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  1. #1

    Help needed with JCI Metasys system

    We are a small school in the south-suburban Chicago area. Two years ago we purchased a JCI Metasys system for Classmate series unit ventilator control. It's been a very tough road, initially the system had many problems, and we had JCI back many times to correct installation & commissioning errors under warranty. JCI became frustrated at the large amount of warranty work, and they asked us to sign-off on the system as-is. At the time the system was working reasonably well, and we signed. One problem that remained was our second floor periodically drops off the Zigbee network. This was on our warranty punch list but JCI told us we could add a repeater, and this was something we could do ourselves. That was not strictly true, although the coordinator has a mesh reform button, we needed the SCT software to observe the Zigbee network performance and see the routing.

    So we had JCI back out on a paid service call this time, and found that the Zigbee network has major issues as well, it does not follow the guidelines of the JCI Zigbee installation manual. Our second floor is communicating across about 150 feet, which includes the gym (mostly empty space, but also 4 walls and a roof in between nodes). This is why we have frequent dropouts. We tried the repeater with the JCI tech present and it did not help, it appeared on the network but the system still chose the longer unstable route. JCI could not explain this, and said they would look into it. But they charge us by the hour, even though the design was originally way out of spec and that was their doing. And we have heard nothing since. And the problem has been much worse since the attempt to add the repeater, about 10 to 30 dropouts per day. A JCI service call is $1000 to $1500, although to be fair, we do accumulate tasks so that other work is done in the same call.

    So I guess my question is, are there non-JCI techs who are competent with Zigbee networks and commissioning activities, and have the SCT software, and for whom the service costs would be more reasonable? We looked into having the school buy SCT, but it's very expensive. So we are now dependent on others to get any kind of control work done. The school does not have a lot of money, but too much has been spent on this system (around $30K) for it not to work. So I'm trying to find a solution the school can afford. I did my own redesign of the Zigbee network using the JCI manual, and it would require a few more repeaters, and others to be relocated (particularly the coordinator). But I'd be reluctant to try this without some way to monitor the network for improvement, which SCT provides.

    Any thoughts, suggestions, or opinions would be welcome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    656
    Quote Originally Posted by rgcowie4D View Post
    We are a small school in the south-suburban Chicago area. Two years ago we purchased a JCI Metasys system for Classmate series unit ventilator control. It's been a very tough road, initially the system had many problems, and we had JCI back many times to correct installation & commissioning errors under warranty. JCI became frustrated at the large amount of warranty work, and they asked us to sign-off on the system as-is. At the time the system was working reasonably well, and we signed. One problem that remained was our second floor periodically drops off the Zigbee network. This was on our warranty punch list but JCI told us we could add a repeater, and this was something we could do ourselves. That was not strictly true, although the coordinator has a mesh reform button, we needed the SCT software to observe the Zigbee network performance and see the routing.

    So we had JCI back out on a paid service call this time, and found that the Zigbee network has major issues as well, it does not follow the guidelines of the JCI Zigbee installation manual. Our second floor is communicating across about 150 feet, which includes the gym (mostly empty space, but also 4 walls and a roof in between nodes). This is why we have frequent dropouts. We tried the repeater with the JCI tech present and it did not help, it appeared on the network but the system still chose the longer unstable route. JCI could not explain this, and said they would look into it. But they charge us by the hour, even though the design was originally way out of spec and that was their doing. And we have heard nothing since. And the problem has been much worse since the attempt to add the repeater, about 10 to 30 dropouts per day. A JCI service call is $1000 to $1500, although to be fair, we do accumulate tasks so that other work is done in the same call.

    So I guess my question is, are there non-JCI techs who are competent with Zigbee networks and commissioning activities, and have the SCT software, and for whom the service costs would be more reasonable? We looked into having the school buy SCT, but it's very expensive. So we are now dependent on others to get any kind of control work done. The school does not have a lot of money, but too much has been spent on this system (around $30K) for it not to work. So I'm trying to find a solution the school can afford. I did my own redesign of the Zigbee network using the JCI manual, and it would require a few more repeaters, and others to be relocated (particularly the coordinator). But I'd be reluctant to try this without some way to monitor the network for improvement, which SCT provides.

    Any thoughts, suggestions, or opinions would be welcome.
    What version of Metasys are you running?

