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      APC Back-UPS CS 350 Review

     
     
     Date: October 6th, 2001
     Type: Review
     Supplier: APC
     Author: mayhem
     RRP: $221 AUS ($315 AUS for Back-UPS CS 500 model)

    In the fastly growing Information Technology (IT) Industry there becoming a more evident risk to businesses and even home users, everyone is trying to sure that systems are always working, part of this is protecting your system from malicious hackers, and also comes around to ensuring your systems keep the best possible uptime they can possibly by providing an alternative power source when black outs strike, this is where APC have made there mark in the industry. APC is a world leader in providing UPS solutions, but they also provide a large selection of other products.

    The Backup-UPS CS 350VA is one of the latest in APC's line of UPS solutions, for those of you who are unsure a UPS is a Un-Interruptable Power Supply unit that will provide power to system

    Product Overview
    Description APC Back-UPS, 350VA/210W, Input 230V/ Output 230V, Interface Port USB
    General Features Addl Surge Protected Outlets , Audible Alarms , Auto Diagnostic Testing , Hot Swap Batteries , Internet FAX - modem - DSL protection , Lightning and Surge Protection , Modem Protection , Software , Status Indicator LED's , Unattended Shutdown , User Replaceable batteries , USB compatible
    Includes CD with software , User Manual , USB cable
    Documentation User Manual (download English version direct here)
    Technical Specifications
    Output  
    Output power capacity 350 VA
    Output power capacity 210 Watts
    Nominal output voltage 230 V
    Waveform type Stepped approximation to a sinewave
    Output Connections (3)IEC 320 C13 (1)IEC 320 C13 (Surge) (2)IEC Jumpers
    Input  
    Nominal input voltage 230 V
    Input frequency 50/60 Hz +/- 5 Hz (manual switch)
    Input Connection Type IEC-320-C14 inlet
    Input voltage range for main operations 196 - 280 V
    Batteries  
    Typical backup time at half load 22.2 minutes
    Battery type Maintenance-free sealed Lead-Acid battery with suspended electrolyte : leakproof
    Typical recharge time ** 6 hour(s)
    Replacement battery cartridge (1) RBC2
    For full product specifications then please visit the APC information page for the Back-UPS CS 350.

    The unit itself is is only 9cm x 16cm x 28 cm (height x width x depth - approximate size) which is rather nice and small and you can put it just about anywhere around your machine. Along with the battery backup the unit also allows for surge protection for your computer including RJ11 Modem/Fax/DSL (two wire single line) protection.

    Along with the functionality the unit has a nice stylish design, the beige colour fits in with most computers and desks and the curvy case make it appealing to look at.

    Setting Up The Unit
    Firstly you will need to un-pack all the parts of the product that you got in your delivery, you should have:

    1 x UPS
    2 x Power Cable (UPS to device)
    1 x USB Cable
    1 x Software CD
    1 x Telephone line

    The unit comes with the USB cable, but if you fill out the form that comes with the UPS and send it to APC they will send you a CD and a Serial Port cable that you can use on an older machine or under Linux.

    When firstly setting the unit it will need about 6 hours of charging before it can be fully functional, basically you will need to plug it into a decent power source and then plug your computer (client or server machine - we used our client machine here). Below you can see how small the unit is in comparison to a section of a ATX Full Tower case (you could fit almost eight of these into the case).

    Installing The Software
    Although the software that comes with the unit only supports Win32 (i.e. Win9x/Me/2k) and Mac machines you can still use the UPS for a Linux machine, what you will need to do is send away for the above mentioned Serial cable and download the software (PowerChute Plus) for your specific distribution. You will find all the software for APC products available on their download page. Alternatively choose your distro: Red Hat 6.x, Red Hat 7.1, Caldera 2.3, SuSe 7.0 and TurboLinux 6.0.

    Windows (Win2k):
    When you put the CD into your drive it should autorun the Installation Wizard which will simply install the appropriate power settings onto your computer. As well as the installation software you will also find a User Manual for the product.

