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Replacement VT Unit for NMR Instruments

Replacement VT Unit for NMR Instruments

One of our older Nicolet NT-360WB NMR systems had a VT unit which was not reliable and could not be used.  We decided to look at commercial temperature control devices and see if we could adapt one for use in an NMR instrument.  We found one and it seems to work quite well.

We decided on a VT controller made by Newport Electronics – the i16 series, P/N i16D54-C4EI, with standard.AC power supply.   The listed price for that part is $355. However, we paid $360+ $12(shipping)+$27.90(tax) for a total of $401.70. This model has a dual display (setpoint + current temp.), analog output (0 to 10 vdc), universal thermocouple/RTD input, 0.1 degree display, and 10baseT ethernet and RS-485 control inputs plus 4 button front panel controls.

We had some problems with the documentation not agreeing with reality.  These problems are listed below and. in general, they required multiple calls to technical support while we “fished” for the right tech support person who could provide the missing documentation or correct the incorrect documentation.

Documentation

There are three manuals for this i16 series, they are also on their website:

  • iSeries Temperature & Process Controller.  This manual is the “ethernet” manual. Setting the IP address is on part 5. Setting the “access code” is in 5.4.5, page 23. The code implied in the factory default listing (at the end of this man) is 0000. The correct code is <12345678>.
  • iSeries Embedded Ethernet Server for iSeries Monitor/Controller
  • iSeries Monitor/Controller Communications Manual – describing the use of the serial port (RS-485/232).

The main advantage of getting the download man’s. is that they can be printed at 8.5 X 11 using a font size that can be read.  The manual supplied is 4 X 5.5 with a font that requires a magnifying glass to read.

Gottcha’s:

  1. Password:  The documentation said the default password was “0000”.  We were unable to access the device with that password.  After several support calls the support tech said the password was “12345678”. That password did work and allowed access.
  2. When setting a new IP address the documentation does not mention that you have to press AND HOLD the reset button for more than 3 seconds, untill 3 of the LEDS next to the ethernet port come on and stay on. Only then you can do the “setup”, and the LEDS will go out when it has loaded the new IP address. The default IP address is listed correctly in the documentation as: 128.100.101.254. We reset ours to 10.9.7.33 for use within our network. This network is behind a firewall and can be accessed only from our LAN. It cannot be accessed from the internet. Open access could be a security problem.

In order to use the controller via the 10baseT ethernet connection and set temperature from a web browser, it is necessary to set the device IP address and then list the IP address for one to four pc’s to control the device (as trusted host’s).

Control from a Web Browser

We set up the configuration settings for the thermocouple type, analog output, PID auto-calibration. We used the front panel buttons and menu’s to control the device, which worked mostly ok. Sometimes the buttons would start acting up (not responding) and we had to power-cycle the unit. Sometimes we found that we had to leave the power off for 2 or 3 minutes before it would behave again. While you can set the temperature settings with the front panel buttons, we found it much easier to use a web browser. Start the browser and enter http://10.9.7.33 for the URL (use the IP address you have assigned).  You can  bookmark as a favorite for easy access. When the unit is turned the unit on, the user is able to monitor the temp over the network. The user clicks the “access control” button, and uses the correct password for entry to the configuration panel. When the user adds his IP address, netmask, with level 0 access, he can then control and monitor the temperature from his PC.

 


Last updated: 01/22/2003