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MAC Systems DataNode System

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The DataNode (DN) is the core of MAC Systems data acquisition, monitoring and control systems.  The DN has a modular design consisting of the main processor coupled to a connection board that accepts a battery charger, voltage regulator and a series of input and output modules.  The DN can also access several transport carriers including 3G, 4G (LTE Cat M1 and NBIoT) and ZigBee via modular equipment to transfer data between devices and via an IP connection to a purpose-built API.  The modular design allows the development team to expand the DN’s transport carrier selections to other methods such as 5G, LoRa, and Satellite without expensive upgrades.


Various communication modules allow each DN to communicate with local sensors and devices via ModBus, SDI-12 and proprietary protocols.  Each DN is capable of logging data from up to 8 wired inputs or outputs with up to 60 channels available with modules connected to SDI-12 and ModBus devices.  Physical input and output expansion can be achieved by utilising plug-in expansion boards.


DN units can be configured as standalone systems, gateways or field units.  The format of the connected equipment is only limited by the available modular connections.  The current selection of input and output modules covers most of the common types of sensors and controllable field devices.


DN units can monitor sensors continuously or be configured to read sensor instruments at intervals.  Interval based monitoring allows systems to operate at low power making them ideal for remote applications.


Input modules communicate with most sensors available on the market.  Specialist input modules can be developed for unusual purposes.


Output modules allow DN units to control connected devices such as solenoid-operated valves, actuators, engine driven pumps and electrical control systems via external relays.


Local communication modules allow the DN to monitor such devices as environmental sensors and soil moisture probes utilising SDI-12 or proprietary RS485 communication protocols.  In addition, specific communication modules allow the DN unit to talk to VSD’s, Kensho diesel engine controllers, and other electrical equipment fitted with industrial communication capability.


In conjunction with other electrical equipment, there is very little in the market place that cannot be connected to and controlled remotely through the DN unit.

Point of difference

There is an abundance of brands and technologies on offer, seemingly all performing similar functions.  So what is the MAC Systems point of difference?


·     Australian owned, designed, manufactured and serviced

·     Australian Registered Design

·     Future proof hardware with a modular design allowing technology switching, hardware and software/firmware upgrades at reduced cost, interruption and installation

·     Highly adaptable and will suit almost any application within agriculture and industry.

·     Ability to connect to any device currently in use in your process with relative ease.  Not restricted to using specified sensors, devices, cabling or connectors.

·     Localised control capability with schedule control at the Node instead of fully IP controlled.  NetControl, available in 2019 to locally automate tasks such as tank refill, channel level control, operational cut-offs, and other permanent and semipermanent functions

·     Designed for easier fault identification and repair in the field.  Reduce the cost of relying on back to base repairs with modular spare parts

·     Easy, cost-effective, off the shelf battery replacement and standard automotive connectors

·     Operate as an isolated unit or IP connected as a stand-alone or within a radio network

·     Thoroughly private API and Interface available by request versus secure login to the MAC Systems Client API.


·  Level Monitoring—Level systems are available for tanks, channels, and dams.  In addition, level monitoring can be configured for SWL in bores and wells.  The types of sensors utilised include submersible electrodes, float switches, external and submersible pressure transducers, ultrasonic and radar distance measurement systems.

·     Flow and Pressure Monitoring—In-line pressure transducers are most commonly used for pressure monitoring while a number of flow sensors have been installed including flow switches, float switches, pulse, and frequency flow meters.  In addition, data can be collected from multiple ultrasonic devices and the most commonly used pulse and magnetic flow meters.

·     Environmental Monitoring—Simply monitor basic weather parameters or extend the capability to notify you of dew point, Delta T, average and high wind speed, wind direction and any other measurable changes that affect your operation.  Add a temperature sensor to measure inversion layer risk and specialist sensors for evapotranspiration accumulated heat load and other important environmental measures.

·     System Efficiency Monitoring—Keep an eye on your irrigation water distribution uniformity through pressure, flow and GPS logs or track pump operating parameters in order to reduce power consumption.  Especially useful if attached to a VSD that measures power consumption and other measures affecting operating costs.

