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Entries for the 'Automation' Category

Automating Siemens S7 and SiMotion Tasks Using C# .NET
Jon Carson

Automating Siemens S7 and SiMotion Tasks Using C# .NET

Siemens offers useful tools for accessing both Simatic and SiMotion projects programmatically, in the form of registered COM Type Library DLLs. These tools offer many exciting possibilities (well, it does if you're like me, and get excited by things like automating automation tools). If you have Simatic Manager installed, the following DLLs are registered with it: S7hcom_x 1.0 Type Library - The default location on my laptop is C:\Program Files (x86)\Siemens\Step7\S7BIN\S7HCOM_X.DLL) S...

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Getting Young Kids Interested in Technology
Frank Riordan

Getting Young Kids Interested in Technology

I'm always trying to get my daughters, ages 8 & 5, interested in what we do here at DMC. It's a challenge because I have a hard enough time explaining what DMC does to someone I meet at a cocktail party, never mind a couple of young kids. However, I recently had two great experiences with them that actually piqued their interest. The first was a trip to Legoland in Carlsbad, California. In addition to Miniland USA, Land of Adventure and other fun rides, there also is a Lego Factory T...

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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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PID with a Siemens S7-1200 PLC
Jason Mayes

PID with a Siemens S7-1200 PLC

A few weeks ago I had the chance to experiment with serial communications using a Siemens S7-1200 PLC outfitted with a CM1241 (RS-485 module). Due to the limited number of projects we've had using the 1200 line of PLCs, this was an office first. And while it was very straightforward, it was still a learning experience. Recently I had another chance to be DMC's S7-1200 pioneer - this time using the S7-1200's PID blocks, and luckily, not involving death by dysentery, cholera, or sna...

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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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Siemens S7-1200 Serial Communication
Jason Mayes

Siemens S7-1200 Serial Communication

Today, I found myself setting up some simple point-to-point serial communication on a Siemens S7-1200. For the current application, I was writing a simple function block to broadcast data to a Red Lion serial slave display, but there are a variety of situations in which you may need to do to this, such as communicating with a VFD. While there are many people in this office who do this regularly with other Siemens PLCs, it was the first time for any of us on an S7-1200, so I though...

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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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NI Week 2012 - Robot Summit
Danny Budzinski

NI Week 2012 - Robot Summit

It’s already day 2 of NI Week 2012, and it feels like things are really moving fast. In the same way, I broke out my goals for NI Week, I’ve been trying to focus each of the 4 days more or less on a specific theme. In light of that, I took day 2 to treat myself to a predominately robot themed day, favoring a number of the sessions on this year's “Robotics and Autonomous Vehicles Summit.” It seems like maybe that little bird at NI reads my blog because the first thing ...

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NI Week 2012 Quick Update
Danny Budzinski

NI Week 2012 Quick Update

I know it might be hard to believe given my LabVIEW Architect status and 5+ years’ experience, but I arrived in muggy-but-nice Austin, TX this afternoon for my very first NI Week. No matter what the weather has been like in Chicago this summer, and even if Ken thinks the rooms inside are too cold to bear, it is pretty intensely HOT. Despite the fact that my cab from the airport didn’t have A/C, I’m trying to keep a positive attitude and soak in as much of the experience as I ca...

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Using an iPhone to Control a Factory
Jimmy Condon

Using an iPhone to Control a Factory

Most Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) are in a static location. Sometimes, this can be inconvenient if you need to check a device (motor, valve, diverter, etc.), but the sight line from the HMI is blocked and you need to be able to watch the device move. Several projects that DMC has worked on involve a central server (typically Windows Server 2008 R2) that has the HMI editing software (I used Iconics GraphWorx), OPC server for gathering data from the PLC, and the HTML pages used by the thin cl...

