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7 Usage Instructions

It is our hope the preceding chapters have given you the opportunity to gain a high-level understanding of all the technologies associated with GNU remotecontrol. You are now ready to learn how to use GNU remotecontrol.

Tool Tips are present on a few of the form controls in GNU remotecontrol. Most GUI web browsers require UTF-8 to display Tool Tips. Therefore, some characters of some display languages may not properly render in the Tool Tips. There are 2 ways to resolve this problem.

Please see the section below for more information regarding Browser Selection.

7.1 Browser Selection

GNU remotecontrol works with the following browsers:

IE, though one of the worlds earlier graphical options for a web browser and is credited with helping to grow the Internet past text browsing, simply changes too much and too often to deal with all of the inconsistencies of the browser not being compliant with International Standards of the World Wide Web.

Please review the various Use Case Scenarios prior to reading how to go about using GNU remotecontrol. These examples will greatly help you to see the value of using GNU remotecontrol.

7.1.1 IE Browser Setting Requirement

There is a change you must make to your IE settings, if you are going to use this browser with GNU remotecontrol. This is necessary because IE ignores the meta tag charset attribute of UTF-8. IE uses the Windows meta tag setting, which defaults to the Western European meta tag charset attribute. This necessary change is very easy to make. Simply switch the encoding setting of IE to UTF-8. This change is accomplished using a mouse right-click within any web page displayed using IE, select Encoding, then select Unicode (UTF-8). You only have to do this once, as IE will save this setting for you.

7.2 Time

This section is quite important, perhaps the most important of all. The absence of all devices being set to the same time often results in many problems, problems which are often catastrophic in nature. We have written this section to try to eliminate Clock Synchronization errors from hindering the efficiency of your Energy Management strategy.

The definition of Time can mean many things to many people. We define Time as a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them. Date is a collection of time. Daylight Savings Time is the most common occurrence of Time Change. Time Dilation is not a problem with HVAC operation, nor is the Hafele Keating Effect, as the facility is not traveling.

The biggest problem with having multiple clocks is Clock Drift and the necessary correction for Delta T to account for Terrestrial Time. This Clock Drift problem is globally resolved when Daylight Savings Time occurs. The time standard the majority of the world uses is Coordinated Universal Time, often referred to as UTC. This time standard is achieved by the Atomic Clock delivering International Atomic Time.

Examples of how time differences can cause damage and harm people are in a manufacturing facility and while using medical equipment. Awareness during the Daylight Savings Time change is the easiest way to avert any unforeseen problems. Remember, even if you don’t live in a location that observes Daylight Savings Time, there is still a time correction that occurs to resolve Delta T. Finally, you may have newly installed equipment that was incorrectly configured during installation and erroneously activates the hourly time change when Daylight Savings Time occurs.

We decided to align the time of the thermostat to the time of the GNU remotecontrol server, and have the Time Zone of each thermostat as a required field in the thermostat profile. The Time Zone information lives in the GNU remotecontrol database, in the timezoneoffset table, as a Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) offset. Please read the sections for GNU remotecontrol index.php, explaining the Time Zone Offset field, and the section Write to a Thermostat - Date and Time for more information about how we have accomplished this action. The capability to use Database Management to manage your thermostats is very much improved by having the Time Zone information as a field in your GNU remotecontrol database.

We originally developed code to enable setting each thermostat to a specifically different time, but decided against using that option. Setting each thermostat to a different time would defeat achieving Clock Synchronization, resulting in loads of confusion when comparing your HVAC logged data with logged data from other sources, such as Weather Services, other Building Automation technologies, and Network Security.

Reference Information

So, all you have to do is make certain the time on your GNU remotecontrol server is set to the time you prefer. Then, save yourself a lot of hassle and set the time on your devices every month by using GNU remotecontrol. Finally, use GNU remotecontrol to change any IP enabled thermostat during the Daylight Savings Time change. This will make certain all of your thermostats are correct and have all of your logged data match up properly when comparing by time.

7.3 admin.php

7.3.1 Purpose

The name of this web page is Administration. It is generated from the admin.php file. This web page provides User and Group Management in the GNU remotecontrol application.

You must add a user account by way of GNU remotecontrol admin.php before going to GNU remotecontrol index.php. Please see Configuration of the Web Server, for more information on this requirement.

7.3.2 Fields

-User Accounts-

These are the GNU remotecontrol user identifiers, that are unique to GNU remotecontrol.

-Groups-

These are the GNU remotecontrol group identifiers, that are unique to GNU remotecontrol.

