AutomationDirect E-mail Newsletter

E-Notes from Captain's Log aboard AutomationDirect.com
Volume 5 Issue 7

Welcome to our periodic e-mail update of what's new and happening at AutomationDirect. You are receiving this e-news because you subscribed to the AutomationDirect newsletter. Just go to http://notify.automationdirect.com/newsletter if you wish to unsubscribe.

Misplaced your catalog, or was it borrowed and never returned? To jump to our online request form and get our 1,300-page free catalog or catalog on CD, click here or call 1-800-633-0405.

EDITOR'S NOTES

SpinZoneBattleBot undergoing repairs, but still smiling!

The green smiley guy was heavily battered while appearing on our company-sponsored BattleBot named SpinZone. Numerous dents, scratches and deep gouges were inflicted on SpinZone's armor by other vicious BattleBot opponents during recent competitions. According to Christian Carlberg, SpinZone's creator, repairs are in progress to prepare SpinZone for future battles.

Refurbished PLC parts bring art to life in New York

Clara Williams' marionettesAutomationDirect donated some refurbished "b-stock" PLC equipment to artist Clara Williams in New York for a large marionette project. She also purchased some relays, limit switches, and enclosures to complete the project. Consequently, pedestrians were in for a surprise in Fort Greene, NY if they looked up as they walked down Hanson Place in October. They saw an unexpected sight. It was the latest installment of the Public Art Fund's "In the Public Realm" Program, where young artists were invited to work in neighborhoods where you'd least expect a public art project. Artist Clara Williams created six-foot tall marionettes and hid them throughout the area.

NOTE: Select re-manufactured parts are available for purchase for our U.S. and Canadian customers at a 20% savings off the catalog list price. These selected parts feature a full one-year warranty.

Other products are also available at reduced prices for inventory reduction purposes. Search for these bargains by selecting the product category you are interested in.

The AutomationDirect winning tradition continues

Control Design is an Industrial OEM (Machine Builder) & Integrator magazine. They do an annual survey to their readers asking open-ended questions on who they feel has the best products and services in the industry. Control Design has about 50 different product categories for which they inquire. They add up the totals and print the results. This is an email survey only for the Control Design readership - no vendors, only OEM's & Integrators. The results of this survey are printed in their annual November issue. Some of the 2003 results were as follows:

2003 SERVICE EXCELLENCE
AutomationDirect won 3 service awards for the following categories:

  1. PLCs
  2. Operator Interface Terminals
  3. Terminal Blocks

NOTE: PLC Programming - took 2nd place (4.4 out of 5 - same as 2002)

2003 PRODUCT EXCELLENCE
AutomationDirect has 4 product mentions in 2003:

  1. Operator Interface Terminals (2nd place)
  2. PLC Programming (4th place)
  3. PLCs (5th place)
  4. Terminal Blocks (6th place)

AutomationDirect works hard to provide quality automation products at affordable prices and to provide the best customer service possible. Please let us know if there is ever anything we can do to provide better support. We appreciate your business.

Feedback to this newsletter is always welcome at newsletter@automationdirect.com.

 

IN THIS ISSUE

COMPANY NEWS

  • AutomationDirect at ISA EXPO 2003 (thanks for stopping by!)
  • Schedule for Interconnecting Automation training
  • AutomationDirect Web seminars in December…You’re invited!


NEW PRODUCTS

  • Signal conditioners now available
  • AutomationDirect teams up with Cirronet to offer wireless radio modems


PRODUCT SHORT TAKES

ONLINE SPOTLIGHT

  • Web site search function updates
  • New sort option offered

SUPPORT SOLUTIONS

  • Micro PLCs: Twice the power at ½ the price and size

TECH TALK

  • Application of the month

THE LIGHTER SIDE

 

 

COMPANY NEWS

AutomationDirect at ISA EXPO 2003 in Houston, TX

Thanks to all who stopped by our booth at the ISA show in Houston. We had many old and new friends stop by to see our demonstration of a wireless communication link between our DirectLOGIC DL205 PLCs.

AutomationDirect had a tabletop display in the booth sponsored by Control Engineering at the ISA EXPO 2003. We also had some PLC, Terminator I/O and EZTouch operator interface product displays set up in the Profibus Trade Organization booth and we had a product display set up in the OPC Foundation booth as part of our KEPware business partners display.

