Thursday, April 29, 2010

BACnet Elevator re-draft completed

It took most of the week, but the re-draft of the BACnet Elevator proposal is complete! It's posted online for BACnet Elevator Working Group (EL-WG) review and comment, and submitted to the current BACnet chairman for the spring meeting the week after next.

It's also finally reached the point where it's in the form of a complete BACnet proposal; one that could be voted out for public review. Though I know this committee too well: they're going to want to tweak and change everything indefinitely. And besides, it proposes the creation of another standard, ASHRAE Standard 135.2P, "Structural Presentation in BACnet." (I know that title will change, but whether it gets relegated to an annex in the main BACnet standard remains to be seen.) But that part will probably be split off and sent to the AP-WG, because that's in their purview.

We also have the difficulty of having two disjoint groups of subject matter experts involved: BACneteers and the elevator industry. Per Prof. Dr. Albert So's suggestion, I highlighted areas in which we specifically need review by the elevator industry -- they needn't get into the complex arcana of the SubscribeCOVPropertyMultiple service request, for example.

Now I'm ready for the trips that keep me away from office the next two weeks.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Writing a standard -- from scratch!

In recent BACnet committee meetings it became evident that the BACnet Elevator effort was going to need a document that defined the structure of BACnet objects representing elevator systems in BACnet. (I wrote about that structure a few weeks ago.) We even agreed it would be ASHRAE Standard 135.2P ("P" for proposed).

With the changes all in on the material (the new objects, properties and services) that will go into ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 135-2008, I am now starting to draft Standard 135.2P, tentatively named "System Applications in BACnet." It's a surprisingly interesting task. One starts with a title, a foreword, and the first three clauses are Purpose ("Purpose... I need a purpose..."), Scope and Definitions. And then the fun begins.

How will the rest of it be organized? At this point I have endless freedom, though that will end once the committee gets its hand on it. But it's likely the general form will be preserved, once I figure it out.

I had to re-do the nice color diagram of some weeks back. Plain and simple, black & white, is what the standard requires.

Uh-oh. Standard 135.2? We had difficulties keeping ASHRAE from forming a "SPC 135.1" (Standard Project COmmittee, developing a standard) committee back when we were developing the test standard, and I think there may still be a shadow SSPC 135.1 (Standing Standard Project COmmittee, maintaining the standard) on the books. Will we now have an SPC 135.2 committee?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


It was about the time I was speaking at the Building Performance Congress during the Light+Building show in Frankfurt (many thanks to my good colleague Teemu Heikkilä for the only photo I have of that speaking engagement) that things began to go awry with folks' travel plans in Europe; now the various stories are beginning to come out.

When I got back word was all around Alerton about Per Olof's arduous 20-hour journey to Sweden -- or was it 120 hours? One story says it took him 5 days. And 5 or 6 days seems to be the magic number for my various colleagues, American and Russian, stranded in Europe.

But the worst tale to come my way thus far was Teemu's. He left Frankfurt on Friday morning by train (he was very fortunate -- on Sunday I was still hearing about the very long lines at the train station), but it would be a 52-hour journey by train, taxi, bus and boat to get home to Helsinki, with apparently long stopovers in Hamburg, Copenhagen, Malmö and Stockholm.

I applaud George Thomas for his plans to return to Europe shortly. He says, "I want to show the volcano who is boss." Good luck, George!

Monday, April 26, 2010

On the road again...

...later this week. The first trip, 3 days, is personal business. Followed by two weeks on the East coast for energy training followed by 5-1/2 days of BTL and BACnet committee meetings, with an internal Honeywell meeting in Minneapolis the following week (just called today and already booked), and Smart Grid committee meetings in California most of the last week in May. End result: I'll be in the office at most 3 days next month.

But I've cleared the deck to finish revising the BACnet Elevator proposal now, so life is good.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Call for articles (BACnet Today)

The "Father of BACnet", Cornell's Mike Newman, has reminded me that the ASHRAE Journal hes issued a call for articles to appear in this fall's "BACnet Today" update on what is going on in the BACnet world. For my part I have assented to write up what's going on with BACnet in Europe -- and there is a lot that has happened since the last update.

There are some interesting-sounding articles in the works, but of course there's always room for more. One thing that might be interesting is for someone to write about the experience of taking an extension of the BACnet standrd from introduction to publication. The Fire/Life-Safety extensions were perhaps added too long ago (10 years), but the recent BACnet/ZigBee Wireless or Physical Access Control extensions might be timely items. Or Lighting Control (though it's not gone to publication yet). It's rather a bit early yet for CCTV or Elevators.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

BAC in the U.S.

To paraphrase the old Beatles song, I'm:
"BAC in the U.S.,

BAC in the U.S.,

BAC in the U.S. of A..."