7.3.3 Usage

Add GNU remotecontrol user accounts with the exact same name you setup the user accounts in your Web Server. Edit and Delete GNU remotecontrol user accounts from this web page, as well. Security to access this web page is completely handled by the Web Server and the Operating System running your Web Server. You need to restrict access to this web page, to only allow the user accounts you want to be able to Add/Edit/Delete any other GNU remotecontrol user accounts.

Add GNU remotecontrol groups, as you prefer. Each thermostat must be a member of a group. Each thermostat can only be a member of a single group.

We added a means of user control to this web page, per a request received during our design of GNU remotecontrol. The demand for this feature is the desire to increase awareness of the need to also setup Remote Monitoring for a newly added thermostat. The intent of this feature is to provide a check and balance for all roles that use GNU remotecontrol. Imagine adding a thermostat to your facility and forgetting to setup monitoring of that thermostat, only to find out after a month or so has passed you have no information collected for that newly added thermostat. This restriction helps to remind you to setup monitoring of that thermostat when you add more thermostats to your facility. You set the total number of thermostats each user account is allowed to whatever you prefer. This collectively provides for a separation of duties between the GNU remotecontrol administrator and the GNU remotecontrol user. It very much helps to structure change management in your environment between the different people in your organization.

7.4 index.php

7.4.1 Purpose

The name of this web page is Home. It is generated from the index.php file. This web page provides the ability to manage your individual thermostats, all at one time.

Remember, you must have at least 1 user account entered in admin.php, in the User Accounts section, before going to index.php, in order for things to work. Please see Configuration of admin.php, for more information on this requirement.

7.4.2 Fields

Field Sorting is available for most fields of the Thermostat Profile grid. Sorting preference is persistent, per user account, and can be changed at any time on index.php. This preference lives in the GNU remotecontrol database, in the user table.

You have 5 different fields available to easily manage your thermostats. You have 2 on the thermostat device; Device Name and Site Name. You have 3 in the GNU remotecontrol database; Group, Custom Name, and Description. You also have Model #, Domain Name/IP, and Time Zone Offset available in the GNU remotecontrol database, though they may not be considered an easy way to identify your thermostats. Plan out how you want to populate these fields, making you life much easier for managing your thermostats on a daily basis.

7.4.3 Usage

You are ready to use index.php web page after you have setup the admin.php user accounts. The detailed sections below address how to use each capability.

Loading index.php causes each attribute of each device to be read. Please see the section Adding a Thermostat for more information. The thermostats entered in your GNU remotecontrol database will populate with the current values of the first device in the profile list upon the initial load of index.php. Click the hyperlink View Settings to see the parameters currently set on the device. You only view the settings of a single thermostat device, one at a time. This is listed as Currently Viewing, after clicking the hyperlink View Settings. Please see the section View Settings for more information.

The data from a thermostat device is not loaded if the thermostat device cannot be reached or if the thermostat device is unresponsive. Remember, index.php does not populate the values for this thermostat device if this thermostat device is first in your listing.

A status indicator appears next to each selected thermostat device when the submission is complete. This status indicator can render: Done, NoTrans, or Error. A Tool Tip will appear with more information when hovering over this status indicator.

PHP errors are logged to your PHP logging, if you have this feature enabled in your PHP configuration. A logging mechanism for errors returned directly from a thermostat device writes that information to the GNU remotecontrol database, in the errorlog . This logging will occur when the thermostat device is reachable and responsive, but something goes awry with the submission, or if there is something wrong with the device and the device returns an error.

Day in and day out, you will want to know the settings on the different IP enabled thermostats you are charged with caring for. Using GNU remotecontrol will help you see if anyone has changed the settings on an IP enabled thermostat, thereby altering and/or defeating your Energy Management strategy. Combing into the equation a Remote Monitoring Server with Email Server notification and you are on top of the game for Energy Management.

Reload index.php at any time you prefer to poll each device and read the current parameters of the attributes for all device entries.

See Troubleshooting for more information.

7.4.3.1 Adding a Thermostat

Highlighted fields are required.

You must have the password to the admin user account for the device you want GNU remotecontrol to write to. This is to ensure that the user of GNU remotecontrol has administrative authority to the device. Mandating usage of the admin user account further assures that writing to the device occurs by a user with complete authority to that device. Complete the highlighted fields, click Add, and click Set to enter the admin user account password for that thermostat. You have now completely added your first thermostat to GNU remotecontrol.

Repeat the above paragraph for all remaining thermostats you wish to add to GNU remotecontrol.

