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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Charlotte, NC
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    Question Building a Controls Test Board

    Hello Everyone!

    I am new here, but I have looked through the forums and done some research before writing this and I think I have a handle on what is involved. I just wanted to pick your brains on a few items before getting started.

    Background:

    We are a test and balance company and we deal with numerous controls systems (upwards of 15) on a regular basis. We do the best we can to have our guys trained on connecting and operating each system, but we are constantly running into communication issues and it is becoming a costly problem. The solution that we are proposing is to build a controls board in our office with multiple manufacturers / topologies. This should allow our technicians to verify that their computer can connect to a particular system prior to sending them to the job site. This would also allow us to avoid bugging the controls folks with random issues.

    Details:

    At the moment, I have ebay'ed 5 controllers that we use often: TAC MNL-V1R3, Carrier CCN VAV controller with Terminal board and actuator, Trane Varitrane UCM 4.2, JCI Metasys VMA-1420 and a Honeywell W7751E1007. I would also like to get a Trane Comm 5 board as well, but we don't really have issues connecting to those (for the most part).

    Each controller will be setup independently and we hope to have actuators on all of them (those that don't have one built in that is). I was also toying around with the idea of hooking up an air pump with a pressure regulator to supply a pressure to the airflow tubing on the transducers at each board. That way our guys can see the airflow and calibrate the sensors and play around some more. Also, since the controllers are used, I believe most will have a program setup in them already so that makes life easier on us non-programmer types.

    So that covers us for LON, CCN, and RS-485 comms on several different platforms.

    My Questions:

    1. I need to work out a power solution for the controllers. Please keep in mind that I'm not very familiar with this side of things. Is it possible to use 1 class 2 transformer to power multiple controllers (not all of them, but 2 or 3) and are there any problems that may be associated with doing this? From what I understand, if the controllers have a load of around 20VA each, then a 40 VA transformer could supply 2 controllers. Am I thinking about that correctly? If so, how do I determine what the minimum VA load is for each controller? Would this come from product data / installation manuals?
      _
    2. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions for what works best when building a board such as this?
      _
    3. Does anyone have any photos of a board in their shop that I could reference (just to get ideas)?



    Thanks in advance for any help!
    Matt

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Just North of Hellhole Swamp
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    I have 2 of these. One in my truck and one in my office.
    It is a 24V (40VA) transformer w/ a 3.5 amp circuit breaker. Bought the box from Radio Shack, transformer/circuit breaker from a local hvac supply house, and picked up the #16 wire scrapped on a jobsite. I used an old 12' extention cord I found lying around. It has 4 outlets.

    I thought about using a multi-tap transformer(120/208/240/480) and alligator clips in places where a 120v receptacle was not accessable. You could use power from a disconnect both 480/240V. I just haven't gotten around to that yet.JUST BE VERY CAREFUL!

    I'm not sure on the power rating of the VAV's but it works on control modules just fine.

