All this for the weather


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    A sysadmin friend of mine has a weather station perched on the roof of one of his buildings, which wirelessly backhauls all its data to a unit on the wall of his office, which has an ethernet interface, which a server in turn queries and makes the data available to a myriad of TV stations, researchers, and a web server. It's a fun little piece of kit. However, the rooftop unit has no direct ability to manage it. In fact, it just has a power cord and a power button. Due to some HORRIBLY STUPID design decision, it doesn't automatically come back after a power failure (even though the receiver unit does). After having to climb onto the roof and push the powerbutton a dozen times, he decided a solution was required. It's also not on a gen-backed circuit (the wing it's on, which is the tallest one in the entire complex, contains nothing meaningful, and thus doesn't have a generator feed).

    The first step was to put a PC on the rooftop, on the same circuit. A ping test was added to the network status monitor and an email alert set for a failure. Thus he would receive an email telling him to go turn everything back on. This was not satisfactory - it only decreased response time, not the amount of work needed.

    The next step was to have it automatically submit a helpdesk support ticket so one of THEM would have to go up on the roof and fix it.  They didn't appreciate that.

    Then, somewhere in the store room, he located a cool little gadget that would momentarily trip a relay when you dialed it on a phone. This was promptly wired to the power button on the unit, an extension provisioned, the ethernet cable to the PC hacked so it has a phone pair running through it, the PC replaced with a newer model that supports wake on LAN. The alert script was modified so that after submitting the helpdesk ticket, it would send the magic packet to bring the PC back. The helpdesk ticket now reads "Call x5555 to reset the weather station." They didn't appreciate having to do this, but grudgingly accepted the task because they remembered having to climb onto the roof in sub-freezing weather and high winds.

    And so it remained for many many months, until he relayed this tale to me. I excused myself, walked out to my car, and returned with a gift for him: a nice shiny serial modem. The thought had simply never occured to him.

    The alarm script no longer submits a helpdesk ticket, but instead dials its attached modem and hangs up 30 seconds later.

     For those with mental deficiencies, the entire chain of events is this:
    1) Power goes out at the weather station, knocking weather station and nearby PC offline
    2) Alert server pings PC
    3) Ping times out
    4) Alert server dials modem
    5) PBX sends ring to weatherstation phoneline
    6) Relay at the end of the phoneline trips, kicking off the power-on sequence for the weatherstation (and because this is run through the same CAT5 as the ethernet used by the PC.)
    7) Alert server hangs up modem
    8) Alert server sends Wake On LAN magic packet to the weather station PC
    9) Weather station PC boots
    10) If weather station PC does not respond to ping after 3 minutes, go back to #4

     



  •  TRWTF is that he didn't just re-wire it to auto turn on.

     

    i had to do this for a 3G wifi adapter recently, has a low voltage power switch that you need to press to turn the power on after a power supply reset.  So i added a cap and a res and now it auto turns on, took about 30mins.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

     He's a sysadmin, not an engineer. Plus this way he can also turn it off remotely.



  • @Weng said:

     He's a sysadmin, not an engineer. Plus this way he can also turn it off remotely.


    He should have called in an engineer then. This solution is just plain retarted.



  •  I would have used an X10 appliance module and the X10 computer control module to accomplish the same thing.

     I acctually considered doing this as a way to reset my DSL modem.  The modem is in my basement attached to a Linux box that acts a firewall.  Occasionally it would stop working for no reason and I'd have to go downstairs and unplug the modem for a few seconds and plug it back in to reset it.  So the solution would have been to have the firewall ping a few web sites every so often and if it couldn't find anything, send the command to the X10 device to turn off and back on.  In the end, I settled on the more obvious solution -- get my ISP to replace the damn modem.

     


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @pbean said:

    This solution is just plain retarted.
    Congratulations. You now understand why we're here.



  • @Weng said:

    For those with mental deficiencies, the entire chain of events is this:
    1) Power goes out at the weather station, knocking weather station and nearby PC offline
    2) Alert server pings PC
    3) Ping times out
    4) Alert server dials modem
    5) PBX sends ring to weatherstation phoneline
    6) Relay at the end of the phoneline trips, kicking off the power-on sequence for the weatherstation (and because this is run through the same CAT5 as the ethernet used by the PC.)
    7) Alert server hangs up modem
    8) Alert server sends Wake On LAN magic packet to the weather station PC
    9) Weather station PC boots
    10) If weather station PC does not respond to ping after 3 minutes, go back to #4
     

    Why doesn't the "nearby PC" dial the modem that turns the weather station on in its start up scripts? Just make sure it is set to "turn on from power fail" so that when the power is restored it will turn itself and the station on without an "alert server"

    Or even a lower tech solution of wiring a 555 timer to trip the relay a few seconds after power on!?! (but then you lose the remote on/off ability, if that is really required)

    Some sort of small UPS could also stop the problems in the blips of power outages, if they are common where you are.



