Dolphin expands range in EnOCean

30 June 2010

Not only wireless but also featuring battery-free operation, EnOcean technology is gathering pace. This is now helped by standard building blocks for designers.

EnOcean's wireless and batteryless technology is already supporting energy-efficient automation in far in excess of 100,000 buildings. More than 100 companies now provide matching products and solutions based on miniaturised transmitter and receiver modules. Although just one year ago the realization of many high-complexity control applications demanded additional discrete electronic circuits plus microprocessors. Development of such solutions often entailed considerable expense and effort. 

Plug&play modules
The Dolphin platform, a new development from EnOcean, comprises the STM 300 batteryless wireless sensor module and the two programmable system modules TCM 300 and TCM 320, showing the way to fascinating possibilities of use. For the first time these plug&play modules allow speedy creation of individual system solutions for a whole variety of application scenarios in building automation.

The small STM 300 measures just 19x22x3 mm and can be used to create entirely energy-autonomous solutions. The module has its own energy harvesting interface to connect to energy converters; this is sufficient even to allow access to 16 I/O ports. Depending on how the module is programmed, a tiny solar cell could be used to read external measurements at given intervals, for example, and trigger various actions as a function of the result.

SME systems and device manufacturers could, for example, very easily use the 36.5x19x5.5 mm TCM 320 module in the design of networked actuators or repeaters for many different purposes. The energy-saving module exhibits a 16-pin connector that provides access to no fewer than eleven I/O ports. What with the ultra-low-power microcontroller (from the 8051 processor family) also incorporated in the Dolphin module, plus timer functions, 32 kB flash memory and 2 kB of RAM, it is possible to create devices such as intelligent regulators with sensor functionalities for temperature, humidity and brightness. Programming is based on easy-to-use C with an appropriate compiler. If required, system integrators can obtain support from EnOcean by means of DolphinStudio – a user-friendly Windows development platform, the EnOcean API and associated test tools.

The very much smaller TCM 300 Dolphin module (19x22x3 mm) is also suitable for flexible development of low-power actuators, repeaters and sensors. It comes with 34 SMT pads and even possesses 14 I/O ports. Despite its size, it has the same programmable microcontroller as is in the TCM 320.

Conformity guarantees interoperability
To ensure maximum interoperability between many different applications based on the new Dolphin modules, the member companies of the EnOcean Alliance, numbering over 150, agreed a unified declaration of conformity last year. This not only contains a precise definition of the mandatory high-frequency parameters but, for example, also defines unified EnOcean Equipment Profiles (EEPs) for bidirectional communication between all system components.

This is confirmed by vicos GmbH in Salzburg, an independent design and manufacturing company that has been occupied with EnOcean's wireless, batteryless technology for five years already. "Early publication of EEP documentation has ensured complete interoperability", reports vicos CEO Wolfgang Klier. He knows what he is talking about – his company has already developed many different system solutions based on EnOcean’s revolutionary wireless technology for a variety of OEMs. "The new Dolphin platform allows bidirectional communication applications to be realised much more speedily and simply", said Klier, "because everything we need is there on the plug&play modules – from the microprocessor to the I/O ports. And we no longer need extra discrete electronic circuits for many applications."

vicos was fast in recognising the potential for use of the new Dolphin platform, and acquired the necessary expertise. The design company is already in the middle of its ninth Dolphin project for OEM customers. vicos assists system manufacturers at many different levels, from the basic idea through to the ready product. Depending on customer requirements, the standard STM 300, TC 300 and TCM 320 Dolphin modules are used, or are enhanced by combination with extra system components such as display drivers and communication processors. The firmware deployed on the Dolphin modules is tailored to the requirements, focusing on optimum energy efficiency in the case of energy-autonomous applications, or for maximum data throughput in the case of gateways and controllers.

