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Remote Site Monitoring: How DPS Helps You Finish Your Project

By Andrew Erickson

October 18, 2021


I just had a fast back-and-forth email exchange with someone who wants to get SMS text messages to his phone when important alarms happen.

It all started with an online message:

I would like your NetGuardian device to monitor (over the internet, connected by ethernet cable) my radio tower LED lights (TWR Lighting LE11-3A Dual Lighting Kit & LC-STAR Controller)

From there, the discussion moved very quickly...

I'll ask you for further clarification of the project goals

Since I'm not in the business of just sending a massive price list and making my clients do the dirty work of selecting a product, I had follow-up questions. I recorded and sent a quick video message, then got the following reply:

You can see on the bottom-right of the LC-Star controller board: there is a place to plug in a PCB module for Ethernet. I am told by TWR that SNMP is supported - but I would have to look for a monitoring program and program it. I would like your device to send a unique ring to my phone when a tower beacon or side light goes out (or malfunctions) day or night (with time and date stamp). I do not need wireless.
HVAC Controller at the center of a complex monitoring & control setup.
In this other example solution, an HVAC Controller is used as the central hub for a complex array of equipment, including dual mechanical HVAC units and a baseboard heater.

I'll run through the basic architecture with you

Resuming my conversation with my client about tower light monitoring, here's how I responded:

Thank you for sharing the architecture and your desired alert format ("send a unique ring to my phone"). I'm very close to being able to recommend a specific product. Here's what I'm thinking so far:

My proposed architecture for this project:

  1. You install one of our remote boxes that can collect SNMP traps from the TWR via LAN (can be at same site or anywhere else on network). Up to 16 or 32 unique traps are supported, depending on the model. That sounds like plenty for the handful of unique traps you're looking to trigger on.
  2. When an alarm is detected by our device, you can do several things. One option is to send email to "##########@YourWirelessProvidersDomain.com" to cause an SMS to be delivered to your phone with a description of the alarm state. You can send to up to 8 different notification devices (emails/phones).
  3. The same type of notification would happen on the clearing of an active alarm.
  4. We can achieve the unique ringtone based on the "FROM" number that your wireless provider uses when constructing the SMS message above. We'll want to look at this, as some providers create ephemeral numbers that might be random and trickier to assign a ringtone. This will be easy to test before you buy. We can text you from here using our box.
  5. If needed, we can also provide a device with native wireless function or a voice dialer (delivering messages as recorded audio via phone). Those require ongoing service fees to a provider, and it doesn't sound like you want these functions, anyway. I just want you to understand all the possible options related to this project.

We'll test any uncertain items together

For this project, with a goal of triggering a unique ringtone for alarm messages from this monitoring system, I needed to know two very important things:

  1. Was the client's phone (Android OS in this case) capable of tying a specific audio alert tone to a specific incoming phone number? If not, there can be no unique ringtone with an entirely separate phone.
  2. Does the client's provider (T-Mobile in this case) send all email-to-SMS messages from the same source number? If an "ephemeral" number is used every time (as AT&T has historically done on my own personal phone), that is much harder to use as the trigger for a unique alert tone.

I proposed sending a pair of messages to the client's phone via the email method described above. If this worked from my email client, it would work equally well from the NetGuardian later.

Fortunately, this test went very smoothly:

Hi, Andrew. I got both texts but no sound on my Galaxy Note. How do I get my phone to alert me?

I found and sent a quick online tutorial for setting up custom alert sounds on an Android phone. A few minutes later, I got reply:

I made those settings changes on my phone. Please resend test messages to see if my phone makes an audible sound upon receipt.

Note that, at this stage, we were conversing back and forth using the proposed message-delivery method. I was emailing from my desk, and my client was replying from his phone's SMS texting app.

The custom alert tones must have worked properly, because I got back a reply that is music to any salesperson's ears:

Now I would like to see a picture, specs, & price of the device.

What level of service do you expect when buying B2B technology?

In any industry, there are price leaders and service leaders. With our Made-in-America factory and engineering department in California, we focus on top-notch service at DPS (we then leverage efficiencies to give you good value). From the start, our work revolves around reliable quality and your overall positive experience.

This same philosophy extends to selling DPS equipment. Unless you're down-to-the-penny cheaper than another provider, you MUST provide good information and service. That's what I do to make sure you want to keep coming back, year after year.

Make sure that your purchasing decisions reflect the importance of your operation

Never forget that your network is absolutely critical for the people you serve. It's always worthwhile to justify the purchase of quality equipment that will stand the test of time.

After all, in another sales conversation today, I was explaining to a client who wants a wireless-modem option that we use external modems. This isn't because we CAN'T integrate an internal modem. We can do that and we did do that. Unfortunately, our RTUs just plain last too long for that.

The 2G internal modems we put into our RTUs in 2008 are no longer supported, even though the overall RTU is still operational. I don't know of any better way to summarize the quality of DPS gear.

I'll help you design your ideal monitoring system - and justify its value to your management

As you can see from the specific story above, I help my clients to success. I won't let you fail. Often, just a little bit of flash goes a long way when your busy managers are evaluating your purchase recommendation.

That can take the form of a customized PDF drawing, a recorded video, or a live web meeting. I'm happy to provide any or all of those.

To get started designing a monitoring system that will make your job easier, just call me at 559-454-1600 or email me at sales@dpstele.com

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 17 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and opt...