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Backing Up and Restoring Embedded PC's with Symantec's Norton Ghost
Danny Budzinski

Backing Up and Restoring Embedded PC's with Symantec's Norton Ghost

I was recently called up by a past customer who was using XP Windows embedded on an HP Neoware Thin Client who had lost their hard drive image and needed the machine restored. These types of machines are becoming more and more common, used as terminals for ATM’s, self checkout terminals, etc. They are moderately low cost, light, flexible platforms that don’t have any moving components like fans or spinning hard disks, and can therefore be left without the need for much maintenance or...

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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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State-Case Machines Replace Gotos
Eric Anderson

State-Case Machines Replace Gotos

Recently, I created a function to execute this simple flowchart: This function is executing within its own thread and starts an asynchronous action that executes in another thread. This function periodically checks the system state. Before the asynchronous action is started, an initialization action must occur. After it is started, if the system state changes to Pause, the asynchronous action must be halted and reinitialized before it is restarted. Initially, my first attempt at implem...

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A Roomba Christmas
Danny Budzinski

A Roomba Christmas

The holidays are here again. The decorations: tinsel and faux snow. And when the weather outside is frightful, you track in a lot of real snow and dirt. It got me thinking, I don't really want to clean up after everything, but I could follow up on my Roomba work! Using the ROI 500 protocol from iRobot, I decided it was about time the Roomba did a little Christmas performance for everyone. Making A Roomba Dance Here are Roomba's Open Interface (OI) Specifications. ...

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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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Automated Ping Pong Game
Dan Freve

Automated Ping Pong Game

Sometimes, it's difficult to articulate exactly what type of work DMC does day to day. For example, in a career fair setting a DMC employee might only have a few minutes to describe our projects to a candidate. It quickly became apparent to us that a physical demo that highlights our capabilities would be very beneficial in these situations. Enter, the automated ping pong game! We decided to build a machine that plays ping pong - autonomously! Here's a video showing the machine in act...

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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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IE Tab for Google Chrome
Eric Anderson

IE Tab for Google Chrome

I liked Firefox. It had tabbed browsing before Internet Explorer (IE) and seemed lighter and faster. The plug-ins were also a great feature, especially IE Tab, which ran IE from within Firefox. It was very easy to change the rendering engine and you could assign certain web sites to automatically switch to use IE. Certain web sites use non-standard features of IE and will not look right or be usable on other browsers. This is especially true of Microsoft SharePoint, which uses ActiveX control...

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WSS or MOSS - Which Version of SharePoint is Right for Us?
Rick Rietz

WSS or MOSS - Which Version of SharePoint is Right for Us?

Looking back over the last three years of implementing SharePoint solutions for a wide variety of clients (large and small), I would say this is the number one question clients ask me when looking to get started on their first SharePoint portal solution. I think it is definitely one of the first questions you should try to answer when planning your SharePoint solution. After all, selecting the right version of SharePoint will save your organization time and money; and ensure that you maximize th...

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Building Customer Relations... on the Soccer Field
Nick Shea

Building Customer Relations... on the Soccer Field

On a recent project in Guangzhou, China, I had an opportunity to join a soccer outing with guys from our client's factory. Ok, so maybe it wasn't a FIFA World Cup caliber match, but we had a great time pitting the engineering department versus the operations and materials departments. It was a great way to take advantage of the warm weather in late November and to get out after a long week commissioning a batch reporting system. I was there to install a .NET application to captu...

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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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New PXI Battery Simulator for PHEV Automotive Applications
Brent Hoerman

New PXI Battery Simulator for PHEV Automotive Applications

For a recent DMC project I had the pleasure of working with Pickering Interfaces, a well-known international PXI hardware vendor, to supply an off-the-shelf PXI card which can simulate 6 chemical battery cells. Since such a product did not exist at the start of the project, DMC had a large role to play in specifying its eventual performance and features. It's not every day you get to dream up your own test and measurement instruments, but I guess that is what we've just done. The resu...

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Using Microsoft's RichCopy Tool
Ken Brey

Using Microsoft's RichCopy Tool

Sometimes copying and pasting from Windows Explorer just isn't good enough. It's fine for every-day file handling, but if you have to migrate all the files on a drive, but can't use a program like Ghost to carbon copy the volume, Windows Explorer just won't do. If you are copying all night and one file has a problem, Windows Explorer will just pop up a dialog and stop copying, leaving you unsure exactly what is done and what isn't. I had just this issue as I was migrating...

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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 Function Blocks - Unleash the Power!
Tim Jager

IEC 61131-3 Function Blocks - Unleash the Power!

If you are a programmer, an OEM, or end user that utilizes IEC 61131-3 compliant PLCs, you should MUST read this article. In the 3rd part of my series on the IEC61131-3 programming standard (you can check out the previous part 1 and part 2), I will explain the huge benefits of structured programming and why Function Blocks are the greatest thing ever....seriously they are awesome and worth using in every PLC program. So what is a Function Block anyway? A Function Block is an encapsulate...

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Computer Monitor Fix
Jody Koplo

Computer Monitor Fix

Employees at DMC receive a fairly top of the line laptop when they start. However, computer manufacturers often update their product offerings, so we don't all end up with the same model. Our two most recent employees both received the same laptop, a newer model that we did not have previous experience with. Unfortunately, when these laptops were connected to a second, external monitor there was a slow flicker that scrolled up the screen. This didn't make the monitor unusable, but was a ...

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SharePoint Content Linked to Outlook
Danny Budzinski

SharePoint Content Linked to Outlook

Recently, we created a help forum at DMC to share information between all of our engineers. Our goal was to create a standard place for people to ask questions and leverage our company’s collective experience and knowledge. It was also desirable that this information be stored in a reviewable manner so that questions only have to be answered once. Microsoft SharePoint provided a perfect portal on which to create a forum like this. All we had to do was create a Discussion list configured...

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Go Go Green - Another DMC Competitive Event
Frank Riordan

Go Go Green - Another DMC Competitive Event

A small contingency of DMC runners competed in the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Go Go Green 5K on October 24th. Below are Nick & Kristie right before the race: The results are in and I can now say that I, Frank B. Riordan, am The Fastest Engineer in the World Who Works at DMC Who Ran in the Go Go Green Challenge on October 24, 2009 Race Results can be found here. 2009 Go Go Green 5K Race Results Frank B. Riordan 24:03 Nick Shea 24:45 ...

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DMC Earns Microsoft Information Worker Competency for SharePoint
Rick Rietz

DMC Earns Microsoft Information Worker Competency for SharePoint

DMC has earned its fourth Microsoft competency: Information Worker. The Information Worker competency recognizes DMC’s investment and dedication to delivering world-class SharePoint Solutions for its customers. This new competency demonstrates DMC’s proficiency and experience implementing Microsoft SharePoint solutions. Microsoft awards competencies to partners who have demonstrated expertise by certifying multiple developers in a particular technology and producing multiple custo...

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