AutomationDirect E-mail Newsletter

E-Notes from Captain's Log aboard
Volume 6 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 if you wish to unsubscribe.

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This month’s newsletter comes in the middle of lots of activity at AutomationDirect. The newest issue of our magazine, Automation Notebook has just been mailed and our latest addendum is also about ready to hit the streets. We’ve also been busy launching new products, some of which you can check out in the New Products section below. Stay up to date with all our new product launches at

As always, we welcome your comments. Contact us at if you've got comments or suggestions concerning this newsletter.




  • Second issue of Automation Notebook hits the streets
  • Complete our PLC survey for a chance to win a BOSE Wave® Radio
  • Web seminars now hosted by Raindance
  • AutomationDirect participates in PROFIBUS technical seminars
  • Schedule for Interconnecting Automation training


  • Molded Case Circuit Breaker line now offered
  • 2-pole models added to supplementary protectors line



  • Changes in effect for account numbers
  • Online Return Authorization form now available


  • USB Follies


  • Application of the month





Second issue of Automation Notebook hits the streets

Automation NotebookThe second issue of our company magazine, Automation Notebook, has been mailed to subscribers and is available at As we started pulling together material for this issue, we noticed a trend: many of the articles were focused on power. Guest writer Frances Richards reports on the power industry's progress since the blackout of 2003 and where the strategy for power resources is headed in the future. There are also articles on high efficiency AC motors and drives, as well as control transformers.

If you do not currently receive the magazine and would like to, send your contact information to

Complete our PLC survey for a chance to win a BOSE Wave® radio

If you are a PLC user, take some time to fill out the PLC user survey at Questions are centered around the most popular PLC applications of today, and the fastest growing newer PLC applications being brought to market. The results of the survey will be used for the "PLC Speaking" column in the next issue of Automation Notebook. If your company uses PLCs, or is planning to use PLCs, complete this online survey and be entered in a drawing to win one of five BOSE Wave® radios. (The drawing will take place December 16, 2004.)

Web seminars now hosted by Raindance

AutomationDirect Web SeminarsEffective September 1st, AutomationDirect has moved Web seminar hosting services from Webex to Raindance. For past seminar attendees who may have bookmarked the seminar landing page in their Internet browser, the new address is A link to the current live seminar schedule and registration, as well as a list of pre-recorded seminars available for download, is always available on that site, as well as at

AutomationDirect participates in PROFIBUS technical seminars

AutomationDirect is participating in the PROFIBUS Trade Organization’s series of FREE one-day technical seminars and product fair. The seminars will include presentations and product displays on the following topics: Basics of PROFIBUS Operation, Bus Physics & Wiring, Cable Construction, System Troubleshooting, What is PROFInet for Ethernet, and more. Following are the dates of upcoming seminars: November 9 - Chicago, IL

For more information, visit

Schedule for InterConnecting Automation training

Interconnecting Automation delivers training to customers using AutomationDirect products. Following is the schedule for training classes in the next few months:

Interconnecting AutomationIntroductory Classes:
November 2-5 Cleveland, OH

Advanced Classes:
October 5-7 Las Vegas, NV
December 7-9 Atlanta, GA (This class will be held at AutomationDirect)

PID Class:
December 14-15 Atlanta, GA (This class will be held at AutomationDirect)

For more information on InterConnecting Automation classes, visit


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Molded Case Circuit Breaker line now offered

MCCBAutomationDirect has introduced a line of Cutler-Hammer’s Molded Case Circuit Breakers (MCCBs) that offers UL489 listed performance for branch circuit overcurrent protection and disconnecting means. The circuit breakers’ small size saves panel space, compared to standard breakers or comparable fusible devices. The MCCBs use patented contact conductor designs featuring high-speed "blow-open" action that results in superior performance when high level fault currents produce extraordinary electromechanical forces. They also feature advanced arc extinguishing technology, and a toggle handle that provides three positions (on/off/tripped) along with visual indicators. Prices for the new line start at $139. A line of accessories is also available for the MCCBs.

New models added to supplementary protector line

2-pole versions of the Cutler-Hammer WMS line of supplementary protectors are now offered, in addition to existing 3-pole and 1-pole models. The 2-pole protectors are available in models ranging from 6- 60 amps and are priced at $14.WMS Series protectors are UL1077 recognized for applications where branch circuit protection is not required or is already provided. The thermal magnetic devices protect against short circuit and overload conditions.

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Open loop stepping system line launched

AutomationDirect has launched the SureStep™ family of products, an open-loop stepping system that includes four standard motors, a "one-size-fits-all" step motor drive and a power supply. Prices for the new SureStep motors range from $19 to $99. The microstepping drive is priced at $149, and the power supply is $99.

