Introduction

In this article, we will walk you through the entire process of selecting Whisker.io° products, creating a new account, adding a location, and provisioning IoT devices for a simple IIoT project.


Sample Project

The Whisker.io® IIoT ecosystem includes a wide variety of components that can be used in almost any application.


For the purposes of this walk-through, our application will be remote monitoring of a tank battery, two pumps and a PLC.   We will select the proper Whisker.io® products to monitor:


  1. Tank 1 Level - this is measured with a pressure transducer that outputs 4-20mA
  2. Tank 2 Level - this is measured with a pressure transducer that outputs 4-20mA
  3. Pump 1 Run - this is a digital output to indicate the pump's actual running status
  4. Pump 2 Run- this is a digital output to indicate the pump's actual running status
  5. PLC Tags - several internal tags (mode, speed settings, etc) to be read via Modbus RTU (RS-485)


This is a very simple application where our only goal is to monitor these values in the cloud based IoT platform so that technicians and operators can see this data remotely using a computer or mobile device.  Our Smart.Hub™ is capable of communicating sensor data to other endpoints using MQTT, Modbus TCP, and Ignition|SparkPlugB, but for this application we will only be using the MQTT protocol to communicate to our Whisker.io® 


The Whisker.Block® is a wireless IoT sensor that can have as many as 16 I/O channels per device.  It collects data from the connected sensors and periodically forwards that data to the cloud via a Smart.Hub.  Triggers can be set on the Whisker.Block™ to cause instantaneous transmission if a digital or analog input meets user defined requirements.


In this simple application, the two pumps and the tank battery are located about 2 miles from the cabinet that houses the PLC, so we will need one Whisker.Block to monitor the pumps and tanks, and another to monitor the PLC.   The Smart.Hub™ will be located with the PLC because a 20 foot pole already exists for mounting.


All of our products can be purchased from our online store: www.d6labs.com/store.  We have conveniently grouped our products by category and available I/O, making it easy to quickly identify the components we need.




The remainder of this article is a step-by-step walk-through of the entire process of selecting and buying the required devices, setting up an account, adding a location to an account, and adding and provisioning devices.


Step 1 - Select a Smart.Hub


The first thing we need to do is select a Smart.Hub™ IIoT gateway.  When you select the Smart.Hub category you will see that several options are available:



The Smart.Hub™ Pro gateway is designed for indoor, commercial applications.  It is powered by an external 5V wall transformer and is not IP67 rated.  This hub does not support Modbus TCP or Ignition|SparkPlugB and is typically not used in industrial applications.


The Smart.Hub™ Industrial gateway is designed for outdoor, industrial applications.  It can be configured with multiple power and communication options:


  1. Power supply: 8-30V DC  - 110/220VAC  -  PoE options
  2. Communications: Ethernet or 4G wireless


For our application, we will use the Smart.Hub™ Industrial -DC, 4G (sku WH1-9-00-IDNCN-Nmodel because it will be powered from the same power supply that the existing automation is using and it needs a cellular connection because there is no Internet available at the location.  Let's add that to our cart.


Step 2 - Select Whisker.Block Sensors


For this application, we need a Whisker.Block™ that has two 4-20mA inputs (water tower) and  two dry contact inputs (pump run statuses). Returning to the home page of the store, we need to select the Whisker.Block IoT Sensors category, which will show variety of options:



To make things easier, click on Search Products and type "20mA" in the search filter to get a listing of all of the Whisker.Blocks with 4-20mA inputs.  The lowest cost option is the WB1-9-00-DCDCA4A4-0000-XR, which has the required inputs.  It is battery powered, so external power is not required, and it has an external antenna to improve range.


We also need a Whisker.Block® to monitor the PLC.  Type "Modbus RTU" in the search filter to find the WB1-9-0D-MBNNNNNN-0000-XR.  This device is powered from 8-30V DC (not internal battery power) and also has an external antenna for improved range.


Add both of these devices to your card.


Step 3- Checkout


The checkout process is  simple and intuitive, but if you have any problems, please feel free to call us at 1-844-365-8647 or email us at sales@d6labs.com for help.


All products include the 1st year monitor for free.  After the first year, you will be charged a small annual fee for each monitored device.  Annual monitoring fees vary with the I/O configuration and are clearly identified on each product page.


Once your order is placed, our team will create a custom "self install kit" that contains the Whisker.Hub™, Whisker.Blocks®, and any required accessories.  Every kit is assigned a unique serial number which greatly simplifies installation and provisioning.


If we have the products in stock, a kit usually ships within 24-48 hours.


Step 4 - Create Account at www.whisker.io


In order to use the Whisker.io™ IoT portal, you will need to create an account.  Using any browser, open www.whisker.io and click 'Register for one' on the login screen.




This will take you to the account registration form:



The registration form will ask for your company information and your personal contact information.  The company information is used for billing and support purposes and your contact information is used by our alerting system to send text and email alerts.


Once you have completed the registration form, you will receive an email with your temporary password.  Return to the login screen at www.whisker.io and enter your email address and temporary password to login.


When you login for the first time (or if our subscription agreement changes), you will be asked to review and accept the Subscription Agreement as follows:


Once you have read the agreement and accept its terms, click the checkbox in the bottom left of the form.  