The entire plane erupted in applause the instant we touched down in Atlanta. One more long flight, then I am home. For a few days before the next trip.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Being stranded, extended

It was no great surprise to learn today that my flights home tomorrow were cancelled. At this avionics website one can look at the progress of the ash cloud and firgure we're not clearing soon unless the airline execs have their way in saying "there is no danger." (For all *I* know they could be right.)

I've been missing numerous webcasts and teleconferences, but in a few days I hope to catch up. In the meantime there is work I can do remotely.

I hope my Swiss colleagues in Chicago are in a similar place. Here in Frankfurt I've met some native Anglophones (I'm including Aussies in this category ;^) who are not... :^|

Cheers, y'all..

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stranded BACneteers

I'm not the only one stranded due to air trvael shutdown in Europe. Some of my Swiss colleagues on the BACnet committee were in Chicago last week for the BACnet Alarm Summit, adding new capabilities to the BACnet alarm system, and they of course are unable to get home also.

But at least we're all in reasonably good places, though without a car I lack their mobility. But Frankfurt am Main has a good public transit system and I made good use of it yesterday while touring Frankfurt, as I will again today. And I had a nice dinner last evening in the Sachsenhausen district with George Thomas and other colleagues from Contemporary Controls, similarly stranded.

The following photo is of an entrance to one of the U-bahn (subway) stations I visited yesterday: what was that about humorless Germans?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Or not....

Checked this morning and my Sunday flight home is canceled. FlightRadar24 shows no air traffic over most of Europe. Delta's website is not giving any flights through Monday, and the news is not good; it seems it could be days yet. (While writing this an e-mail alert came in confirming this.) Just extended my hotel stay until Tuesday. But I'm in a reasonably comfortable hotel (racking up points on my Accor "A-club" card) with Internet access, so I can continue to work.

On other things I was a little surprised when I returned to the hotel last evening. The following view is what I've seen all week.

But last evening the view looked like this:

Most if not all were rental trucks; my best guess is they were there to haul away Light+Building booth materials today. This morning nearly all are gone.

Friday, April 16, 2010

"Going Home"

[cue up Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9]

...a day later than planned. My airline rebooked me into flights on Sunday that are actually more convenient timewise, except the 5-1/2 hour layover in Detroit, and gave me pretty good seats into the bargain though I won't be able to use the laptop on the Frankfurt-Detroit flight (sorry, Amy, that white paper you want will have to wait) and I will be way too tired on the Detroit-Seattle leg. It looks like most other folks here detained by the volcano will be headed out tomorrow, one way or another.

Light+Building wrapped up this afternoon, the day a bit slower than expected. But that was okay by me because I'd volunteered for a last-minute building-automation-related magazine article with a deadline of today, per second-hand request via ASHRAE, and I was able to crank it out in one day. I think this could be the first article I've written in 15+ years that doesn't use the word "BACnet." My bad.

Tomorrow's agenda: Tour Frankfurt on my unplanned vacation. Somewhere I have an e-mail listing things to see (thanks, Christine!).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"And I don't know if I'm ever coming home"

Things aren't quite as gloomy here as that line from an old '60s song, but the Icelandic volcano eruption has created quite a mess here in Frankfurt. One colleague went from "possible" to get home tomorrow after a LONG trip to "airport closed indefinitely" this evening. Reports are that hotels are being rebooked full.
I won't know about my travel until sometime tomorrow soonest, but as I was scheduled to connect home in Amsterdam (Schiphol, AMS) on Saturday I am not expecting good news.

On the other hand todays's talk on "Energy Standards and Energy Efficiency" went pretty well, even by my self-critical standards. (I didn't embarrass myself much outside of a small stumble pronouncing "Gebäude.") A pity more of the BIG-EU folks were not in attendance to see the good use I made of our slogan for this stand to wind up and summarize my talk, but oh well.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

L+B Day 4: BACnet & KNX & Smart Grid

I had no scheduled booth duty today, though I spent some time hanging around and was able to help out in specific situations. Today was the busiest day so far and it was a good thing that we had several "floaters" (folks not scheduled to serve booth duty, but ready, willing and available as ever) on hand.

But I also had some time to start my visits to other halls. Today it was nearby Hall 8: "Electrotechniks" or some such. General impression: LOTS of LED lighting (yes, I know there was a lot of other stuff too). But if this accurately indicates where we are going, and of course price is not a factor in these displays, the days of LED-only lighting are not far off. While I like the better efficiency, I'm not sure I like LED lighting. Maybe it's just because I grew up in a time when nearly all non-industrial (i.e. fluorescent) lighting was produced by heating wires until they were hot enough to emit significant amounts of visible light; the light was very broad-spectrum. The narrow spectral range of LED lighting annoys me. Even CFL phosphors seem to be more broad-spectrum (and when shaded not far from incandescent) than LED light. But this may be temporary.

