AutomationDirect E-mail Newsletter

E-Notes from Captain's Log aboard
Volume 5 Issue 1

Welcome to our semi-regular 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 if you wish to unsubscribe.

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Welcome to the first newsletter of 2003! With this newsletter, we are introducing some exciting new changes to help bring you even more of the information you want. You'll notice a new column called "Support Solutions". In this column, product managers and tech support specialists will be contributing articles on a regular basis on some of the topics that customers ask about most.

Also new will be a "Tips and Tricks" section. This is where you, our customer, can help make a contribution to our newsletter. Write us at about a great tip or application trick you've discovered that may be helpful to others who are using our products. If your tip is published, we will send you a free gift.

As always, if you have any comments or suggestions for our newsletter, drop us a line at


AutomationDirect goes to Mexico
DL06 wins Control Engineering Editors' Choice Award
Come see our BattleBot at National Manufacturing Week
Schedule for Interconnecting Automation training

Industrial relay line offers excellent contact reliability
New 8, 10 and 15-inch models added to EZTouch line of touch panels
Teach-in pushbutton offers instant calibration in 12 mm photoelectric sensors
Prices lowered on industrial monitors
24 VDC power supply offers flexible mounting and saves panel space
USB serial converter connects serial devices to PC applications


ASCII In/Out for DL06 and D2-260

Application of the month




AutomationDirect goes to MexicoAutomationDirect goes to Mexico!

Starting in March 2003, AutomationDirect will begin selling direct to Mexico. The company will offer its full range of products and will ship directly into Mexico and border cities. A bilingual sales and tech support staff will also be available for Spanish-speaking customers. The company has set up a preliminary Web site at for more information, or you can call 678-947-9765.

DL06 wins Control Engineering Editors' Choice Award

DL06AutomationDirect's DL06 was recently awarded Control Engineering's Editors' Choice Award for Embedded Control. 35 awards were given in nine different categories to products that were featured in the magazine in 2002. Editors selected the winners based on service to the industry, technological advancement, and market impact. For more about the Editors' Choice Awards, visit the Control Engineering web site.

Come see our BattleBot at National Manufacturing Week

If you plan on attending National Manufacturing Week in Chicago (March 3-6), stop by booth 5945 to pick up our latest literature and to see the BattleBot AutomationDirect is co-sponsoring with Product Design and Development (PD&D) magazine. The BattleBot will be in the PD&D booth during the show and will also appear in this season's BattleBot tournament.

Schedule for Interconnecting Automation training

Training by Interconnecting AutomationInterconnecting Automation, an AutomationDirect federation partner, delivers training to customers using AutomationDirect products. Classes for PLC-based systems are held around the country and are delivered by Doug Bell, who has over 20 years experience in the industry. Following is the schedule for training classes for the next few months:

PLC-based Control Systems - Introductory Class
February 11-13 Cleveland, OH
March 18-20 Louisville, KY
April 8-10 Orlando, FL
June 10-12 Atlanta, GA

PLC-based Control Systems - Advanced Class
March 11-13 Atlanta, GA
May 6-8 Milwaukee, WI

Interconnecting Automation also offers video courses that include training kits that can be used at home or in the office. For more information on the training kits and for further information on Interconnecting Automation, visit their Web site.

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Industrial relay line offers excellent contact reliability

Our new line of industrial relays is available in 24 VDC, 120 VAC and 240 VAC coil voltages. The relays feature bifurcated contacts for excellent contact reliability and low-current switching capability. All relay sockets are DIN-rail mountable for easy installation. Sockets include holding clips to secure relays and protect against accidental relay disengagement. The relays also feature indicator LEDs for easy troubleshooting. Certain models feature an internal surge protection diode to protect against voltage surges and to extend the overall life of the relay. Prices for the relays start at $4.50.

Click here for more information on the new line of industrial relays

EZTouch panelsNew models added to EZTouch line of touch panels

The EZTouch line of operator interface panels now includes color 8, 10 and 15-inch slim bezel models. The new panels are also available with pre-installed MODBUS Plus, DeviceNet or Ethernet I/P interface modules. The 15-inch panel (with serial protocol support) is just $2,999, the 10-inch is $1,899, and the 8-inch is $1,099.

Click here for more information on the EZTouch line of products

EZText Multiplexer connects up to five text panels

The new EZMultiplexer (EZ-MULTIDROP) connects up to five EZText panels to a single PLC. Any combination of panel models can be used and each panel may have a unique configuration. Only the PLC settings are common to all five panels. The multiplexer is priced at $299.

Click here for more information on the EZText line of products

12 mm photoelectric sensorsTeach-in pushbutton offers instant calibration in 12 mm photoelectric sensors

Several 12mm photoelectric sensors are now available with a built-in teach pushbutton, for instant calibration using a target object. They are available in diffuse, retroreflective and through-beam sensing styles and in axial cable or quick-disconnect models. Prices for the sensors start at $23.

Click here for more information on the new line of photo sensors

Industrial monitorsPrices lowered on industrial monitors

AutomationDirect is able to pass on reductions in electronic component pricing to you by lowering our FLI and FPM industrial monitors prices by $20 to $400, with the same or better quality and features. For example, the 18-inch touch model has been lowered $400 to just $2,295. Our industrial monitors feature quality LCD screens and controllers with auto-scaling, auto-adjust, and wide viewing angles.

