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  In this issue
    Company News
  Pre-recorded seminars available
  Estimated Ship Date feature added to website
  Catalog addendum shipping soon
    Product Short Takes
  SureServo hits the market
  Thin finger wire duct now available
  Sensor line extended
  More 22mm pushbutton options
    Tech Talk
  Considering Communications
    The Lighter Side

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© 2006
All rights reserved






Volume 8 Issue 2, February 2006
It’s time for another e-mail update of what's new and happening at AutomationDirect. You are receiving this e-news because you subscribed to the newsletter. To unsubscribe, see the bottom of this newsletter for an automatic unsubscribe link.

We always welcome your comments or suggestions concerning this newsletter.

Editor's note:

Let the Thaw Begin
Winter is finally starting to wind down for this year. Soon, we’ll be hiding the Easter eggs and packing for vacations in sunny places.

In the mean time, we force ourselves to stay focused on tasks at hand. Equipment still has to be built. We have to continue to improve productivity. We must find ways to simplify processes without cutting back on quality. Here is just one place to find suggestions to do just that.

We here at AutomationDirect continue to provide quality products and service to meet the demanding needs of the ever changing automation industry. Read on to learn more. And, think SPRING!

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Company News
Have You Taken Part In A Raindance?web seminars
Many of you have benefited from our online live web seminars. AutomationDirect also has a set of pre-recorded seminars you can listen to anytime to become more familiar with a variety of products.

At your convenience, you can view/listen to 10 different seminars which average 45-50 minutes in length.
The topics currently available are:

  • AC Drives
  • C-more Operator Interface
  • DataLynx remote data collection
  • DataNet OPC
  • DataWorx Software
  • DirectSOFT parts 1 & 2
  • Ethernet
  • Motion Control
  • Selecting PLCs

Go to to register and view the list, as well as see the schedule for live Web seminars.

When Will I Get My Stuff?
How many times have we all asked that question? When it comes to your AutomationDirect order, you can now stay informed. Although AutomationDirect tries very hard to minimize backorder situations, they can and do occur.

A new feature has been added to our Web site which provides an Estimated Ship Date for each item. While placing an online order, you will see auto-generated Expected Shipment Date information for any parts that are partially in stock or backordered (with a few exclusions such as drop-shipped items and assemblies).
Here is an example of what you may see in your shopping cart display:

estimated ship date example screen
click to enlarge image

When you submit your order, we go one step further and record the Expected Shipment Dates you were provided. Each night we evaluate the dates compared to the current status our open Purchase Orders. If we detect any significant changes, either pulled-in or slipped, we will notify you of the changes.
Here is an automated email example:

estimated ship date example e-mail
click to enlarge image

2006 addendum to Catalog Vol. 10New Catalog Addendum Coming Soon
The finishing touches are being applied to the Volume 10 Addendum, packed with our latest products and the updated price list. Currently, shipment is planned for the end of February. Prices in the new addendum will take effect March 30, 2006. If you received a copy of our catalog by mail, you will automatically receive the new addendum.

If you would like to ensure you receive a FREE copy of the catalog and new addendum, simply fill out a request form online.

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New Products

Motion Control Is Easier With SureServo Digital Servo SystemsNew Sureservo systems
’s SureServo line of digital servo systems includes eight standard AC brushless servo motors, in both brake and non-brake models, and can be operated in combination with one of three standard servo drives (100W-3kW). In addition to DirectLOGIC PLCs, these servos can be used any other host controller.

SureServo drives feature on-board indexer and adaptive tuning modes, allowing for the highest possible level of performance for precise control of position, velocity, and torque. Prices for drives start at $479 for a 100W low inertia model. Motors start at $319.
More information on SureServo systems

Snug It Up With Thin-Finger Wire DuctThin-finger wire duct

The T1E series thin-finger wire duct is ideal for applications requiring compact wiring. The narrow thin-finger design is compatible with thinner screwless terminal blocks. The thin-finger wire duct is available in 2 meter lengths and comes with a flush non-slip cover. It is available in single pieces (cover included) or by the case. Single pieces are available for $14.
More information on Thin-finger wire duct

More Sensors to Meet Your Needs
AutomationDirect expands its sensor line with a number of new series.

The UHZ ultrasonic series has a maximum sensing distance of 300 mm and is available with an 18-30 VDC input supply range and PNP or NPN transistor outputs. The UHZ sensors are sold as a through-beam pair starting at $159.