One thing notable in Halls 8 and 9 is the prevalence of KNX logos in booths. Many of these are not related to commercial building automation, but some are. On the other hand there are many companies whose names I do not recall from anywhere advertising their BACnet capabilities. And MS/TP in Europe seems to be gaining ground despite advice a LONG time ago from parties forgotten that it would never be accepted in Europe.

And Smart Grid... no vacation from that here. My Dutch colleagues have been seeing to that, making connections with a journalist interested in and a researcher working in this area. Note to self: the Dutch have an initial demonstration project already underway; look up "PowerMatchingCity" and "HoogKerk" (I was told I guessed the translation correctly, "High Church"). It even includes a couple of (IMHO) problematic electric cars. But the researcher now is gaining experience in areas in which the Americans are only making hypotheses -- it might be a good idea to bring them together.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It seems we weren't clear enough

When the committee approved Addendum 135-2008l (new workstation profiles and requirements) for publication we thought it was clear that the requirements for claiming a certain device profile were not absolute requirements but merely a "floor" -- a device could claim a profile if it met the required BIBBs, but it could claim others in addition to those required BIBBs!

It seems we were not clear enough on this point. I learned today that there is a workstation that met the former B-OWS, Operator WorkStation, profile, but that after the publication of Addendum l with the new reduced minimum requirements (the remaining ones becoming part of the new B-AWS, Advanced Workstation profile, the workstation developers removed all capabilities above that of the new B-OWS profile!

Iis clear that the BACnet committee has not communicated very well the relationship of BIBBs and device profiles. The profiles establish a baseline of requirements, and one is free to implement BIBBs over and above those minimums. The PICS provide a means for advertising the additional capabilities.

I will advise the folks involved of their error. (They'd likely figure it out soon enough anyway.) But the Standard clearly needs to be more clear on this point.

Monday, April 12, 2010

L+B Day 2

Little to report today. I arrived noontime, having worked on speaking preparations in the morning, only to find expo "traffic" lighter than expected and declining through the afternoon.

One supposition I heard was the timing of the show: last week had holidays and school vacations that kept many folks out of the office, and perhaps they felt the need to be in the office and advance work issues and e-mail before coming to the show. (Not to mention that some felt the 6-day show to be too long -- so far I cannot disagree with this.)

I guess we'll know over the next 3 days; Friday, being the last day, will be light of course.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Light+Building & BACnet, day one

I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany, yesterday afternoon after a tiring 24-hour journey door-to-doot, home to hotel. I'd say grueling but it wasn't; just unable to sleep when I could afford to (on the planes) and barely able to stay awake when I couldn't afford to (at the gates). Nevertheless I got here, went through my usual adjustment routine, and was pretty much on schedule this morning.

My stint at booth duty wasn't scheduled to begin until 11:30 but I decided to go early to look around.

First impression: This show is HUGE, easily 3 to 4 times the size of the AHR Expo. I was glad for the shuttle buses that took one around the grounds, starting at Hall 1 and going all the way back to Hall 11 (Alerton is in Halle 9.0 D61: Hall 9, ground (0) floor, Row D, Booth 61).

Second impression: Sunday looked like it would be (and was) lightly attended. I know I was not the only annoyed at a Sunday showing, but apparently two of the halls were thronged, so there may be reason for this.

Third impression: Nice booth, Alerton! I was expecting something like a 10' (well, 3 or 4 meters) booth with folding backdrops, not anything like this!

So although it was a very low day (I talked with all of two or three potential customers), it was useful for warming up the points I'll likely be making the next few days in a relaxed environment. It was also good for touching base with many of my BACnet colleagues and competitors, learning about their new product offerings, and for a few technical chats on various BACnet topics.

It was also good to visit with the other BIG-EU members at the huge BIG-EU booth -- maybe in the next few days I'll find a spot where I can get it all in one photo.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New BACnet Elevator structure

After the day's teleconferences finally came to an end (BACnet Alarm Summit and Smart Grid), I was able to sit down and start drafting the revised BACnet Elevator structure, starting with the graphic that will drive the rest. The EL-WG has been advised; it will be interesting to hear what they say.

Meantime I need to start sectioning the proposal into two parts, specifically highlighting the material we need to have the Elevator folks looking at, rather than bury them in all the BACnet details.

Not sure how this will display, but I'll try...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Back to the BACnet Elevator

Between Smart Grid and energy-related activities it's been very hard to get back to the BACnet material. But I finally finished and submitted my "energy standards" powerpoint for Light+Building next week (though immediately after I was signed up for an intensive energy-related class the week before the spring BACnet meetings).

And now the revisions to the BACnet Elevator proposal are on top of the todo list!