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Siemens S7-1200 PLC communicates through Sinaut MD720-3 cellular modem
Nick Shea

Siemens S7-1200 PLC communicates through Sinaut MD720-3 cellular modem

Many consumers, including myself, have tapped into the ever-growing functionality of mobile internet. Many people leverage this infrastructure for their mobile phone. Others are beginning to use WiMAX connections for their PCs. Not to be out-done, PLCs are also capable of communicating through wireless data plans. DMC just finished the proof-of-concept phase in a project using the new Siemens Simatic S7-1200 PLC and Siemens Sinaut MD720 GPRS GSM cellular modem. We were able to successfully se...

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New White Paper: Electric Vehicle Battery Pack Testing
Brent Hoerman

New White Paper: Electric Vehicle Battery Pack Testing

DMC has been involved in quite a few battery testing projects lately. We thought it would be helpful to assemble a compilation of some of the general things we have learned into a new white paper.... "Electric Vehicle Battery Pack Testing in a Manufacturing Environment" If you are interested in the automotive battery packs used in electric vehicles (EVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), and plugin hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and how they are tested, this article should cont...

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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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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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Redundant Control Systems: Siemens S7 400H Series PLC and WinCC
Cesar Pena

Redundant Control Systems: Siemens S7 400H Series PLC and WinCC

There are certain control systems, such as in nuclear power plants and airplanes, that cannot be disabled or shut down, even momentarily, because of the threat to people’s lives. In these applications, a redundant control system must be in place to take over instantaneously if the primary system fails. I recently deployed one such redundant control system for train tunnel ventilation at a major international airport. The system's main objective is to control, reduce, and help exting...

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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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IEC61131-3 Data Structures (Encapsulation = Domination!)
Tim Jager

IEC61131-3 Data Structures (Encapsulation = Domination!)

Encapsulating your data into custom Data Structures will allow you to Dominate (maybe not the world, but at least your PLC) I'm going to conclude my series on the IEC 61131-3 standard by examining the benefits of Data Structures. (If you missed my other posts, you can check out the previous part 1, part 2, part 3) Before we dive into Data Structures, let's review basic data types. Every PLC supports a certain group of standard data types. The list typically includes the followin...

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Communication between Siemens HMIs and non-Siemens controllers
Jon Carson

Communication between Siemens HMIs and non-Siemens controllers

Ever wanted to use those very nice looking Siemens touchpad HMIs with a third party controller Siemens doesn't officially support? On a recent project I was presented with the following scenario: a customer already had several Siemens touch-screen HMIs in stock, and wanted to use one to help operators control an Elau motion controller. Of course to do this I had to get the HMI and controller to talk to one another. The HMI understood about 20 different protocols — everything from Allen...

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IEC 61131-3  Choosing a Programming Language
Tim Jager

IEC 61131-3 Choosing a Programming Language

This is part two of my series on the IEC-61131-3 programming standard. Here's a link to Part 1 for those of you that missed it. The IEC61131-3 standard contains 5 different programming languages. This article will give a brief introduction to each one and some tips on choosing which language is best. The five languages: Ladder Diagram is most popular in the USA. It is based on the graphical presentation of Relay Ladder Logic. Most non-IEC61131-3 compliant PLCs only support ladder lo...

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Nick Shea

Safety PLC Impact On Software vs. Hardware Debate

After working on several projects with Siemens S7-300 Safety PLCs, I was given the opportunity to contribute to an article for ControlDesign.com that presents cases for and against replacing hardware components with software solutions in machine control. From my experience, I have seen some direct advantages of replacing hardware such as a safety relay with a safety program in a safety-rated PLC. Some benefits of going this direction are: Wiring Advantage Single pair of contacts a...

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Remote IO Configuration for Simatic 505 - As Easy As 3-4-5...
Nick Shea

Remote IO Configuration for Simatic 505 - As Easy As 3-4-5...

