Tech questions for the not so technical

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Mahlhavoc

Tech questions for the not so technical

Post by Mahlhavoc » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:10 am

How to start...


Ok I am not as savy as most people on here as I am no programmer nor can I build anything computer related for the most part. I am looking for a hand and or some information pointing me in the right direction as I do know what I want and that it must be possible.


I am an avid reef aquarium hobbiest. I have many thousands invested in a very large system that has a controller on it for lpumps, water perameters, light schedules, etc. The one I own is found here: neptunesys.com/aquaController3.htm

Now this controller is very nice and does what I wish for it to do, but it is not something you want to look at being held onto the wall by velcro and it is not meant to be wall mounted. It also does not have the best display and it only has a two button interface.

This controller also has a program that displays tank changes hourly, daily, and monthly in graphs and can also control remotely from another computer outside the home. It is also a way to program the controller to turn on and off different electronics, lights, etc. This program is found here: neptunesys.com/aquaNotes.htm

What I wish to do, and I am not sure you can help or not, is to have a flush mounted touch screen to control the controller and display some of the perameters (Temp, PH, etc.) and possibly show the graphs of the remote program that reads the controller. I do have an extra windows xp based PC laying about that should help.

This is what one person has done with a LCD screen and I wish to take it a step further, touch screen, but I am not as computer savy as you or those folks are. http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showt ... id=1219081" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

If you can assist me with information or describe how I can do this and if your products, that look like they may do what I want, will work for what I want, please let me know.

I appreciate your help and thank you in advance.

Gary



rtaubitz

Re: Tech questions for the not so technical

Post by rtaubitz » Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:15 pm

Hi, are you looking to control your current controller from a touchscreen? Or replace the current controller with a whole new setup?

You could do it a few ways, but probably the easiest would be to keep your current controller, and get something like this TM3C4WBS and plug it into your spare PC. Then, assuming your current controller has ethernet and is plugged into your network, write a small application to get the data from your current controller and display it on the 51854 LCD. Also assuming you can control your controller over ethernet, you could have your application show different menu's etc for turning on/off pumps and what not..

Can your neptunesys controller be controlled over ethernet?

What you want is completely possible, if I were to do it and I didn't have a controller already i'd probably start from scratch and make one using something like a PIC18Fx7J60 series ethernet based PIC, i'd still get the above device and connect that to one of the PIC's serial ports, you'd then have to write code to controll all the inputs, outputs, web server and LCD control code, as well as make some type of PCB to put wire it all up on.



rtaubitz

Re: Tech questions for the not so technical

Post by rtaubitz » Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:43 pm

Probably should have looked first at your controller, I see it can be controller over ethernet

In this case, you'd just have to write a program to interface the LCD and controller together, and tell the LCD controller what pages to show along with what text and what to do on button presses.



Mahlhavoc

Re: Tech questions for the not so technical

Post by Mahlhavoc » Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:04 pm

Ok good deal! I thought when I found your products it looked like something that would work. . my only problem now is code writing! LOL

I am not the techy when it comes to program writing. Yeah, this is ethernet controlable indeed and accessable from anywhere. I thought if my spare comp was hooked up to one of your touchscreens I should be able to do what I wanted.

Can you assist me in finding someone who can help with code? Anyhow, I am going to go look about your site a bit more to try and get a better feel.

I also thought of going from scratch . . but that would be alot more intracate than I would want to get involved in. This controller has lunar cycles, wave makers, moonlight simulations, reads PH, Temp, Orp, etc...

Thanks so much! I will probably post alot here if things start to come together or if I have questions, is that ok?



rtaubitz

Re: Tech questions for the not so technical

Post by rtaubitz » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:28 pm

The problem with writing the code is that it's rather difficult to do so without having what you're trying to write the code for avaliable to do testing on.. Whoever writes the code, would have to have some good knowledge about your controller as to what codes or html pages to parse to gather the data from it, and then test the code to make sure a; it actually works and b; it's not too buggy! So you would probably need to either loan a screen to someone who has your controller and wants to program it for you, or something similar.. Actually, since your controller is accessable from anywhere, you could just forward the http port to the controller through your router/modem and allow access to if that way.

How much would you actually be willing to pay for such an application?

The site and touch screens aren't actually mine, I just saw your post and offered my suggestion/idea's I actually came here to ask a question about increasing memory on the TC51854 LCD Controller. But i'm going to say yes, keep posting here that's fine (especially if you use a product from the site, from what i've seen so far tech support is great!)



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Re: Tech questions for the not so technical

Post by vivat » Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:30 am

rtaubitz, thanks for keeping up with the forum.

Mahlhavoc, as rtaubitz already said, it'll be much easier to start your project from the scratch rather than attempting to communicate with the existing controller without knowing how to parse the data. Either way you choose, it'll require a knowledge of coding. I'd be glad to assist you with your project, however, I'm currently working on a custom application that will take me a while to finish. I neither can recommend you anybody who is knowledgeable enough in coding and would be willing to assist you with your project.