Marathon Motors line extended

Marathon motorsThe Blue Max® 2000 series of Marathon motors is now available with a shaft-mounted encoder. The encoder is a Dynapar model HS35 and requires a 5-26 VDC power source.

Also new are lower horsepower versions of Marathon Blue Chip XRI® motors. The Blue Chip XRI motor line previously included 40-100 HP models and is now available in 15, 20, 25 and 30 HP versions. New lower HP Blue Chip XRI models start at $839.

50 and 75 VA control transformers added to offering

Two new models have been added to the existing CPT line of control transformers. The 50 and 75 VA models offer primary and secondary fuse boxes and 230/460 to 115 V. The control transformers are UL, CSA and CE listed and are priced at $36 (50 VA model) and $41 (75 VA model).

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Changes in effect for account numbers

AutomationDirect is growing, and to support our company growth we have installed a new company business system to position us for the future and to serve you better. One change that has affected our Web customers is in regards to account numbers. If you have an account number starting with an "E", please note that you should now log in by replacing the "E" with an "8". For instance, if you previously logged in with account "E1234", please now log in using "81234". Please also use the new "8" account number when calling customer service. Log ins using a user name are unaffected.

Online Return Authorization form now available

For our customers’ convenience, an online Return Authorization form is now available. To access the online form, go to the Home Page and select the "Product Info" item in the top bar of options. The "Product Return Authorization Form" is the last item in the drop down list. You will be asked to fill out information and submit the form.

Please note: Motors can not be returned to AutomationDirect. For motor returns, please contact Marathon Electric Sales and Support.

All Drives and EZTouch panels require approval from technical support prior to receiving a return authorization. Please call (800) 633-0405 for approval on these products. Do not use this form for these products!

This Return Authorization form applies to USA and Canada customers only.

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USB Follies (Or How I Broke My Computer by Overwhelming it with USB Serial Adapters)
By Dave Harsh, AutomationDirect Tech Support

The scenario:
My programming computer is a desktop running Windows XP Pro with two front and four rear USB ports. Internally, its hardware is capable of eight USB hardware ports, per the system information.

Following is the breakdown of the ports on this system:
* COM 1 is dedicated to the serial port.
* COM 2 is available on the system.
* COM 3 is used by the modem.
* COM ports 4 and above are up for grabs.

The problem:
When I plugged in a USB device, the first available COM port was used. Between a digital camera, an external USB hard drive, and multiple USB serial adapters, this system was fairly well-behaved. Plugging and unplugging USB serial adapters gave me the same COM port back on that USB port each time. Why should there be a problem?

I can tell you why.

 USB-RS232 adapterAfter plugging in USB serial adapters until I filled all available USB ports, I tried a USB hub. Even then, anything plugged into the USB hub maintained its order in the list of COM ports, assuming it was plugged back into the same physical USB ports. I was using up to COM 9, though, which is out of the range handled by DirectSOFT.

Unplugging the USB hub and plugging it into a new physical port caused the problem. When I did that, everything plugged into the hub was recognized as new devices, and the old COM ports weren't released. COM 10, 11, and 12 were assigned to the USB serial devices on the hub, even though nothing was using the lower COM numbers. The result was no chance at all of connecting through DirectSOFT.

The solution:
The fix was to open the operating system properties for hardware, find the COM and LPT section in Device Manager, then re-assign the USB serial adapters to the lower, unused COM port numbers. 10, 11, and 12 easily became 2, 4, and 5, and functioned as communication ports to the PLCs.

The moral of the story:
A simple check of Device Manager is all that is needed to avoid a problem such as I encountered. Be aware when assigning ports that a COM port number used for one application may already be in use by another application, or could be re-assigned. And, if you are using a USB hub, try to keep it in the same PC USB port, and if it has to be switched, first check COM port assignments in the Device Manager


Application of the month: D2-240 system removes unwanted metallic ions from waste water

Products used: DL205 with D2-240 CPUs

Description: A chrome plating shop had too high of a concentration of chrome and nickel in its waste water. We designed a system to remove the unwanted metallic ions from the solution and collect them as a concentrate, which was recyclable. The PLCs monitor ion concentration, pH, and multiple tank levels throughout the system. From this information, the waste is pumped through appropriate treatment paths using motor controlled ball valves and small (1 HP) chemical pumps. The system also prepares its own reagents from concentrate using the PLC to operate metering pumps and solenoid valves. The system operates in a hostile environment - hot, damp, and with both acids and caustics present. One PLC could have handled the entire job, but with the low cost of the D2-240-based system, it was more economical to use three systems, put them next to the associated controls, and benefit from considerable savings on the installation and wiring. An additional benefit is that we do not take the entire system down should there ever be a PLC failure.

Submitted by:
C. R. Williams

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

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Murphy’s Law of Prototyping and Production

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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.

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