The JCI Metasys programming, configuration, and commissioning utilities were written for 32-bit computers and have not been updated by the manufacturer to support current technology 64-bit PCs. This creates challenges for S4 partners who are maintaining the still huge installed base of legacy Metasys® N2 devices.
M-Tools is mandatory for anyone integrating to, or supporting, an installation of N2 devices. See https://www.thes4group.com/store/products/johnson-controls-metasys-m-tools.
The M-Tools utilities can only utilize COM1 or COM2 ports.
The N2 drivers in the M-Tools utilities are somewhat fragile and will occasionally hang, requiring a restart of at least the OS to restore operation. This is not unique to the described configuration. We have observed this behavior on dedicated 32-bit computers.
Many of our partners have kept older Windows laptops in service to host the M-Tools utilities. As these systems eventually fail, an alternative approach to hosting M-Tools is needed. The approach that we see as being most viable is running M-Tools under a 32-bit OS on a virtual machine. You may choose other similar technologies, but this is what we found works successfully for us here at S4.
Assumption: The target machine is a 64-bit hardware architecture and is running Windows 10 or later.
Step 1: Install VMWare Workstation Pro (or equivalent) on your current generation PC, laptop, or server.
Step 2: Install Windows 10 32-bit OS as the guest OS under VMWare.
Step 3: Adjust COM port settings on the Host OS so that the COM port that you want to use is not being used by any host OS applications. This may be a physical COM port or more likely a USB to RS-485 adapter.
Step 4: Set up COM1 or COM2 in VMWare for the guest OS and map it to the COM port of the host machine.
Step 5: Install M-Tools under the guest OS. The tools most frequently used are HVAC Pro and GX-9100. There are other useful tools in the package that are needed less frequently so please explore what you need to support your customer’s N2 environment.
Step 6: Most current generation laptops do not have physical COM ports. S4 can provide the S Squared S2USB485 device and N2 bus diagnostic tools. See https://www.thes4group.com/store/products/s2usb485. Install the drivers and diagnostic tools on the guest OS. Use the diagnostic tools downloadable from the S Squared web site to confirm proper installation of the S2USB485 and its drivers.
Step 7: Launch the desired M-Tools utility and configure it to use COM1 or COM2.
Now, you have the Metasys® N2 programming, configuration, and commissioning tools available on your primary laptop whenever you need them.