You're welcome to use our forum to share your work and talk about your project. We'll be tuned in in case you'll have specific questions about any of our products.


Support Group,
TVI Electronics

Mahlhavoc

Re: Tech questions for the not so technical

Post by Mahlhavoc » Fri Apr 11, 2008 12:27 pm

eep!

I hope I am not going over my head here. I truly do not want to start from scratch, I would much rather have it just read the original controller if not to darn complicated.

As far as paying for something like this, I would have absolutly no way to guage that, if it was too costly, well, I would not be so quick to try it and may just go with an LCD display that just shows my perameters and just continue controlling it through the base unit like other had done.

I really do want an easy fix here, but I am gathering it will not be? I read the manual for that touch screen and it seems like something I may be able to work with. . it is the whole writing code for it to acknowledge the original unit. There is, however, a sight in Kansas City that is contacts for programmers and programming business. rentacoder.com/URLSEO/RentACoder/advertisement/LocalCodersByCity!asp/x!Missouri/strCity!Kansas+City/lngStateId!28/Kansas+City.htm

I don't know, I am really in the exploratory stages and I don't want this to get out of hand. I figured about a $500 or something overall cost when I first started looking around... am I niave?

Man..



rtaubitz

Re: Tech questions for the not so technical

Post by rtaubitz » Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:18 pm

Well.. Contract programmers will cost quite a bit more than $250 I think (after approximate costs of LCD and Touchscreen are taken from the $500 budget).

If your programmer could actually connect to your controller through the internet, they could probably work out how to parse the data.. As for turning things on/off, you'd need to confirm on your end if it's actually doing what they're trying to tell it to do (unless you can see it changing from the controller), so some form of instant communication is going be needed.., and then you'd need someone to create the screens for you, what needs to be displayed and where etc , and then you need to work out some form of menu system.. ie, when you press the screen, an "Options" menu screen pops up or something with what settings and whatnot you'll want to have configurable via the screen..

All this would need to be done with a screen at hand, which I have - so... I guess I could do it as long as I have access to your controller? $250 would be the minimum (however it won't cost a cent until proof of concept, when I know 100% it's doable we can work something out?), and that's with your help designing the menu system and screens. Also going to assume a XP operating system (how old is the computer you have avaliable?)



Mahlhavoc

Re: Tech questions for the not so technical

Post by Mahlhavoc » Sat Apr 12, 2008 10:36 am

Well I don't mind the assistance, this is for sure, and I would have to suppose you are correct, at least you have first hand knowledge of the product in discussion.


This sounds workable indeed if you are willing? My computer is an HP 734n pavillion, can't remember how old but it is decent. I have not bought any peices parts as of yet for this adventure as I want to make sure this is the right direction and from what you folks have said, it seems so. That and I am not sure exactly what all this will require.

I do appologise that I am not very techinical in this matter as I certainly wish I was, but if you want to know about saltwater reef keeping or how to purchase a new or used vehicle or even need a new furnace installed or some plumbing done. . I am your man :wink:



Mahlhavoc

Re: Tech questions for the not so technical

Post by Mahlhavoc » Sat Apr 12, 2008 11:03 am

Also, as far as starting from scratch..


The base unit has sockets to accept temp probes, oxygen redox potential probes (ORP) and PH probes and control outlets via switches and other things. I wouldn't have any idea as to what it would take to make something like that happen with just a touch screen controller like this unit. Though extremely appealing, I am not sure we want to undertake such a task.


Thoughts?



rtaubitz

Re: Tech questions for the not so technical

Post by rtaubitz » Sat Apr 12, 2008 1:23 pm

I think it would be much easier to keep the current controller, since it already does all the interfacing for all the various sensors and data calculations, all we have to do is read the data and display it and send the right commands to change settings etc...

Would you like me to make an attemp at writing software to do what you want?



Mahlhavoc

Re: Tech questions for the not so technical

Post by Mahlhavoc » Sun Apr 13, 2008 3:23 pm

If you think it is possible, yes. But I don't wish to waste your or mine time either (especially when my money is involved) LOL. Maybe we should start emailing each other? I don't want to distress this forum or go beyond the boundries of this forum either, and thinking deeper into this subject, I would like to possibly discuss this past what I wish to do for my personal interests.


I do not have a TVI controller as of yet, as you well know, but I do want this done. As I said though, since it is getting a bit personal now, maybe we should go private?

Email me and give me contact information and I will do the same.

Thank you so much for your offer to assist me, I do appreciate it.

What all would I need, product wise, to accomplish what I want done . . if you have a grasp on that at this point?





Mahlhavoc

Re: Tech questions for the not so technical

Post by Mahlhavoc » Sat Apr 19, 2008 12:36 pm

No, I am here. I just don't have alot of time sometimes with 12 hour work days.

As soon as I am ready to move forward and purchase I will be back and I have your information. The main thing was knowing that this is indeed possible. I appologize for the delayed response.



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