Individually programmable modules
The spectrum of solutions that can be realised with Dolphin includes bidirectional wireless system components incorporating a LAN gateway, a USB interface or another interface to various types of proprietary building automation bus system. The development of intelligent repeater solutions with smart acknowledge capabilities to increase system range is another potential application.

For example, the STM 300 Dolphin module can be used to create a small and ultra-slim room control unit that is simply stuck to the wall. An operating unit with integrated environment sensors transmits momentary temperature, humidity, brightness and air quality readings wirelessly. In addition, it can receive status information from a central building automation system, such as operating mode, current ventilation level, air-conditioning operating mode and new target values for the environment sensors. The room operating unit also has a liquid-crystal display that shows readings as well as various status information. Low-power EnOcean technology enables a room operating unit of this kind to work without any batteries – just a miniature solar cell. With the energy harvesting principle, extremely user-friendly devices can continue to operate without any need for maintenance.

The new modules can be programmed individually at chip level, so it is now possible for example to develop bidirectional gateways and repeaters with very low power consumption. Given the very low supply voltage required by the Dolphin modules – below 3 volts – and the low-power microcontroller system architecture, it is now possible to create repeater solutions with average power consumption of just 200 milliwatts. Even in long-term use that is less than 2 kWh per year. "At the same time this minimal power requirement has a very positive effect on the life expectancy of the Dolphin modules", explains Wolfgang Klier, "since the very low level of heat generation that goes with it means that even the smallest, totally watertight devices can achieve a fantastically high MTBF."

Case study: Telecom Italia
Self-powered wireless technology is now implemented in the headquarters of Telecom Italia, the country's leading telecommunications provider. Established in 1994 and headquartered in Milan, the company operates the larger part of Italy's landline network with internet services, and is also the major Italian cellphone provider through its affiliate Telecom Italia Mobile.

"Pivotal for selecting EnOcean-enabled products was the flexibility and speed of installation you get from self-powered wireless technology", says Dr. Diego Cattaneo, product manager of Siemens Building Technologies Division, the partner responsible for implementing the project. "That enabled us to modernise the eight-floor building in next to no time – without having to interrupt regular, day-to-day operations."

The EnOcean-enabled products work entirely without cables and batteries. If any renovations are then carried out, removing and relocating them is speedy and straightforward.

HVAC controlled wirelessly
To make the eight-floor corporate headquarters – with more than 40 offices on each level – more economical in operation and more comfortable and convenient in subsequent use, the telecommunications enterprise decided to modernize its old HVAC plant and link it to a central control system.

The first step was to replace all existing fan coils. This meant removing about 1000 old units. Modern electric fan coils were installed in their place and connected to Siemens RXC21.1 room controllers. These enable automatic control not only of fan coils but also of chilled ceilings and radiators in individual rooms. The next step was to install 200 SRC04-FTT EnOcean/LON gateways from Thermokon, which were then tied to the LON bus. The building contains a total of 14 vertical LON bus routes. Finally 600 Thermokon SR04 PST room temperature sensors were installed, with setpoint and fan level setting. The batteryless room sensors regulate temperature and ventilation in the individual rooms. Information is transmitted to receivers by EnOcean standard wireless telegrams. A solar-powered energy storage mechanism makes operation service-free.

All system components are integrated into the Siemens DESIGO building automation system. An open platform makes DESIGO compatible with all existing and future systems and components. So it is possible to both continue using ready products and integrate new ones. The automation system supports Ethernet TCP/IP, OPC, BACnet, EIB, LonMark, PROFIBUS, the telephone network and the internet. A further advantage is that the entire installation can also be controlled from a PC – by the DESIGO INSIGHT management station.

Installing the 800 self-powered devices proved to be very simple. The modernisation work, completed last year, only took about three months. Renovation was undertaken while the company continued to operate, without disturbing its employees. The old fan coils were replaced during the night. Installation of the controllers in the various offices was possible during the day however, because no cabling had to be laid for the purpose.

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