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Amiga Education The Almighty Buck Technology

Commodore PC Still Controls Heat and A/C At 19 Michigan Public Schools 456

jmulvey writes: Think your SCADA systems are outdated? Environmental monitoring at 19 Grand Rapids Public Schools are still controlled by a Commodore Amiga. Programmed by a High School student in the 1980s, the system has been running 24/7 for decades. A replacement has been budgeted by the school system, estimated cost: Between $1.5 and 2 million. How much is your old Commodore Amiga worth?
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Commodore PC Still Controls Heat and A/C At 19 Michigan Public Schools

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  • by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @04:14PM (#49899971)

    So less than 2 dozen schools need to spend upwards of $2 million dollars to... control the HVAC?

    Really?

    That is the bigger issue, IMHO...

    • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @04:20PM (#49900001)

      Yeah. You could probably replace the thing with a raspberry pi .... at each location ... with a custom controller card.. and another one to control them all... for about $5,000

      $2M ? Someone's pork barrel overfloweth.

      • Pi plus some student programmers - should be done for $1500. Which begs the question - if it still works, why replace it?

        • And what do you do if a part dies? Where are you going to get parts for something that has not been manufactured for 20+ years?

          Obviously it needs to be replaced just so you can have something that can be repaired. The $2mil probably includes upgrading a large part of the HVAC system. If you have a 20+ year old computer controlling the HVAC, then you probably have a 20+ old HVAC.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            And what do you do if a part dies? Where are you going to get parts for something that has not been manufactured for 20+ years?

            eBay, there is a TON of that stuff out there... the prices are cheap as well...

            • "Yeah, you're just going to have to sit in the sweltering heat during summer school until ThunderfuckThor69 sends us the PSU we need for a 30 year old computer made by a company very few of you have ever heard of."

              Yeah, that'd go over well with me as a kid. Or my parents.

              • "Yeah, you're just going to have to sit in the sweltering heat during summer school until ThunderfuckThor69 sends us the PSU we need for a 30 year old computer made by a company very few of you have ever heard of."

                Uhm, or if the administration has a half a brain between all of them, they order a set (or two, or three) of replacement parts BEFORE they fail.

                I have 3 replacement Palm Tungsten C [thedarkener.info]s sitting, waiting for my primary to die. I'm not stupid enough to wait for something I rely on so heavily, that's THA

                • Even unused, electronic components fail with age. Capacitors leak. Wires corrode. Plastics become brittle. Ceramics crack. Don't expect the same lifespan from your cold spares as you have gotten from your live device.
        • Which begs the question - if it still works, why replace it?

          It raises the question. Begging the question [wikipedia.org] means something completely different.

          A bespoke system like this is difficult to modify or expand. It could also crap out at any time, leaving them to scramble for a replacement. It makes sense to replace it. It does not make sense to spend $2M to do so. They should track down the ex-student that wrote the original program, and pay him a few $k to port it to a new device. A Raspberry Pi would be a good choice.

          • by Tipa ( 881911 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @05:03PM (#49900317) Homepage

            The original programmer is still around, and occasionally does some maintenance on the programmer -- he even comments extensively in the comment section for the linked news story about the specific challenges they face. (He's "Jeff").

            The $2MM will be used for a general upgrade of all the heating/cooling facilities, which will include more modern control systems. Many of the systems that used to be controlled by the Amiga have already been replaced, and the Amiga doesn't manage those any more :)

          • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Saturday June 13, 2015 @11:56AM (#49903929) Journal

            Which begs the question - if it still works, why replace it?

            It raises the question. Begging the question [wikipedia.org] means something completely different.

            No. Begging the question DOES mean raising the question.

            The term "begging the question" originated in the 16th century as a mistranslation of Latin petitio principii ("assuming the initial point").[2] In modern vernacular usage, "to beg the question" sometimes also means "to raise the question"

            Here's the thing: words and phrases can mean different things depending on the context. "Begs the question", when followed by a question means raises the question. "Begs the question" when talking about an argument means the obscure and antiquated English mis-translation of the older Latin mis-translation of the Greek phrase.

            I suggest that you give it a rest. You're fighting the same losing battle that was fought over "gay" and "hacker". You won't change the public's mind, so the best outcome you'll ever get is looking like a pompous blow-hard. So, if that's what you're after, then have at it. Otherwise, learn to shut your trap and roll with it.

        • Pi plus some student programmers - should be done for $1500. Which begs the question - if it still works, why replace it?