Schedule for Interconnecting Automation Training classes

ICA logoInterconnecting Automation, an AutomationDirect federation partner, delivers training to customers using AutomationDirect products. PLC-based system classes are delivered by Doug Bell, who has over 20 years experience in the industry. In addition to the training classes offered, Interconnecting Automation also has training videos and several different hardware trainer kits and simulators that you can purchase for your own training or development program. The "Introduction to PLC Principles" training video is now available with captions in Spanish and on DVD. The Analog training video will be available with Spanish captions and on DVD by January 2004. Following is the current schedule for training classes:

PLC Control Systems - Basic Training
March 2 - 4, 2004 Atlanta, GA*
April 6 - 8, 2004 Irvine, CA
May 4 - 6, 2004 Charlotte, NC
June 22 - 24, 2004 Orlando, FL

PLC-based Control Systems - Advanced Class
December 2 - 4, 2003 Atlanta, GA*
February 10 - 12, 2004 Dallas, TX
March 23 - 25, 2004 Milwaukee, WI
May 11 - 13, 2004 Atlanta, GA*
June 1 - 3, 2004 Irvine, CA

*Classes held at AutomationDirect headquarters in Cumming, GA.

For more information on Interconnecting Automation, call 414-425-8348, email them at icauto@execpc.com or visit their web site.

Live @ ADCAutomationDirect Web seminars in December...You're invited!

Web seminars are offered for free. Seating is limited, so register soon! Two 45 minute seminars are currently being offered in December:

For further information or to register for a Web seminar, please visit http://automationdirectevents.webex.com

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NEW PRODUCTS

Signal ConditionersSignal conditioners now available

Signal integrity starts with quality measurement and good equipment. However, even with the best equipment signals can be degraded if the equipment is not properly installed. Signal integrity can be greatly impacted by poor shielding and wiring practices. The biggest factor is ground loop errors (ground noise). Our signal conditioners protect your expensive electronic equipment against ground loops with up to 1500 V of isolation.

Four models of DIN-rail mountable signal conditioners are now being offered, and prices start at $89.

AutomationDirect teams up with Cirronet to develop wireless radio modems

Cirronet Inc., and AutomationDirect announced a partnership to tailor Cirronet's wireless products to the needs of AutomationDirect's industrial automation customers. The two companies are working together to define performance, packaging and regulatory specifications to address the wide range of industrial automation applications served by AutomationDirect.

A variety of wireless serial and Ethernet radio modems will be offered, along with associated antenna, cable, adapter and power plug accessories. Product availability is planned for the first quarter of 2004 through AutomationDirect. Beta versions of the companies' first jointly developed products were demonstrated in early October, in Atlanta, at the ISA Wireless Industrial Communications and Industrial Ethernet Technical Conference. The products were also demonstrated at the ISA Expo in Houston, TX, which was held October 21-23, 2003.

 

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PRODUCT SHORT TAKES

H4-CTRIO high-speed counter moduleHigh-speed counter modules now available for DL405 and DL05/06 PLCs

The H4-CTRIO is a 2 channel input/ 2 channel output module that supports the DL405 PLC product line and is priced at $299.

The H0-CTRIO is a single channel input /single channel output module that supports the DL05 and DL06 PLC product lines and is priced at $189.

4-channel thermocouple input module for available for DL05/DL06 PLCs

The F0-04THM thermocouple input module ( for the DL05 or for the DL06) automatically converts type E, J, K, R, S, T, B, N, or C thermocouple signals into direct temperature readings. This module offers 0.1 degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit resolution. No extra scaling or complex conversion is required. This module will convert volts and millivolt signals into 16-bit digital values (0-65535). Signal processing features include automatic cold junction compensation, thermocouple linearization and digital filtering. Diagnostic features include detection of thermocouple burnout or disconnection. No user power supply is required. The module is priced at $199.

New slim-line power supplies with plastic case

PSP Power SuppliesThe PSP series of 12 and 24 VDC power supplies provides tightly regulated output voltage for sensitive loads in industrial environments. Compact in size and lightweight, these power supplies have a molded plastic case and are offered with either plug-in screw terminals or cage clamp terminals. A plastic DIN rail insert allows easy panel mounting. The automatically-recovering, constant-current short circuit protection limits the output current as the voltage is reduced to safely protect your control components from direct shorts and device failures. Most models meet NEC class 2 requirements. Prices start at $55. A 36 month warranty is now offered for all our PS and PSP series power supplies.

DataWorx from INTEWORX.NETDataWorx software connects Ethernet-enabled DirectLOGIC PLCs and WinPLCs for easy data collection

The DataWorx Software package easily connects your Ethernet-enabled DirectLOGIC programmable logic controllers (PLCs), or WinPLCs, to standalone PCs or network servers for simple data logging. Any PC or server on the network can collect valuable PLC/ WinPLC data without the need of special PC programming or any 3rd party HMI, SCADA, or DAQ software application. Prices start at $395 to support one PLC or WinPLC.

