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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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Using NI Certified LabVIEW Developers? Why not?
Brent Hoerman

Using NI Certified LabVIEW Developers? Why not?

I'm not sure if anyone else remembers taking typing tests. I know I do, and not fondly either. While no fun to take, they serve a valuable purpose to a would-be employer. If you are going to pay someone to complete tasks that involve entering text on a keyboard, shouldn't you make sure you are hiring someone who can crank out as many words per minute as possible, while keeping mistakes to a minimum? So why not give them a typing test? By the same reasoning, it makes sense to select Ce...

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Line Laser Thickness and 3D Inspection
Leon Grossman

Line Laser Thickness and 3D Inspection

I recently implemented a project where we were using a SICK Ranger camera to measure a part. This camera works by measuring the position of light from a line generating laser on its 2D field of view and translating that to a height position. This works because features that are higher and closer to the camera will be closer to the top of the camera's 2D field of view and things that are lower will be closer to the bottom. This is the same effect can easily be seen in shadows when the sun is ...

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Celebrate Earth Day by adding a Power Meter
Ken Brey

Celebrate Earth Day by adding a Power Meter

DMC is working with Panasonic to provide power consumption feedback for industrial machinery. If a piece of equipment is going to consume thousands of dollars of electricity each year, isn't it worth keeping tabs on it? Panasonic's line of low-cost industrial power meters provide instantaneous and totalized power consumption information to your existing SCADA system through a multi-drop RS485 interface. Or you can add Panasonic's own data collection and reporting server for out-of...

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Employee Spotlight: Eric Anderson
Jessica Mlinaric

Employee Spotlight: Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson, Project Engineer You were a TA in graduate school.  What was the experience of teaching classes like, and what lessons have you carried into your career? A class about PLCs (programmable logic controller) was my favorite as an undergrad so I really enjoyed the opportunity to teach it.  I realized students became frustrated with the standard course structure of trying to program structureless ladder logic without any assistance.  Rather than repel them from pro...

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RT-301: Capabilities of Distributed LabVIEW Real-Time
Darren Jones

RT-301: Capabilities of Distributed LabVIEW Real-Time

Eric Nielsen’s Real Time blog did a good job of hitting the major strengths and benefits of any system based on a controller running a Real-time operating system. Here I’ll get into a little more depth, specifically for the capabilities these systems give in regards to distributed execution. As we’ve learned, the major benefits of running a Real-Time system are determinism and robust operation. These benefits can be realized in a very powerful way: distributed execution. Dis...

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It's Easy Being Green
Jessica Mlinaric

It's Easy Being Green

Kermit the Frog once sang, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” Sorry Kermit, we at DMC disagree - it's actually pretty easy. We know “going green” is trendy right now, but it’s something DMC has focused on for awhile. It does take a concerted effort, but whether it’s in our office or in our industry we're contributing to a greener planet on Earth Day and every day. At DMC we strive to be eco-conscious as we deliver world-class solutions for our clien...

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Selecting the Right Machine Vision Software and Platform
Cesar Pena

Selecting the Right Machine Vision Software and Platform

One of our many areas of expertise at DMC is developing and integrating machine vision systems. Our focus is on offering the most effective solution for the application; we are hardware/vendor independent and are not tied to any platform. When selecting a vision hardware and software platform, the most important questions to answer are: What are the technical challenges of the application? How many vision systems will be produced? How many cameras are needed for each vision system? I...

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Taming Clock Drift With NI-Sync
Leon Grossman

Taming Clock Drift With NI-Sync

Some data acquisition applications using LabVIEW require an ultimately stable clock reference. In these cases there are a number of options, such as GPS, for generating a clock reference that is more accurate than your DAQ board can attain on its own. Most, however, don't require this kind of absolute accuracy and we can rely on the internal clock of the DAQ board in use. In our modular DAQ system, we had a number of different data sources. Some of these have no clock source at all and we...

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LabVIEW Formula Nodes - Faster Or Not?
Leon Grossman

LabVIEW Formula Nodes - Faster Or Not?

National Instruments LabVIEW is one of our core development languages here at DMC. With four architects on staff, we often ask ourselves questions about the way LabVIEW behaves that most other people don't need to worry about. While performance optimizing a project, I replaced some complex math with formula nodes and realized a significant improvement in performance with this simple change. Since there is often repeated conventional wisdom which says that formula nodes are either slower o...

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Video Blog: Automating a SharePoint Dashboard is Essential
Rick Rietz

Video Blog: Automating a SharePoint Dashboard is Essential

Instead of writing a traditional web blog, I decided to break from tradition a bit and author a video blog instead this time! Nearly all SharePoint projects I work on include a SharePoint Dashboard component that automates the aggregation of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). In this video blog, I highlight the key benefits that automating the aggregation of data via a SharePoint Dashboard have over manual KPI reporting. To have a successful SharePoint Dashboard, it is essential that senio...

