7 Replies Latest reply on Mar 22, 2012 6:29 PM by sporobolus

    Serial Connections to control remote devices

    taylorsharpe

      This past year was my first foray into FileMaker and serial connections using the Troi serial plugin to talk to phone systems, both PBX and analog (modems). I found it quite interesting and a bit challenging, but this has brought up another thought of mine that some of my clients may be interested in. Many of them keep their employee information in FileMaker and some do things like electronic time cards through FileMaker. Using FileMaker as the database end might be useful for controlling things like door locks and keypads. Is anyone aware of a interface module that FileMaker can talk to with the Troi Serial plugin that would then control locks or keypads? Maybe something like an x-10, INTEON or Z-wave controller? I'm just kicking the idea around, but thought I'd see if anyone else has experimented on this or has something working.

        • 1. Re: Serial Connections to control remote devices
          RonSmithMD

          Hi, Taylor.

           

          You might take a look at my personal documents (search tag ronsmithmd) and see my article, :Integration of Medical Laboratory Instruments Using RS232 Serial Connections" where I describe in great detail how I completely integrated my Horiba Hematology Analyzer and my Cinitek Status urine analyzer with PaperCutPro, my complete EMR/Practice Management software.

           

          It should help. If you need development help with specific hardware, it might be fun to give it a whirl (if you can supply me with the hardware the the documentation).

           

           

           

          Ron

           

          Ron Smith, MD

          ron@ronsmithmd.com

          • 2. Re: Serial Connections to control remote devices
            taylorsharpe

            Ron, thanks for your comments.  I actually had already looked at what you did with your medical equipment and found it quite interesting.  I had done a similar thing getting a PBX to work with FileMaker as well as analog modem phone lines and they are currently working for clients that receives 1000-2000 phone calls a day quite successfully capturing the caller ID and automatically looking through the database for the clients.  So it seems we both have had some fun figuring out how to get FileMaker to talk to serial connections and, as you know, can always be challenging but rewarding. 

             

            I guess my real question is seeking someone who has found an interface module or controller that FileMaker could talk to that is designed to work with security equipment such as locks and key pads.  I'm assuming a middleware hardware like this would be much more efficient than FM talking directly to each serial device.  Most of what I find out there are controllers that are interfaced with a web page and not a serial connection or other network command system.  Also, most Macs are fairly limited on serial connections and a controller could offer a lot more devices that could be connected which would be appropriate if you're going to control a number of locks and/or keypads.  Maybe I should just try to talk directly to one of the manufacturers of these controllers if there isn't a method in place for FileMaker to easily talk to them. 

             

            Well, I'm just kicking things around and appreciate your input from work with your medical devices.  Thanks!

            • 3. Re: Serial Connections to control remote devices
              RonSmithMD

              Well, I understand entirely. Once I integrated my CBC and Urine analyzer, my staff just won't do without it. Before they had to type in the lab results and now all they do is type in the patient id and walk away.

               

              Something similar though to what you are looking for that I want, is measuring and monitoring device for our refrigerator where we store our vaccines. I'm a Pediatrician and our office spends between $100,000 and $200,000 a year on vaccines alone (our cost!). I have been meaning to integrate that with our  software which could also notify us if there is a temperature rise in addition to logging temps for CLIA lab inspections. No one is doing that as part of their EMR/Practice management stuff. RS-232 connections to the digital device which connects wireless to internal refrigerator thermistors would be great.

               

              That is kind of like the wireless keypad stuff you are talking about. All we really need is a piece of hardware that controls the device (wirelessly if possible) but has an RS-232 interface for FileMaker. Don't need their sofware or webinterface. Just need the DATA! (YUM!)

               

              Similarly I would very much like a generic RS232 piece of hardware that I could use to customize for things like strep, flu, and mono testing. (At least until they figure out how to get an RS-232 port onto one of those throat swabs!)

               

              Heck I told the staff that as soon as it is available I'd get them borged with RS-232 interfaces at the lowere posterior occiput and then I would just read the data directly as their optic neuro tracts visualize it! They like that idea!

               

              Let me know if you find anything more because I'm all about integration with FileMaker wherever possible.

               

              Ron

              • 4. Re: Serial Connections to control remote devices
                RonSmithMD

                Here's a really great-looking RS-232 thermometer (ThermaView):

                 

                http://www.e2di.com/thermaviewer.html

                 

                http://www.e2di.com/tvcat.html

                 

                Ron

                • 5. Re: Serial Connections to control remote devices
                  RubenVanDenBoogaard

                  Gentlemen,

                   

                  I have seen this plugin from 24U (http://24usoftware.com/Phidgets) which seems to have a lot of uses, I have not found

                  a proper project to use this but it seems interesting.

                   

                  Best regards,

                   

                  Ruben van den Boogaard

                  Infomatics Software

                  ruben@infomatics.nl

                  • 6. Re: Serial Connections to control remote devices
                    taylorsharpe

                    Phidgets... pretty cool.  I was unaware of this method of connecting USB devices to the Mac and the 24U plugin that lets FileMaker talk to them.  Thanks for the tip!  I'll explore some more. 

                    • 7. Re: Serial Connections to control remote devices
                      sporobolus

                      on 2012-03-21 20:17 taylorsharpe wrote

                      I guess my real question is seeking someone who has found an interface module or controller that FileMaker could talk to that is designed to work with security equipment such as locks and key pads.

                       

                      my sense is it would be easier to work with wifi-, Insteon- or X10-based locks

                      & keypads, unless there is a system already wired into place that uses serial

                      cables; for wifi devices i don't know if there's intermediary software of if

                      you'd interact with the devices directly over a LAN

                       

                      Insteon and X10 are automation systems with all sorts of possibilities,

                      including LAN/wifi, power-line and other types of controllers; often they are

                      managed by a software package which can receive commands from a network, via

                      AppleScript or by other means

                       

                      here for example is a page of relevant Insteon & X10 hardware:

                       

                      <http://www.smarthome.com/_/Door_Locks_Access_Control/_/7/land.aspx