General Sensor Questions

AquiStar Smart Sensor Questions

VZCOM Modem Questions

General Sensor Questions

What are PSIA (absolute), PSIG (gauge), and PSIS (sealed gauge) pressure sensors and how do they differ?

PSIA (absolute) sensors measure the depth plus the atmospheric pressure. This atmospheric pressure must be subtracted from the absolute pressure to give the actual pressure due to depth. For information on using the Barometric Compensation utility to perform these calculations, refer to the Barometric Compensation Utility application note. In addition, the AquiStar Compensator obtains readings from several down-hole sensors, automatically applying barometric compensation.

INW’s PSIG (gauge) sensors utilize a vent tube in the cable to allow the device to reference atmospheric pressure. The resulting gauge pressure measurement reflects only the depth of submergence.

INW also offers a PSIS (sealed gauge) pressure sensor. This is an absolute sensor to which 14.7 PSI offset has been included to account for air pressure. Thus the measurements reflect only the pressure due to depth, when assuming a standard barometric pressure of 14.7 PSI. Measurements with this sensor will vary slightly due to barometric and weather changes.

What is the desiccant tube and what do I do with it?

The desiccant tube prevents moisture in the air from being sucked into the vent tube, which can cause erratic readings and sensor damage. Install the sensor so that the desiccant tube will not flood or lie in water.

The desiccant is a bright blue color when active and dry. As moisture is absorbed the color will begin to fade becoming light pink, indicating full saturation and time to replace. The life of the desiccant varies depending on the environment in which it is installed. The damper the environment or the higher the humidity, the more often the desiccant will need to be replaced. Inspect the desiccant every few weeks, until you know how it responds in your particular environment. Replacement desiccant tubes and desiccant refill bottles can be purchased from your INW or Seametrics sales representative.

I’m getting erratic readings from my sensor.

Erratic readings can be caused by a poor connection, damaged cable, moisture in the unit, or a damaged sensor. In most cases, erratic readings are due to moisture getting into the system. First check the connection. Look for moisture between contacts or a loose or broken wire. Next, check the cable for cracking or fraying. If the connections and cable appear okay, but the readings are still erratic, the sensor may be damaged. Contact INW/Seametrics for evaluation and repair.

Erratic and erroneous readings can also occur due to improper grounding. See the Grounding Issues application note.

Pressure readings are oscillating over time.

If, after time, your sensor is functioning normally but your data is showing a cyclic effect in the absence of water level changes, you are probably seeing barometric changes. The amount is usually 0.5 to 1.5 feet of water. This can be caused by actual water level changes in the aquifer in response to barometric pressure changes. This effect can occur in tight formations where the sensor will immediately pick up barometric changes but the aquifer will not. If you think you are having this type of problem you will have to record the barometric pressure, as well as the water level pressure and compensate the data.

This can also be caused by a plugged vent tube in the cable. If a desiccant tube is not installed or if the desiccant is fully saturated, water may have condensed in your vent tube causing it to plug. If it appears that the vent tube is plugged, consult your INW/Seametrics service technician.

My pressure readings are zero.

Continuous zero readings are usually caused by an open circuit, which may indicate a broken cable, a bad connection, or possibly a damaged sensor. Check the connector to see if a wire has become loose or if the cable has been cut. If damage is not readily apparent, contact INW/Seametrics support for evaluation and repair.
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AquiStar Smart Sensor Questions

What is the difference between Aqua4Plus and Aqua4Plus Lite?

Aqua4Plus is a comprehensive control program for all current INW Smart Sensors. Use it to view sensor status, monitor real time data, set control features on the sensors, as well as retrieve and view collected data.

For those users with only PT2X, PT2X-BV, CT2X, and TempHion sensors, Aqua4Plus Lite offers a simpler interface with all the major functionality of the standard Aqua4Plus, making it an ideal choice for most users.

Will Aqua4Plus work on Windows 8?

