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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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Informational Webinar 11/12: Changing Machinery, Changing Software
Tim Jager

Informational Webinar 11/12: Changing Machinery, Changing Software

Join John Sullivan in conjunction with Siemens for a complimentary 45-minute educational webinar focused on converting industrial equipment from one vendor's tools to another. The webinar will be held on Wednesday, November 12 (1 p.m. CDT) and will be targeted toward those interested in software conversions for machinery. A variety of business demands can require a company to convert their industrial equipment from one vendor’s gear to another supplier’s tools. The m...

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Nobel Committee Recognizes Inventors of Blue LED
Ken Brey

Nobel Committee Recognizes Inventors of Blue LED

I want to congratulate the Nobel Committee for recognizing the inventors of the Blue LED - a truly transformative technology. As an engineer working with machine vision systems I have been using LED lighting longer than most people. LEDs are great for their brightness, strobing capabilities, and consistent intensity over a long product life. The first time I saw a blue LED was in a trade show in 1998. One booth of lighting equipment has a light that was a brilliant deep blue. I asked the man ...

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Pet Project: Turn A Fan Into A Clock
Devon Fritz

Pet Project: Turn A Fan Into A Clock

For those of you with electronics hobbies, here is an interesting pet project that is not very difficult or expensive. In fact, you can find most of the parts lying around your house. The idea is to make an analog display clock. The finished product will have a rotating circuit board that flashes LEDs at the correct time in order to make a floating image of an analog clock. Here is a list of basic materials that you will need: White box fan Perforated board PIC (or any microcontroll...

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Repairing an NI USB-6351 X-Series DAQ
Johnny Sun

Repairing an NI USB-6351 X-Series DAQ

Recently, I’ve needed to do some proof of concept testing for a LabVIEW-based project. The only special I/O requirement for my prototype was a +/- 10V analog output that is capable of sourcing at least 1mA of current. The good news was that DMC owned just the piece of hardware: an NI USB-6351 X-Series DAQ. The bad news was that it was handed to me with the caveat that it doesn’t turn on and may or may not smell bad when plugged in. Undeterred, I resolved to resurrect our $1500 out-of...

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Source Code Protection For Your SIMATIC S7-1200 PLC in TIA Portal
Jason Mayes

Source Code Protection For Your SIMATIC S7-1200 PLC in TIA Portal

From time to time, we'll run across situations where a client believes it is necessary to lock down code on a PLC. In some cases, there may be valuable intellectual property they would like to protect. In others, its purpose may be to prevent unauthorized modifications to safety-related code, or activation of disabled options. There may also be cases where it is necessary to interlock a PLC program to a specific memory card or CPU, especially in cases where there may be multiple, similar (bu...

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USB Charging Overview
Alex Krejcie

USB Charging Overview

In this video, I'll give you an overview of the USB charging specification, how it came to be and the limitations and hardware design of each charging port.  

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20th Annual NI Week Conference Vision Inspection Presentation
Darren Jones

20th Annual NI Week Conference Vision Inspection Presentation

The 2014 NI Week Conference in Austin, Texas hits day three of four today Wednesday, August 6. The 20th Annual National Instruments Conference is an opportunity for those working in the fields of engineering and science to come together in the spirit of sharing information, inspiring innovation and exploring new technologies. DMC has sent engineers from each of our Chicago, Boston, and Denver offices to present on topics ranging from automation, to battery management systems and vision i...

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Android Open Accessory Protocol (AOA) using an FTDI 311/312
Alex Krejcie

Android Open Accessory Protocol (AOA) using an FTDI 311/312

In this video, I'll give you a brief overview of implementing the Android Open Accessory Protocol (AOA) using an FTDI 311/312. AOA is a protocol designed by google to allow android devices to connect with a wide variety of external peripherals over USB.  Since the AOA device acts as a host, it is able to connect to most Android devices, even devices that do not have USB host capabilities themselves.  FTDI provides chips that are preprogrammed with the AOA protocol, making it ...

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Hardware Solution to Guarantee Read-Only Access of a CAN Bus
Jack Cosgrove

Hardware Solution to Guarantee Read-Only Access of a CAN Bus

The CAN bus is a standard network allowing multiple devices to talk to each other. It’s widely used on vehicles (in fact, it's likely that your car has at least ten) as well as in the industrial automation world. Recently were troubleshooting a strange issue which was causing one of the devices on the CAN bus to periodically do something that it wasn't commanded to do. By disconnecting other devices on the CAN bus, we were able to trace the issue back to the single device w...

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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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Siemens S7-1200 Web server Tutorial - From Getting started to HTML5 User Defined Pages
Tim Jager

Siemens S7-1200 Web server Tutorial - From Getting started to HTML5 User Defined Pages

This is a brief tutorial on getting started with the Siemens embedded web server in the S7-1200 and S7-1500.  Using the concepts explained below, you can create a simple web page or a fully featured HTML5 web app.  Getting Started Step 1.  Turn on the web server.  To do this, navigate to the web server menu in the device configuration page and check the box to enable the web server.   Step 2: Download your project to your PLC and browse to its IP add...

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Android Connectivity using the Android Open Accessory Development Kit
Ryan Taylor

Android Connectivity using the Android Open Accessory Development Kit

With Android operating system’s market share growing rapidly, the appeal for developers to release their applications on this platform has never been higher. Android is quite developer friendly, and as it matures the variety of applications has been growing steadily. Most Android programs (and really most mobile apps), run on the target device and will interact to the outside world over some sort of wireless network: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, etc. However, a much less common (but equally a...

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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 - 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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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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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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Battery Management System (BMS) Testing Strategies
Brent Hoerman

Battery Management System (BMS) Testing Strategies

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are bringing new test and validation challenges to the automotive industry as we rapidly continue the long-awaited cross-over from internal combustion engines to fully electric drive trains. One of the bigger test and validation challenges out there involves testing the battery management system (BMS). (Background of PHEV automotive battery packs and battery management systems) Modern BMS systems for PHEV applicat...

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