Let’s Build a Lab
One of the questions we receive from our students is how to build a practice lab for building automation. In this quick guide, we will discuss exactly what you need for your own lab.
A couple of quick points, we will do our best to keep part numbers up to date but they may change, just send us an email at [email protected] and we will adjust. We focused in on Niagara and EasyIO for this lab for a few reasons:
- Niagara has a large market share and covers a large audience (I’d also argue it’s one of the most difficult BAS interfaces to learn, if you can use it, you will be fine with most other BAS).
- EasyIO provides a low-cost controller that includes Wireless and Wired IP, TCom, MS/TP, SOX, and SQL. It also comes with a free programming software suite.
The Supervisory Device.
I recommend the JACE-8000-DEMO without I/O. This will give you a platform that you can work with for all server/supervisor needs. The only downside is that you will need a licensed copy of Niagara Workbench to work with the JACE. You will need to purchase the same brand of Workbench as your JACE.
I recommend a EASYIO FW-08. This controller is reasonably priced, includes IP wired and wireless, MS/TP, TCom, and Modbus.
I recommend two separate power sources. One for your controllers and one for your I/O this will let you work with both internal and externally sourced power.
The transformer I recommend is the PSH100AB10-EXT2.
I recommend you get the following inputs
- Resistive Temperature Both 1K Ni RTD and 10K Type 2 Thermistor
- Pushbutton Reset Air pressure Switch
- CO2 Dual Output 0-10VDC or 4-20mA
I prefer to get my sensors from BAPI. I’ve had good success with them even if they are a bit more expensive. Make sure to get a sensor and not a transmitter. I recommend one wall mount sensor and one duct mount sensor. Bonus points if you buy an averaging sensor as well but it is not necessary.
There’s only one Pressure reset I trust and that is the Cleveland Controls AFS-460. Get this model as it comes with the push-button reset.
CO2 Dual Output 0-10VDC or 4-20mA
For pressure sensors I prefer Setra but for CO2 Sensors I prefer Veris. The reason we are going with a CO2 sensor is that it is a lot easier to produce CO2 when we breath then to try to produce air pressure with a mag gauge and a squeeze ball setup.
I like the CWE model as it provides both a 0-10VDC and a 4-20mA output which is good for labs.
I recommend you get the following Outputs
- Single Pole Double Throw 24VAC Coil with indicator rh1b-ulac24v
- Relay in a Box 120/24VAC/DC coil SPDT
- 0-10VDC or 4-20mA Non-Spring Return Actuator with Feedback
Single Pole Double Throw 24VAC Coil with indicator
IDEC’s are the way to go for rail-mounted ice cube relays. These are great for putting inside equipment where you can’t use a mud ring a RIBU1C (my goto relay).
I like the rh1b-ulac24v model as it gives us an indicator, two throws, and a 24VAC pole.
Relay in a Box 120VAC or 10-30VAC/DC coil SPDT
The RIB or Relay in a Box, is a tried and true staple for VFD’s and other solutions where we want to be able to see if the relay is active without opening up a panel. I like the RIBU1C for its simplicity.
0-10VDC or 4-20mA Non-Spring Return Actuator with Feedback
My personal favorite actuator for labbing is the Belimo LMB24-SR. This one has it all. O-10VDC or 4-20mA control, and feedback! This is a beautiful actuator for you to get used to controlling.
Some of you may be wondering why I did not include any potentiometers or switches. If I do fake values I like to do them in my software. I like to utilize physical devices to stimulate programmatic responses. With this lab setup, you can simulate almost any process loop you’d like to control.
Here is a complete list of the parts:
- Supervisory Device- JACE-DEMO-8000 Quantity 1
- Supervisory Software- Workbench Quantity 1 (Same Brand as the JACE)
- Field Controller- EASYIO FW-08 Quantity 1
- Power Supply- PSH100AB10-EXT2 Quantity 2
- Resistive Temperature- BAPI 1K Ni RTD BAPI 10K Type 2 Thermistor (Ideally 1 Wall Mount and 1 Duct Probe) Sensor not Transmitter Quantity 1
- Pushbutton Reset Airpressure Switch- Cleveland Controls AFS-460 Quantity 2
- CO2 Dual Output 0-10VDC or 4-20mA- CWE Quantity 1
- Single Pole Double Throw 24VAC Coil with indicator- RH1B-ULAC24V Quantity 3
- Relay in a Box 120VAC or 10-30VAC/DC coil SPDT- RIBU1C Quantity 2
- 0-10VDC or 4-20mA Non-Spring Return Actuator with Feedback- LMB24-SR Quantity 1
These are the exact parts and pieces we use in our courses that have been used to train thousands of BAS Professionals.