Reload index.php at any time you prefer to poll each device and read the current parameters of the attributes for all device entries.

See Troubleshooting for more information.

7.4.3.2 View Settings

Click View Settings to load the parameters of that specific thermostat into the HVAC Settings, Setback Scheduling, and Sensor Settings. View Settings will toggle to display as Currently Viewing. This capability allows you to easily see what each thermostat is set to once you load index.php, versus having to go to each individual thermostat to review this information. This is a very powerful time and bandwidth saving capability.

Reload index.php at any time you prefer to poll each device and read the current parameters of the attributes for all device entries.

See Troubleshooting for more information.

7.4.3.3 Write to a Thermostat - Date and Time

Our research during the development of GNU remotecontrol found users want 2 separate buttons to operate GNU remotecontrol. They want a button to set the time on a thermostat and another button to set the rest of the HVAC settings on the thermostat. Here are the steps when using GNU remotecontrol for writing Date and Time to any device:

  1. Select the device you want to write to by way of the check-box.
  2. Click Set Time on Selected Thermostats.

The Date and Time of the GNU remotecontrol server is displayed to the right of this button. The time of the GNU remotecontrol server is not necessarily the same time of the computer you are using. When you click Set Time on Selected Thermostats, the following is achieved:

  1. The exact current Date and Time of Greenwich Mean Time is captured in a memory variable.
  2. The Date and Time for each selected thermostat is calculated in comparison to Greenwich Mean Time and the GMT offset stored in the profile of each thermostat.
  3. Writing that calculated Date and Time to each selected thermostat device.
  4. The Transaction History is updated with the OLD and NEW Date and Time of each thermostat device.

This capability enables you to then use transactionhistory.php and/or Database Management to see if any thermostat device is gaining or losing time, identifying if you need to investigate a particular thermostat device. Please review the section above called Time for more information as to why this functionality has been designed.

Reload index.php at any time you prefer to poll each device and read the current parameters of the attributes for all device entries.

See Troubleshooting for more information.

7.4.3.4 Write to a Thermostat - HVAC Settings

Our research during the development of GNU remotecontrol found users want 2 separate buttons to operate GNU remotecontrol. They want a button to set the time on a thermostat and another button to set the rest of the HVAC settings on the thermostat. Here are the steps when using GNU remotecontrol for writing HVAC Settings to any device:

  1. Select the device you want to write to by way of the check-box.
  2. Change the attributes and parameters as you prefer.
  3. Click Submit.

Once you click the Submit button, GNU remotecontrol goes to each device, makes the changes, and populates the Transaction History in the GNU remotecontrol database. This capability enables you to then use transactionhistory.php and/or Database Management to see if any thermostat device is changing settings, identifying if you need to investigate who is doing this or if the device is problematic. Finally, index.php is refreshed and only the attributes that were changed are reflected with their new values. The benefit of this automation is the entire list of device attributes are not polled again. This is a very powerful time and bandwidth saving capability.

Reload index.php at any time you prefer to poll each device and read the current parameters of the attributes for all device entries.

See Troubleshooting for more information.

7.4.3.5 Object Parameters

The list of objects and parameters available for you to select is listed below.

–HVAC Settings–

HVAC Mode:

Fan Mode:

Setback Status:

Setback Heat:

Setback Cool:

–Setback Scheduling–

Period

Time

Day Class Schedules

Heat

Cool

Fan

Default Weekly Schedule - Days

Default Weekly Schedule - Setback Scheduling

–Sensor Settings–

Local Sensor - State

Local Sensor - Averaging

Local Sensor - Correction

Remote Sensor 1 - State

Remote Sensor 1 - Averaging

Remote Sensor 1 - Correction

Remote Sensor 2 - State

Remote Sensor 2 - Averaging

Remote Sensor 2 - Correction

7.5 transactionhistory.php

7.5.1 Purpose

The name of this web page is Transaction History. It is generated from the transactionhistory.php file. This web page provides the Transaction History in the GNU remotecontrol application. This information is rendered from the GNU remotecontrol database, the transactionlog table. This web page is read-only, with search fields to quickly and easily find what you are looking for.

7.5.2 Fields

7.5.3 Usage

Enter search values in the respective fields to quickly filter and display the rows you are looking for.

The field headers of this web page are rendered in the display language you choose, but the field data of this web page is not translated into another display language. The field data is only rendered in English. This is because the Proliphix thermostat device only renders in English. This provides you confidence the information you are looking at in transactionhistory.php can be easily compared to the information rendered in the web server of the Proliphix thermostat device.

7.6 Troubleshooting


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