity to gain.

Also, Robby, regarding using their power strips: they're expensive. AFAIC if they sell those or anything else of theirs they are STILL making money. I follow your logic, however I don't agree with the logic you (and I, for that matter) presume they would take.

Look at the music industry: they're fighting electronic distribution because of piracy concerns (DRM, AFAIC, is so ill conceived and poorly executed - well, it does FAR more damage than good...). But look at the profits of the labels and where it's coming from: downloads! Opening those avenues is turning out to be profitable for them. Make a good product, price it reasonably, and profits will follow.

JMO, YMMV.

RobbyG
11/28/2006, 03:17 PM
One of the first things I asked about is if they would release a SDK so I could develop some software around the device, I was mainly thinking of making the equivalent of what is now the Ethernet module but I was going to do it with a PC connected 24/7 to the unit. I was told, that they had "no plans to release a SDK in the near future" so I scrapped that idea.
I think the odds of this ever becoming open source are slim to none, I really wish it was because we would probably have a few dozen new extra features by now but then again the testing part would be very dicey since you have a lot to loose if your new code Bombs out at 1am.

Regarding powerstrip prices, they are just about the same as Neptune stuff and cheaper than stuff from some other companies. When you consider that the PowerStrip contains a full 6 port USB hub and 2 IO ports it's really a good deal.

Take a good look around on the controller forums and what you will find is that the simplest of controllers have almost no problems but of course they do very little. As you move to ever more complicated controllers the level of problems complaints increase (as one would expect). The good news is that the core operations of almost all the complicated controllers are very stable, it's when you start talking about smaller details that the problems arise. I am more than willing to deal with the little problems if the controller has the ability to do a whole lot of stuff and the core is stable. In this regard the Aquatronica lives up to the promise. By now I have learned to just sit back a little and wait for the fixes, there will soon be another release that will address the major issues, and by the 2nd one of these all the problems should be ironed out.

Mad Mitch
11/28/2006, 05:12 PM
a few more thoughts:
export sensor history data for all sensors to one txt file - only charts should be limited to two sensors at a time

enable export of data via ethernet module

to log the time when a sensor alarm/error is triggered

space the sockets on UK plug bar evenly so we do not have to cut the plugs down to fit - or perhaps I will order the Swiss version and then fit eight devices per bar.

RobbyG
11/28/2006, 05:32 PM
Mad Mitch can you guys in the UK can just use any kind of 220V plug end? I am surprised that you can use a Swiss Version! Does'nt your pump plugs etc. all need adapters if you do that?

Mad Mitch
11/28/2006, 06:06 PM
240v vs 220v is within manufacturer tolerance, but 110v would be a step too far unless designed dual voltage.

Personally, plugs are cheap and I would prefer to run two more devices off each plug bar (8 vs 6 UK), and not have to take a Stanley knife to the plugs.

The bar would happily accomodate six plugs evenly spaced but they have designed with three sets of adjacent pairs - one of each pair is inverted so the sub-contractor obviously knew there was problem!

Aquatronica told me they were looking to redesign/ resource when I mailed them on this.

Captain Quirk
11/28/2006, 06:32 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8637685#post8637685 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by Mad Mitch
a few more thoughts:
export sensor history data for all sensors to one txt file - only charts should be limited to two sensors at a time

enable export of data via ethernet module

to log the time when a sensor alarm/error is triggered

space the sockets on UK plug bar evenly so we do not have to cut the plugs down to fit - or perhaps I will order the Swiss version and then fit eight devices per bar.

Good thoughts, however I also wanted to emphasize how much I HATE the way the plugs fit in the US version; I have more than a couple of 3' extension cords that I've had to "shave down" and plug in just to get the plug to be of use.

Regarding Robby's comment about the powerbars and the USB connections, yeah, I agree. The bars are expensive, but there's a lot to them. Point conceded. I'd also like to see and SDK come out... That would be sweet...

The saga continues...

Mad Mitch
11/28/2006, 07:37 PM
how about the pc interfce module being usb - serial has not been the default connection on pcs for quite a few years now

Captain Quirk
11/28/2006, 07:40 PM
They sell a serial to USB adapter (which also mucks things up a bit IMO). I agree: native USB. Then you wouldn't have to fiddle with which com port to use (which is an issue for many of us)...

RobbyG
11/29/2006, 11:37 AM
Serial is more reliable, thats why it is used. Its used on almost every single controller and it is also used on most industrial equipment made today. It does not require any kind of Data translation or complicated protocols. Thats the main reason why companies still use it.


