Winner, Name that Ware March 2021

The Ware for March 2021 is a fire control system (not fire as in “artillery fire”, but fire as in “your building is on fire”) controller, a Honeywell HS-NCM-SF. It’s the sort of board that lives in those red boxes hanging near the entrance of big buildings with fancy fire alarm systems.

A quick Internet search shows these things go for around US$2k retail. This pricing is commensurate with a “made in USA” process, B2B volumes, and its choice of top-shelf parts, even though its specs are fairly modest if not strange. When I first saw this, I scratched my head at the use of fiber optic comms, matched with a CPU that was clearly not capable of handling fiber optic data rates. Once I learned its purpose, it made a bit more sense. At least, I’m presuming the fiber optics are chosen either because there is a reliability advantage in the context of fire-resistance of the cabling, or perhaps the fiber optics are advantageous because there is no risk of sparking wires in the case that one end of the line is engulfed in fire and presumably melts into a glob of metal that includes the power mains.

Again, Willmore nailed it. Congrats, email me for your prize!

2 Responses to “Winner, Name that Ware March 2021”

  1. willmore says:

    I was guessing the fiber optical connections were chosen due to the industrial nature of the environments you’ll find this board used. You may have large motors and other electrically noisy equipment about. That would also explain why it comes in more common copper networked versions as well. Don’t pay for fiber optics unless you need it.

  2. DougMac says:

    In addition to the mention of industrial EM noise causing difficulty for copper ethernet, I’d also guess that these boxes are generally placed much further away than 100m away from the building management system. Copper ethernet is spec’d for 100m, while single-mode fiber can run a handful of km away.

    I haven’t seen too many skyscrapers with any decent ethernet infrastructure for the building management systems. In my office building, I’ve seen the red honeywell fire control box many stories away from the building management system in the basement.

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