The FARS series, starting at $45, are 18 mm non-metal tubular diffuse sensors featuring background suppression. All models are available in a choice of 10-30 VDC PNP or NPN transistor outputs.

The MQ series AC diffuse photoelectric, with a unique 90-degree optic package, fits standard 18 mm mounting brackets or mounting holes. Prices start at $59.

The 8 mm tubular stainless steel HEE/HER series consists of through-beam sensor pairs available in a choice of 10-30 VDC PNP or NPN transistor outputs. Prices start at $80 for a through-beam pair.

More information on sensors

22mm Pushbuttons off the Block
Red, green and black 22mm metal momentary flush and extended pushbuttons are now also available as assemblies without contact blocks. These pushbutton operators have 30mm actuators and mount in a 22mm hole. Each unit includes the operator and support base only. Price for these new pushbutton assemblies is $4.50.
More information on Pushbuttons


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Tech Talk

Considering Communications
There are two types of communications commonly used with PLCs: serial and Ethernet. No matter what type of communications you use, the formula for success is:

Wiring + Protocol + Parameters + Programming – Noise = Good Communications

Each one of the first four items in the formula must be correct in order for data communications to take place. Noise must be minimized since it can interfere with communications.

It is critically important that the correct cable be used, and that network length restrictions be adhered to. Using the wrong cable for even a few feet in a test situation can prevent proper communications.

Three different network wiring standards commonly used in PLC serial communications are RS232C, RS422, and RS485. RS232 is a short, point to point network for only two devices. RS422 and RS485 are longer, multi-drop, daisy chain topology networks. It is very important to use communications cable that is designed for the network type you will be using. Belden® 8102 or equivalent is recommended for RS232 and RS422, and Belden® 9841 or equivalent for RS495. The shield of a serial communications cable should be grounded at one end only to shield the communication conductors from noise and prevent ground loops. For RS422 and RS485 you will often need a termination resistor at each end of the network that matches the characteristic impedance of the cable being used.

For Ethernet, Category 5 network cable is typically used and is terminated with an RJ45 connector. Straight cables are used to connect an Ethernet device to a switch or hub. Crossover cables are used to connect two Ethernet devices directly to each other. Ethernet communications can also use fiber optic cable.

Regardless of the network type being used, all of the devices on the network will need to be able to use a common language, or protocol, in order to communicate with each other. There are many different protocols available; MODbus RTU for serial networks and MODbus TCP for Ethernet networks are about as close to an industry standard as exists.

Serial protocols have several parameters that must be selected. It really doesn’t matter what these parameters are set to, as long as all devices on the network are configured the same

Ethernet parameters are simpler, consisting of a speed (10Mbps or 100Mbps) that is determined by the hardware, and time out and retry settings. Increase the timeouts and retries if you are using radios, or there is a lot of traffic on the network.

Only the communications masters (Ethernet clients) must be programmed. The network slaves (Ethernet servers) require no programming. Serial protocols typically allow only one master per network. Ethernet will permit multiple clients on a network. It is generally best to get each one working properly by itself, then interlock the instructions together so they all work properly and cycle correctly.

Noise is the enemy of data communications. You should always try to eliminate sources of noise. These are often created by improper grounding of electrical equipment. Route your communications cable as far away from any noise sources as possible, while at the same time trying to minimize cable length.

It must be remembered that no matter how fast the network, communications still take a finite period of time to occur; the more data that is being communicated, the longer it will take. The more slaves on a serial network, the longer it will take the master to cycle through all of them. And on Ethernet networks, the more clients, the more likely data collisions and retries become. No network, no matter how fast, can make up for unrealistic expectations of network performance.

To check out our extensive library of technical help,
visit our support site.

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The Lighter Side

A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.

Engineer: What's with these guys? We must have been waiting for 15 minutes!
Doctor: I don't know but I've never seen such ineptitude!
Priest: Hey, here comes the greenskeeper. Let's have a word with him.
Priest: Hi George. Say George, what's with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow aren't they?
George: Oh yes. That's a group of blind fire fighters. They lost their sight while saving our club house last year. So we let them play here anytime free of charge!
Priest: That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.
Doctor: Good idea. And I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there's anything he can do for them.
Engineer: Why can't these guys play at night?

Taken from

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Thanks for your time!
Comments or suggestions for topics in future newsletters can be directed to

© 2006
All rights reserved

AutomationDirect HQ is located at 3505 Hutchinson Rd., Cumming, GA 30040
(about 45 minutes north of Atlanta, GA)


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