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Meeting the 'Beebox"® challenge

Commissioned by CAT Projects, a remote area energy management specialist, the brief was to address the unique problems facing remote communities.

Unlike urban areas, remote communities face unique challenges, including:
     - limited access to power
     - limited quota of power consumption
     - higher cost of delivery of power

General design considerations provided in the brief were as follows:

     - Must provide reliable radio communications over 100m using an unlicenced band as per AS4268
     - Must provide Category III over-voltage isolation and safety
     - Metering system must have an accuracy of +/- 10% worst case
     - Must have an easy to comprehend display
     - Must be able to operate in hot, dusty outdoor environments
       (ie must be to IP54 or better rated, have high UV resistance and be heat resistant)
     - Must need appropriate safety and emissions standards
     - Must support 100V - 240V high efficiency power supply design

Specific requirements in relation to the METER were as follows:

     - Must have a USB interface for data download and calibration upload
     - Must be partially weatherproof, UV resistant and flame retardant
     - Must be fitted with a back lit display and an external antenna
     - Must communicate with the display over a low power unlicensed band radio with a range of up to 100m
     - Radio must remain within Australian AS4268 radio telecommunications radiation limits

Specific requirements in relation to the USER DISPLAY were as follows:

     - Must have 4 digit 7 segment LED display along with a LED dial indicator of instantaneous power usage
     - Must have LED bar graph of accumulated energy usage
     - PCB must have an ultrasonic sensor that wakes up the display when motion is sensed in front of the meter

Primary Tasks:
     ?   Analysis of required standards
     ?   Design for manufacture of meter and display hardware
     ?   To review, make recommendations and oversee firmware development
     ?   Test procedure for meter and display
     ?   Certification of meter and display
     ?   Manufacture and supply of meter and display within 3 months

CAT Projects asked us to devise a product that would allow customers to easily monitor and manage their energy usage, while addressing the unique requirements of the remote application, including the extremes of weather the system would face.
Beebox meets that challenge.


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