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Entries for the 'PC' Category

Comparing Ethernet and USB cDAQs for Control Applications
Eric West

Comparing Ethernet and USB cDAQs for Control Applications

DMC recently completed a project that involved controlling an applied load using a hydraulic cylinder. Ramping the load at a controlled rate required a fast control loop with analog feedback from a load cell. The speed of the hydraulic cylinder was determined by a proportional valve controlled by an analog output from DMC’s control system. Based on other requirements of the software, DMC chose a PC-based control system using National Instruments hardware. The customer wanted the control...

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Automation Redundancy Using ICONICS WebHMI Solutions
Jon Carson

Automation Redundancy Using ICONICS WebHMI Solutions

There are many good options for automation and controls redundancy out there. Here is an example we just recently used in the field. The customer specified a requirement of complete redundancy for all IT, networking, and HMI components of one of a large-scale manufacturing line. The system architecture we chose incorporated thin-client HMIs with server virtualization, off-the-shelf ICONICS redundancy solutions, dual KEPware OPC servers, a custom .NET service, and automatically backed-up SQL data...

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DMC receives Patent for Dimensional Detection System
Cesar Pena

DMC receives Patent for Dimensional Detection System

One of the most interesting and fun projects I have worked at DMC was to develop a Dimensional Measurement system for our customer LTS Scale.   In a nutshell, the system calculates the volume of an object on a forklift pallet. This is achieved by scanning the object with a laser, taking multiple images and analyzing these images with computer vision algorithms. The project also involved motor control, Linux, C++ and a lot of number crunching to derive the...

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Programming Madness National Championship
Danny Budzinski

Programming Madness National Championship

Welcome to the Programming Tournament National Championship! For the sake of drama, I was going to make a Tournament Highlights blog first, but I figured that everyone was probably so overly excited that putting off the decision any longer would be inhumane. For anyone coming to the party late, I have spent the last 6 months (or 3 half-lives of Antimony Sb-124) reviewing the positives and negatives of different programming languages that I’ve worked with, pitting them head to head in a NCA...

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National Instruments Real-Time Target Asset Management
Patrick Corcoran

National Instruments Real-Time Target Asset Management

As the popularity of modular instruments grows in R&D development spaces, National Instruments technology, particularly Real-Time and FPGA hardware, is becoming more and more common in volume test, manufacturing, and control applications. As the number of hardware products grows in a given deployment, so too does the task of asset management.  The aim of this discussion is to outline key questions that will be helpful in selecting and asset management solution for projects involving ...

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NI Week 2012 Wrap Up - Customizing Windows Embedded
Danny Budzinski

NI Week 2012 Wrap Up - Customizing Windows Embedded

The days have certainly flown by, and, I’m sad to say, NI Week 2012 has run its course. The last day was shorter and leaner than the others, so, unfortunately, none of the sessions really stood out to me. I did learn a little more about TestStand and sat in on a session on Network Connection Managers that reaffirmed a lot of DMC’s decisions in developing the network messaging daemon that we use. I also got an interesting look from JKI at a Continuous Integration implem...

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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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Danny Budzinski

DMC Kinect Demo News and Updates

As many of you may know, we used last week’s Oktoberfest party as an unofficial house warming party for our new office space. In addition to having a great turnout despite uncooperative weather, the Kinect Demo team from FedEx Day 2010 put in some extra hours to get our new display case setup to welcome guests. If you haven’t seen the display case, an early video is available here, and a detailed case study can be found in our case study section. In the new office, we were able to...

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DMC uses InFocus LiteShow III for Network Projector Sharing
Ken Brey

DMC uses InFocus LiteShow III for Network Projector Sharing

At DMC we pride ourselves on being tech-savvy and using appropriate technology to solve common problems.  So as we moved to our new office space this month, we didn't want to be constrained by the wires that link to our new conference room projectors and wall mounted displays.  The solution we have implemented is the InFocus LiteShow III.  We have three of these on our office network.  The LiteShow III is a small box with a wired and wireless network connections, and a...

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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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Using Norton Ghost for "Cloning" PC Based LabVIEW Test Stations and for Disaster Recovery
Jesse Batsche

Using Norton Ghost for "Cloning" PC Based LabVIEW Test Stations and for Disaster Recovery

While developing a Windows PC based long term test system running LabVIEW software, we found the use of Norton Ghost to be a very effective means of setting up multiple identical test stand units quickly and efficiently. Basically we took the approach used all the time by IT dept. system administrators and applied it to customized test system development. Having a stored hard drive image of the original state of each test station also proved to be a useful "restore" point to use to res...