Entivity Studio release 7.2

Entivity Studio is a comprehensive control and Human Machine Interface (HMI) development tool powered by Microsoft's Visio. Entivity Studio 7.2 includes over 3,500 new or improved smart shapes with background animations. It supports MODBUS TCP and MODBUS RTU, as well as other industrial fieldbus communication. Studio 7.2 runs on Windows XP, 2000 and NT and also provides support for EZTouch and EZText operator interface displays. You may add HMI screens anywhere on your network with the PC-ENT-SRN software, a run-time license for displaying remote screens (developed under Studio) on a remote PC across a LAN.

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ONLINE SPOTLIGHT

Web site search function updates

We have implemented a new and more powerful search engine for your convenience. Click on the "Search:" link on our Home Page, or on any of our other Web page headers, or simply enter your search criteria in the space provided. A full Web site search will return results for product catalog listings, as well as overview, technical, and company-related documents in all Web formats, including PDF files. You will now have the option to choose which specific documents or types of Web pages you want to search to help narrow the result set. Search tips will be provided online to aid you in using the updated search function.

New sort option offered

We are now offering a sorting option for the shopping cart, as well as on your personalized Order Status, Invoice Listings, Purchase History, and Tracking pages. This new sort option allows you to view your information in a manner that best suits your needs. When you see the yellow "sort arrow" in the heading, simply click on it to sort by the selected column.

If you have ideas or suggestions on how we can make our Web site serve your needs better, we want to hear them. Please email us at store@automationdirect.com

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SUPPORT SOLUTIONS

Micro PLCs: Twice the power at 1/2 the price and size
by Paul Ruland, Product Manager

PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) have traditionally suffered from the stereotypical complex of "bigger must be better". When PLCs were first introduced over 30 years ago, the physical hardware was about the size of a typical broom closet. They were often wall mounted, not in an enclosure, and the majority of the material in the card cage was metal. Ironically, one of the initial benefits of using a PLC, was the amount of space saved compared to a conventional hard-wired relay panel, which could often cover an entire factory wall.

In the last 5-10 years, smaller PLCs have been introduced that have significantly improved capabilities previously found only in larger PLCs. Specifying a PLC has traditionally been based on the required I/O count and types. In the past, more I/O usually meant that a larger PLC was required. This was consistent across the most common applications - machine control, batch processing, regulatory control, material handling, etc. Now, with the additional features available in PLCs, including Ethernet communication, motion control, on-board PID, and remote connectivity, the user has much more flexibility in making the correct controller choice for their application. This recent increase in PLC capabilities has been most noticeable in the nano and micro class of controllers. Additional features are now offered in the areas of analog I/O, auto-tune PID, floating point math, multiple serial ports, and Ethernet and Internet connectivity, as well as several choices of device level networking and remote I/O options. PLC users can benefit greatly from this increased performance. For many applications, a much lower-cost micro or nano PLC will do the job that larger and more expensive PLCs did previously, and they can be installed in a much smaller panel for additional savings. Increased performance and added features now found in micro and nano PLCs make the amount of local I/O the only significant feature lacking in comparison to larger PLCs.

Even throughout the DirectLOGIC PLC product lines, it is now often possible to perform an existing larger DL405 application using a DL205 micro-modular PLC. With recent advances in the DL205 local expansion system, and the introduction of higher density 32 point modules, the amount of local I/O, local expansion, and remote I/O is the same as the DL405. Additionally, the DL05 and DL06 PLC product lines have benefited from the expanded offering of option cards which are available in 8, 10, and 16 point discrete models. This allows the DL05, with 14 built-in I/O, to be extended to a total of 30 I/O by adding a 16 point module to its one option card slot. The DL06, with 36 built-in I/O, can be extended to a total of 100-I/O by adding 16 point modules to each of its 4 option card slots.

In the future, AutomationDirect and other PLC suppliers will continue to add more capabilities to the nano, micro and small class PLCs. Software is also playing a bigger role in the evolution of PLCs and their specialty modules for process, discrete, and hybrid control applications. Advancements in small footprint microprocessors and the acceptance of flash ROM memory, combined with software that provides intuitive graphical configuration, are eliminating the need for large amounts of setup ladder logic that were often needed in the beginning of the PLC user program. The new breeds of specialty modules, such as high-speed counting or motion control, are being designed as low-cost "mini-coprocessors", capable of executing local logic asynchronous to the PLC CPU scan. Yet, they provide an improved cohesiveness between software and hardware through the benefits of Microsoft Windows-based point-and-click configuration utilities. With all these advancements in PLC computing technology and network connectivity, PLCs should quickly shed the stigma of being a "silent black box". A summary of the DirectLOGIC PLCs and their characteristics is listed below.