  3. #3
    It was upgraded in January as the last part of the warranty work. The version is 5.2.0.54.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    594
    Im not that familiar with the wireless stuff but know a little about it and very familiar with CCT. SCT is used to upload/download the NAEs, I've never used it to configure a network. JCI uses CCT to program the controllers which is what you would need not SCT. We use CCT on a few jobs and it is much more affordable than other JCI tools.

  5. #5
    I apologize that I don't know much about these tools. When I enquired with JCI about purchasing CCT, I was told that it was bundled with SCT, as was the Zigbee analysis software, so they recommended SCT. Are either CCT or the Zigbee software available separately? I don't think we need to do any configuration of the NAE, but we may need to talk to the Zigbee wireless coordinator, which is connected to the NAE.

    It would be nice to have CCT as we still have minor warranty punch-list items that are not addressed. But right now the Zigbee issue is the big problem. The school has Wi-Fi and I've looked into using that instead, but it doesn't seem that JCI supports it. We could also drop the Zigbee mesh and wire the school instead. Or we could purchase a second coordinator for the back half of the school and wire it back to the NAE, but that may require SCT for configuration, I'm not sure.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Phoenix, AZ
    Posts
    24
    Quote Originally Posted by rgcowie4D View Post
    I apologize that I don't know much about these tools. When I enquired with JCI about purchasing CCT, I was told that it was bundled with SCT, as was the Zigbee analysis software, so they recommended SCT. Are either CCT or the Zigbee software available separately? I don't think we need to do any configuration of the NAE, but we may need to talk to the Zigbee wireless coordinator, which is connected to the NAE.

    It would be nice to have CCT as we still have minor warranty punch-list items that are not addressed. But right now the Zigbee issue is the big problem. The school has Wi-Fi and I've looked into using that instead, but it doesn't seem that JCI supports it. We could also drop the Zigbee mesh and wire the school instead. Or we could purchase a second coordinator for the back half of the school and wire it back to the NAE, but that may require SCT for configuration, I'm not sure.
    rgcowie4D: We are a contractor in Chicagoland area and we have the JCI tools along with some ex-JCI techs.
    We have ex-JCI customers that have ADS, NAEs, and just picked up a JCI customer that has wireless network.
    If you are interested , please email me...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Several Miles from Sane
    Posts
    1,458
    rgcowie4D,
    All you need is CCT to setup/check-out your wireless. We have had an unusually high failure rate with the Wireless Coordinators (more than 10%) recently and your description could indicate a problem with the Coordinator(s).

    What field devices do you have on the wireless ? FEC's or TEC's ?

    CCT, an MS-BTCVT and a Zigbee dongle will let you troubleshoot the wireless mesh. With my limited experience (5 buildings) on wireless setup almost 95% of all communications problems are due to how the mesh network (physical locations to be specific) is configured. Go to http://cgproducts.johnsoncontrols.co...px?main.aspx&2 and serach for LIT-12011295. It is the newest document but the basics remain the same for the older versions (5.2 or higher).

    Last I knew, CCT is available WITHOUT having to buy SCT, Just Sayin'
    If sense were so common everyone would have it !

    All opinions expressed are my own. Any advice provided is based on personal experience, generally accepted fact or publicly available information. As such, it is worth exactly what you paid for it, not a penny more not a penny less !!

  8. #8
    Thanks guys. We have all FEC's. We did have a problem with the coordinator after a firmware upgrade, it wouldn't restart and the tech had to play with it for a few hours to get it back.

    I checked into the availability of CCT without SCT. With the testing hardware you mentioned, about $2500, which is reasonable. That would include the ability to test the wireless mesh. However purchase is restricted and must be approved by the local JCI branch. Training is about $1500 per class, maybe 3 or 4 classes needed for approval. So maybe $8000 investment total. I'll bring this up with the school board.

    I also had a chance to examine the wireless mesh more closely. I found that our hallway ZFR1811 repeaters are daisy-chained (wired) back to the coordinator. This could be power-only or it could be that we have a hybrid system (hallway repeaters hard-wired to coordinator but then wireless from repeaters to the UV's) instead of a true mesh. That might make more sense, and also would explain why the new repeater wasn't used in the routing (not on the wired bus). Are hybrid wired/wireless systems typically done? The JCI tech may not have realized this either, I think he viewed it as a true mesh.

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