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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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UNC Paths in LabVIEW
Dan Freve

UNC Paths in LabVIEW

Recently, a colleague here at DMC was looking for a quick method of converting a drive-based path to its corresponding universal path name. Basically, he is writing a tool in LabVIEW that will run on computers that may have the same network drive mapped to different drive letters. After a quick search, I found that Windows has a networking function that does exactly what I'm looking for! The function is called WNetGetUniversalName, and it resides in mpr.dll. In order to easily call thi...

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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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Real World Azure
Eric Anderson

Real World Azure

Last Thursday, October 1st, Ben Zeinz and I attended the afternoon session of an MSDN event entitled "Real World Azure". It introduced Windows Azure ahead of its upcoming release. The morning session was geared towards IT personnel while the afternoon was for developers like us. The session was led by Dave Bost, developer evangelist at Microsoft, who also hosts The Thirsty Developer. Dave discussed the advantages and disadvantages of hosting applications on-premises, in a data cente...

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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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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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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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Installing Visual Studio 6.0 on Windows XP or Vista
Matt Puskala

Installing Visual Studio 6.0 on Windows XP or Vista

One of the more fun, and sometimes challenging aspects of working at DMC are service calls to work on legacy systems, hardware, and software. I have recently been working on a Baldor motion control system with a Visual C++ 6.0 front end. When I first joined DMC, we would implement C++ or VB 6.0 solutions quite frequently. Now we use the .NET platform, so I have not had Visual Studio 6.0 installed on my laptop for over a year. I ran into some problems during the install. Ultimately, the proble...

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Editing Underlying Data in MS SQL Reporting Service (SSRS)
Boris Cherkasskiy

Editing Underlying Data in MS SQL Reporting Service (SSRS)

In the past, DMC has used MS SQL Server Reporting Service (SSRS) on multiple projects as a web-based reporting engine. I personally liked using SSRS a lot because it allowed us to design quite complicated reports in very little time. At the same time, I wished it were possible to edit data viewed in the report, such as editing row comments. While it wasn’t possible to edit report data using the standard set of SSRS features, our team was able to find a way around this by creating a cust...

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DMC Gets Great Turnout at University of Illinois Job Fair
Tim Jager

DMC Gets Great Turnout at University of Illinois Job Fair

DMC received a record number of visitors to our booth at yesterday's job fair at the University of Illinois. In our quest to hire the best of the best, Jon Carson and I met and spoke with some really promising candidates and managed to collect almost 100 resumes. After a few minor adjustments, our ping-pong ball demo performed flawlessly throughout the day. As intended, it drew a lot of attention to our booth and hopefully helped us find our next stellar DMC engineer. In the spirit of coo...

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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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Choosing the Right SharePoint Development Environment
Benjamin Zeinz

Choosing the Right SharePoint Development Environment

When developing a SharePoint solution, there are many choices of development environments to get the job done, but they are not all equal. Once you’ve figured out the purpose of the page, how many web-parts are required for that purpose, and what the inputs for each web-part are, only then can you consider which development environment is appropriate according. Imagine the following options as a kind of inverted Maslow’s hierarchy SharePoint development: Native SharePoin...

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DMC's Blog Now Features a Nifty Code Syntax Highlighter
Tim Jager

DMC's Blog Now Features a Nifty Code Syntax Highlighter

Check out the nifty new code syntax highlighter we've added to the blog.  This will make it much easier for us to post code snippets. Here's a sample c# function that is automatically formatted. Also note the handy tools on the upper right corner of the code box. Just hover your mouse over the upper right corner and you can view, copy, or print the code.  using System; namespace MyNameSpace { class HelloWorld { static void Main(string[] args) ...

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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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I2C and the .NET Micro Framework
Dan Freve

I2C and the .NET Micro Framework

It is well-known that increasing the number of pins on an integrated circuit (IC) increases its cost. To reduce the number of pins, several serial protocols have been developed to transfer data between IC's. One such protocol, I2C, uses only 2 bidirectional open-drain wires. For a recent application, I needed to write a quick class to communicate to a Newhaven LCD display over the I2C bus. I'll demonstrate how simple it was to get up and running using the Micro Framework. In a prev...

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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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