<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8638669#post8638669 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by Mad Mitch
how about the pc interfce module being usb - serial has not been the default connection on pcs for quite a few years now

Captain Quirk
11/29/2006, 12:52 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8642553#post8642553 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by RobbyG
Serial is more reliable, thats why it is used. Its used on almost every single controller and it is also used on most industrial equipment made today. It does not require any kind of Data translation or complicated protocols. Thats the main reason why companies still use it.

Robby has a point. It IS more reliable. Slower, but more reliable. And since we're not talking about large processess occurring every nanosecond, serial DOES make sense.

Would USB work? IMO most definitely. But I can also see why the "default" seems to be serial...

This is a minor issue for me. Some bug fixes would be nice, though...

Mad Mitch
11/29/2006, 02:13 PM
Robby,

I am not in IT or an Electrical Engineer so happy to take your word that the majority of industrial kit uses serial and that it is technically better.

What I should have suggested is that serial is not the default for consumer kit - I am assuming that the majority of customers are not industrial applications and, if most of us have to use serial to usb adaptors, does that not leave us back at ... usb, even if it is the lowest common denominator.

Are there parallels with Betamax being technically superior but losing out to VHS, and now both being obsolete :-)

redbull99
11/29/2006, 04:10 PM
Serial does tend to be more reliable than USB. The other great thing is you can run serial over large distances, where as USB is limited to about 10m. I run the AQ over about 50 feet of Cat 5 and have never had problems connecting.

A lot of consumer electronics is now jumping from serial to TCP/IP (such as amplifiers), I would feel that his would be a better step for AQ than going to USB, and lets hope the web module is the forerunner to this.

Mad Mitch
11/29/2006, 04:43 PM
Redbull

fair comment, just so long as the ethernet module capability catches up with pc connectivity - big surprise its so much less :eek:

My first wish is ability to download sensor history - to be honest, I had assumed this would be a given so I do not have to drag the cable across the lounge floor every time I want to download ... ok, off with the anorak :-)

Here's hoping for a prompt v2 :D

RobbyG
11/29/2006, 07:27 PM
Let me put it this way, A few times in the past I have had problems connecting my AQ to the PC and the first thing I did was ditch the USB and do a direct serial hookup. Guess what? Yep the problem went away. If the unit only had USB I would be SOL.

USB is a child of Windows, so it is as reliable as you would expect (nuff said)

<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8643513#post8643513 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by Mad Mitch
Robby,

I am not in IT or an Electrical Engineer so happy to take your word that the majority of industrial kit uses serial and that it is technically better.

What I should have suggested is that serial is not the default for consumer kit - I am assuming that the majority of customers are not industrial applications and, if most of us have to use serial to usb adaptors, does that not leave us back at ... usb, even if it is the lowest common denominator.

Are there parallels with Betamax being technically superior but losing out to VHS, and now both being obsolete :-)

IRISSERVICE
11/30/2006, 02:06 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8644300#post8644300 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by redbull99
Serial does tend to be more reliable than USB. The other great thing is you can run serial over large distances, where as USB is limited to about 10m. I run the AQ over about 50 feet of Cat 5 and have never had problems connecting.

A lot of consumer electronics is now jumping from serial to TCP/IP (such as amplifiers), I would feel that his would be a better step for AQ than going to USB, and lets hope the web module is the forerunner to this.

What kind of cable are you useing..
db9 to cat-5?

Captain Quirk
11/30/2006, 02:52 PM
Let me put it this way, A few times in the past I have had problems connecting my AQ to the PC and the first thing I did was ditch the USB and do a direct serial hookup. Guess what? Yep the problem went away. If the unit only had USB I would be SOL.

USB is a child of Windows, so it is as reliable as you would expect (nuff said)

This was undoubtedly because of an issue the AT software has with finding the COM ports.

With mine, for instance, even though the USB/Serial adapter was using, say, COM 11, the software wouldn't see it until I forced the USB/Serial port to a lower one (I disabled COM 1 and now the USB/S adapter normally uses that when my system boots (as long as I don't remove it from my USB port, that is!)).

And, yes, I told the software to use port 11 (or whatever the device mapped to). It wouldn't find it. So now it's set on auto, however the device is on COM 1.

For some reason, the AT software only likes the lower ports (this has GOT TO BE a program issue... No other explanation).

So, no, Robby, you wouldn't have been SOL. You have friends who know how to work on computers, remember?

;)

redbull99
11/30/2006, 03:49 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8650724#post8650724 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by IRISSERVICE
What kind of cable are you useing..
db9 to cat-5?

I just made my own, using cat5 wired straight through with a DB9 connector on each end.

RobbyG
11/30/2006, 04:05 PM
I have had problems like this with USB devices from day one going back to good old Win98SE. Let me give you an example, Microsoft Claimed that a USB device could just be Plugged and Unplugged. Have you ever noticed that this only works properly if you plug it back into the same USB port each time?

