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Hi-limit DUAL Contact Differential Pressure Switch

2009 June 19
by admin; 3,043 views

The Dwyer folks stopped by our offices Monday to show us some exciting new products that will be available next month.  One of the products we found particularly fascinating was a unique hi-limit differential pressure switch.  An AHU with a variable speed fan has a differential pressure sensor located two-thirds of the way down the duct.  This sensor measures the differential pressure and controls the speed of the fan to maintain a specific set-point (usually in inches of water column).  Somewhere in the fan discharge is usually a hi-limit differential pressure switch that is used to shut-down the fan and alarm the DDC system when there is an over pressure situation.  

Dwyer has designed a hi-limit switch that does not require power, and has 2 sets of contacts to both shut-down the fan, and alarm the DDC system. The contacts are opened by the physical movement of the diaphragm, therefore no power wiring is required. Because the unit has (2) sets of contacts, a separate relay and additional wiring is avoided.  The product is commercial quality, made of metal (not plastic), and has barbed connections for tubing.  We will be showcasing the product in the "Product Solutions" section on our website as soon as it is available. 

Vaisala Knowledge Newsletters

2009 June 4
by admin; 2,513 views

One of our favorite manufacturers- Vaisala- has begun a new educational and informative newsletter and webinar series. ALPS has been a distributor of Vaisala for over ten years, but if you are not familiar, Vaisala is a manufacture of weather stations and weather monitoring devices, CO2 sensors, humidity sensors, wind-speed sensors and hand-held test instruments. They follow our lean business model and have a reputation for delivering consistent quality products. They have done this by focusing on eliminating waste and process variations on their factory floor. As a result, the quality of every product they make is the same as the last, making for fewer defects and returns. 

After checking out their website and reading the "knowledgeable newsletters," we were hooked and subscribed! We think that the message they convey and education tools they offer are excellent. Poke around and learn who they are, and you will quickly see how they are able to consistently build quality products. Also, if you have new employees who may need a crash corse on explaining humidity and CO2, this is a fantastic place to start. Another important note is that this technology is changing, so even if you have been around the block a few times, you may want a refresher.

Check out the Vaisala Newsletter here.

P.S. The "History of Vaisala" book really impressed us!

Wirelessly Sensing Everything

2009 March 16
by admin; 2,081 views

Market research firm ON World is projecting a bright future for wireless sensor networks (WSNs), recession or not. The firm expects WSN R&D spending to reach $1.3 billion by 2012, from $522 million in 2007. The biggest potential markets identified are energy (smart grid, in-home energy control, and renewable energy), environmental monitoring, healthcare, industrial automation, transportation, public safety, and structural monitoring. Concerning structural monitoring,&#0160Sensors magazine notes that in the U.S., a National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) "Technology Innovation Program" (TIP) has awarded funding for nine research projects targeting infrastructure monitoring and inspection — and that four of the nine involve WSNs.

Echelon Announces New Products to Support LonWorks 2.0 Platform.

2009 March 5
by admin; 4,240 views

New Products Reduce Cost and Complexity of Creating Energy-Aware Solutions

SAN JOSE, Calif. & NUREMBERG, Germany — Echelon Corporation (NASDAQ: ELON) today announced a suite of new LonWorks 2.0 products that make everyday devices in buildings, factories, homes and elsewhere smarter, more powerful at less cost, and easier to install. Products in the initial suite, available in volume later this year, have greater functionality, faster operating speeds, simpler installation, and can be incorporated into systems at a cost of up to 50% less than products from the previous generation. The products are featured today at the 2009 Embedded World Exhibition & Conference in Nuremberg, Germany, March 3-5, 2009.

The first set of LonWorks 2.0 products includes the Neuron 5000 processor, the FT 5000 Smart Transceiver, the LNS FX network operating system, the LonMaker FX installation tool, the NodeBuilder FX Development Tool, and the Mini FX Evaluation Kit. The FT 5000 Smart Transceiver and the Neuron 5000 Processor are expected to be available for sampling in May 2009 and the production parts are expected to be available in August 2009. Availability for NodeBuilder FX is expected in May 2009, Mini FX is expected in Q3 2009, LNS FX is expected in summer 2010, and LonMaker FX is expected in 2010.

The components in the LonWorks 2.0 family are compatible with the installed base of over 80 million LonWorks devices and hundreds of thousands of buildings, homes, factories and public structures that already use LonWorks networks for automation and energy management purposes.