Yes, Aqua4Plus and Aqua4Plus Lite both run on Windows XP (SP3), Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1.

How can I get the most current software for my AquiStar Smart Sensor?

The most current releases of Aqua4Plus and Aqua4Plus Lite can be downloaded from our Software Download page.

Can I read my AquiStar Smart Sensor without the Aqua4Plus or Aqua4Plus Lite software?

Yes. AquiStar Smart Sensors can be read by most Modbus® equipment, directly returning measurement readings, without any further math on the part of the host system. See the Modbus Direct Read application note for details.

Can I read my AquiStar Smart Sensor with a Campbell logger?

Yes, Refer to the Reading AquiStar Smart Sensors with Campbell Loggers application note.

I can’t communicate with my AquiStar Smart Sensor.

Connect your sensor to a USB port on the computer as shown in the diagram below.










(If you are using Aqua4Plus and want to use an RS232/serial port, see connection options under Alternate Connection Options in the Aqua4Plus Instruction Manual.)

Make sure all cable connections are secure.

Be sure to use Aqua4Plus version 1.9.2 or higher or Aqua4Plus Lite. The newest versions are available on our Software Download page.

If using Aqua4Plus, select USB in the drop-down box on the main window in Aqua4Plus. (Aqua4Plus Lite automatically uses the USB connection.)





Be sure you have installed the USB driver.

  • Most Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers will automatically go to the Internet and download the proper drivers.
  • If you have Windows XP, do not have Internet connectivity, or do not want to access the drivers via the Internet, you can install the drivers directly from Aqua4Plus. From the Utilities menu, Advanced options, select “Install USB/RS485 Drivers.” Select your operating system, and then click Install. After installation do the following: (1) If the cable was plugged in during installation, unplug it and plug it back in. (2) Close and reopen Aqua4Plus.
  • Alternately, you can download the drivers from our Software Download page. A copy is also provided on the USB stick or CD that came with your communication packet.
  • See the INW application note USB/RS485 Communication Cable Installation Instructions  for more detailed information.

I have followed the above instructions, but I still do not see USB in the drop-down box on the main window in Aqua4Plus, or Aqua4Plus Lite is saying that no USB ports can be found.
  • Click the Start Button on your computer.
  • Right-click on “Computer.”
  • Click on “Manage.”
  • In the left pane, click on “Device Manager.”
  • You may need to update the first driver: In the right panel, under “Other Devices,” you may see a yellow exclamation point next to INW USB Comm. Right-click on this and then select Update Driver Software. This will update the first set of drivers. You should get a message saying that the USB Serial Converter has been installed. Close this window.
  • Now you may need to update the second driver: In the right panel, under “Other Devices,” you may see a yellow exclamation point next to USB Serial Port. Right-click on this and then select Update Driver Software. This will update the second set of drivers. You should get a message saying that the USB Serial Port has been installed. Close this window.
  • Restart Aqua4Plus or Aqua4Plus Lite.
  • See the INW application note USB/RS485 Communication Cable Installation Instructions  for more detailed information.

 My PT2X or CT2X measures pressure in PSI. How can I change this to feet of water or other units?

In Aqua4Plus, click on the Options menu and then select Display Units. In Aqua4Plus Lite, click on the Configure menu, select Program Configuration, and then select Set Computer Display Units. Use this to select the units in which to display your data. This will control how data is represented on the Real Time Monitor, the File Display Window, the Graph Window, and for exported data.

I want to use my PT2X or CT2X to measure depth-to-water, water elevation, or a staff gauge equivalent. How do I do this?