          In my old house, there was an analog thermostat.

          This thermostat came with the house, probably cost $20, and worked just fine.

          Me, being the foolhardy spendthrift I am, dropped TEN TIMES that on a fancy-shmancy programmable thing with all sorts of stupid, complicated bits inside.

          As it turns out, my previous model--while perfectly functional--was really quite inefficient, and the new unit had pretty much paid for itself within a few weeks.

          Doing things properly can save tons of money.

      • Yeah. You could probably replace the thing with a raspberry pi .... at each location ... with a custom controller card.. and another one to control them all... for about $5,000

        $2M ? Someone's pork barrel overfloweth.

        I think we're all forgetting that the HVAC system as a whole is that old. Pumps, valves, and compressors all have finite life spans. My first reaction was also to use some Rpi's at each location which could add up to under $200 per building I then considered the cost to forklift and upgrade the HVAC at each facility. This would be about right.

        • I believe much of the HVAC system is actually much older than the Amiga. The Amiga was a replacement for an older refrigerator sized system which was decommissioned because of it's climbing costs. The old HVAC systems at the other buildings all rely on using radio modems to relay instructions. That radio modem system is actually thecrux of the problem as it is subject to interference from simple walkie talkies. Replacing those modems with something more modern is likely to be the expensive part of the proje

      • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @04:35PM (#49900131) Journal

        I'm not 100% sure it's governmental pork... commercial HVAC control systems can get hella expensive in a hurry, depending on what you're putting in. I suspect it's going to be more than just dropping in a new PC/server/whatever... a buttload of updated sensors and control equipment will likely have to go in along with it (esp. given the age).

        Price it sometime, then scale that cost up for 19 large buildings. $2m comes to roughly $105k per school; as far as buildings of that size go, that ain't half bad.

        • I'm not 100% sure it's governmental pork...

          Get with the program! If it's not your own state/county/town, then it's always "pork"!

        • You are correct. HVAC is ridiculously expensive. Unlike the computer marketplace, there are a very limited supply of HVAC solutions, and many (not all) of the vendors like to keep their circuit and programming technology proprietary.

          We just bid out the controller circuits for our school's HVAC system this year in our school district. We have two buildings joined by a hallway on a common campus; 38 blowers and over a hundred dampers control air flow into each room in the building, and each needs a control

      • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
        While you are probably correct, I am sure there is much more to the story.

        Do we know if the current situation is even efficient? That $2mil might be to upgrade all the systems enough that it will save $100k/yr in more efficient operation.

        If you think about how long they have milked the current system, maybe they do well with their budgets.. just not enough info to decide if $2mil is wasteful.
      • Yeah. You could probably replace the thing with a raspberry pi .... at each location ... with a custom controller card.. and another one to control them all... for about $5,000. $2M ? Someone's pork barrel overfloweth.

        A pi was my first thought too. :-)

        While you are probably correct that there is a bit of profit in that quote, its seems everyone is only looking at one half of the equation. What about the other side, increased efficiency and the cost savings that would result?

        It is plausible that over another 30 year timespan the cost of the new system could be outweighed by the savings it generates. I'm not saying this is surely the case, just part of the equation that is being overlooked so we don't really have eno

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        A pi with some shell scripts controlling commercial scale heating and cooling system?

        No.

        Fuck no.

        Jesus fucking christ no.

        This isn't your home automation project were the worst thing that goes wrong is you don't get to spy on your cat while you're at work.

        This is a serious deployment controlling a whole lot of non-trivial hardware. More importantly it's pivotal to the operation of the school itself. Fuck up the climate control for a week during any kind of unusual weather and you'll beg for a 2 million dollar

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 12, 2015 @05:03PM (#49900323)

        I used to work for an HVAC controls company. Most controls contractors have a specialty, whether it be hospitals, schools, commercial offices, or whatever. The one I worked for specialized in schools. We would typically get the entire school district's business all at once, but individual buildings would be upgraded or added to over time. But occasionally, we would get a large project that involved multiple buildings or an entire take-over of a whole district's HVAC controls.

        I have personally seen, held, and deposited a check for over $1 million from one such project. And that was the 20% kick-off payment. We outfitted 11 schools with complete direct-digital controls (none of that old pneumatic stuff), a web-facing control server, and a bunch of wire-runs to connect it all together. The price (as you may have calculated) was around $5 million. This was 10+ years ago, too.

        That project covered a high school, 2 middle schools, and 8 elementary schools. The district administration offices were on the high school campus as well, and were part of the same system that covered the high school building itself.

