Contemporary Controls News: New Remote VPN Application Guide Available, More Training Materials, and Trade Show Updates

Can You Use Unmanaged Switches with RSTP?

Customers often ask interesting questions and we do our best to provide the answers. One frequent question concerns redundant Ethernet networks and unmanaged switches.

An unmanaged switch allows Ethernet devices (such as a PC and a network printer) to communicate with one another. They are typically “plug and play” devices that operate right out of the box and automatically configure their data rate and duplex using the auto-negotiation protocol. However, they have a fixed configuration. Managed switches provide all the features of an unmanaged switch plus provide the ability to configure, manage, and monitor your LAN. This gives you greater control over how data travels over the network.

An important feature of a managed switch is redundancy. Redundancy provides the ability to safeguard a network in case a connection or cable fails by providing an alternate data path tor traffic. Managed switches utilize the Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP) to identify and quickly recover from network changes or failures. RSTP allows redundant paths by preventing multiple active paths between switches that can create network loops.

Our newly published instruction sheet discusses the RSTP concept and presents examples of networks containing a mix of managed and unmanaged switches. The pitfalls of using this architecture are discussed and examples provided.

The Contemporary Controls CTRLink family of switches offers a wide array of managed and unmanaged Ethernet switches to meet all your needs.

New RemoteVPN Application Guide Available

Remote AccessUtilizing the Internet for remote commissioning provides convenience while saving time and money. However, accessing equipment at remote sites can be difficult because firewalls block messages that originate from the Internet. One solution is to incorporate a virtual private network (VPN) between end sites such as your office and the remote job site. The end-points are called clients and communication is encrypted – so only authorized devices can communicate over the VPN.

Contemporary Controls RemoteVPN subscription service hosts a cloud-based OpenVPN server. OpenVPN clients (for workstations and mobile devices), and Contemporary Controls OpenVPN routers (installed at job sites) communicate via this server. OpenVPN is open-sourced software that incorporates security protocol that utilizes SSL/TLS for key exchange and provides encrypted data transfer. RemoteVPN is capable of traversing network address translators and firewalls without setting up port forwarding rules for the devices. OpenVPN clients for PC, MAC, Android, and iOS devices are all available and are free to download.

A new RemoteVPN application guide is available on our website. It has been updated to reflect the latest advances in our CTRLink VPN router family such as the EIPR-V, EIGR-V, and EIGR-C with both wired and wireless router options. Nine typical applications are shown in the guide, with numerous alternatives described for each implementation. This application guide will teach you how to incorporate a VPN into almost any situation you can imagine, and maybe some you haven’t even thought of yet.

Visit the RemoteVPN product page to learn more, or watch our new video about the RemoteVPN service.


Contemporary Controls to Attend Building Automation Conference

BAC 2019Contemporary Controls will be exhibiting our products and offering presentations at the Building Automation Conference being held September 26th and 27th at the Frankfurt Airport, Germany. Hosted by the BACnet Interest Group Europe (BIG-EU), the conference this year features a two-pronged emphasis on cyber security in building automation and system integration in city centers.

Increasing digitization and networking in buildings is creating new opportunities for energy efficiency and comfort. However, it also increases the danger of unauthorized manipulation and criminal attack. Hackers are targeting smart building systems using weaknesses in products and interfaces. Contemporary Controls is well aware of the dangers involved when getting your BACnet devices onto the Internet. Our recently published BBMD instruction sheet “What is BBMD and Why Should I Care” devotes an entire section, titled With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, that discusses the best security practices when using BBMD. We also offer VPN services with our RemoteVPN subscription service and VPN enabled routers. Don’t miss our presentation during the show where we discuss cyber security, our BASpi Edge Controllers, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

With urbanization, the demand for the constructions of city centers which offer housing, hotels, shops, and ancillary services under one roof is growing world-wide. They are becoming the new meeting place for urban life. To integrate building automation systems under one roof, building owners and planners increasing rely on the manufacturer-independent BACnet standard. Energy management, resident comfort, fire protection, and transportation devices (such as elevators and escalators) utilizing BACnet ensures that the building functions smoothly in all areas. Contemporary Controls offers a wide family of BASautomation BACnet Supervisors, Routers, Gateways, Controllers, and Thermostats for application in all these areas. In addition, we are pleased to provide custom solutions in situations where BACnet compliance is not readily available.

We look forward to seeing you at the show. For more information about our products at the show and show registration, visit our Upcoming Event page.

Contemporary Controls on the Road in 2019


We have just exhibited at two innovative shows, half a world apart.

Contemporary Controls joined other members of the EnOcean Alliance at the leading expo for China’s intelligent building industry, the 13th edition of Shanghai Intelligent Building Technology (SIBT) show from September 3rd to 5th in Shanghai. This is one of the largest shows in China, promoting concepts designed to realize the goal of widespread creation of sustainable buildings. The EnOcean Alliance was formed to highlight devices that comply with the EnOcean standard, an energy harvesting wireless standard dedicated to automation solutions using self-powered wireless switches and sensors.

We showed gateway connectivity to EnOcean devices using our BASpi Edge Controller (w/EnOcean dongle) with the ability to push data to Azure IoT Central. The BASpi offers BACnet connectivity to these cutting-edge IoT devices for equipment control and intelligent data harvesting. We garnered a great deal of interest at the show, as there is a world-wide trend to utilize distributed sensors and real-time data to optimize energy efficiency and occupant comfort within structures.

Our second show this month was the Innovation Showcase in Pewaukee Wisconsin. A historic lakeside town in southeast Wisconsin, it is the home of Tri-Phase Automation, a hi-tech automation distributor. We joined over 30 other manufacturers on September 10th at their Innovation Showcase, an educational event which included demonstrations, technology sessions, and the latest information on automation and control trends.

We exhibited our industrial-grade Skorpion IP Routers and how they can be utilized to save valuable time at a jobsite by eliminating configuration changes when machines or subsystems are added. Modern factories are comprised of complex equipment that communicates via the Internet Protocol (IP). If a new addition to the facility has a conflict with other plant addresses, then time must be spent modifying and troubleshooting in order to allow its integration. Skorpion routers allow the added equipment to retain their original IP settings and integrate with minimal effort. Switches and routers with auto-negotiation for 10/100/1000 Mbps are available. Industrial grade unmanaged switches for plug-and-play operation and managed switches offering redundancy were also shown.

Visit our CTRLink products page to learn more.

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