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DMC Launches Newsletter
Jessica Mlinaric

DMC Launches Newsletter

DMC, Inc. is excited to announce the launch of its monthly email newsletter. The newsletter’s goal is to maintain an interesting and valuable dialogue with DMC clients and contacts. The DMC Monthly Update highlights recent company events and accomplishments. Additionally, our team of expert engineers provides technical tips and anecdotes that are relevant to DMC readers. Their advice is available via the “Ask DMC” section. The Employee Spotlight takes a closer look at the in...

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Installing Search Server Express Over Windows Sharepoint Services 3.0 with Slipstream
John Sullivan

Installing Search Server Express Over Windows Sharepoint Services 3.0 with Slipstream

Why Search Server Express(SSE) instead of Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) search? SSE provides a number of benefits over the built in WSS search. You are basically getting the paid enterprise search from MOSS without the licensing fees. It gives you the ability to search multiple scopes/site, have a central search site location, improved crawling, and many other features. Installation: Download Search Server 2008 Express here. It is important to make sure that Windows SharePoint Services...

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Siemens vs Allen-Bradley: Function Blocks
Nick Shea

Siemens vs Allen-Bradley: Function Blocks

Siemens and Rockwell Automation are two giants competing in industrial automation technology today. Rockwell (aka Allen-Bradley) seems to be more popular in the US market, but Siemens has a larger international customer base. A cursory Google search will reveal that there is no lack of debate among automation professionals over which one is preferred. On the higher end of their PLC lines, the programming environments to use are: Siemens - Step 7 Simatic Manager for S7-300 and 400 level ...

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Successful Implementation of Siemens' SiMotion Shaftless Drive Standard
Kristie Simon Shea

Successful Implementation of Siemens' SiMotion Shaftless Drive Standard

In many industries, shaftless drive technology has replaced the old mechanical drive systems. Instead of using mechanical gearing to force one axis on a machine to follow another one, servos are used. The servo technology reduces many of the flaws of a large mechanical gearing system as well as provides a lot of flexibility. This technology is in heavy use in industries such as the automotive, packaging, and printing. Using the shaftless drive technology requires the use of a motion controlle...

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National Instruments LabVIEW Remote Panel Bug
Jody Koplo

National Instruments LabVIEW Remote Panel Bug

Although we use many different technologies and software packages at DMC, we have a great amount of experience with National Instruments LabVIEW. We currently have four Certified Architects and another seven Certified Developers. Lately, we've had several customers with applications that require distributed systems using cRIOs and RT PXI chassis. Both for development and for later interaction, we often use LabVIEW Remote Front panels. Remote Front Panels allow us to peek in and check on V...

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Facebook and SharePoint Development, Cassandra and Highly Scalable Databases
Benjamin Zeinz

Facebook and SharePoint Development, Cassandra and Highly Scalable Databases

I had a customer that wanted a Business Intelligence SharePoint web-part to track their facebook fans over time, to measure the effectiveness of their Facebook marketing push. Little did I suspect that I would be a casualty in the wars over database scalability. I was excited because I'd heard great things about the active Facebook developer community, and found that the Facebook Query language (FQL) API was quite mature compared with other REST APIs that I had worked with, and even found...

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Employee Spotlight: Kristie Simon
Jessica Mlinaric

Employee Spotlight: Kristie Simon

DMC Employee Spotlight is a new feature for our company newsletter.  Each month we will take a closer look at a different employee to learn more about the members who make up Team DMC. Kristie Simon, Project Engineer Can you tell me about one of the most interesting projects you’ve worked on at DMC? I spent 6 ½ months in China helping develop a new facility for a major manufacturer.  It was really interesting to be involved on such a large scale pro...

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DMC Deploys Checklists
Jessica Mlinaric

DMC Deploys Checklists

Taking a page from Dr. Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto, DMC has released its own set of common task checklists. Gawande, a surgeon, makes a distinction between errors of ignorance and errors of ineptitude, blaming most modern mistakes on the latter. Failures occur not due to what one doesn’t know, but because people do not properly make use of what they do know. Gawande researches highly complicated tasks including performing surgery, building skyscrapers, and flying commer...

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Shamrock Shuffle 2010 & Commitment Contracts
Frank Riordan

Shamrock Shuffle 2010 & Commitment Contracts

Team DMC competed for the fifth straight year in the Shamrock Shuffle, an 8K (4.97 mile) race in downtown Chicago. This year the weather was a little wet and chilly but nowhere near as bad as last year. There was a lot of internal and external competition for this race, which I am certain helped all of us improve our health, get in a little better shape, and give some pretty impressive results in the race. DMC 2010 Shamrock Shuffle Race Results   Racer Time I...

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