        The high school had (from memory):
        - 300+ fan powered terminals (zone controller and thermostat for each)
        - 7 or 8 air handling units (multi-program controller for each)
        - 12 roof-top units (single-program controller for each)
        - 1 network bridge
        - 1 web-facing server

        The middle schools had:
        - 150 FPT zones (average)
        - 3 or 4 AHU's each
        - 6-8 RTU's each
        - 1 network bridge each

        The elementary schools had:
        - 50 FPT zones (average)
        - 1 or 2 AHU's each
        - 3 or 4 RTU's each
        - 1 network bridge each

        All told, parts for that project cost us around $2-to-2.5 million. We generally bid things with a 100% markup over parts costs, which covered labor, design, documentation, management, and everything else. This company was and is profitable, but isn't making anyone wildly rich.

        There is no pork in that barrel. It just costs money to build something like that.

      • by Megane ( 129182 )
        Shame on me for RTFA, but yes, the $2M is for a complete replacement. The original system also used some custom RF hack to talk to the various buildings that operates on the same frequency as maintenance's walkie-talkies. But who could resist the opportunity for fresh pork spending? School administrators just love off-cycle bond elections with catchy names like "Warm, Safe and Dry" that few people show up for so they have a big fat piggy bank to spend.
    • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @04:20PM (#49900005) Homepage Journal

      Environmental control and monitoring becomes complicated when you're considering large buildings. At that size you need a system that controls how much your heat plant or cooling system is producing, as well as controlling fans and baffles to ensure that the cooking classroom, with a dozen ovens operating(or 30 computers) on the 3rd floor of the sunny side of the building stays comfortably cool while the the traditional English room on the shaded side of the first floor doesn't actually freeze.

      The reason it's $2M is the amount of programming and equipment replacement necessary, standard government waste, and the fact that they're no longer willing to let students/staff do it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Environmental control and monitoring becomes complicated when you're considering large buildings.

        And yet a high-school student from the 1980's was able to engineer a system with off the shelf computers and a little ingenuity. And managed to build a system that has lasted for 25 years.

        • Well, at least this student did. God only knows what kind of unholy messes the others made. Or, for that matter, how much cost accrued silently through inefficiencies over 25 years.

        • And yet a high-school student from the 1980's was able to engineer a system with off the shelf computers and a little ingenuity. And managed to build a system that has lasted for 25 years.

          And for all we know, it could be so blindingly inefficient that it's cost the school system hundreds of thousands or millions in wasted energy over that quarter century. See how uninformed assertions work?

        • A high-school student was able to "engineer" a system that requires all of the walkie-talkies to be turned off for 15 minutes to operate. That is to say, not engineering at all because of the failure to start with defining requirements such as what other systems will be running simultaneously.

      • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @04:51PM (#49900229) Homepage

        I do the IT for schools.

        The largest, most complex heating system I've ever seen is a bunch of thermostats, pumps, temperature sensors and boiler start-up times in a piece of crappy HTML running on a boiler control system which costs 1% of what the heating system cost (and most of that shit is software licensing and support, not programming).

        Seriously, it gives a nice diagram with all the in and out temperatures for multiple boilers, spread over the entire site, with temperature reading for other places (including external), and a "program" (really just a table of values) for when to start up in the morning depending on what the outside temperature is and/or whether the system's water temperature is ramping up as normal in that area.

        Honestly, the control part is fucking simple. It's not so simple to have something controlling 30-year-old systems that still running on a 30-year-old system, but the actual job it's doing is pretty minimal.

        A modern system might run proper cabling to / wireless sensors that don't interfere but would basically be the same thing. More likely, the system is just being replaced completely, including the majority of the HVAC equipment (or at least the centralised units if not the ducts / outlets / radiators / whatever).

        In all the schools I've ever worked there are rooms full of boilers all over that cost millions. Usually they are run from a control panel with a tiny microprocessor and - if you're lucky - some kind of serial or Ethernet controller somewhere.

        The hard part is not the software, or the schedules, or the algorithms involved, it's keeping the system running and integrating the parts you want to work with the system you want. Boiler manufacturers on that scale tend to want you to buy their controllers, and won't play well with anything else without a huge premium on the hardware.

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      This.
      Was exactly my first thought too.

    • I am going to assume there is a idiot involved in delivering this news and that the budget is for replacing a lot more than just controls.
      • I am going to assume there is a idiot involved in delivering this news and that the budget is for replacing a lot more than just controls.