Next, you will be asked for a credit card that will be used to pay your monitoring fees.  The first year's fees are waived for new products, so you will not be charged for 12 months.  We do not keep your credit card information in our database.  It is validated through Authorize.net and we are given a token we can use to charge your card in the future.  This protects your credit card information from being obtained in the unlikely even our servers were compromised.



Enter your credit card information and click 'Next'. 


Since you were assigned a temporary password at the start, the last step is to create a permanent password for your account.



Once you have reset your password, your account is ready to use.


Step 5 - Login and add a new location


You should now be logged in and your screen should look something like this:




This is called the Enterprise View.  Once your locations and devices are setup, it will show a color coded icon for every location in your enterprise, with the color indicating the status of the devices at that location.


To add a new location, you need to center the map on the place where you want the new location to be.  Click 'Center Map' and then click 'Address/Coordinates' to enter your location's address.  When you are finished, the map should be centered on that address.


Click 'New Location'  and then click on the place on the map where you want the location to be.  Once you click on the map, a dialog box will open and ask for a name for the location.  For this example, I am using the name 'Site 1'.  Now you will see a blue circle (blue means the location is new) representing your location.





With the location created and configured, we can now add devices to the location.  Click on the blue circle and then click the link in the pop-up to drill down to the Location View.


Step 6 - Add Devices to New Location


You will need the Self Install Kit to complete the next step.  Once you have that in hand, login and drill down to the location as explained in the previous steps.


The Location View is similar in appearance  to the Enterprise View, except that it shows a colored icon for each Whisker.io™ device at a location.  Currently, our location map is empty.


To add our recently purchased devices  to the location, click 'Provision New Products' and the following form is displayed:



Every product in your kit has a label that provides important information include the install kit serial number (starts with WSK).  Enter that serial number and click add.



The app uses the serial number to retrieve the contents of the kit and add them to the new location.  As you can see, our kit includes the Smart.Hub, Mobus RTU Whisker.Block®. and DCDCA4A4 Whisker.Block®.  Click 'Continue' to save the devices and return to the Location View map.



The 'Products to Configure' button is now visible because there are now 3 products that have been added to this location that need to be configured and placed on the map.  Click 'Products to Configure' to bring up the configuration form.



This form shows the three  products that need to be configured and placed on the map.  The 'Configure' and 'Place on Map' buttons turn green when each step is complete.  If both buttons are green when the 'Saved' button is pressed, the product is removed from the configuration stage and added to the map.


Most of our products are pre-configured at the factory and their 'Configuration' buttons will be green.  Some products, such as the Modbus RTU Whisker.Block® require user configuration.


Click the 'Configure' button for the Modbus RTU block to show the device configuration form:



Change the name to "PLC Modbus RTU" and leave the Serial Number value alone.  Click 'Save' to configure the Modbus slots.




A "slot" represents a 16-bit word read from a Modbus device.  The Mobus RTU block has up to 16 slots, each of which can represent 16 individual bits (coils/discrete inputs) or a word (holding&input registers).  Slot configuration must match between the Modbus RTU device in the field and the device configured in the Whisker.io™ portal.  For example, if slot 1 on the actual Modbus RTU block is configured to read coils, you must configure that slot for coils here.


Each slot can be independently configured and activated.  Only active slots will be used for data collection, analysis and display.


For our application, we need to read several tags from the PLC:


TagRegisterModbus Slot
Pump in HandDiscrete Inputs (0)1
Pump 1 DirectionCoils (0)2
Pump 2 DirectionCoils (1)2
Pump 1 StartCoils (2)2
Pump 2 StartCoils (3)2
Pump 1 SpeedHolding Register (0)3
Pump 2 SpeedHolding Register (1)4


We need to configure 4 slots:


  • Slot 1 will be configured to read 16 bits from Discrete inputs.  Bit 0 will be used
  • Slot 2 will be configured to read 16 bits from Coils.  Bits 0-3 will be used
  • Slots 3 and 4 will be configured to read from holding registers.


To configure a slot, first it must be made Active by checking the 'Active' checkbox.  Once the slot is made active, you can select the Modbus Table for this slot.  For our application, slot 1 will be used for Discrete Inputs.  Bit 0 is active and configured for Pump In Hand.  You can set the status text and color for high and low conditions for each bit.



Once the first slot is configured, scroll down if needed and click next to configure the next slot.  Slots 5 thru 16 are not used, so you can click 'Next' for each slot.  


Once you finish with the last slot, you will be returned to the configuration form; the Modbus RTU 'Configuration' button is now green.



All that is left is to place the devices on the map.  For each device, click 'Place on Map' to bring up the placement form:


Click on the map at the location where you want the device to place the device.  


Repeat the process for each device.  When you are done, all the buttons on the configuration form are green.



Click 'Save' to add the devices to your location.  This will return us to the Location View where we can now see our three devices:




You can drill down  to the Device Snapshot View by clicking on either of the devices on the map.  Here is the Device Snapshot View of the recently added Modbus device.




To complete our project, we need to configure the Smart.Hub™ and Modbus RTU Whisker.Block™ devices.  Instructions can be found here:


Configure Modbus RTU Whisker.Block®


Configure Smart.Hub™ IoT Gateway