PLC Class

I/O Count

Comparable DirectLOGIC PLC

Extended Features per Class

Nano

<18 I/O

DL05, DL105

DL05: 2-serial ports, built-in PID w/auto-tune, 1-expansion slot for discrete or analog I/O, Ethernet, DeviceNet, Profibus networking or memory cartridge/real-time clock/calendar, advanced high speed counting/ pulse output modules. 14-I/O standard, or up to 30 I/O when expanded with an option card

DL105: Integrated high speed counting/pulse output, 7 Amp relay outputs

Micro

19-128 I/O

DL05, DL06: Micro-bricks
DL205: Micro-modular

DL06: 2-serial ports, built-in PID w/auto-tune, 4-expansion slots for discrete or analog I/O (up to 100 points), real-time clock/calendar, Ethernet, DeviceNet, Profibus networking advanced high speed counting/pulse output modules.

DL205: 3, 4, 6, or 9 slot bases, 4 point-32 point discrete modules, 2-8 channel analog modules, THM/RTD temperature modules, (4) CPU choices, BASIC Co-Processor, relay outputs up to 10 Amp, Ethernet, MODBUS RTU serial and ASCII networking, local expansion and remote I/O, built-in PID w/auto-tune, advanced high speed counting/pulse output modules.

Small

129-512 I/O

DL205: Micro-modular with
local expansion or remote I/O

DL305, DL405: Small modular

DL205: Local expansion I/O up to 1,280 I/O. CPU memory up to 30 K total (D2-260 CPU program + data).

DL305: Legacy PLC debuted in 1983. New D3-350 CPU released in 1997.

DL405: Local expansion I/O up to 1,280 I/O. 3-serial ports on D4-450 CPU, removable memory cartridge.

Large

>512 I/O

DL205: Micro-modular

DL405: Small modular

DL205: Ethernet and serial remote I/O enabling total I/O count up to 8,192 points.

DL405: High density I/O modules up to 64 points discrete and 16-channel analog. Ethernet and serial remote I/O enabling total I/O count up to 8,192 points.

 

If you have any questions concerning these types of applications, or any other application questions, visit our tech support page on the Web at http://www.automationdirect.com/store/TechHome/TechHome or call us at 770-844-4200.

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TECH TALK

Application of the month: D2-260 CPU handles bartending duties for beer cooler application

Products used: DL205, D2-260 CPU, H2-ECOM (Ethernet network module), D2-CTRINT (counter interface), F2-04AD-1 (analog input module), DirectSOFT software

Description: I'm using a DL205 PLC to monitor the 2-tap beer cooler in the bar in my home. My wife and I entertain quite a bit, and we were tired of running out of beer in the middle of a party or on a weekend. So, being the controls engineer that I am, I added an inline flow meter to both beer taps to measure volumetric flow and I also monitor CO2 pressure on the kegs along with cooler temperature. I have also set up alarms to tell me when the keg levels are getting low, CO2 pressure is out of limits, and cooler temperature is out of limits. The system is currently in place, but without any type of HMI. I currently use DirectSOFT software to check on the keg status. I want to develop a Java application to connect to the ECOM module so that it can be viewed from the Internet. I also want to install an EZTouch panel on the bar, but will have to wait until my budget will allow me to spend the money for that enhancement.

Submitted by:
John E. Sawyers
BTC Networking

View our entire collection of Application Stories or submit one of your own

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THE LIGHTER SIDE

Understanding Engineers - Take One
To the optimist, the glass is half full.
To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.
To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Understanding Engineers - Take Two
There once was an engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things mechanical. After serving his company loyally for over 30 years, he happily retired.

Several years later, the company contacted him regarding a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their multimillion dollar machines. They had tried everything and everyone else to try to get the machine to work, but to no avail. In desperation, they called on the retired engineer who had solved so many of their problems in the past. The engineer reluctantly took the challenge. He spent a day studying the huge machine.

At the end of the day, he marked a small "x" in chalk on a particular component of the machine and stated, "This is where your problem is."

The designated part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly again. The company later received a bill for $50,000 from the engineer for his services.

They demanded an itemized accounting of his charges. The engineer responded briefly: One chalk mark: $1; Knowing where to put it,: $49,999.

The bill was paid in full and the engineer retired again in peace.

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International customers (outside the U.S. and Canada), check our list of affiliates in over 23 countries to find the one nearest you.

Terms and Conditions, Free Shipping and Handling Offer for Online Orders: DIN rail and enclosures are excluded from the offer and will be billed at their normal rates. This offer applies only to orders over $300 in value with regular UPS delivery selected within the continental United States. This offer cannot be combined with any discounts or other special promotions.

Thanks for your time! Comments or suggestions for topics in future newsletters can be directed to newsletter@automationdirect.com

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