        I am going to assume that the contractor is the superintendent's brother in-law.

    • I'm hoping that the $2 dollars is going to update a number of things, and not just the one system. Seems like you could rig up a VM to do the Commodore's work and a Raspberry Pi at each school to send the signals over the internet instead of OTA for probably about $5,000 in parts and $20k in labor.

    • Agreed. And the guy being interviewed seems to be on the same side of the argument we are. The media however are trying to spin this. I detect a hint of disdain in the tone of the anchorwoman as she goes over the list of repairs that were deemed a higher priority... Like replacing boilers, roofs, and removing asbestos... None of which are cheap. The bloody computer system works. It has its problems, but it works on 30 year old hardware. If it works on that there's no need to build out a 1.5 mil system

    • So less than 2 dozen schools need to spend upwards of $2 million dollars to... control the HVAC?

      Really?

      That is the bigger issue, IMHO...

      Well, if the new system ends up saving them more than $2 million over its lifespan (hardly a stretch of the imagination, given the cost of heating and cooling large buildings,) wouldn't they be fools to not have done this already?

    • Really?

      The article isn't exactly clear on what "system" is being replaced. Boilers, air con units, etc - all might need an upgrade.

    • by weez75 ( 34298 )

      A school district of that size can save that much in a single year on their electric bill with an intelligent HVAC system.

      I don't sell HVAC systems but I've seen this happen firsthand in a school district. Proper energy management programs are critical.

      85% or so of a school district budget goes directly to personnel. That piece of the budget is considering operating expense. Other operating expenses? Transportation, energy, internet, phone, etc. The other piece of the budget is capital--used for buildings,

  • by bugs2squash ( 1132591 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @04:19PM (#49899993)
    So have they run out of high school students ? Why not just give one of them a raspberry pi and have them program up a replacement. Hell, get 2 raspberry pis and keep one as spare.
  • ...why are they replacing it? It's not like it's being used for computing purposes, where leaving it within the network makes it a backdoor for malware. It's simply being used to control the HVAC, which could be done w/ an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi. Or even an ancient PC armed w/ just FreeDOS. But if it's working, what's the compelling need to replace it, much less budget up to $2M for it?
    • The only conceivable reason that I can think of would be that they are including a lot of other stuff, like rewiring the system, and replacing the central heating/cooling units.

    • Apparently it's a problem with how the control system communicates with the individual systems in the 19 buildings. It uses radio modems, which actually significantly predate the Amiga. The machinery in the individual buildings for whatever reasons can't be retrofitted to use some other form of communication. And the Amiga is the only thing around that can properly interface with the nessecary radio modems to issue commands.

      The systems in the buildings are very old and complex. I am guessing that most of th

      • I forgot to say that the radio modems are picking up interference from the walkie talkies used by the school system. Which means that they can't use their walkie talkies without messing up the environmental controls. Ordinarily I'd say they should just use some other communication devices. But it also means that the system is vulnerable to breakage from anyone else using the same frequencies or leaking into them.

  • For that much money, I'm assuming they are replacing more than the computer that controls the HVAC, they are probably replacing the HVAC system itself. Neither the article or the linked video make that clear.

  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @04:28PM (#49900077) Homepage Journal
    Please to remember: Amiga had pre-emptive multitasking, but no memory protection and no resource tracking. Diving through bad pointers would take out the entire system; and not meticulously free()ing every malloc() would lead to unrecoverable memory leaks which would... take out the entire system.

    So anyone who can write a program for that platform that is still running problem-free after 30 years deserves to be making stacks of cash in the embedded/IoT space.

    Also, shameless plug: http://amiga30.com/ [amiga30.com]

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      "diving through bad pointers would take out the entire system; and not meticulously free()ing every malloc() would lead to unrecoverable memory leaks which would... take out the entire system."

      Ummm good programmers always free every malloc.
      That is not really the issue without an mmu you can actually fragment memory over time.
      Maybe the programer didn't use any dynamically allocated memory and just put everything on the stack? Frankly in most small embedded system you try and avoid alloc for that very reason.

  • Wjats missing is giving the computersience department at all the schools 50k budget and the origional source code to implement on current hardware. This wpuld be the best use of the funds and save the rest. In fact let each school do a competition and give them a reason to really excel.

