Sentry – a hardware integration project for Intellipool Network Monitor

I’ve been asked in the past how to integrate in a simple way between various systems and a display device to allow non technical staff to be aware of various problems or issues. Taking as an example a monitored computer room or cold store – the idea of having a simple visual display device which can be updated to show the current status of in terms of temperature or server performance really appeals. So this article starts out with the hardware aspect of linking a display to Intellipool’s product ( Intellipool Network Monitor or INM.

So I looked around for something simple that could be adapted to suit the requirements of this prototype and here is what I found. Two devices – one an LED matrix (BV4102) and one and (BV4103) LCD two line panel that can be attached via a serial cable to a PC and updated to display various types of information. The designer, manufacturer


supplier is Byvac @

Hats off to Jim for a well engineered answer to my problem !!!!!!!

So what do they look like ?

This is an 8 x 8 LED array consisting of 64 RED LED’s and 64 GREEN LED’s. All of these are controlled by a serial interface using a 2 letter command. The brightness of either red or green can be controlled to give varying shades of orange. Any pattern within the matrix can be created and there is also a built in character set offering red, green or orange characters from ASCII 33 (!) to ASCII 122 (z). These can be stacked to form larger displays and more than one display can operate from the same serial bus.

Fig 1.

LED Matrix

Specification :

Interface: RS232 or TTL 5V, 3V3 compatible
Number of LED’s: 128
Voltage: 5V
Current: 4mA with no LED’s illuminated, up to 100mA otherwise
Size: 32mm x 32mm x 10mm deep, pins stick out a further 10mm

The LCD panel

Its a Blue LCD display having a true serial interface. This comes complete with the unique IASI (Intelligent Asynchronous Serial Interface). The interface is fitted to the back of the display and can be connected to a PC COM port or a microcontroller UART. The display is then controlled with simple two letter commands.

Fig 2.



Interface: RS232 or TTL 5V, 3V3 compatible
16 Characters x 2 lines
Blue background with white lettering. White back light must be illuminated
Voltage: 4.5 to 6V
Current: 18mA with back light illuminated
Size: 85mm long x 30mm wide x 25mm deep from front face to end of pins

And what can they do ?

With regard to the LED matrix – you can either display ascii characters or create your own. You can also individually address each led or a range of leds and turn then green , orange or red

The LCD panel has two address lines of 16 chars where you can output ascii characters and provide various effects such as scrolling.

And how do you set them up ?

The supplier provides a terminal program called BV that allows you to initially configure the items into a chain and give them a unique address in this case D1, D2 for the two LEDS and D3 for the LCD panel. A power supply is needed and the supplier has one available – the BV1102

The BV1102 is a power regulator board that is useful for powering logic circuits. It takes a standard household power adaptor and converts the voltage from this to a regulated +12V and +5V, ideal for supply logic circuits and other electronic items. Its specification :

12V regulated out put at 1A (with heat sink)
5V regulated out put at 1A (with heat sink)
Regulators face out to allow fitting of heat sinks
LED power indicator
Full Bridge rectification can take input form AC or DC

Apart from an appropriate transformer to run the regulator – the final piece of the jigsaw is the IASI serial lead that is used to connect the devices together – plug this into the PC as indicated and then connect it in serial to the first and second LED panels and then the LCD panel.

In summary the above arrangement gives three output devices individually updatable and capable of displaying status information. The next article on this project will show the connections and setup necessary to get some output from the devices and the final episode will detail the integration with an application to collect and processes information before displaying it to the devices.