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Falcon FMS watching over your server room environment

Back in the late ’90s, RLE Technologies developed a new monitoring appliance, the Falcon FMS. A brilliant engineer brought his all-solid-state design to RLE. The first unit was a gray aluminum chassis, SNMP data, and 19″ 1RU, Internal Modem (dial-up). There was no web interface or other fancy features. With this in mind, the configuration was done using Terminal Emulation via the RS-232 port. As RLE Technologies learned more about customers’ needs, they kept adding to it. Then version 5 firmware hosted a webpage interface.

In time, RLE engineering designed their own custom steel beige chassis. Eventually features added were email, alarm history, trending data, floor map, Nest/Egg. I enjoyed working with this product during my early days of getting started in the Data Center industry. Therefore, I would like to share some information on this great device. From time to time, getting to talk to some customers, they would say, “you forget it is there, till something goes wrong.” This little powerhouse was always running in the background, watching over your critical infrastructure.

Something you may not know, RLE stands for Raymond and Lae Engineering.

The meaning of Universal Inputs on the Falcon FMS

Specifically, this input type gives users flexibility for analog or digital devices wired to channels.

  • Universal Input means Analog 4-20mA or Digital Inputs (Dry Contact)
  • Temperature, Humidity, pressure, and power are a few examples of an analog 4-20mA input
  • Inputs one through eight on all models are Universal Inputs
  • Universal Inputs on the expansion card (EXP-A) do these and 0-5Volt, or 0-10V analog signals
  • Loop powered, or external powered Analog 4-20mA transducers

Digital Inputs, two wires, one port

To explain, you can set two conditions from a single pair of wires.

  • Inputs as Normally Open, Normally Closed, or Digital Status
  • Label for Normal and Alarm condition based on one input
  • Disable by a schedule for motion and door alarms
  • Isolated input types on the EXP-B and EXP-C option cards
  • Alarm delays for fine-tuned alarming

Falcon FMS relays give you options to be creative.

To demonstrate relays on the Falcon FMS controlled by:

  • An input going into alarm
  • They can be set up for AND-OR Logic by inputs
  • An internal schedule can activate them
  • Can be configured to be Supervised, Forced On, Forced Off
  • Triggered by a keypad signal/code
  • Web Interface button (HTML)
  • Dial-Up DTFM Access Code (Internal Modem)

Wired 3×4 Keypad before modern Access Controls was affordable.

With attention to this access control method uses a seven-wire conductor/cable. It is not serial or network-based keypad input.

  • In fact, one or multiple 3×4 keypads could be hardwired
  • Including 20 users with individual codes
  • Assign users to specific relays for activation
  • Ability to give temporary access to specific users

Notably, the NMS software can read inputs via SNMP.

For example, this allows IT managers to collect data from facilities hardware to their Network Management System (NMS).

  • From the beginning, all wired inputs can be available via SNMP
  • Great for interfacing to Network Management Software (NMS)
  • The FMS evolved by allowing Modbus and BACnet slave data polled via SNMP
  • SNMPv3 option available for new hardware (Limited areas for distribution)

Interface to BAS/BMS, EPMS, DCiM, and more

Necessary to realize, this allows the Falcon FMS to integrate into other systems as your needs grow.

  • A software-based system can poll input data in later versions
  • BACnet IP data from all wired and protocol data points
  • Modbus TCP/IP or Modbus RTU for all wired and protocol points

Protocol Integration from field devices

In view of Operational Technology devices, they may have open protocols available to give you more data points.

  • In version 5, RLEnet was the supported protocol RS485 (Serial Data)
  • Used for daisy-chaining FMS units together for expanded points
  • Modbus RTU and Modbus TCP option added in version 6
  • BACnet/IP in Version 6
  • to explain, communications up to 32 devices in a round-robin fashion in version 8
  • 1000 points across the 32 devices for data collection

Trending Analog data

In fact, all trending data received uses local solid-state memory, not a mechanical drive.

  • Minute, Hour then Day values
  • First In First Out (FIFO) once full
  • Stored all in local memory
  • The standard for trending is up to 7 days
  • 24 hours per day
  • 60 minutes per hour
  • 232 trend points for Protocol channels

Extended Trending for Analog points

  • Became available in version 7 of firmware (Falcon_EM)
  • With 32 channels, trend 3840 data points
  • With eight inputs, trend 16128 data points
  • 1 Min, 5 Min, 15 Min, 1, 2, 4, 6, or 8 Hour intervals

Falcon Nest/Egg

To enumerate the Nest/Egg is a topology for getting multiple Falcons, and some SeaHawk Leak Detection products can communicate to the Falcon FMS.

  • IFrame or Map image showing devices
  • One Falcon FMS can support up to 32 devices
  • Accessible to view a summary of devices

Falcon FMS 1U chassis names over time

Inputs Outputs v5 Model Name v6 Model Name v7 Model Name Comment
8 2 FMS8002 FMS8 FMS-X Inputs 1-8 are Universal Inputs
20 6 FMS8126 FMS20 FMS-B Inputs 1-8 are Universal Inputs, 9-20 Digital Inputs only
20 6 FMS2006 FMS20U FMS-A Inputs 1-8 are Universal Inputs, 9-20 Universal Inputs
32 2 N/A FMS32 FMS-C Inputs 1-8 are Universal Inputs, 9-32 Digital Inputs only

Falcon FMS Expansion Cards

Card Name Inputs Outputs Description
EXP-A 12 6 Inputs 9-20 are Universal Inputs, 0-5V and 0-10V available with this card. Relay outputs are a form C style (-48VDC Telecom models, max one card per chassis)
EXP-B 12 6 Inputs 9-20 are optically isolated Digital Inputs. Relay outputs are a form C style. *Card Discontinued version 8 firmware, EXP-A would be the replacement.
EXP-C 24 N/A Inputs 9 – 32 are optically isolated Digital Inputs. No relay outputs. (-48VDC card available for Telecom models)

FMS 2U chassis supporting up to four expansion cards

In detail, the four placeholders represent the 2U chassis after FMS-. The Falcon FMS has different card configurations available.

  • The FMS-CCCC-Y-24 provides 104 inputs (8 Universal Inputs, 96 Digital Inputs)
  • The FMS-AAAA-Y-24 provides 56 inputs (56 Universal Inputs)

Falcon FMS with Internal Temperature and Humidity Sensors

To point out, you can monitor the ambient Temperature and Humidity where the Falcon FMS is mounted.

  • Represented by the third indicator separated with the – delimiter
  • N = No Internal Sensor
  • Y = Internal Sensor Installed

Great for cookie-cutter applications

In other words, spend the time upfront to create a template. Once created, take a backup; as a result, you dramatically reduce the time to deploy to other locations.

  • Once the “Master” unit gets configured, you can save a backup of the configuration
  • As a result, upload the master configuration to other units saving configuration time
  • Save Modbus, BACnet, and SNMP profiles via XML format for faster device deployments

As shown above, the Falcon FMS has made significant improvements over the years. In conclusion, the Falcon FMS can provide you with an excellent level of monitoring for the cost. Given these points, the Falcon FMS can collect Analog and Digital data with integration capabilities to host that data to other platforms. In summary, the Falcon FMS is very flexible in deploying it. We at FMS Integration LLC understand not all applications are the same. If you have questions about this unit or an application you would like to discuss, don’t hesitate to contact us.