Startup guide for the MAC36NL

Written by admin

24 July 2021

Connecting and configuring the device

1) Power supply

You can use 20Vac to 28Vac or 20Vdc to 28Vdc

The power required depends on whether you are powering in AC (24VA) or DC (14W).

A dedicated UL listed, Class 2, 24Vac transformer/24Vdc power supply with 1 amp capacity for each MAC36NL is recommended.

Compared to other iSMA devices, the MAC36NL CANNOT be powered from the USB mini port situated behind the front panel. This port can only be used for “console” connection (see point 10))


IMPORTANT! When powering up a MAC36NL for the first time, a binding procedure starts between the MAC36NL and the SD card installed on it (takes at least a couple of minutes). Removing the power supply early and disrupting this binding process might cause the MAC36NL to not start the platform properly anymore (in most cases this will be shown by the RUN led staying fixed ON).

If you accidentally happen to get into this situation, it is possible to re-flash the SD card to its factory state by using a micro SD card reader and the software and SD image available at our downloads section.


2) IP port

The IP port uses a standard RJ45 connection.

By default, the MAC36NL is shipped with only Ethernet port 1 enabled with IP address and subnet mask


3) RS485

The RS485 port on board of the MAC36NL (COM1, and COM2 if you have the dual-port version) are optoisolated, like on a Jace.

Use shielded, twisted-pair, 18-22 AWG cabling. Connect shield wire to earth ground at one end only.

Remember that if you are connecting with other devices that are NOT optoisolated you will need to use a different cable and wiring method! 

 Also, check how biasing and termination is achieved on the MAC36NL and other controllers

4) Prepare your Niagara Workbench to work with the iSMA MAC36NL

This Niagara 4 controller is not manufactured by Tridium and it needs its specific DIST files installed on the Workbench to be commissioned properly.

Failing to do so will result in not being able to commission the MAC36NL later.

Note: not all versions of Niagara 4 is compatible with the MAC36NL. Check if a dist file exists for the version you want to use to verify compatibility at point 6).


5) Connect using Niagara to a new MAC36NL

A comprehensive “manual” is available on our support website.

Chapter 3.4, “First login to the controller platform in Workplace”.


Set your PC IP address to anything between and (except any already used address, like the default one of the MAC36NL).

Select File > Open > Open Platform and use the NON-TLS (unsecured) connection. This is required only for the first connection

Use the default MAC36NL IP to connect

The platform default username is tridium, password niagara

On the first connection, you will be required to set a platform user and password.


6) Commission the MAC36NL

The Niagara versions that this controller is compatible with are:

  • Niagara 4.4.73
  • Niagara
  • Niagara
  • Niagara
  • Niagara (Use the installer v1.4)
  • Niagara
  • Niagara


First of all, you will need to make sure that you have the distribution files installed in the Workplace. 

Right-click on the connected platform and start the Commissioning Wizard process.

Remember a few things here:

  • the MAC36NL will get the core distribution file installed of the version of Niagara used for commissioning. This can be modified later if required.

Note: The 4.8 needs a Clean controller before upgrading from older versions. You will need to install the CleanDist file through Distribution File Installer found under the controller’s platform.

  • the licenses of the MAC36NL can be installed automatically from the licensing server if the PC commissioning is connected to the internet. If the internet is not available, license files can be downloaded separately and installed during commissioning (your supplier should have sent you the files already via email when you ordered the MAC36NL)
  • the Niagara modules installed on commissioning will also be the ones of the Niagara version used while commissioning. These can be modified later if required

Remember also that the MAC36NL license comes with an “up to” specific version of Niagara 4. An ongoing valid SMA (Service Maintenance Agreement) on the Tridium License unlocks it with the possibility to upgrade to any newer versions of Niagara.


7) Restore a MAC36NL to factory default

Refer back to the “manual” mentioned on point 5) 

Chapter 3.9, “Restore controller to the factory default”.


To restore the MAC36NL to the factory default you can just use the dip-switches in front of the controller, under the front panel (remove carefully using a small flat screwdriver):

  • Power OFF the MAC36NL completely
  • Pull up switch 6 in the S3 dip-switch to the ON position (up)
  • Power up the MAC36NL
  • The controller “Alarm” LED starts flashing quickly
  • Pull the switch 6 in the S3 dip-switch to the OFF position (down) to start the procedure of restoring the factory values
  • Once the restoring process is terminated, the system starts the platform without needing to reboot the MAC36NL (“Run” LED fast flashing)
A complete restore to the factory when the platform is having problems running can be achieved by re-flashing the SD card, using a micro SD card reader and the files available at the download page. 

8) Using the Local IO

The MAC36NL controller comes with 36 onboard I/O points available, with a mix of analog and digital Inputs/Outputs.

A comprehensive knowledge base article explains all the details about the Local IO with links to the manual and files.


9) Using the HDMI port to connect a screen

Refer back to the “manual” mentioned on point 5) 

Chapter 3.11, ” HDMI Connection”.


The MAC36NL allows connecting a touch screen directly to the controller without using the IP network. This is usually a cheaper and more direct solution to get graphics directly from a controller to a screen, but it should be used only for basic visualizations without too many complications, pages, and ramifications, like a device display for example. This is due to the restricted graphic processing power embedded in the controller.

Consider the following highlights:

  • A local HDMI display should be used for basic “device” graphical pages
  • Connect both the HDMI and the USB cables for the touch screen to work
  • Prepare your MAC36NL with the iSMA_HDMI module installed so it will be possible to use it on your station
  • Enable the HTTP web port
  • Use the “Handheld” profile on the User settings for the local display user
  • Pop-up windows are not supported 

10) Connecting a PC over USB (shell)

Refer back to the “manual” mentioned on point 5) 

Chapter 3.6, ” Connection to the console”.


The USB mini port in front of the MAC36NL is used to access it using the System Shell.

The cable required is a USB mini to USB A.

The software required on your PC is a terminal emulation program, like PuTTY (available in our downloads section)

Connection settings are:

  • Connection type: Serial
  • Speed (baud): 115200
  • Data bits: 8
  • Stop bits: 1
  • Parity: None
  • Flow control: None

Use platform credential to log in.


Additional information

This guide applies to the following products




Where to find the documentation about this product

Data sheets, manuals, installation manuals, device pictures, CAD drawings and certificates can be found on our product page for the MAC36:

What is inside the box

Inside the box you will find:

  • The MAC36NL device
  • Connectors (5.08mm MSTB screw-down terminal blocks)
  • 200-ohm resistors set to connect 4-20mA signals to the Universal Inputs
  • The installation instructions

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