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Northwestern Robot Design Competition
Eric West

Northwestern Robot Design Competition

For the fifth year, DMC was one of the sponsors for Northwestern University’s annual Design Competition.  The Design Competition (a.k.a “DC”) challenges students to design, build, and program an autonomous robot that competes against other robots in a simple task or game.  DC provides students with excellent hands-on experience in all the aspects that are required to make a successful robot, such as: designing electromechanical systems, working with various sensors an...

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Office Autonomous Robot: Part 2
Alex Krejcie

Office Autonomous Robot: Part 2

To continue the ongoing plan to conquer the world via our autonomous robot, several enhancements were made to the robotic platform and a new path finding algorithm was tested. Hardware Changes After deploying the robot around the office, it became clear that the Bluetooth wireless module used for communication would not provide sufficient range and coverage to give the robot full mobility about DMC’s office. With this in mind, a new wireless communication method was sought. After res...

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The Basics of Siemens S7 PLC I/O Addressing
Nick Shea

The Basics of Siemens S7 PLC I/O Addressing

Are you a new user of Siemens PLCs a and wondering what terms like "process image" and "peripheral address" mean? What does the "P" in "PIW" stand for? Are you an experienced user and are too embarrassed to ask? Or, maybe you are like me and just need refresher every once in a while? Fortunately, the Siemens support website has a great article that explains these different ways to access I/O for Siemens S7-300 and 400 PLCs. Here are some summary t...

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March Programming Madness - Let the Nerdament Begin
Danny Budzinski

March Programming Madness - Let the Nerdament Begin

With the first few rounds of the tournament in the books, I figured it was time to dive into the first round of our programming language tournament (or Nerdament as I like to call it.) For a rundown of the competitors, you can check out the opening bracket or you can also review some of the snubs. Once you are caught up, I hope that you are as excited for some fast-paced compiler vs. IDE action as I am. Our first matchup features the highly favored C# .Net taking on lowly, old-timey conferenc...

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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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March Programming Madness - The Bracket
Danny Budzinski

March Programming Madness - The Bracket

With the final few plays of the super bowl still fresh in mind, we enter March on the verge of another of the greatest events in sports, the March Madness of Programming Languages. This epic, world-renowned event (not to be confused with the similarly named athletic event) pits some of best programming languages head to head. At DMC, we pride ourselves in being fluent in many, many software languages from LabVIEW and .Net to PLC’s and microcontrollers. A team of engineers came...

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Iconics, VBA, VBScript, and Writing to OPC Tags
Jimmy Condon

Iconics, VBA, VBScript, and Writing to OPC Tags

Background DMC has often had to download a high number of values from a SQL server to an OPC server. In the past, this had usually been done with VBA code that was called from an Iconics HMI screen. The code looped through about 600 tags in less than a minute. The VBA code was always executing locally (on the same PC) as the OPC server it was writing to. For a particular application, the HMI architecture switched to using WebHMI. Therefore, the VBA code needed to be converted to VBScript f...

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High-speed Position Latching using Yaskawa's MotionWorks IEC
Jason Mayes

High-speed Position Latching using Yaskawa's MotionWorks IEC

I was recently working on a multi-axis Yaskawa-based motion control project and ran into an issue using an in-software position latch. In this case, we were running a servo at fairly high speed and trying to record the encoder position when a sensor was triggered. It turned out that the PLC scan rate, servo speed, and gearing ratios involved were resulting in unacceptable accuracy issues. For this project, all programming was done using Yaskawa’s MotionWorks IEC Express. We were using a...

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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 at the 2011 Siemens Automation Summit
Frank Riordan

DMC at the 2011 Siemens Automation Summit

As a proud Siemens Solution Partner, DMC always looks forward to participating in the annual Siemens Automation Summit. Each year, the Summit offers attendees several days of engaging demonstrations, networking opportunities, and other breakout events focusing on the end-user. Tim Jager, Nick Shea, and I attended the 2011 Automation Summit from June 27-30 at Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resorts in Orlando, FL.  Connecting the User Community This year, DMC helped ...

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