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Thread: BMS Dabbling/Cross training

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    BMS Dabbling/Cross training

    Hey, I wanted some input from some guys who may have done something similar.

    Background: i have roughly 12 years in the field, did votec in High school and started while in school. i was lucky enough to get into Commercial Service out of the gate. Mainly data rooms in the DC area. And know i work for a Manufacturer. I also have some interests in computers, I have built two and recently signed up for Code Academy. At work i have started to get a handle on the BMS stuff to where its clicking for me and im getting some what proficient. i have been interested in learning to build/debug different parts of the BMS system like the front and back ends and taking my knowledge to the next level.

    Any suggestions or directions on where to learn the coding and processes needed to move forward. Or what coding and processes would be worth looking into. Any ideas on hobby projects i can do to progress would also help. I have a stack of Raspberry Pis, but never built anything crazy with them, ideas for them are welcome.

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    Are you looking to use your knowledge for good or for evil?

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    The true answer is only known at the moment when that pivotal choice is made...🧐

    Mainly it is personal growth, although I feel it would offer benefit to my career. It never hurts to increase your knowledge of your craft or to have backup options. I have also had pipe dreams of starting a side business focused on low cost options for smaller sites(like 1-10 units). But at this stage I am a long way out on that.

    But I ask how can I know the right answer, could you be the sith looking for an apprentice. I heard you guys have cookies. I like cookies!!😋

    I also have ADHD if that has not started to show. I am also a Mason so I tend to generally be good....... and keep secrets 🤫

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    Most of your BAS techs and training are going to be in a particular brand and it will probably be mostly software….not quite the board level stuff like you are thinking about. You would probably need an engineering degree or something close to get to that board building/design department.

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    Depends on where you want to go. There are some smaller controls companies that would love to have a guy like you.

    Or go corporate, and get into programing. Depends on the brand, but most are graphical block programming....pretty easy to get a handle on, if you want to delve in.

    If you want to build boards, etc. Go for a small controls manufacturer.

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    Just saw your conversation with RD.

    Welcome to the site! You'll get it figured out pretty quick. Just read the rules sections, if you're confused.

    This site is corporate owned, so some that world gets spread around here, unfortunately. But, this is still the best HVAC forum, on the web.

    Lots of contributors have been here for many years, and are more like a dysfunctional family, than just some random people on the web.

    Get your posts up and apply for PRO status. Be nice to see another braniac on board!!

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    Thank you guys for the insight. The programming (software) is what I was heading towards.

    Side question: One of my colleagues has said what he has seen is more of a divide in that sector. Meaning the field guy hooks up the wires, sets some addresses and points. But if something needs changed programming wise it's some guy in the "office" who would debug or adjust the code. In his words, they(feild techs) are no longer true integrators. Have you guys seen similar trends where the roles/training level have separated? Or do you think those types of shops just tend to call for help more often because of their structure, giving the impression?

    I will look into the block programming. I started a python course already.

    I also appreciate the patience, I won't lie(they may pull my millennial card for this). This is the first forum I have gotten into. So I'm learning this site as I learn how forums work as a whole.

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    And to clarify I don't mean that rudely to the guys setting up the bms(field techs). No matter the purpose every cog in the machine keeps it working right.

    I remember my first long term shop. The installers put everything in and left a holding charge. The service team would come behind do final checks and charging and start the system. And in a tech support position I see that now. Some guys straight up say "I just put them in, you need our service guy " if I start getting in-depth. So I do understand a division, just didn't know if it's new or just seen from a different angle on this side.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MDCountryTech View Post
    Thank you guys for the insight. The programming (software) is what I was heading towards.

    Side question: One of my colleagues has said what he has seen is more of a divide in that sector. Meaning the field guy hooks up the wires, sets some addresses and points. But if something needs changed programming wise it's some guy in the "office" who would debug or adjust the code. In his words, they(feild techs) are no longer true integrators. Have you guys seen similar trends where the roles/training level have separated? Or do you think those types of shops just tend to call for help more often because of their structure, giving the impression?
    Hello MD! Controls guy, here.

