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Entries for the 'Automation' Category

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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DMC Helps Connect the Siemens User Community with an Interactive New Event
Jessica Mlinaric

DMC Helps Connect the Siemens User Community with an Interactive New Event

What was the Siemens Connect Event? The Siemens Connect Event was an hour-long networking event held at the 2011 Siemens Automation Summit. Likened to "speed networking," the Connect Event was initiated as a fun and interactive way for Siemens Solution Partners and users to connect on a personal rather than business level. Attendees participated in "power" meetings which were facilitated by complimentary iPads and an application (app) built specifically for this event. ...

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Siemens S7-1200 Analog IO
Nick Shea

Siemens S7-1200 Analog IO

If you find yourself working with Analog IO on the Siemens S7-1200 for the first time, you may wonder how and where to start.  Here are some basic tips for working with Analog IO on this PLC platform.  For the purposes of this blog, I will focus on implementing 4-20mA inputs and outputs, but the concepts should apply to other signal types as well. Configuring Analog Input/Output Models: Open the Device Configuration for the PLC.  Add your module, then configure each channel...

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Siemens PLCS, Networking, and More--DMC at the SITEC 2011 Conference
Jon Carson

Siemens PLCS, Networking, and More--DMC at the SITEC 2011 Conference

I recently had the opportunity to attend my first Siemens technical conference. The conference, called SITEC, took place May 16-20 in Atlanta, GA, and Kristie Shea and I represented DMC. SITEC is Siemens’ technical conference where solution partners like DMC, distributors, and internal Siemens staff learn about the latest Siemens software and hardware technology solutions. I had a great time seeing what's new and upcoming in the automation world, as well as meeting the people behind th...

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DMC to Present at the 2011 Siemens Automation Summit
Frank Riordan

DMC to Present at the 2011 Siemens Automation Summit

DMC is excited to attend and present at the Siemens Automation Summit 2011 held from June 27-30 at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts in Orlando, FL. The Summit is an annual conference that focuses on the end-users of Siemens automation products and provides a great venue for interacting and learning with our peer companies. DMC is a proud Siemens Solutions Partner with the most S7 Certified Engineers in the United States. Tim Jager, Nick Shea, and I will be attending the conference....

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Application Programming with Yaskawa’s A1000 Inverter Drives
Jason Mayes

Application Programming with Yaskawa’s A1000 Inverter Drives

I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days at Yaskawa America’s North American headquarters to sit in on an A1000 Application Programming class. As a Yaskawa Solution and Service Provider PLUS, many DMC engineers have extensive application programming experience using Yaskawa’s inverter drives in the industrial workspace. In addition to being a Yaskawa Solution and Service Provider, we have frequently worked closely with Yaskawa’s software development team to aid i...

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Using Siemens S7-300 PLCs to Report System Errors
Jon Carson

Using Siemens S7-300 PLCs to Report System Errors

The Siemens S7-300 line of PLCs has about a million great features integrated into the programming environment. After I recently inherited a PLC project where some (many) of these were not implemented, I thought it might be a good idea to do a recap on some of the more useful functions Step7 has to offer us. By far one of the most useful, and sadly underutilized, capabilities available to us from the Step7 environment is the “Report System Errors” utility. This utility, when activ...

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3D Void Detection System
Cesar Pena

3D Void Detection System

I recently developed a 3D void detection prototype system for the packaging industry. The system will measure the empty volume inside of a box filled with contents. Once this volume is known, a subsequent system can optimize the number of packing peanuts required to fill up the box. By using this system, the filling of boxes with packing peanuts can be automated. The Hardware and Software used to measure the empty volume are: 3D camera from IFM Electronic (part number PMD O3D201...

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Ken Brey

VNC on Siemens WinCC Flex HMI with WinCE

A version of VNC Server is available which works on Siemens MP277 and other Siemens displays that are WinCE 5.0 or higher. The open source project can be found here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/efonvnc/ The MP277 uses the ARM processor, so extract the contents of efonvnc_v4.3_wce5x_armv4i.zip into a folder in Program Files on the panel. Run the file VNCConfig.exe once to configure the connection. It is also available from the VNC icon in the system tray. Run WinVNC.exe to launch the se...

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DMC exhibiting at the National Instruments Technical Symposium
Darren Jones

DMC exhibiting at the National Instruments Technical Symposium

DMC will join leading companies to host the National Instruments Technical Symposium that builds on the success of NIWeek, the worldwide virtual instrumentation conference and exhibition held annually in Austin, Texas, where the company is headquartered. NIWeek 2010 concluded in August with attendance of more than 2,500 people, who participated in hands-on training, interactive technical sessions, summits, exhibitions and workshops. National Instruments designed the NI Technical Symposium to del...

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RT-201: PLCs vs. Real-Time Systems
Eric Nielsen

RT-201: PLCs vs. Real-Time Systems

In RT-101: Real-Time Operating Systems (RTOS), I provided readers with a brief description of the many benefits that systems running an RTOS can provide in harsh and demanding environments. The bigger question is: in an industry saturated by PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers), PACs (Programmable Automation Controllers), Field Point controllers, Microcontrollers and many others, why should an engineer choose an RTOS PAC (Programmable Automation Controller) platform above all the rest? To addre...

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