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Backing Up and Restoring Embedded PC's with Symantec's Norton Ghost
Danny Budzinski

Backing Up and Restoring Embedded PC's with Symantec's Norton Ghost

I was recently called up by a past customer who was using XP Windows embedded on an HP Neoware Thin Client who had lost their hard drive image and needed the machine restored. These types of machines are becoming more and more common, used as terminals for ATM’s, self checkout terminals, etc. They are moderately low cost, light, flexible platforms that don’t have any moving components like fans or spinning hard disks, and can therefore be left without the need for much maintenance or...

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Check out our new Case Studies!
Kristie Simon Shea

Check out our new Case Studies!

We have added a few new Case Studies that showcase two of the business areas in which we recently have had a number of projects: Sharepoint Development and Battery Testing. Check out these Case Study entries to read more detail! Sharepoint Timesheet Entry Portal Battery Management System (BMS) Validation Test Stand Battery Pack Monitor System for Environmental Testing

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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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Using Devcon Command Line Utility to Rescue Unresponsive USB Devices
Jesse Batsche

Using Devcon Command Line Utility to Rescue Unresponsive USB Devices

When choosing a piece of hardware, you will likely be confronted with many options from different vendors for what interface (PCI, PXI, USB, Serial/GPIB, LXI) that device will use to communicate with your software controller, so how do you choose? USB devices are often significantly cheaper than their PCI or PXI counterparts, but this reduced cost comes with a trade-off in the overall stability and robustness of the communications interface. Windows background operations in PC based systems, ...

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Automatic logon in Microsoft Windows
Cesar Pena

Automatic logon in Microsoft Windows

I recently deployed a system where I needed a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 to automatically logon after a shutdown, blackout or any other power loss to the system. Here's what I did to solve this issue: Disable Event Tracker In Windows Server 2003 the “Display Shutdown Event Tracker” is enabled by default. This means, that if your server crashes you need to manually input what caused it to crash so that this data can be logged in the event tracker. This needs to ...

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Switch Windows XP to AHCI after Installing Windows
Ken Brey

Switch Windows XP to AHCI after Installing Windows

For purposes of ghosting SysPrepped PC's it could be important to switch Windows XP to AHCI after installing Windows. We have been doing this with our Dell laptops. Our baseline SysPrep image works well on Dell Precision M65's and M4300's, which do not support AHCI. The new Dell Precision M4400's we have been ordering do. In order to not re-create the image from a fresh Windows install, I have figured out how to switch a PC from ATA to AHCI mode after Windows is installed. ...

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Remote Machine Monitoring–Connecting to a Modbus Network with Java and Jamod
Jon Carson

Remote Machine Monitoring–Connecting to a Modbus Network with Java and Jamod

For a recent project, I had an interesting challenge. It involved a (relatively) simple control system, with an Allen Bradley MicroLogix PLC, and 30 or so inputs and outputs. The challenge was that the customer wanted to be able to access (and potentially control) live machine data from anywhere on their network, while buying as little hardware or software as possible. After a bit of research I came up with the following solution: The only entryway to the data that was available with no a...

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Using LabVIEW with Windows XP Embedded (XPe)
Jody Koplo

Using LabVIEW with Windows XP Embedded (XPe)

I recently finished a project that checked for gas leaks on a mission critical system. Any leaks needed to be diagnosed and discovered as quickly as possible. Our solution also had to be mobile and easily carted around the facility. To develop a system that was incredibly reliable and also capable of displaying and logging important data, we settled on an architecture that used a National Instruments cRIO for data acquisition and a Windows XP Embedded PC as the front end for display and contr...

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PC-Based Controls vs Dedicated Controllers
David Simmons

PC-Based Controls vs Dedicated Controllers

Mike Bacidore over at ControlDesign.com has written an insightful article discussing the recent shift of many of their readers from using traditional PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) to using more powerful PACs (Programmable Automation Controllers). I believe this points to an overall industry trend towards customers wanting robust and reliable systems which are more intelligent, and able to transfer data easily from device to device. Mike also notes how a smaller number of his readers p...

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