While commissioning the automation controls for a manufacturing line, I acquired some tips and tricks for configuring a Profibus network on a Simatac 505 (formerly known as a TI 505). Using 505 Workshop version 4.32 development environment from Fastrak Softworks, I was able to utilize their built-in Profibus I/O configuration tool instead of the out-dated COM Profibus application. Whereas I've commissioned several systems using a Siemens S7 PLC with remote IO and VFD connections via Profi...

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Vijeo Designer Version Control with Tortoise SVN
Danny Budzinski

Vijeo Designer Version Control with Tortoise SVN

I was working with Vijeo Designer 5.0 on a recent project and, overall, found it rather enjoyable to work with. Vijeo Designer is the Schneider Electric / Telemecanique programming software for the Magelis XBT-GT HMI's along with several other SCADA platforms. The creation of variables let me organize my I/O into logical folders, the alarm setup was intuitive and let me create specific groups en mass, and the page designer let me create an object with pretty much any look and feel that I ...

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DMC Starts Integrator Relationship with IFM Effector
Ken Brey

DMC Starts Integrator Relationship with IFM Effector

DMC has entered an Integrator relationship with IFM Effector centered around their unique and exciting 3D Image Sensor. This is an industrial, cost-effective Time-of-Flight Camera that measures the distance to everything in its field of view based on the time it takes pulses of light to make the round-trip from the camera to the object and back. Potential uses include volume measurement, object detection and classification, vehicle guidance and much more. The units come self-contained wit...

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Siemens Simatic S7-300 - Retaining Values When Downloading a Datablock
Kristie Simon Shea

Siemens Simatic S7-300 - Retaining Values When Downloading a Datablock

A simple yet common problem when programming a Siemens Simatic S7-300 PLC is losing the data already stored in the PLC after downloading an updated data block. If you are simply adding items to the end of a flat data block (not adding items to a user-defined type (udt) within the data block, for example) then to retain the values of the data block follow these quick steps. Go online with all of the blocks in Simatic Manager. Copy the online version of the data block whose values you w...

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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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Mobile Volume Measurement Device on Fork Truck a Success
David Simmons

Mobile Volume Measurement Device on Fork Truck a Success

Recently one of DMC's customers, LTS Scale, issued a press release describing the first fork-truck-mounted dimensional weighing system. DMC worked closely with this customer from the first stages of research through the development of the system and into product production, successfully delivering a flexible and robust system that met numerous design challenges along the way. The system uses a laser and camera to reconstruct a 3D environment, identifies the object being measured and returns ...

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Siemens S7 PLC Troubleshooting
Jon Carson

Siemens S7 PLC Troubleshooting

Once you are familiar with their capabilities and methodologies, Siemens PLCs have the potential to make controls programming quicker and easier than ever. With support for function blocks, text-based programming, libraries, and user defined types, Siemens lets developers attack problems with a much more object-oriented approach than traditional ladder logic programming. But for programmers and technicians less experienced with the Siemens line of PLCs, The S7 and S5 product lines often seem ove...

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Edmund Double-Gauss Lenses Produce Sharp Focus
Ken Brey

Edmund Double-Gauss Lenses Produce Sharp Focus

I have been working on a 3D vision application using the SICK Ranger camera. My application involves precision measurement, so I want to get the best results possible from the equipment. The Ranger came with a Fujinon 35mm lens which focused sharply in the center of the field of view. However there was significant blur near the edges. (The CMOS sensor on the Ranger is 15.4mm diagonal. That exceeds the specification of most common machine vision lenses.) I tried a Tamron 35mm lens, and ach...

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Working with Legacy Hardware: Tips and Tricks
Danny Budzinski

Working with Legacy Hardware: Tips and Tricks

For a DMC engineer it is not atypical to be faced with outdated, legacy technology. Maybe a customer has come to us to upgrade a system that an intern did in the 90's; maybe a company's engineers have built up a system over the past decade and need help configuring or adding more pieces to it; or maybe a factory has used a controller that was made when you were in middle school and all of a sudden that controller breaks down and needs to be replicated and replaced. Regardless of the situ...

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