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Entries for 'Boris Cherkasskiy'

Siemens Automation Summit 2017 Highlights
Boris Cherkasskiy

Siemens Automation Summit 2017 Highlights

The 2017 Siemens Automation Summit took place June 26-29th at the Boca Raton Resort and Club in Boca Raton, Florida. Per Siemens, the Siemens Automation Summit is, "a user conference for manufacturing professionals who use Siemens automation technologies, including DCS, PLC, HMI, industrial networks, factory automation, motion controllers, process instrumentation, motors and drives, and are interested in cyber security and safety." Automation professionals from all over to...

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Star Wars Christmas Light Show
Boris Cherkasskiy

Star Wars Christmas Light Show

The Original Light Show I originally made this light show in 2014. It was Christmas time, and I happened to be hankering for a project, so we decided to decorate the house with a few LED lights and some Christmas mood music. It took me a few evenings and about $50 to complete the electrical part and wiring using a bunch of Arduinos and RF boards. I used NRF24L01 radios to control the lights from my PC and eliminate cables in my house.  I created the light sequences using an open so...

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The Force Awakens Your PLC
Boris Cherkasskiy

The Force Awakens Your PLC

It seems like lately the Force has awakened everywhere. The only corner of the universe that was still dark and quiet was the PLC and factory automation galaxy. To fill the gap I decided to show PLCs the way of the Force. And what could be better than to teach it some forceful music? The obvious PLC choice for this mission was a Siemens S7-1200 PLC that we happened to have in the lab. I quickly realized that Force is not very strong in PLCs, and they are not very musical. Since they weren'...

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Creating a Raster Monitor from an Oscilloscope
Boris Cherkasskiy

Creating a Raster Monitor from an Oscilloscope

My friend recently sent me this video of an oscilloscope playing a video. I immediately wanted to do the same, but it's a huge project if done properly. It has an ILDA interface/driver, high-speed custom DACs, etc. Instead, I tried a simple alternative - creating a raster monitor from an oscilloscope. Here is what I did: 1. Put oscilloscope to the X-Y mode. 2. Take a standard composite video (from a DVD player in my case). 3. Separate horizontal and vertical sync signal...

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Updating Your Rotary Dial Phone for the Digital Age
Boris Cherkasskiy

Updating Your Rotary Dial Phone for the Digital Age

Good-old rotary dial phones have been around since forever, and they used to be a part of everyday life, like dragons during medieval period. However, like dragons, suddenly all these marvelous ancient devices just disappeared one day. I was lucky to find one of these dinosaurs at the local flea market. I was eager to try it out, but unfortunately I don't have a home phone line anymore. I hooked it up to my Voice Over IP (VoIP) adapter that I haven't used in years. It almost worked! W...

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Aiding My Horrible Handwriting With A Polargraph Drawing Bot
Boris Cherkasskiy

Aiding My Horrible Handwriting With A Polargraph Drawing Bot

People who know me have probably noticed that I have pretty bad handwriting skills. I recently realized that apparently there is a pretty scary word for my case: dysgraphia. Fortunately I was growing up long enough ago when this word hadn't yet been discovered, so this diagnosis did not affect my life. There were probably even a few times I benefited from it when my teachers couldn't figure out my scrawls and assumed that I was trying to write something profound. Once upon a time...

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Revealing the Hidden Awesomeness of the TI LaunchPad
Boris Cherkasskiy

Revealing the Hidden Awesomeness of the TI LaunchPad

TI (Texas Instruments) is awesome - I've always known it. What I like the most is their extremely low-cost ($4.30, who beats that?) Launchpad development kit that includes 2 "value line" (pronounced "super-cheap") micro-controllers, USB programmer and development software. That is everything you need to dive into the wonderful world of the super-lower-power microcontrollers.   Picking the test project There are so many options for a first projec...

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Boris Cherkasskiy

Read Command Line Parameters from VBA

Recently, I needed to read a command line parameter within a VBA code (it's for an Iconics SCADA application, but I developed it with Excel VBA which is essentially the same). It doesn't sound like a big deal but there were a few not-so-obvious tricks that I thought were worth sharing. I started with the simplest solution using a "GetCommandLineA" Windows API function from kernel32.dll. It was supposed to return a pointer to the c...

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Resurrecting the Antique Pressure Gauge to Display Internet Bandwidth
Boris Cherkasskiy

Resurrecting the Antique Pressure Gauge to Display Internet Bandwidth

Who doesn't like old technologies? For example, a Motorola cell phone as heavy as a brick and built to last centuries (literally)? I do like old stuff, my dear readers. That's why when one day I came across a cool looking (and rightly priced!) antique pressure gauge on eBay I bought it with very little hesitation. Presumably, gauges like this had been used on steamboats and locomotives. I had the idea to upgrade it to use this piece of ancient technology for modern purpose...

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Tired of "Hands Free?" - How About a "Hands Full" Solution?
Boris Cherkasskiy

Tired of "Hands Free?" - How About a "Hands Full" Solution?

I used to have an old Motorola cell phone, actually it wasn't even a phone, back then it was called a DPC - "Digital Personal Communicator", which in my mind sounds much more scientific than a modern "cell phone". This is used to be an awesome piece of equipment back in its day (actually it was the smallest  phone in 1989). However, it's quite useless now since it does not support modern networks (it was designed for AMPS network, but this service had b...

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How cold is it in Russia?
Boris Cherkasskiy

How cold is it in Russia?

I am getting questions like "you are from Russia, it must be cold there" quite often for obvious reasons. Despite the fact that Russia is huge and includes geographic zones from subtropics to Arctic circle I've decided to compare climates of USA and Russia. When someone says "Russia" this probably means "Moscow", where roughly 10% of Russian population live. It doesn't make much sense to compare Moscow and let's say Florida, but because I live in Chic...

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Editing Underlying Data in MS SQL Reporting Service (SSRS)
Boris Cherkasskiy

Editing Underlying Data in MS SQL Reporting Service (SSRS)

In the past, DMC has used MS SQL Server Reporting Service (SSRS) on multiple projects as a web-based reporting engine. I personally liked using SSRS a lot because it allowed us to design quite complicated reports in very little time. At the same time, I wished it were possible to edit data viewed in the report, such as editing row comments. While it wasn’t possible to edit report data using the standard set of SSRS features, our team was able to find a way around this by creating a cust...

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Boris Cherkasskiy

Populating Iconics/GraphWorX32 Drop-down list (Statefield) from VBA

If you have never heard about Genesis32 SCADA package from Iconics, this is the right time to learn more about it before we continue. I shall wait right here... Good, now you know what I am talking about. We'll talk about GraphWorX32, this is HMI graphical display application. One of the control available in GraphWorX32 is drop-down list (Statefield). This is pretty cool drop-down menu, but values on the list have to be hardcoded during screen design and can't be updated at runtime...

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