Select Settings and Calibration from the Configure menu in Aqua4Plus or click the Settings button in Aqua4Plus Lite. Click on the Pressure channel, if it isn’t already highlighted. From the drop-down box just below the channel list, select the type of measurement you want – submergence, depth-to-water, elevation, or staff gauge. A diagram will be displayed illustrating the type of measurement. Follow the step-by-step instructions on the Settings and Calibration page to complete the setup. If using an absolute sensor, you will need to know the current barometric pressure. For depth-to-water and elevation, you will need an alternate water level indicator to find the current depth-to-water. For elevation, you will also need to know the elevation of the top of the well and for staff gauge equivalent, you will need to know the current staff gauge measurement. Enter these values in the specified entry boxes. Not math is required.
For further details, refer to the technical bulletin “Configuring INW Smart Sensors for Depth-to-Water, Elevation, or Staff Gauge.”

NOTE: For Depth-to-Water on CABLELESS PT2X or LevelSCOUT, see the technical bulletin “Barometric Compensation with Optional Depth-to-Water Setting.”  (For Aqua4Plus versions prior to 1.9.10 or Aqua4Plus Lite versions prior to 2.1.4, see the technical bulletin “Compensating INW Absolute Sensor Readings on Cableless Sensors.”

How do I change the batteries in my AquiStar Smart Sensor?

Most battery operated AquiStar Smart Sensors use two standard AA batteries. To change batteries, the housing for the sensor must be opened. Because there is sensitive electronic circuitry inside the housing, battery changing must be done in a clean, dry environment to avoid contamination or moisture damage to the circuitry.

For details on changing batteries in these sensors, refer to the Changing Batteries in AquiStar Smart Sensors application note.


Can I run my AquiStar Smart Sensor on auxiliary power?

Most AquiStar Smart Sensors come with two AA internal batteries. If auxiliary power is desired, you can use a 6 – 15 VDC supply that can provide 15 mA. Connect to Vaux++ (pin 1 – white) and Ground (pin 5 – blue) or contact INW/Seametrics for auxiliary power supplies.

Why do the values in the calibration boxes change the digits after the decimal point into zeros?

Window’s regional settings control whether a comma or a period is used as a decimal symbol. In the United States, a period is used, for example, 12.458. In some countries, a comma is used, for example, 12,458. If your computer is set to use the comma, then the calibration fields in Aqua4Plus will truncate anything after the comma. To work around this, you will need to change the Decimal symbol and Digit grouping symbol setting in Windows. You should only have to do this during calibration and can change back to your normal settings after calibration is complete.

To change these settings:

  • Access the Regional and Language settings from Control Panel.
  • On Windows 7, click the Additional Settings button; on XP, click the Customize button.
  • Click the Numbers tab.
  • Change the settings and click Apply


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VZCOM (no longer available) Modem Questions-


Why is grounding important?

Grounding does two things. First it protects equipment and personnel from high power spikes. Without a proper grounding system, a power spike will find the path of least resistance to earth ground, whether that path is through sensitive electronic equipment or the person operating that equipment.

Second, it improves measurement accuracy by eliminating ground loops. When using several pieces of interconnected equipment, each of which may have its own ground, problems with noise, signal interference, and erroneous readings may be noted.

See the Installation section in the VZCOM Instruction Manual for detailed grounding instructions.

How do I connect more than one sensor to a VZCOM modem?

To connect more than one sensor you will need either a T-Adapter or a junction box. Both are available from your INW/Seametrics sales representative. Contact your sales representative for details.

Since I am using my VZCOM with myINWdata.com, why do I need Aqua4Plus?

Before connecting to the VZCOM, AquiStar Smart Sensors must be configured for their Sensor Modbus address and reporting units, if other than default units. This is done using Aqua4Plus or Aqua4Plus Lite. See details in the VZCOM Instruction Manual.


Diagnostic Lights

What is the blinking light seen through the lens on top of the VZCOM?

The VZCOM is equipped with diagnostic lights to help in trouble-shooting. These lights can be seen through the lens on top of the unit.








Test Button

What is the purpose of the test button?

