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  In this issue
    Company News
  Improved search features
    New Products
  H4-ECOM100 Ethernet Communication Module
    Product Short Takes
  Program PLCs faster with Direct SOFT5
    Application Corner
    Tech Talk
  Filtering through Averaging
  The Lighter Side

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© 2006
All rights reserved






Volume 8 Issue 4, April 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:

There went Peter Cottontail...
If you are reading this, it's pretty much a safe bet that you survived the Easter season. Even though most all of us increased our caloric intake immensely with all of the carb-laden treats only found at this time of year. Who actually eats all those little Peeps anyway? All the eggs have been found, all the frilly dresses have been stored away, and so many chocolate bunnies are still sitting around with their ears missing. Let's not even mention that magical shredded plastic Easter grass. That stuff manages to show up in different places around my house until Thanksgiving. But look on the bright side. Christmas is only eight months away.

In the mean time, we press on in the automation industry. AutomationDirect has introduced a new high speed communication module for the DL-405 series PLCs. Plans are in the works for a brand new catalog later this year. And our various product lines continue to expand.

The year is off to a great start, and thanks to dependable customers like you, I must use a quote from a song, "it doesn't show signs of stopping." Valuable input from our customers helps our product managers find more ways to better serve the industry. Read on to find what's new, and, if you'll excuse me, I think I see a chocolate bunny that still has both ears...

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Company News
More accurate searches at

Improved searchCheck out AutomationDirect's updated site search! We've made several changes, including:

  • Better organization of search results - Results have been grouped onto tabbed pages organized by subject area (product listings, marketing overviews, technical documentation, etc.). We've also set up the tabs so you can page through the results and better control the number of results you see.
  • Improved product database queries - We've improved the queries used to generate the results shown on the 'Products' tab. This tab shows matches found by searching the item number, description and other fields in our product database.
  • Google logoIncorporation of the Google Search Appliance - We've switched to using the Google search appliance for indexing and searching pages on our site. All results other than those on the 'Product' tab are generated by the Google search appliance resulting in better indexing and ranking of page content than our previous search engine. The Search feature should be easier to use since it offers many of the same features that users of Google's site are familiar with.

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New Products

Introducing H4-ECOM100

H4-ECOM100The H4-ECOM100 Ethernet communication module for Direct LOGIC DL405 PLCs makes communication faster than ever. The H4-ECOM100 ($359) can be inserted into any I/O slot of any local DL405 base to implement master/slave Ethernet communication at 10 or 100 Mbit data rates.

This module supports industry standard MODBUS TCP/IP Client/Server protocol, in addition to standard IP and IPX protocols, and responds to connected MODBUS TCP/IP clients It can also be configured to actively issue MODBUS commands to other nodes or devices on the network.

The H4-ECOM100 can be configured to serve as an email client to send specified messages to email addresses. The module ships with NetEdit3 software to configure ECOM modules for networking and PLC-to-PLC communications .
More information on H4-ECOM100

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Product Short Takes

DirectSOFT5 Reduces Stress

DirectSOFT 5DirectSOFT5 PLC programming software from AutomationDirect makes ladder logic programming faster and easier than ever. The addition of "IBoxes" which are modularized instructions that configure analog cards, CTRIO high-speed counters, ON/OFF delay timers, and equations cuts down on programming time.

DirectSOFT5 allows documentation to be exported to C-more touch panels which can then be used as tag names in the panel project. Discover more features such as customizable point and click editing, automatic backup, and ways to send emails directly from the PLC at .

Also, a free version of DirectSOFT5 allowing programming and downloading projects of up to 100 words is available for download at

Application Corner

Recently, the new C-more panel was used in a retrofit application for a heavy duty box making machine in Ravenna , Ohio . Read how the system integrator helped Smurfit Stone Enterprises achieve record-breaking production results in the User Solutions section of Automation NOTEBOOK .

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Tech Talk

Filtering through Averaging

There are times when you may need to filter or average a value in the PLC. The reason could be to provide a smoother value to display on an operator interface, to smooth out an analog input signal, to provide a more stable analog output signal, or a variety of other application specific reasons. To do this inside the PLC requires ladder logic code that will average or filter a value based on some number of previous readings. These previous readings can be collected over a specific time range, or can be done every scan of the PLC, depending on how you enable the filtering logic.

Filtering provides a smoother signal at a tradeoff in responsiveness. The more filtering you do to a value, the longer it takes for that value to reflect real-time increases or decreases in value. For some applications, such as the Process Variable in a PID loop, this can mean that the PID loop provides a more sluggish control. This may actually be desirable in your application, but if you need very fast response, filtering can be detrimental.

The number of readings you average will determine the degree of filtering or smoothing you will see. Averaging a lesser number of values will result in less filtering but a quicker response to change and averaging a greater number of values will result in more filtering (a smoother signal) but a slower response to change.

The new IBox instructions, featured in DirectSOFT5 , include a BCD and BINARY Filter, called FILTER OVER TIME - BCD (FILTER) and FILTER OVER TIME - BINARY (FILTERB). These filters combine everything necessary to set up a filter in one simple function box for the DL05, DL06, DL250-1, DL260, and DL450 processors.

For more information on filtering or averaging, we have an application note on our website which demonstrates ladder logic code to filter a noisy variable by averaging. This method of filtering averages a user defined number of readings to produce a smoother average value.

Check out AN-MISC-023 for more.

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

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The Lighter Side


  • If your spouse sends you an e-mail instead of calling you to dinner
  • If you can quote scenes from any Monty Python movie
  • If you can name 6 Star Trek episodes (bonus points if you have more than 6 recorded on video tape).
  • If you use a CAD package to design your son's Pine Wood Derby car
  • If you have used coat hangers and duct tape for something other than hanging coats and taping ducts
  • If you window shop at Radio Shack
  • If your ideal evening consists of fast-forwarding through the latest sci-fi movie looking for technical inaccuracies
  • If you are convinced you can build a phazer out of your garage door opener and your camera's flash attachment
  • If you know the direction the water swirls when you flush
  • If you have ever taken the back off your TV just to see what's inside
  • If a team of you and your co-workers have set out to modify the antenna on the radio in your work area for better reception
  • If you ever burned down the gymnasium with your Science Fair project
  • If you own one or more white short-sleeve dress shirts
  • If you have pocket protectors filled with pens and pencils in the pocket of those white shirts.
  • If the salespeople at Circuit City can't answer any of your questions
  • If the thought that a CD could refer to finance or music never enters your mind
  • If you need a checklist to turn on the TV
  • If you can remember 7 computer passwords but not your anniversary
  • If your father sat 2 inches in front of your family's first color TV with a magnifying lens to see how they made the colors, and you grew up thinking that was normal
  • If people groan at the party when you pick out the music
  • If you thought the real heroes of Apollo 13 were the mission controllers
  • If you think that when people around you yawn, it's because they didn't get enough sleep
  • If you've ever tried to repair a $5.00 radio
  • If your three year old son asks why the sky is blue and you try to explain atmospheric absorption theory
  • If your 4 basic food groups are:
    1. Caffeine
    2. Fat
    3. Sugar
    4. Chocolate

--Taken and edited from

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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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