On many devices if you plug it into another port, good old windows starts installing a new driver. If you mix and match usb ports to often you end up with Multiple drivers for multiple devices installed using the same port. For some reason when you get too many of these you start to have problems with USB devices not working right.

For people with single port Laptops and a ton of add on toys this problem shows up very quickly. To be honest I have never really had a problem with the Aquatronica and it detecting the controller Via USB. The problems start when it connects and gets midway through the connection then Bombs out.
In one instance after playing with it for hours I just uninstalled the USB-Serial Drivers and reinstalled them again and all was well. In the other case it was a bad cable that seemed to be making intermittent contact. I have never had a problem with the Serial connection but I agree it is not the easiest of connectors to deal with.

BTW I agree about the Lower Port issue but that is not the AQ. Windows has always had this problem since it shares resources with all Even numbered ports and Odd Numbered ports. with the lower port number seeming to have priority. Connect something to Com 1 and something else to Com 3 and you might have problems with the device on Com 3.

Mad Mitch
11/30/2006, 04:28 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8650724#post8650724 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by IRISSERVICE
What kind of cable are you useing..
db9 to cat-5?

Robby,

yes, true :rolleyes: but, not quite enough - I have seen plenty of serial problems even though IT is not my "day job"; does not make serial rubbish - for every panacea, there is a flaw :mad:

The approach should be KYC - know your customer. If consumer kit does not have serial, its superiority is irrelevant. The app should be designed for the customer base, not technical excellence in isolation.

Reassuringly, I have only seen/heard of problems setting up adaptor, none with USB for AQ.

Blueray, SACD HDthingumy gobbledy gook - CD is dead, long live ... vinyl :-)

The only solution for a technology problem is - remain cool :cool: :rollface:

RobbyG
11/30/2006, 05:03 PM
LoL I am just remembering a post I made back when the AQ first came on the USA scene. Somebody was giving a description of the AQ and all the USB connectors for the devices and then said it connects to the PC via Serial :) I laughed and scorned the unit for using serial, "What in this day and age!". Now 1.5 years wiser I understand exactly why AQ use it and why all the other controllers use it.

Mad Mitch
11/30/2006, 07:17 PM
Robby,
wide of the mark - not worthy of you, but pleased to hear you are 'alright jack'.

My point was never one on technical grounds - the wish was for an efficient solution for those who pay.

Since (the majority of) consumers' pcs do not have serial, keeping the interface serial might be perceived by some to avoid, not address the issue; the enforced converter imposes, for the majority, more problems that straight USB.

Fortunately, I have not suffered problems with USB, and been able to help those blighted with the clumsy convertor 'solution' from the perfect interface.

I have however, suffered problems with updates not loading - AQ acknowledge its common; EPROM or in[terminable in]terface?

No doubt some in the industry with more kit and know how will continue laughing out loud at our expense.

End of interest for me.

Regards

Mark

ppht
11/30/2006, 08:17 PM
What I would like to see:

They have a max on time. I would like to see a MIN on run time.

I would like instead of the min max and reference point. Just allow for users to enter say for P.H. 8.5 over 8.5 under. I think the min max references cause inconsistant programming.

Captain Quirk
11/30/2006, 09:40 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8650724#post8650724 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by IRISSERVICE
What kind of cable are you useing..
db9 to cat-5?

Sorry, I just saw this post.

I don't think the serial to ethernet adapter would work. The AT software doesn't know (as far as *I* know!) how to talk to regular ethernet without talking to the programming in the ethernet module...

That would be my guess...

And serial to ethernet adapters ain't cheap. Not by any means...

Captain Quirk
11/30/2006, 09:51 PM
For people with single port Laptops and a ton of add on toys this problem shows up very quickly. To be honest I have never really BTW I agree about the Lower Port issue but that is not the AQ. Windows has always had this problem since it shares resources with all Even numbered ports and Odd Numbered ports. with the lower port number seeming to have priority. Connect something to Com 1 and something else to Com 3 and you might have problems with the device on Com 3.

They share the same IRQ. Not a windows problem. It's the industry standard (or it was at one time). IIRC COM 1 and 3 use IRQ 4 (?) and 2 and 4 use IRQ 3.

Usb is different. At least to my recollection. It still shares, but handles the time slicing a bit better.

Hardware isn't my gig anymore, really, but that's what I seem to recall.

Windows is responsible for a lot of pain - granted. But Microsoft - unfortunately - has not been the only company in the world to ignore standards. Lots of hardware that is supposed to be "compliant" with something often isn't.

My boss likes to blame Windows for just about everything. Problem is, most of the time he's right. But he's not ALWAYS right...

;)