  • @Zemm said:

    Why doesn't the "nearby PC" dial the modem that turns the weather station on in its start up scripts? Just make sure it is set to "turn on from power fail" so that when the power is restored it will turn itself and the station on without an "alert server"

    It's called "thinking ahead."  You see, this way, when the PC gets wet in just the wrong way and shorts out during a rain storm, the monitoring script will still turn on the weather station.  Of course, next time it probes, it'll turn it off again, but it'll just be a bit until the probe after that...

    (Note: I realize this is not actual thinking ahead, but what we call "thinking ahead".  The big difference between the two is that one actually considers future possibilities, but the other only rationalizes something stupid somebody did previously.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Much simpler than that, actually. This way there's only ONE phone line running to the roof. 



  • You can also get Ethernet relay modules for a reasonable price ...



  •  I would have bought an extension lead, and plugged the power cord into a socket inside the building.



  • Glue a stick to the CD-Rom tray, such that the stick presses the power button when the tray ejects....



  •  Why not just get a UPS?

     

    You can do some creative stuff with some better models that come with network cards and input/dry contact boards, plus on/off remotely if you really wanted to..



  • @spankathon said:

     I would have bought an extension lead, and plugged the power cord into a socket inside the building.

     

    That's far, far too easy.  How are you going to impress and bewilder the management with a low-tech solution like that?



  • Why were you carrying around a modem in your car?



  • @cconroy said:

    Why were you carrying around a modem in your car?

    that's what i want to know.



  • The obvious solution is just to run an extension cord to one of the outlets that does have a generator.



  • @spankathon said:

     I would have bought an extension lead, and plugged the power cord into a socket inside the building.

    The power button is still on the roof, though. The fundamental problem we're solving here is that the unit does not restart itself when power-cycled at the outlet. You need to hit the button for it to do so.



  •  To be honest I think the solution is overengeneered. He could have just had the 1 pc with a power button in front of it. Added a little pointy stick and made the CD-ROM eject when a restart was necessary tripping the power button on the weather monitor. No network shit, no dialing a phone switch, no support tickets. Granted that this could be better engeneered with the right hardware, I am just thinking of a quick and painless solution compared to the web created.

    Not an automation problem, has anyone there ever at all thought to maybe extend the power button to a more convenient location? I mean extending a wire does not tage a genious to do. Hell give me a hammer ducttape and some copper wire and anything is possible.



  • @astonerbum said:

     To be honest I think the solution is overengeneered. He could have just had the 1 pc with a power button in front of it. Added a little pointy stick and made the CD-ROM eject when a restart was necessary tripping the power button on the weather monitor. No network shit, no dialing a phone switch, no support tickets. Granted that this could be better engeneered with the right hardware, I am just thinking of a quick and painless solution compared to the web created.

    Not an automation problem, has anyone there ever at all thought to maybe extend the power button to a more convenient location? I mean extending a wire does not tage a genious to do. Hell give me a hammer ducttape and some copper wire and anything is possible.

     

    How would the pointy stick have helped?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Steeldragon said:

    @cconroy said:

    Why were you carrying around a modem in your car?

    that's what i want to know.
    My car is for everything that doesn't fit on my batbelt. I have a god damned CCTV switcher, rackmount LCD and a Closed Captioning decoder in there. You know, just in case I need it.I also have an entire HP ProLiant DL350... G3 I think in the bottom of the trunk, with an 8-line 56k modem bank PCI card in it.

    And yes, I did replace the modem that I gave him. I've got a USR Courier V.92 in there now, so it's HIGH CLASS stuff.



  •  @immibis said:

    How would the pointy stick have helped?

    Indeed. Fresh fruit not good enough for you, eh? Well let me tell you something
    lad! When you're walking home tonight and some great homicidal maniac
    comes after YOU with a bunch of loganberries, don't come cryin' to me!"



  • @astonerbum said:

    To be honest I think the solution is overengeneered.
    ORLY?



  • @astonerbum said:

    Added a little pointy stick and made the CD-ROM eject when a restart was necessary tripping the power button on the weather monitor.
    Already featured.



  • @belgariontheking said:

    @astonerbum said:
    To be honest I think the solution is overengeneered.
    ORLY?
    Ya, rly.


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