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Entries for 'Leon Grossman'

Connecting to a Siemens PLC with Access Address
Leon Grossman

Connecting to a Siemens PLC with Access Address

There are occasions when a Siemens PLC may need to be commissioned with a different IP address than the one assigned in the project. In the case of a single PLC, this is no big deal and it is a simple matter to update the project to match the IP address of the PLC as installed in the final location.   There are several ways this might happen: The PLC IP address was changed from the value set by the original builder. There is a managed switch performing 1-to-1 NAT between the PLC ...

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Siemens WinCC OA - The Open Architecture SCADA Package
Leon Grossman

Siemens WinCC OA - The Open Architecture SCADA Package

When asked if we work with a particular technology here at DMC, my answer is always "yes". PLC, Embedded, Test and Measurement, Business Logic: we do it all and more. WinCC OA (OA) is the spiritual analogue to that philosophy in SCADA form. There are native drivers for Siemens and Allen Bradley PLCs as well as an OPC driver so it will work with nearly any modern controller. Supporting a wide range of hardware is expected of a product that is targeted to the same space as Wonderwa...

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Sixteen Candles on My DMC Cake
Leon Grossman

Sixteen Candles on My DMC Cake

I can't really imagine it right now… I don't feel different…  I don't feel like I look different… but, I've been here at DMC for 16 years. I found DMC through a random encounter with Frank in Texas. Later, when the government decided that oil research wasn't needed any more (oil had been at $16/barrel for years) and shut down my lab, I called Frank. Within a couple of weeks I was working at DMC on Evergreen Street in Chicago. Since then DMC has...

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Entering the World of 3D Printing
Leon Grossman

Entering the World of 3D Printing

A few years ago, DMC entered the world of 3D printing by building a Thing-O-Matic. This printer was... special in that it contained a lot of questionable design decisions, but it allowed us to do something amazing. We could create 3 dimensional objects out of ABS plastic! However, being able to print something and design it are two different things. The limited build volume of the T-o-M was also so limiting that the printer sat largely unused. That is until I started hacking away at it t...

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LAVA BBQ, a vision quest and the complete failure to win anything
Leon Grossman

LAVA BBQ, a vision quest and the complete failure to win anything

The LAVA BBQ at Scholz Garten was last night here at NI week.  I managed to score one of the last tickets and was offered the chance to catch a cab over to the venue.  I declined on the cab because I had been sitting in sessions all day and wanted the chance to stretch my legs.  The venue is only a mile away and I'm a city dweller - "how hard can it be?".  As it turns out, a lot harder than you might imagine as the high temperature on Tuesday was 107 degrees here in Aust...

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LabVIEW 1.0, it was cool to see you
Leon Grossman

LabVIEW 1.0, it was cool to see you

As Darren already posted in his blog post about attending NI week, the DMC trio of me, Ashley and Darren are all here learning about the new things happening with NI and there are some exciting new products being released.  I am currently installing LabVIEW 2011 as I write this blog post! I had a chance to stop at the NI booth where they had an old Mac Plus setup to run an original version of LabVIEW 1.0. It is hard to see how graphical programming could be done on the little 9...

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WCF web services with LabVIEW
Leon Grossman

WCF web services with LabVIEW

On a recent project with LabVIEW, I was tasked with integrating a C# DLL into a LabVIEW application. The integration worked quite well and allowed us to integrate client generated code with the exising LabVIEW application. As the application has evolved, it makes sense to separate the .NET code completely from the LabVIEW code. The initial thought was to use WCF Web Services to do the heavy lifting and use the web services import functionality in LabVIEW. Unfortunately, the import functonalit...

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Occasionally Connected Database Applications with Microsoft Sync Services
Leon Grossman

Occasionally Connected Database Applications with Microsoft Sync Services

It is often desired to have "occasionally connected" applications where a device may not always be connected to a network and that makes the task of maintaining a central data store such as SQL Server 2008R2 consistent across multiple devices and users an extremely challenging task. Fortunately, Microsoft has created Microsoft Sync Services (sync services) to address this problem. Sync services is a way of using a local database cache built on Microsoft SQL&nbs...

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Tortoise SVN and VisualSVN Server - Your project anywhere
Leon Grossman

Tortoise SVN and VisualSVN Server - Your project anywhere

Source Code Control (SCC) is universally acknowledged by developers as an important part of developing and maintaining projects.  Effective use of takes discipline because what is not checked into the repository is not saved.  Opening a project several years after the fact to find out that the latest code resided on a long decommissioned computer is not a pleasant experience.  It is in everyone's best interest to make sure that code is properly stored in the repository at all...

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Maintaining Legacy Custom Visual Studio Software
Leon Grossman

Maintaining Legacy Custom Visual Studio Software

I recently had the experience of working on a Visual Basic.NET 1.1 application that our company created a number of years ago.  This brought the whole issue of maintaining legacy code into sharp focus.  Legacy industrial software could easily take up several blog entries on its own so we will focus specifically on Visual Basic 6 and .NET (Visual Basic.NET or C#). For a blog entry on working with legacy hardware, see this blog entry. VB6 I still encounter VB6 applications in th...

