Having a network-connected vacuum gauge enables you to save your vacuum data (great for troubleshooting at a distance with a master tech or scientist) and makes it accessible wherever you need it, across the hall or around the world.
The vacuum gauge connectivity required for the job depends on the system being used. Basic analog readings work for quick, simple measurement, when you want to observe vacuum pressure at a given moment. Other applications require detailed analytics that leverage current vacuum measurements and trends over time. This data may need to be accessible through a cement wall or across the country.
Currently available connectivity options for vacuum gauges include:
- Analog output: using a voltmeter and converting voltage to vacuum
- Web applet over Ethernet
Click here for product examples of Bluetooth, Ethernet and wireless connectivity for thermocouple and active gauge controllers. Click here to see a product example of a web browser designed to store and display data collected from gauges and vacuum processes.
Which Type of Connectivity Is Better?
Bluetooth can replace the cable between a gauge and a PC, and will work at a distance of up to 300 feet. However, unlike Superman, it does not go through walls very well.
Wireless (802.11a/b/g with SSID and IP) seems to do a bit better through walls, but has the same limitations because it operates at frequencies similar to Bluetooth. Similar frequencies mean similar signal degredation for a given situation. The good news is that the performance and application of wireless (802.11a/b/g) is fairly reliable, well understood and used in industrial environments.
Computer Programs for Accessing Vacuum Data
The neat thing about Bluetooth, Ethernet, and Wireless Ethernet (802.11a/b/g) is that the data that traverses them can typically easily be accessed via standard programs like Putty, Docklight or programatically through serial, socket or telnet. Additionally, some vendors have software that make the telemetry a bit easier with display interfaces to log and plot. In general, I'd keep the important stuff hardware interlocked, but telemetry over network protocols really opens up system possibilities. Hardware interlocking increases reliability through simplicity.
Communicating configurations or data gathering through a network is fine.
However, you don't want an ethernet switch outage taking down your vacuum pump.
Accessing your vacuum information has never been easier!