New LonWorks 2.0 Products
The first set of LonWorks 2.0 products includes:

  • Neuron[R] 5000 Processor – LonWorks optimized microprocessor with the industry-standard ISO/IEC 14908.1 control-networking protocol built into the chip to simplify development and guarantee interoperability. The Neuron 5000 Processor is up to eight times faster than previous generations of Neuron chip designs while consuming less power
  • FT 5000 Smart Transceiver – A Neuron 5000 core (with protocol) with integrated ISO/IEC 14908.2 compliant free topology twisted pair transceiver. The FT 5000 shares the speed increase of the Neuron 5000 and can be built into a full energy aware device designed to reduce cost by up to 50% compared to previous
    generation designs
  • LNS FX Network Operating System – Next generation version of the LNS networking operating system for LonWorks networks. LNS FX automatically recognizes Neuron 5000 and FT 5000 based devices and eliminates all installation fees or credits at installation time, reducing installation cost and complexity
  • LonMaker[R] FX integration tool – Next generation version of the market leading LonMaker tool for network integrators. As with LNS FX, LonMaker FX streamlines the installation process for field installers by automatically recognizing Neuron 5000 and FT 5000 based devices and eliminating the installation fees for LonWorks 2.0 devices
  • NodeBuilder[R] FX Development Tool and Mini FX Evaluation Kit – Next generation tools for developing and trialing LonWorks 2.0 designs and technology. Both products share the same hardware so developers can leverage their investment in the Mini FX with a software-only upgrade to the full NodeBuilder FX Development Tool. The software only version of the NodeBuilder FX tool can lower the cost for developing solutions based on LonWorks 2.0 platform by up to 50% compared to the previous generation tools. Both the NodeBuilder FX and Mini FX are backward compatible with existing LonWorks transceivers.

LonWorks devices and networks are field-proven, reliable, secure, and energy efficient and are used in some of the world's most important and highly populated buildings and systems such as the Beijing Olympic Village, the New York City's subway system, the New York City Public School District, the Helsinki Rail System, and Roppongi Hills, Japan's premier office, retail and residential complex.

About Echelon Corporation:
Echelon Corporation (NASDAQ: ELON) is leading the worldwide transformation of the electricity grid into a smart, communicating energy network, connecting utilities to their customers, and providing customers with energy aware homes and businesses that react to conditions on the grid.

Echelon's NES System – the backbone for the smart grid – is used by utilities to replace existing stand-alone electricity meters with a network infrastructure that is open, inexpensive, reliable, and proven. The NES System helps utilities compete more effectively, reduce operating costs, provide expanded services, and help energy users manage and reduce overall energy use. Echelon's LonWorks[R] Infrastructure products extend the smart grid, powering tens of millions of energy aware, everyday devices made by thousands of companies – connecting them to each other and the grid. LonWorks based products work together to monitor and save energy; lower costs; improve productivity; and enhance service, quality, safety, and convenience in utility, municipal, building, industrial, transportation, and home area networks.

Echelon, LonWorks, LNS, LonMaker, Neuron, Nodebuilder, and the Echelon logo are registered trademarks of Echelon Corporation registered in the United States and other countries. Other product or service names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

This press release may contain statements relating to future plans, events, or performance. Such statements may involve risks and uncertainties, including risks associated with uncertainties pertaining to the timing of availability and market acceptance of Echelon's LonWorks 2.0 products, and the timing and level of customer orders; risks that Echelon offerings do not perform as designed or do not offer the cost savings, functionality or operating speeds anticipated; the growth of the LonWorks industry, in general; and other risks identified in Echelon's SEC filings. Actual results, events, and performance may differ materially. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. Echelon undertakes no obligation to release publicly the result of any revisions to these forward-looking statements that may be made to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

Echelon Announces New Products to Support LonWorks 2.0 Platform.

Buying Green at Alps Controls

2009 February 26
by admin; 1,760 views

Did you know that by purchasing from Alps Controls you offset or reduce your carbon footprint?

Because Alps’ business processes are Internet-based, our customers are able to place their orders online instead of via fax or snail-mail. No paper is necessary to place an order on either the purchasing or the fulfillment side. We also use the internet to pay the majority of our vendors electronically eliminating paper checks. And any paper checks that we receive as payments from our customers are scanned and submitted electronically to our bank as our method of deposit, once again cutting down on the paper trail. If any of our customers would like to process their payments to us electronically and reduce their check usage and postage cost we’ll be happy to facilitate the process. Other carbon footprint reductions that result through our business processes include:

  1. Since we don't stock products, there is no warehouse to heat, cool or light.
  2. Our manufacturers ship directly to you rather than to us to re-ship from a warehouse.
  3. And last, our offices are partially lighted with five skylights while occupancy and light level sensors turn off the lights when rooms are empty.

If you are interested in finding ways to further reduce your business's carbon footprint just Google "Green Business Practices." We did and Google came up with 32,000,000 results to pick from!

Purchasing BAS Sensors Survey

2009 February 18
by admin; 1,781 views

Online Surveys & Market Research

Robots In Every Building?