    Additionally you can install the second CD if you requested the Serial cable, this is also rather straight forward and similar to the previous. It should autorun the Installation Wizard when you put the CD into your drive, just select your Operating System and then PowerChute Plus. When the installation is complete all you need to do is select the model of UPS that you have and the com port that it is connected through, then you can select whether or not you want to use Remote Monitoring (it is recommended that you use this feature).

    Linux (Red Hat 6.x):
    You can download PowerChute Plus in either a tarball or rpm format. The best way to install the program is by using the rpm, this can be installed by typing rpm -ivh PowerChutePlus-4.5.2.1-1.i386.rpm, once this is done it will ask you to run /usr/lib/powerchute/Config.sh, this will then prompt your for the following information.

    • What UPS model you have.
    • If you have TCP/IP installed.
    • The colour scheme you want to use.
    • The serial port that you wish to use for the UPS.
    • Do you want to execute commands with root privileges.
    • Do you want to send e-mail as root.
    • Confirm the above information. (It will then check it can communicate with the UPS).
    • The password you want to use for the pwrchute user it creates.

    A good idea for the communications port is to make a symbolic link, e.g. ln -s /dev/ttyS1 /dev/ups, this makes it alot easier to use. It may also be necessary for you to make adjustments to your configuration so that the software can correctly communicate with the UPS.

    Tarball Download: ftp://ftp.apcftp.com/software/unix/linux/pcplus/4521/pc4521_glibc.tar
    RPM Download: ftp://ftp.apcftp.com/software/unix/linux/pcplus/4521/PowerChutePlus-4.5.2.1-1.i386.rpm
    Installation Guide: ftp://ftp.apcftp.com/software/unix/linux/pcplus/4521/install.txt
    User Manual: ftp://ftp.apcftp.com/software/unix/linux/pcplus/4521/pclinxug.pdf

    Setting Up the UPS
    Now that you have the software installed shutdown your computer, when its all powered off you want to connect the power lead to the UPS and then connect the leads to the back of your Machine, you will notice that the unit has quite a number of power connections available but you must remember that it has a power rating of 210 Watt Output so you don't want to connect too many things to it (for this review a Pentium II 450 system running Win2k and a 17" monitor was connected to the UPS), luckily the UPS has an "Overload" light, this is will light up to tell you that you are running too many devices through the unit.

    When all the cable are connected (everything except the USB cable) then turn on the UPS with the button on the front of the unit, it will make some clicking noises (don't worry this is the machine turning on). When this is done you can power up your machine, if all has gone well then you should only have the top "On Line" light on the UPS.

    Once your machine is fully running then plug the USB cable (note this is optional and you don't have to use it, especially if you are using Linux as there is no supporting software), with any luck your machine should successfully detect the UPS and install the correct drivers for it.

    You should also notice this icon, , in your taskbar, this is the "Power Options" for your computer, if you double click on the icon is will bring up something like the following screen:

    This information tells you that the machine is running on the newly setup APC USB UPS scheme which will be using the listed settings, this is how the machine will shutdown (standby / hibernate) when the UPS battery runs low.

    This next tab shows when the machine will alert you of a Low Battery and also Critical Battery power.

    The following tab tells you how much power the battery in the UPS has, as usual 100% means that the battery is full, as you can see above the unit is charging itself.

    Basically you have finished setting up the UPS and your system is pretty safe from short power outages, you can change the setting if you want to adjust the times at which the unit will warn you, shutdown etc., we recommend that you don't change the settings to far from what they are as your system might not shutdown in time, the best way to adjust these settings is to test the unit (see next section) to see how long it runs on the load that you have placed on it.

    On top of the three battery backup plugs there is an additional fourth plug that provides surge protection only, this is good for a device that you want to protect in case of a power spike but don't really need if the power goes out.

    NEXT: Testing and conclusion

     

      Supplier Information

     

    APC (American Power Conversion) Australia provide a large range of products from small UPS and surge protection equipment for home/office use to large scale UPS and other equipment for computer equipment protection. If you would like more information about products from APC then please visit there site: http://www.apcc.com/au/.

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