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    ...and they said it couldn't be done.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon
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    1,018
    You should size your transformer for a 20% safety factor.For example, a 100VA transformer should not have more than 80VA load applied to it.
    The VA of the controller should be listed in the controller specifications. Although the ratings can be confusing because they are sometime listed as the maximum VA with loads attached to the controllers. Such as valves and actuators.
    Be careful when applying air pressure to the controllers airflow transducers. The pressures from the air flow measuring stations are very low. You will need a special pump to simulate the low pressures.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Baton Rouge, LA
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    1,083
    Laziboie, your asking for information we can't place on an open forum.
    Please add your email address to your profile.
    DO NOT type your email in a response as this is against site rules.
    If you're too "open" minded, your brains will fall out.
    Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Charlotte, NC
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    15
    Quote Originally Posted by XcelTech View Post
    Laziboie, your asking for information we can't place on an open forum.
    Please add your email address to your profile.
    DO NOT type your email in a response as this is against site rules.
    Thanks XcelTech, I've added my email address to my profile.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Minnesota
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    1,331
    Quote Originally Posted by laziboie View Post
    I need to work out a power solution for the controllers. Please keep in mind that I'm not very familiar with this side of things. Is it possible to use 1 class 2 transformer to power multiple controllers (not all of them, but 2 or 3) and are there any problems that may be associated with doing this? From what I understand, if the controllers have a load of around 20VA each, then a 40 VA transformer could supply 2 controllers. Am I thinking about that correctly? If so, how do I determine what the minimum VA load is for each controller? Would this come from product data / installation manuals?
    I just spent 30 seconds doing a Google search and found a half dozen places offering 40-50 VA 24 VAC transformers, modular ... molded boxes that plug directly into standard 120 VAC wall sockets, all going for between 15 and 25 bucks. Of course, I knew such existed because I carry a couple around for various uses. One's with fuses as part of the package. That's pretty cheap and inexpensive. I would NOT mix multiple manufacturer's stuff on the same power supply unless you know more than you obviously do about the subject.

    My suggestion, different transformer for each ... or just one transformer, but power only one controller at a time.

    Quote Originally Posted by laziboie View Post
    Does anyone have any tips or suggestions for what works best when building a board such as this?
    Sorry, no. Haven't enough info about what you want to do specifically. Nor about your knowledge or skill level.

    Quote Originally Posted by laziboie View Post
    Does anyone have any photos of a board in their shop that I could reference (just to get ideas)?
    No, sorry. A picture of the boards we have set up in shop for training and application testing wouldn't tell you much that'd be useful. It's far more involved than what you'd need and much of the wiring, etc is not readily visible (it's in snap track).

    My suggestion? Keep it SIMPLE. Employ the KISS principle. Nothing more than what you absolutely need to accomplish the goal..

    What did you have in mind for an air pump? You do know that 1 PSI is approx 27.7 "WC ... right?

    I'd think perhaps a small fan blowing thru small section of duct, with pitot tubes installed MIGHT make a decent simulator. Just hook whichever VAV controller you're working with at the time as needed.
    A site where I stash some stuff that might be interesting to some folks.
    http://cid-0554c074ec47c396.office.l...e.aspx/.Public

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by osiyo View Post
    I just spent 30 seconds doing a Google search and found a half dozen places offering 40-50 VA 24 VAC transformers, modular ... molded boxes that plug directly into standard 120 VAC wall sockets, all going for between 15 and 25 bucks. Of course, I knew such existed because I carry a couple around for various uses. One's with fuses as part of the package. That's pretty cheap and inexpensive. I would NOT mix multiple manufacturer's stuff on the same power supply unless you know more than you obviously do about the subject.
    I'm not exactly sure what you are referencing...do you mind adding a link to the search or clarifying? I know enough, but I am not going to pretend like I have done this before. Kontrolphreak provided a good explanation about why adding multiple controllers on one transformer might be a bad idea. That is totally the reason I'm asking the questions on this board.

    Quote Originally Posted by osiyo View Post
    What did you have in mind for an air pump? You do know that 1 PSI is approx 27.7 "WC ... right?
    I was thinking of one of the small fish tank pumps with a regulator, valve and gauge that I could use to supply pressure to the transducers. I understand the pressure relationship you described, at the moment, I'm not aware of what the psi rating is on a little fish tank pump but I assume it is near 1 psi. I was definitely keeping this in mind though, but a good point to bring up, thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by osiyo View Post
    I'd think perhaps a small fan blowing thru small section of duct, with pitot tubes installed MIGHT make a decent simulator. Just hook whichever VAV controller you're working with at the time as needed.
    We are going to have a VAV setup with a controller attached and wanted to do exactly like you have described. I'm not sure how feasible it would be to swap out controllers every time we wanted to test a different system. My main concern would be wiring, space and the fact that some controllers have built in actuators while others are separate. Still, definitely going to do this with at least one controller, a small VAV and a fan. Great idea though, thanks!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by laziboie View Post
    I'm not exactly sure what you are referencing...do you mind adding a link to the search or clarifying? I know enough, but I am not going to pretend like I have done this before. Kontrolphreak provided a good explanation about why adding multiple controllers on one transformer might be a bad idea. That is totally the reason I'm asking the questions on this board.
    An example of some:
    http://www.reverenet.com/cat_list.cfm?category_id=16

    There are many makers and models of such devices.