The test button on the VZCOM is designed to provide the VZCOM installer with information critical to deciding whether it is okay to leave the site. This button will provide a technician with most of the information to decide whether the installation has been a success or not.

If you press the test button on the top of the VZCOM, the following will happen:

  • A reading will be taken from all sensors currently in the modem’s program.
  • The network will be contacted, the data just collected uploaded, and any new configurations downloaded to the modem. If so configured, the server will also send an email or text message with this information.
Why is the test button not responding?

Watch the diagnostic light on the top of the modem when you press the test button. You should see the orange light blinking shortly after pressing the button. This indicates that the modem is attempting to read the sensors. If you do not see this light:

  • Check the myINWdata.com server to be sure you have a data collection program active.
  • Contact INW/Seametrics support, as there may be a wiring issue with your modem.

Is the status being updated on myINWdata.com?

  • If you have access to myINWdata.com, check the Status Tab. You should see a new status line appear within a couple minutes after pressing the test button.
  • If you do not see a new status line, the modem is not successfully calling in to the server. See more details below under Calling in to the Server.

Are you set up to receive SMS/Text or email messages?

  • In order to receive messages from a test button activation, you must be a user assigned to the same company as the modem and you must have set your Contact Settings for Hardware Alerts to either one of  your email addresses or your mobile phone. See Configuring Users in the Installation section of the VZCOM Instruction Manual.
  • If you are set up to receive email messages but are in a fringe reception area, try setting to receive SMS/Text messages, instead. In some areas text messages get through even when emails may not.
I updated my data collection program on the server and then pressed the test button. Why are the readings in my message those from a previous program?

When you press the test button, the modem reads any sensors in its current program, uploads that data, and then picks up any new program from the server. In order to get readings that reflect the new program, you must press the test button again.

See also the Testing section in the VZCOM Instruction Manual.

Calling in to the Server

How do I know if my modem has been calling in to the server?

Check the Status Tab on myINWdata.com. There will be a status line with a date/time stamp for each time the modem has called in to the server.

Why is my modem not calling in to the server?

There can be several reasons why a modem is not connecting to the server.

  • You may not have a call in schedule properly configured. Check the Call-in Schedule Tab on myINWdata.com.
  • You may be in an area of poor reception. If the modem has previously been calling in but has now stopped, check the CSQ (signal strength) column on the Status Tab on myINWdata.com. If you see messages with only one bar, you may be on a fringe area. If you are in a fringe area:
    — Mount the modem higher to get better reception.
    — Consider getting a higher gain antenna. Your INW/Seametrics sales representative can help you select one.
    — If you have a high gain directional antenna, be sure it is properly oriented towards the cell tower.
  • Your battery may be dead. See the Internal Battery section below.
During the week I want my modem to call in every few hours, but on the weekend to only call in once a day. How do I schedule the modem to do this?

Use the Call-in Schedule tab to schedule various different call in times and frequencies. See Adding and Editing Call-in Schedules in the Operation section of the VZCOM Instruction Manual.




Reading Sensors

My modem is calling in to the server, so why am I not getting any data?
  • On the Call-in Schedule tab be sure you have selected “Report” and not “Check-in” for the action type.
  • Be sure the address assigned to your sensor on the Sensors tab is the same as the address actually on the sensor.
  • Be sure you do not have more than one sensor on the same address.
  • Be sure you have a data collection program defined on the Data Collection tab.
  • In the lower panel on the Data Collection tab, be sure it does not say N/A in the Device column. If it does, this means that the sensor configuration has changed since the data collection program was created and you need to reset the program. See Warning in Adding, Editing, and Deleting Sensors in the Operation section of the VZCOM Instruction Manual.
  • Be sure the sensor(s) whose data you want to record are shown in the lower panel on the Data Collection tab. If the column is blank or says only “Modem,” you will need to modify the program to include your sensor(s). When defining your data collection program, select the sensor for an activity from the second drop-down box, labeled “On Sensor.”
  • Check the cable connections to be sure there are no loose cables or wires.
  • Remove the sensor from the modem and connect to a computer running Aqua4Plus to be sure that you can read the sensor. (Note: if you are using PT12’s, they cannot be read by Aqua4Plus. Contact INW/Seametrics support.) If you cannot read the sensor and it has internal batteries, replace the batteries with fresh batteries. See your particular sensor manual for details on changing batteries. If you still cannot read the sensor, contact your INW/Seametrics representative for further help.