2009 February 11
by admin; 1,613 views

robots in every buildingIt's closer than you think. (An article from, February 2009)

Robots in every building? “Not in my lifetime,” you may be thinking. Still, how many people, ten years ago, would have guessed that by 2009 your average electrician would be pulling CAT6 cable for VOIP lines? Or that your mom would be downloading grandchildrens’ photos to her home PC? Or that WiFi connectivity would be a requirement in every new commercial space of consequence? Companies that keep pace with accelerating technological change grab market before stragglers even realize their core business has stepped sideways. Now, forces are converging similarly to pull mobile robots into facilities. These forces include:

  1. Building Information Model (BIM) requirements
  2. Supplying data for LEED documentation
  3. Staffing problems
  4. Management & maintenance costs
  5. High liability risks
  6. Increasing security demands

Believe it or not, mobile robots – combined with that WiFi connectivity mentioned earlier – lie at the center of solutions to all these issues. Mobile robots, by the way, are the ones that drive around by themselves and talk, not the industrial arms used to build automobiles.

(read the rest of this article at the website)

The Origin Of The Steeler’s Terrible Towel – Its History May Surprise You – Watch The Myron Cope Video

2009 February 3
by admin; 5,359 views

(From an article by Greg Garber appearing on, January, 2009)

myron cope and the terrible towelTAMPA, Fla. — Technically, Super Bowl XLIII is a home game for the Arizona Cardinals, who will wear their red jerseys for their first trip to the big show.

But Sunday, Raymond James Stadium likely will look and feel like Pittsburgh's Heinz Field. Steelers fans have descended on this city all week long in increasing, improbable numbers. The Terrible Towel, the madly twirling, swirling instrument of their passion, is likely to dominate the game.

The living legacy of the Terrible Towel lies nearly 900 miles north, just west of Pittsburgh, in the small village of Corapolis, Pa., on the banks of the Ohio River. Drive over the brick streets of the town center, up a steep hill and, finally, around a sharp turn and you will discover the Allegheny Valley School.

There are group houses scattered comfortably around what looks like a prep school campus, an achingly quiet, insular community that is home for the autistic and mentally disabled.

This is the story of how the disparate worlds of the Allegheny Valley School, where communication is often difficult, and the thunderous, full-throated ecstasy of Pittsburgh's fanatics are tied together by a common, 100 percent-cotton thread, the very fabric of Steeler Nation.

"This towel is very, very powerful," said Regis Champ, the president of the school. "The people of Pittsburgh understand what this towel does and they love the Steelers. It's a great combination for us."

The Steelers themselves are acutely aware of the power.

"I think every great nation has a flag," Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu said. "I think the Steeler Nation, it's obvious that that's our flag."

Added Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, "When they wave that towel, it's just something that comes from in their soul and tries to reach out to us players."

(Read the rest of Greg Garber’s article and watch the Myron Cope video on

ASHRAE Publishes 2008 Version of BACnet Standard

2009 January 29
by admin; 14,346 views

ATLANTA — The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) announced that it has published the 2008 version of the BACnet standard. ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 135-2008, BACnet® — A Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks, allows building equipment and systems manufactured by different companies to work together. The open, consensus developed standard for building controls includes seven addenda approved since the 2004 standard was published.

ashrae logo“The 2008 version of the standard incorporates many years of work by the BACnet committee,” said immediate past chair Bill Swan. “This includes material first published a couple of months ago. It replaces the 2004 version as the standard for BACnet technical and specification efforts.”

The standard contains new guidance related to the Load Control object, an extension to reduce a building’s energy consumption on demand — a key element of the integration of energy utilities and buildings to reduce or eliminate brownouts and blackouts from energy grid overload. It also covers:

  • The Access Door object, the first of the extensions to fully support physical
    access control.
  • Improvements in requirements on BACnet devices.
  • New capabilities such as BACnet Web Services which, among other things, are
    being considered for energy utility-building communications.
  • A standardized and interoperable means to record alarms

The cost of ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 135-2008, BACnet® — A Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks, is $119 ($99 ASHRAE members). To order, contact
ASHRAE Customer Service at 800.527.4723 (United States and Canada) or 404.636.8400 (worldwide), fax 404.321.5478, or visit

ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is an international organization of some 50,000 persons. ASHRAE fulfills its mission of advancing heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world through research, standards writing, publishing and continuing education.

Humidity calculations and conversions made easy – Vaisala

2009 January 27
by admin; 3,136 views

Humidity is quantified and defined by several different parameters: relative humidity, dewpoint, mixing ratio, absolute humidity, enthalpy, wet bulb, ppm, and partial pressure. Which term you utilize depends on several factors such as your industry, what information you need, the measurement environment, desired accuracy, etc.

vaisala logoFor good measurement practice, Vaisala offers several tools to help convert and quantify humidity parameters. Vaisala Humidity Calculator – use online or download stand-alone humidity calculator here. Or download a white paper (PDF) here.