    Not what we use for regular installations. But should work for projects such as you have in mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by laziboie View Post
    I was thinking of one of the small fish tank pumps with a regulator, valve and gauge that I could use to supply pressure to the transducers. I understand the pressure relationship you described, at the moment, I'm not aware of what the psi rating is on a little fish tank pump but I assume it is near 1 psi. I was definitely keeping this in mind though, but a good point to bring up, thanks!
    Your idea might work. However I was thinking of a method that'd allow one of your trainees to actually measure flow (at discharge of small duct) and then enter proper correction data into VAV controller.

    Small duct, with fan, and installed pitot tube.

    Each VAV controller mounted on small board. No particular reason damper actuator has to be mounted on real damper. Plud in power for just THAT controller. Connect tubes to pitot. Start fan ...

    You are in operation, for as much as you need to accomplish your goal.

    Just my first thoughts. Not worth a thing more than that.


    We are going to have a VAV setup with a controller attached and wanted to do exactly like you have described. I'm not sure how feasible it would be to swap out controllers every time we wanted to test a different system. My main concern would be wiring, space and the fact that some controllers have built in actuators while others are separate. Still, definitely going to do this with at least one controller, a small VAV and a fan. Great idea though, thanks![/QUOTE]
    A site where I stash some stuff that might be interesting to some folks.
    http://cid-0554c074ec47c396.office.l...e.aspx/.Public

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by osiyo View Post
    An example of some:
    http://www.reverenet.com/cat_list.cfm?category_id=16

    There are many makers and models of such devices.

    Not what we use for regular installations. But should work for projects such as you have in mind.
    Ah, I understand now. Same thing that home security folks use...good idea. We will probably work it out this way.

    I think we are ditching the air pump idea and are going to go with something similar to what you suggested. Thanks for taking the time to help!

  10. #10
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    Northeast
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    Airflow could be generated in a PVC pipe hooked to a small 4" cooling fan like found in a computer, but 120 ac voltage. Add a fan speed control with a knob. Then add a pitot tube flow pickup. Get fancy and add an old inclined watertube gauge that balancers don't use anymore. Setup could be quite small and be used to teach as well as test. Dont forget the yarn on the discharge of the pipe for determining the direction of flow...

    Bill

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    You should be fine as long as you oversize your transformer to make sure you can power any sensors and actuators you may have attached to the controllers. Keep a common "common" across all of them and don't hook up any of them together on any of the inputs/outputs because you don't know what does or doesn't have an isolated power supply and you don't want any inadvertent ground loops. We use 96VA transformer to power 2 or 3 controllers all the time and will even pop a 3 party device on the transformer as long as we have a healthy margin of power left over. I wouldn't go over 90% of rated capacity.

  12. #12
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    If you are sharing a transformer make sure all the devices are half-wave rectified. If you mix half wave rectified and full wave rectified devices you will be looking for canned smoke on eBay.

    kontrol out
    "Open is as open does." - Forrest Gump
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by kontrolphreak View Post
    If you are sharing a transformer make sure all the devices are half-wave rectified. If you mix half wave rectified and full wave rectified devices you will be looking for canned smoke on eBay.

    kontrol out
    Yep, one of the reasons I suggested either separate power supplies for each, or power up only one at a time.
    A site where I stash some stuff that might be interesting to some folks.
    http://cid-0554c074ec47c396.office.l...e.aspx/.Public

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