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Measure and Control with PanelPilot

With temperatures rising in the UK, office environments inevitably can become sticky and uncomfortable. No more so than in the case of Steve, our Graphic Designer. Located on the third floor of our four-story office block, temperatures at his desk were rising as high as 32 degrees Celsius.

With a whole range of temperature sensing devices at our disposal, we began to consider solutions that would help to monitor and control Steve’s working conditions. And so began the aptly named '#StopSteveSweating' project. For this project, we would need a product that was both powerful and versatile — step forward PanelPilotACE.

PanelPilotACE has the capacity for multiple analogue and digital inputs/outputs, a colour touch screen display, and is fully user-programmable. This means that your final product design can serve an abundance of different functions. Furthermore, the PanelPilotACE Design Studio software (free to download) provides the user with a selection of pre-programmed templates but also allows them to create a fully-customised user interface. All of this meant that we were able to be flexible and creative when thinking of new solutions that the product could offer.

Our initial idea was to simply build an ‘employee discomfort meter’. This would effectively involve attaching a temperature probe to the PanelPilot and programming a temperature scale on the screen display. This could then incorporate customised graphics to show employees’ predicted comfort/discomfort according to the temperature of their environment.

The temperature was programmed as an analogue input to the device, with a rotating needle showing the input on a temperature scale. A colour meter was also used as the display background so that the device would turn from yellow to red as temperature increased. In an attempt to make the display as useful as possible in an office environment, the date and time were programmed to display. As for the cartoon faces at each end of the scale… they were mainly just for fun.

It was the idea of Graphic Designer Steve himself to link up a fan with the device that would automatically turn on and off according to the temperature.

In order to programme the fan to operate within a certain temperature range, we used the alarm function in PanelPilotACE Design Studio. The alarm function was programmed to control an output on the PanelPilot hardware which, along with some simple additional circuitry, switched a USB powered desk fan on and off depending on whether the temperature was above or below 25°C.

The final application of this project can be seen in our promotional video ‘PanelPilot Applications in the Workplace’. This whole project took our marketing team just a couple of hours to create and demonstrates PanelPilot’s ability to measure and monitor data, display information, and control external hardware. A simple and fun application for a hot day.

Imagine the capabilities that this product would have for a business willing to put some time into producing an interface that is truly custom to their business needs. With functions for multiple screen toggling, touchscreen buttons and several different inputs/outputs (analogue or digital), you could easily produce a much more complex and powerful interface to best suit your workplace application.

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