  • Why the negative backlash here? I think it's AWESOME that stuff from the 80's is still running to this day, and I think that's a mark of quality construction if the Amiga still runs to this day. Why are they supposed to replace it if it does the job? It's not like there's any networking here or areas that are exposed to the public, just a computer controlling the temperature. If anything, I can understand replacing it because the maintenance is getting difficult (Amiga parts are quite hard to find nowadays)
  • Parts for the computer are difficult to find, Hopkins said. It is on its second mouse and third monitor.

    Try ebay or Craigs list? Lots of it out there...

    Since this was made by a student, why not have a new student project to replace this thing usign a Pi or *duino board, which are all the rage these days? Or for an even more interesting learning experience, go with a Zed board? Surely those and your free extracurricular club labor would save you a couple bucks?

    • by Whorhay ( 1319089 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @04:44PM (#49900183)

      The problem is that the equipment at the 19 buildings is all built to use some kind of radio modem. Apparently retrofitting that equipment to use some more modern means of communication is going to be costly. They've tried to do it before and simply couldn't get around the requirement to continue using those radio modems. The radio modems are the heart of why it needs to be upgraded because they are prone to interference, for example the walkie talkies the staff use interfere and cause the system to not function properly. This equipment is all much older than the Amiga, which it's self was a replacement for another central control unit that was decommissioned because replacement parts were getting to expensive. The Amiga was a good fit because it was actually able to interface with a compatible radio modem.

  • Still, if it was something codeable by a student then, the idea that the replacement system would take $2 million is ludicrous. \

    Have a competition for coding, award a $100k prize for the best system code, and implement that (plus give the winner a job for life).

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      simple
      Things where simpler back then. a system to control all this was not in place a the time they made this. Some teacher had a bright kid and said, "let's see if we can have a computer control all the HVACs.
      They had an Amiga which for the time was a very powerful computer "much more so than an x86 dos box running at best a 286" so they did it.
      I would love to know how they are using radio links for this. DTFM over audio?
      Today if they wanted to roll there own they could use some cheap wifi routers and mayb

  • Emulator (Score:4, Interesting)

    by in10se ( 472253 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @04:35PM (#49900125) Homepage

    If they are only having problems with the hardware, why not just put an Amiga emulator on a new computer?

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      They probably have some custom interface boards "I bet using the printer port"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If they are only having problems with the hardware, why not just put an Amiga emulator on a new computer?

      It doesn't sound like they are really have any real difficulty with the computer.

      FTFA:"Parts for the computer are difficult to find, Hopkins said. It is on its second mouse and third monitor."

      Also FTFA:"Because they share the same frequency as our maintenance communications radios and operations maintenance radios - yes, they do interfere"

      I'm guessing that they could find radios that are on a different frequency for less than 1.5 to 2 million dollars.

      Apparently the student who originally programed it

  • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @04:36PM (#49900143)
    I love that a 30 year old computer is doing the job just fine.

    I love that a kid wrote the code ages ago, and presumably it has never even been patched.

    I love that the Amiga was so damn rock solid that it has not had an emergent failure in 30 years.

    I love that it uses walkie talkie beeps as a protocol

    I love that somehow it is going to cost 2 million dollars to reproduce something a kid did in his spare time, presumably simply for the privilege of getting to play with a $1300 dollar computer.
    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Dabs.com used to run all their systems from a DEC Alpha with software that the owner created.

      When it was time to replace it, they cocked up the site royally for months even with masses of hardware.

      http://www.channelregister.co.... [channelregister.co.uk]

  • Can't these be replaced with $150 multi zone thermostats?

  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @04:48PM (#49900217) Homepage Journal

    My Amiga would crash if I looked at it funny (then again, I had all kinds of things rigged up to it) -- although I remember doing the most amazing crap *ever* on a computer with that old Amiga 1000... Seriously, that was a wonderful, wonderful piece of hardware, and there's never been anything like it, even to this day. Dynamic ramdisk? We still don't have that in any other operating system.

  • When I was going to GRCC (Grand Rapids Community College) in the late-90s I took a tour of the Grand Rapids Wastewater Treatment Plant (GRWWTP). They still used two commodore 64's (or were they 128's) to log sensor measurements for different pollutants. I believe for metals used in the automotive and chrome industry. They were nearly black they were caked with so much dirt and dust, but were still chugging along showing status on the attached TV monitor.

    At the time (in my early 20s) I thought it was silly they were using such old computers. But now I think that as long as it keeps working there is no reason to replace it. When they eventually break they will need to be repaired or replaced, and likely replacement will be cheaper as the support for that platform is long gone. They'll use some fancy embedded computer, and it will chug along for 20 years and by that time, whatever embedded vendor they used is unlikely to assist in any way other than full replacement.