    I cannot speak for other organizations but I push hard for my guys to be fully-fledged everythings. I want them to be able to pull wire, hang an enclosure, trim a panel, build a database, program, build graphics, the whole shebang. The more they can do the easier my life gets. I am currently one of those programming desk-guys that handles the bigger stuffs but it is expected that they can manage their own edits and come to me for help when it's over their heads.

    Quote Originally Posted by MDCountryTech View Post
    I will look into the block programming. I started a python course already.
    I've never had a need to use python so I cannot speak to how that works. I've used multiple systems over the years and used line code, block and graphical programming systems. There is still some line code programming out there (Schneider Electric Continuum and Struxureware for example) but there would appear to be a trend towards graphical programming. I know Automated Logic has been using a GPL for a long, long time. I believe Tridium also uses a GPL.

    The fundamentals are the same, regardless. Boolean logic (and, or if-then-else) is going to be the same, it's just the syntax on how to apply it that changes.

    My (heavily biased) opinion, for what it's worth, is if you have a knack for the voodoo we do then you should jump in and make it happen. Having a HVAC background helps a bunch but isn't an absolute requirement. It's more about a desire to learn and take on the challenges that others cannot or will not that for a successful BAS tech. I'm over twenty years in now and I'm still loving it.

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    When it comes to "controls guys", the ones with the skills to "program" are more expensive, and have more of a work load. It doesn't make sense to have them pulling and landing wire, or installing equipment....waste of thier skill set, and money making potential.

    "Programming" can be a misnomer also. Most major platforms have "boxed" programs. You pick from a list of equipment, select the installed options, and the programming side is already done....you just tweek some settings, and it's mostly done.

    That's not always the case, but usually what happens. It's also why getting "good" controls guys is hit or miss. The guys now aren't getting the training they really need to be really great at all aspects of controls. The older guys that were around in the beginning stages of computer programming are usually more proficient, because they were more involved with actual computer programming.

    It also depends on the type of programming. I think Block programming is easier than "if, then" line by line programming. But that's only really because it's more graphical, and I'm not a "controls" guy, so I can stumble through that easier than reading line by line.

    If you want to get into controls, it may be worth going with one of the big 3, as you'll get the most training, and experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 71CHOPS View Post
    When it comes to "controls guys", the ones with the skills to "program" are more expensive, and have more of a work load. It doesn't make sense to have them pulling and landing wire, or installing equipment....waste of thier skill set, and money making potential.
    Nobody is good at everything. I can't bend pipe well to save my life, too much art involved for me to see it. But I firmly believe that you'll get a better programmer from the field than someone that can barely hold a screwdriver.


    Quote Originally Posted by 71CHOPS View Post
    "Programming" can be a misnomer also. Most major platforms have "boxed" programs. You pick from a list of equipment, select the installed options, and the programming side is already done....you just tweek some settings, and it's mostly done.
    I work for ALC. We do have a tool available to help start the program. It gives you a foundation and framework to start with. But all of our boards are a blank slate, out of the box, every program is custom. Others do have a canned program where you just pick and choose what you want and need. Siemens' TEC's were good for that and offered some good variety to make it fast and easy. But they weren't quite as flexible, though you could make some modifications at the supervisory level.

    Quote Originally Posted by 71CHOPS View Post
    That's not always the case, but usually what happens. It's also why getting "good" controls guys is hit or miss. The guys now aren't getting the training they really need to be really great at all aspects of controls. The older guys that were around in the beginning stages of computer programming are usually more proficient, because they were more involved with actual computer programming.
    That's why I push for my guys to get as well-rounded in everything they can. I took some programming classes in HS, back in the 90's, but what I learned there stuck with me and I've used it a bunch. I learned the electrical and mechanical basics in the Navy and picked up the HVAC knowledge as I was going in the controls world. A nonstop thirst for knowledge and willingness to put yourself out there and be taught is what we need more of, in my opinion. Too many people want an engineering degree without knowing which end of the wire strippers to use.