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DMC Joins LabVIEW User Group Chicago
Leon Grossman

DMC Joins LabVIEW User Group Chicago

Last month I attended the inaugural meeting of the Chicago LabVIEW User Group.  A group of about thirty fellow LabVIEW users gathered in Schaumburg for the first event. Traditionally, User Groups hearken back to the early tech days of subsets of passionate, like-minded fans trading ideas and discussions around a specific product or technology.  Sponsored by National Instruments, the User Group’s aim is to bring the LabVIEW community together to foster interaction and discussio...

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Leon Grossman

LabVIEW 2009 SP1 and Visual Studio 2010 class libraries

While it is usually preferable to avoid mixing development environments for a project, sometimes we need to create a mixed platform solution.  In a recent project, I needed to create a class library in C# to interact with a LabVIEW 2009 SP1 application. I fired up Visual Studio 2010 and created a quick .Net 4 application.  On attempting to create a constructor in LabVIEW, I got the error message: "The selected file is not a .NET assembly, type library or automation executable&q...

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Line Laser Thickness and 3D Inspection
Leon Grossman

Line Laser Thickness and 3D Inspection

I recently implemented a project where we were using a SICK Ranger camera to measure a part. This camera works by measuring the position of light from a line generating laser on its 2D field of view and translating that to a height position. This works because features that are higher and closer to the camera will be closer to the top of the camera's 2D field of view and things that are lower will be closer to the bottom. This is the same effect can easily be seen in shadows when the sun is ...

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Taming Clock Drift With NI-Sync
Leon Grossman

Taming Clock Drift With NI-Sync

Some data acquisition applications using LabVIEW require an ultimately stable clock reference. In these cases there are a number of options, such as GPS, for generating a clock reference that is more accurate than your DAQ board can attain on its own. Most, however, don't require this kind of absolute accuracy and we can rely on the internal clock of the DAQ board in use. In our modular DAQ system, we had a number of different data sources. Some of these have no clock source at all and we...

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LabVIEW Formula Nodes - Faster Or Not?
Leon Grossman

LabVIEW Formula Nodes - Faster Or Not?

National Instruments LabVIEW is one of our core development languages here at DMC. With four architects on staff, we often ask ourselves questions about the way LabVIEW behaves that most other people don't need to worry about. While performance optimizing a project, I replaced some complex math with formula nodes and realized a significant improvement in performance with this simple change. Since there is often repeated conventional wisdom which says that formula nodes are either slower o...

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Modular LabVIEW architecture
Leon Grossman

Modular LabVIEW architecture

Many of the LabVIEW applications that DMC develops are based on our internally developed state machine architecture. This architecture has a proven record of allowing us to create flexible, robust, and easy to maintain applications. One of our clients has a large, multi-PC system built upon this platform which has been in use for a period of years. The architecture allowed several additions over time, including: Periodic temporary or new permanent instruments Data processing updates ...

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Converting legacy Acroloop Motion to an ACR 9000 controller
Leon Grossman

Converting legacy Acroloop Motion to an ACR 9000 controller

DMC started as a motion integrator (the M stands for motion). Even though we do a great many other things these days, we still maintain a strong competency in this area. We were recently contacted by a client who has an old Acroloop 2000 ISA based motion controller running on a Windows NT with 32MB of RAM. Their concern was that parts to repair this legacy motion equipment would be difficult to obtain and could result in undesired downtime. We set out to find the best way to update this appli...

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TDMS Tools
Leon Grossman

TDMS Tools

Data managment in Test and Measurement applications is critical to the usability of the final product. It is no use to acquire data if you can't use it. Traditionally, we would write data out into some form of tab delimited text file. This works really well but has some significant drawbacks in larger file size and loss of precision. Enter TDMS, a file format created by National Instruments which provides the ability to write complex data formats to a single binary file readable by Micros...

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Robotic Vehicle Driver - Success!
Leon Grossman

Robotic Vehicle Driver - Success!

Some time ago, the staff of the Advanced Powertrain Research Facility at Argonne National Laboratory asked me if we could create a robotic driver to control speed of a vehicle on their dynamometer. There are off-the-shelf solutions for this task but it would be difficult to get the level of configurability and integration needed with these systems. We used LabVIEW to develop a relatively sophisticated PID control system to handle the significant non-linearities found in the control of most ve...

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AutoCross Fun in Rantoul
Leon Grossman

AutoCross Fun in Rantoul

I recently spent a pleasant Sunday in Rantoul, IL at the Champaign County Sports Car Club autocross with some engineers from the Advanced Powertrain Research Facility group of Argonne National Laboratory.  I’ll post about the distributed LabVIEW data acquisition (DAQ) system we’ve created for them in another post. This entry is all about cars. Autocross Adventures If you aren’t familiar with Autocross, it is a sport where a small, twisty track is setup in a parkin...

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