Reporting Data

The data is displaying with the newest data at the top. Can I display the data with the oldest data at the top?

Yes. If you click on the “Reading Date” column header, the display order will reverse.

Can I export my data to Excel or other programs?

It is very easy to export your data in a comma separated values format (.csv). This format is easily read by Excel and a host of other programs. Export your data by clicking on the export button on the right side of the navigation bar on the Reports tab. This exports the data in the currently selected date/time range.

How do I see my data as a graph?

Switch between viewing your data in a table and as a graph by clicking the table and graph buttons on the navigation bar. For more powerful graphing options, click the DataSight button at the top right of the window.

Can I see my data from a couple months ago? The History drop-down box only allows for up to 30 days.

Yes. First select how much data you want to view, up to 30 days worth. Next select the ending date and time for the data you want to view. Finally, click the search button on the navigation bar. For more details, see Understanding Reports in the Operation section of the VZCOM Instruction Manual. (Note: myINWdata.com only retains data for six months. If you need data prior to that time, click on the DataSight button.)

Why is my data displaying on a separate report line for each sensor I am reading, even though they were to be read at the same time?

If you are displaying more than one sensor, the data for each sensor will appear on a separate line with its own date/time stamp. When taking readings from several sensors, the modem will read each sensor in turn. It may take a few seconds to read a particular sensor, so the time stamp may be slightly different for each sensor.

Why do my data values appear in the wrong units? The header column says Degree F, but the values appear to be in Celsius.

The units for the actual values must be set on the sensor using Aqua4Plus from the Configure Menu, Advanced | Direct Read Units, or if using Aqua4Plus Lite, from the Configure Menu | Set Direct Read Units. You must then select the same units when setting up your sensor in myINWdata.com. The units selected in myINWdata.com are for column labeling purposes only and must be the same as those actually set on the sensor. For further details, see Set Reporting Units under Configuring Sensors with Aqua4Plus in the Installation section of the VZCOM Instruction Manual. (If you are using a PT12, contact INW/Seametrics support for information on units.)

Why did a new column start in the report for the same sensor?

Whenever you make a change to a sensor, the data for that sensor will be reported in new columns thereafter. When you change a sensor, the modem and server have no way of telling if this is a different sensor or a different configuration of the same sensor. In order to correctly process the data it receives from the modem, the server treats the changed sensor as a new sensor, thus the new columns in the report.

Why is some data being reported more than once?

This can occasionally happen if the modem successfully uploads its data to the server but does not get an acknowledgement from the server. To prevent loss of data, the modem keeps the data and tries again later, only deleting the data from the modem once the server has acknowledged that it has received it.

Internal Battery

How do I tell if my battery is charging?

On the Status Tab there are two columns relating to battery power, VBat and VCom.

  • If VBat and VCom show about the same voltage, it is not charging. Note that on a cloudy, dark day, the charger may not be charging due to lack of sunlight.
  • If VCom is significantly higher than VBat (typically at least two to three volts higher), it is charging.
  • If VCom toggles between being similar to VBat and being higher, it is trickle charging.
What voltage is normal on the internal battery?

For a fully charged battery, VBat will read between 11 and 13 VDC.