Click here for more information on our industrial monitors

24 VDC power supply offers flexible mounting and saves panel space

The FA-24PS-90 24 VDC compact power supply accepts 95-135 or 190-264 VAC input (selectable) and provides up to 3.7 A continuous output current. The power supply can be panel or DIN-rail mounted and the compact 4.5" by 3" footprint saves panel space. It also features brownout protection, overvoltage and overload protection, and thermal and overshoot protection. It is priced at $69.

Click here for more information on power supplies

USB serial converter connects serial devices to PC applications

Our new USB to RS-232 converter transparently connects serial devices to PC applications via a USB port. The unit features flexible cable and ergonomic molding for easy connections, and is great for users who need to connect to a serial port-based peripheral from a laptop PC that has an available USB port, but no serial port. The converter is industry-standard color coded for easy installation, and offers an LED indicator for power and TX/RX. It is priced at $24.95.


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Additions to EZTouch line

Data Highway Plus (DH+) and Ethernet capability have been added to the EZTouch line of operator interface panels. New panels with the DH+ option card pre-installed offer connectivity to an Allen-Bradley Data Highway Plus network and Allen-Bradley Remote I/O. Available models include 6-inch color or monochrome models and 8, 10 and 15-inch color model. Prices for the panels with DH+ pre-installed start at $1,159.

Also available is an Ethernet option card with 10Mbit Ethernet communications for high speed and flexibility. The card is priced at $189 and enables an EZTouch panel to connect to an AutomationDirect Ethernet network. Up to six EZTouch panels can be connected to one or multiple PLCs containing an ECOM module using off-the-shelf Ethernet hubs.

D2-260 CPUD2-260 CPU now shipping

The D2-260 CPU is our most powerful DL205 CPU and provides all the capabilities of our other DL205 CPUs, plus several features not typically found in PLCs of its size. It offers over 230+ RLL instructions, powerful and easy-to-use ASCII in/out and MODBUS networking instructions, and 16 PID loops with auto-tune. The D2-260 has total memory of 30.4 K, with support for a maximum of 16,384 I/O points.

Additional features include local expansion for up to five total bases (one CPU base and four expansion bases) and two communication ports that provide a vast array of communication possibilities.

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ASCII In/Out for DL06 and D2-260
by Paul Ruland, PLC and I/O Product Manager

AutomationDirect has been extremely pleased with the customer feedback regarding our new DL06 and D2-260 PLC products. The most notable feedback has surrounded the extensive use of the new ASCII in/out instructions. We have quickly learned there are many more applications for ASCII in/out for a PLC beyond connecting to a barcode reader or a printer/labeler.

Initially, our published examples showed that either raw ASCII in or ASCII out could be supported, but not both on the same port from the same program. (See catalog pages 274 and 374.) Our concern was customers becoming frustrated with data errors if multiple ASCII in and out instructions overlapped. Raw ASCII data communication is by nature a "non-sequence" protocol. It does not have the defined data framing, function codes, handshaking or CRC/LRC error checking that other serial protocols, like MODBUS RTU, include. Although the proper program interlocking scheme for the ASCII instructions is basically the same as we document for our WX/RX network instructions, there are a few more steps necessary in properly handling the Enable and Complete bits. (If your application requires more communication control, you should look into using one of our F2-CP128 modules.)

We performed extensive testing and now have program examples on our Web site at showing two methods of performing ASCII in and out in the same program, including some proper techniques for interlocking the communication to prevent both from occurring simultaneously. This allows more complete ASCII in and out capability within a single program on the DL06 and D2-260 CPUs. Scroll to the bottom of the list to find these examples.

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Application: DL205 and EZTouch panel run and monitor die-jacking systems

Products used: DL-205, motor controller/protector, EZTouch panel

Description: Modern Hydraulics Inc, builds die separators for the automotive and appliance industries. The company's machines open, level, close, un-jam and test dies used to form sheet metal. The machines synchronize die-jacking systems to keep the upper and lower die shoes parallel and automatically adjusts for die jack pockets that are not identical in opening height. The system uses a DL205 PLC, motor control/protection device and electronic pressure and position sensors to monitor the operation of the machine. An 8" or 10" color EZTouch panel provides specific operating instructions to the operator at the appropriate time. The operator panel took the place of hydraulic gauges and written instructions, and now allows inexperienced personnel to operate the machine safely and productively. The machine can operate either four or six jacks, and the number of jacks to be used is selectable by the operator. "By using AutomationDirect products and their superior customer service and technical support, we've been able to thoroughly modernize and increase the capacity of our line of machines, while decreasing costs by eliminating the need for two sizes of machines for differing applications," says Lance Renshaw.

Submitted by: Lance Renshaw, Modern Hydraulics Inc.

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

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Best excuses to give if you are found asleep at your desk:

"This is one of the seven habits of highly effective people!"

"They told me at the blood bank this might happen."

"Oh, Hi, I was trying to pick up my contact lens without my hands."

"This is just a 15 minute power-nap like they raved about in the last time management course you sent me to."

"I was just meditating on the mission statement and envisioning a new paradigm!"

"Auggh! Why did you interrupt me? I had almost figured out a solution to our biggest problem."

And the #1 response if found asleep at your desk: "...and I especially thank you for my excellent boss, Amen!"

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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 US This offer cannot be combined with any discounts or other special promotions.

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