    Quote Originally Posted by 71CHOPS View Post
    It also depends on the type of programming. I think Block programming is easier than "if, then" line by line programming. But that's only really because it's more graphical, and I'm not a "controls" guy, so I can stumble through that easier than reading line by line.
    For the ALC system, it's very much like reading a one-line wiring diagram. Start at your output and work your way back to see why it is/is not on. Tracing line code can be more of a PITA. I learned to break out the highlighters for the subroutines and find where each instance of a parameter was used. It made tracing some things easier, on paper. Other times, I'd put variables on the screen and watch them change on the graphic I made. It was all just system dependent. Just like anything else, you figure out what you need to do to make it work for you.

    If you want to get into controls, it may be worth going with one of the big 3, as you'll get the most training, and experience.[/QUOTE]

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    i appreciate the input. i will keep an eye out on the big three. one thing i have noticed as you alluded to is the misnomer that the guy with a degree is best. It does not hurt but with out experience it is not as valuable as it could be.

    one thing that happened to me, one of the controllers i deal with has a configuration level setting. The phrase says "Low Pressure" the options are 10 and 50(might be 65). The controller can be set for 410a or 407c, which the two options match what i was told the low pressure cut outs are for the respective refrigerants. So i assumed the setting was to let the Controller know what switch is used. Well i asked the code writer(engineer with a degree) what it meant. That setting is to turn off or on a cold start time delay that masks the low pressure switch alarms for 180 seconds. Now am I off base or would it make 100 times more sense for the Phrase to say something like "cold start delay" or "low pressure delay timer" and the options of "on" or "off". To me their choices make no sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MDCountryTech View Post
    i appreciate the input. i will keep an eye out on the big three. one thing i have noticed as you alluded to is the misnomer that the guy with a degree is best. It does not hurt but with out experience it is not as valuable as it could be.

    one thing that happened to me, one of the controllers i deal with has a configuration level setting. The phrase says "Low Pressure" the options are 10 and 50(might be 65). The controller can be set for 410a or 407c, which the two options match what i was told the low pressure cut outs are for the respective refrigerants. So i assumed the setting was to let the Controller know what switch is used. Well i asked the code writer(engineer with a degree) what it meant. That setting is to turn off or on a cold start time delay that masks the low pressure switch alarms for 180 seconds. Now am I off base or would it make 100 times more sense for the Phrase to say something like "cold start delay" or "low pressure delay timer" and the options of "on" or "off". To me their choices make no sense.
    PHM
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    The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of Thinking

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    If i remember right when i looked, i noticed some of the Pro members(1 or 2) "about Me"s that i checked do not have real emails either(they atleast seemed fake).

    Personally i feel it is a security risk. i understand the separation between pro side and open side. But as a non pro member(on the open side) being able to clearly see a pros personal email, what's to stop "bots" or scammers from finding the page and targeting members with phishing attacks to their personal email. If the email was at least protected so only pro members can see it, then i would feel comfortable displaying my email.


    --also i would assume anyone officially from the site would be able to see my accounts email to contact me directly. So displaying it for open areas of the site i would say is a security risk.

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    I used to use a spam Google email account, but ended up changing it. I've been on this site for prolly 12 years, and never had any issues.

    Once you can send and receive private messages, it makes it easier for users to contact you, if they choose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 71CHOPS View Post
    I used to use a spam Google email account, but ended up changing it. I've been on this site for prolly 12 years, and never had any issues.

    Once you can send and receive private messages, it makes it easier for users to contact you, if they choose.
    Same. Never had an issue.

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    If you want to build your own controller you can try a Raspberry pi pico. It has both binary and analog inputs/outputs and is very inexpensive.

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