What if my battery does not appear to be charging?
  • The power switch on the bottom of the modem must be set to “ON” in order for the internal battery to charge.
  • Check your power cable connections.
  • If you are charging your battery with a solar panel be sure the solar panel is located so as to receive an adequate amount of sunshine. On dark, cloudy days, the solar panel may not supply enough voltage to charge the battery. If this is the case, contact your INW/Seametrics representative for alternatives.
  • If you are charging your battery with an external battery pack, be sure that pack has not gone dead.
I am running my modem on just the internal battery. Why did it die after a few days?

Many factors affect how long the internal battery will run, including how often it is collecting data, how often it is calling the server, how much power the connected sensors use, if powered by the modem, and how high a charge the battery had when deployed.

For longest battery life, if you will be deploying your modem without a solar panel or other charging device in the field, be sure to fully charge the battery before deploying. Connect the 110V power adapter cable to the power connection on the modem. (See diagram in the Mounting section in the VZCOM Instruction Manual.) Plug the adapter into a wall outlet and let charge overnight. Important: the power switch on the bottom of the modem must be set to “ON” in order for the internal battery to charge.

Check the Info tab, under the Modem tab, and see if “Retry Delay on Fail” is set to zero. If not, you may want to contact INW/Seametrics to reset this for battery conservation.

I need to ship or transport my modem via airplane. Is there anything special I need to do?

You must be sure the internal battery is turned off. Do this by setting the power switch on the bottom of the modem to the “OFF” position.

Can I replace the internal battery?

No. There are no user-serviceable parts inside the modem case. If you need a new battery, contact INW/Seametrics support.


Limits, Alarms, and Notifications


The Alarming and Notifications section in this manual has in-depth information on configuring alarms.

Why am I not receiving alarm messages from my modems?
  • Be sure your user profile is configured to receive Limit Alarms.
  • Be sure limits have been correctly set on your sensor(s).
  • If any of your modems have been assigned to a client under your company, you must have a user account under that client in order to receive alarm messages from any modems assigned to that client. For more details, see the Domain Management section of the VZCOM Instruction Manual.
I am only interested in “High” warnings and alarms, no “Low” warnings and alarms. How do I set this?

If you are only interested in High levels, be sure to set the Low warning and alarm levels to something lower than your sensor will ever read. Likewise, if you are only interested in Low levels, but sure to set the High levels to something higher than your sensor will ever read.

A limit was exceeded at 2:00 am. Why was I not notified until 8:00 am?

The server only examines the readings when a modem calls in to report. For example, if you had an out-of-limit reading at 2:00 am but your modem only calls in at 8:00 am and 8:00 pm, you will not be notified until 8:00 am.


Why is my modem not showing up on View Map?

The View Map option on the Modem Info tab is designed to show a map of the area surrounding your modem,which is marked with a pin. In order for the map to know a location for your modem, you must have the latitude and longitude entered into the modem information fields. See Editing Modem Information in the Domain Management section of the VZCOM Instruction Manual. You must have Domain Admin or Modem Management permissions to change modem information.

Is there a way to see modems assigned to a client under my company? I need access in order to support my client.

Yes, there are two ways to do this.

  • If you have Domain Admin permissions for your company, you will be able to see and manage all modems under any of your company’s clients. See the Domain Management section in the VZCOM Instruction Manual.
  • You can create a new user for yourself under the client company.
I am not a Domain Admin but I need to manage users under my company?

Your Domain Admin can give you an add-on permission to manage users under your company. See the Domain Management section in the VZCOM Instruction Manual.

Can I give access to my modem to someone else?

Any user with Domain Admin or Manage Users permissions can add new users.

What do the flags mean on the Status tab?

Most common flags are:

P – There was a power cycle.

B – Low battery. If the battery is low, the line will also be highlighted in pink.

R – A Report is ready to upload and will upload momentarily.

A – The modem has an active data collection program.

C – Modem is checking in. If there have been changes to that modem’s configuration on the
server, it will be downloaded at this time.

Can I access my modem from an iPad?

Not at this time. The server interface requires a browser that is Flash enabled and iOS does not support Flash.

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