  • by AnalogDiehard ( 199128 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @05:02PM (#49900307)
    Why would it need to be replaced? It doesn't need USB, Bluetooth, Firewire, et al. No compelling reason to replace it.

    My music project studio is running on Windows for Workgroups. All I need is MIDI. I don't need software plugins (I use hardware for that), I don't want it connected to the internet, I don't use it for any sampling or sample playback. And that's a circa 1993 machine that still works.
  • by CWCheese ( 729272 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @05:07PM (#49900341)
    This was posted to the Disqus comments, it appears to be from a man named Jeff who is likely the original programmer. He did post another response that talked about some problems he encountered in recent years testing an emulation solution. Bravo to this man Jeff for sticking by his system for the entire lifecycle.

    When the Amiga system originally went in it was controlling well over 100 buildings throughout the district, including the entire GRCC campus at the time. The Amiga replaced the head-end of the system, which was experiencing expensive hardware failures every year ... and you couldn't get parts for that mini-computer on e-bay. It is essentially acting as a huge database (schedules, configurations, control programs, history, etc.), system manager, and monitoring system ("head-end") for the remaining 19 buildings HVAC systems. If the Amiga goes down, the buildings will continue to operate using the configurations last received, with most of the individual device controls being able to be manually overridden inside each building, albeit with less energy efficiency. What you will loose is the ability to change schedules/custom control code/configurations and the ability to centrally monitor the performance of the buildings.

    Each building has one or more local control systems, and those systems communicate back to the central head-end over radio-modem (there was no district-wide network back then). Schedule and other control changes are sent to the buildings and alerts/reports are sent back. That old equipment in the buildings, even older than the Amiga, is what dictates the radio communications link. They incorporate specific protocols for keying up the radio that are not directly compatible with a newer serial to Ethernet type device that would seem like a logical replacement.

    The control systems themselves gather temperatures, both inside and outside the building, look at trends and do predictive control of the equipment to accomodate scheduled use of various areas of each building. For the day, this was very advanced building control and offered significant energy savings, as well as comfort in the buildings.

    Over time, as buildings have been updated, sold or replaced, the local controls withing those buildings have been replaced with newer/more modern controls that communicate with newer central control systems. Replacing these controls that are local to the buildings is what is responsible for the majority of the cost I would say.

    As far as the Amiga system itself, I believe most of the components are still the original. The hard drive may have failed twice over the years, requiring a rebuild from backups. They did pick up or have donated a few Amiga systems to use as parts as needed, but the system has proven to be very resilient. Obviously, Monitors, Keyboards and Mice can only take so much use without needing to be replaced. Without this, the system likely would have become inoperable and unservicable many years ago, or been incredibly expensive to keep running.

    From a technical stand point, the Amiga was selected because at the time it was the only "Personal Computer" (PC) that had a true pre-emptive multi-taskng operating system. It needed to be able to handle multiple processes simultaneously, including interfacing with the systems, maintaining settings in the database, monitoring the system as well as support for both local and remote access to the system simultaneously. Basically, its capabilities fit the need. While for nostalgia reasons I would hate to see it go, it has been 30 years and I think the system has done its job. Replacing a building's control system doesn't happen overnight, and when you are talking 19 buildings with ancient (yes I am calling myself ancient I guess) control systems, it is going to take money and time. The payback in energy savings, comfort and safe control of the buildings though I think justifies the cost.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cramer ( 69040 )

      TL;DR... the HVAC systems are ancient.

      The $2mil is replacing all that ancient crap, not just what the amiga has been maintaining for decades. I don't want to think what's controlling this place. (it's 30 years old, and the plenum confirms that!)

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @05:09PM (#49900359)

    I still have two Amigas (500 and 1200). IM me and you can have both of them for just $500K - that's a savings of $1M over your upgrade costs! /snark>

  • I've been to bowling alleys that actually had scoreboard displays/backends that ran on Amiga computers. Sadly, they've all dropped them in favor of other systems.
  • by LocalH ( 28506 ) on Friday June 12, 2015 @07:23PM (#49901241) Homepage

    Couldn't take the three additional characters to write "Commodore Amiga"?

    Yes, I know, the Amiga is technically a "PC", but since Commodore did actually release a line of PC clones that were actually branded "Commodore PC", I consider the headline inaccurate.

Genetics explains why you look like your father, and if you don't, why you should.

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