·     Alerts—These can be configured for almost any application and simply log a set point exceedance or directly notify you of conditions outside your specified limits via SMS (when IP connected)

·     Time and Function Controlled Switching—Isolated systems can be configured to carry out switching functions for valves, pumps, gates and many other devices based on user-specified conditions such as low flow, high or low level, environmental factors, contacts or movement sensors.  These systems can be used to switch lights or set off local alarms.

·     Irrigation Scheduling – web interface generated irrigation schedules are transmitted to each remote unit allowing localised time based or function based control of the system e.g. pump until time is completed or a batch volume is reached

System Features

·     Cost-effective telemetry upgradability – the existing DN radio network is modular and as a result, it can be unplugged and replaced.  This allows us to alter the backbone of the LAN over time and at an effective cost (for clients) to take advantage of changing technology.  This overcomes the cost of complete system replacement as telco’s upgrade their mobile networks, low-cost satellite become more available and other protocols alter data transmission costs.

·     Self Healing Mesh Technology - Our existing radio frequency LAN can consist of multiple nodes with various applications all communicating with each other and back to a Gateway connected to the internet via the mobile network or the clients LAN.  If a single DN failure occurs, the system can maintain communications for all other units by finding other routes through the network.  The local telemetry system can operate wirelessly up to a maximum of 45km RFLOS in perfect conditions.  Intermediate hops of 5-10kms are quite achievable with correct antenna placement allowing the network to expand to cover whole properties.  Importantly, data will move along the best RSSI path through the network so that transmission speed is increased.

·     Output Control - In conjunction with telemetry equipment, a DN system can be configured for output control.  This allows users to automatically or manually switch connected devices such as pumps and irrigation equipment.  For light industrial clients, this could also include any electrically switchable operating system.  We use solid-state relays which can be applied to any 12V to 240V application with the assistance of your electrician.
Analogue setpoint change is currently available for localised rate control.  Changes can be applied through the web interface to modify constraints such as RPM, flow rate and operating pressure.  Analogue output control directly from the DN unit will be available via a specialized I/O module in the near future.

·     Real-time Interaction – Update rates can be altered in the web interface where the client has a specific need to improve the “realtime” response of the system.  While a DN unit can have a reading interval as low as 1 second, the web-based refresh rate of a DN unit is currently limited to one minute.  The response to control instructions sent to a DN unit can be as low as 8 seconds.  These results are dependent on whether the API is using “jump the queue” functionality, the setup of the local network wake/sleep functions and the size of the network.

·     Data Node Condition Monitoring - Your system can provide a health check and notify you if there is a looming problem with backup battery capacity or poor solar panel performance.

·     Alerts – Alerts operate via the web interface.  Notifications are available via any or all of the web interface, email and SMS.  The most common alert is triggered by a set point at the device level.  This is sufficient for notifications such as tank low level, exceeding flow rate, high pressure, no flow, high wind speed, etc.
We are expanding the alert system to allow client administrators to develop combined triggers such as wind direction and wind speed, inversion temperature, and wind speed, as well as non-device specific alerts such as loss of communication or a user, change a device set point. 


·     This can be expanded to include a non-MAC Systems system such as a motion-detecting camera sending an email to the MAC API.
Further development of the alert system will occur as client requirements change.


Some of our monitoring and control solutions currently available

  • Soil Moisture Monitoring

  • Weather Station (via Davis ISS)

  • Tank Level, Volume and Percentage Monitoring (submersible PT and Ultrasonic)

  • Dam Level, Volume and Percentage Monitoring (submersible PT and Ultrasonic)

  • Fuel Level, Volume and Percentage Monitoring (Fuel Sensor)

  • Channel Level Monitoring (submersible PT and Ultrasonic)

  • Pump Monitoring and Control (direct non VSD)

  • Pump Monitoring and Control (via VSD - ABB, Zenner, Kensho)

  • Pulsed Solenoid Valve Control (Aquative, Bermad, Irritrol – 2 wire and 3 wire)

  • Solenoid Valve Control (switched solenoid via external power)

  • Flood Valve and Gate Control (Linak with analogue position control)

  • Soil Oxygen Monitoring (Apogee Sensor)

  • Scale/Load Cell Monitoring (Direct and Indirect)

  • Liquid Batch Control (Time and Volume cut off)

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