Innovative Programmable Control Devices

DN Staff

October 7, 2002

6 Min Read
Innovative Programmable Control Devices

Wide-open system controllers

The new IPm(TM) series general-purpose controllers are Linux-based units with ISaGRAF IEC 61131 programming capability. As such, they offer about as much flexibility in programming as is currently possible. "Linux allows users to write C programs, and in the future, possibly other types of programs as well, in addition to ISaGRAF to perform control," says Mike O'Connor, product marketing manager for the IPm's manufacturer, SIXNET. ISaGRAF lets users write control programs or parts of programs in any one of several different languages: relay ladder logic, function block, structured text, instruction list, and sequential function charts. Coupled with C programming capability, IPm controllers allow users to write in the language they know best or in the language best suited to the task to be performed. "It lets you mix and match for whatever's best for the application," says O'Connor. Products include the VersaTRAK IPm RTU, which can perform as a stand-alone controller as well as functioning as a remote terminal in a networked system. The SixTRAK IPm, as a distributed controller, has five Ethernet ports and three serial ports. The company will also configure custom IPm versions for specific OEM requirements. SIXNET, Enter 576

Serial port add-ons

UART (universal asynchronous receiver/transmitter) Wildcard(TM) is an add-on module for Mosaic Industries' Panel-Touch(TM) Controller that allows serial peripherals to be added to the controller. Each 5-in2 UART board features two full-duplex serial ports configurable to RS 232, RS 422, and RS 485 protocols capable of operating to 56k baud. Many industrial-control products communicate by serial RS 232 or RS 485 protocols, for example, flow meters, syringe pumps, as well as various diagnostic tools. "You can stack up to eight of these little UART modules to the Panel-Touch controller enabling you to control up to 16 serial peripherals," explains David Fiu, a Mosaic design engineer. "For applications that demand multiple serial communications, they're ideal." Each port features dual 16-byte FIFO buffers to reduce the controller's CPU overhead when sending or receiving serial data streams. The ports allow optional handshaking signals for modem communications with external sources. Mosaic Industries, Enter 577

Safety-conscious PLC

Every automated control installation should have safety as the paramount concern, but clearly, some applications call for more prudence than others. For those applications, Siemens' SIMATIC(TM) S7-300F serves as a dedicated distributed-safety system controller. The PLC is centered around the failsafe 315 F CPU. It includes a library of sample programs for controlling safety-related devices and procedures, for example, loop closure requiring simultaneous signals from two separate handholds. The complete PLC includes a range of function and interface modules, with one that allows mixing F-rated (fail safe) and standard I/O at a single station. The system provides communication to a variety of external devices using stand DP as well as Safety PROFISafe signals via Profibus. According to the manufacturer, the S7-300F's simplified communications and safety-centered design speed up OEM machine-assembly times, lower wiring costs, improve real-time diagnostics, and simplify customer acceptance testing. Siemens Energy and Automation, Enter 578

Connections made simple

Most machine-mounted I/O connector systems feature expensive, custom or semi-custom cables. New Fieldline I/O modules from Phoenix Contact use standard M12 connectors and cabling that's cheaper, more readily available, and easier to custom-build. Greg Fry, a product specialist in Fieldbus I/O, says that the company is producing a selection of cables in standard lengths, eliminating the problems of field-terminations altogether in most cases. Fieldline modules are available in 8-channel and 16-channel densities and also a 4 x 4 (four in, four out) design, each with 2A outputs per channel, up to 16A total. Flexible mounting differentiates this product from much of the competition. "Many I/O modules can only be mounted flat; with these, you can mount it flat or on its side," says Fry. "There are also mounting plates that can be positioned by an OEM's mechanical team, and then the electrical team can install the I/O modules quickly and easily when installing the electrical equipment." The modules feature integrated diagnostics and an IP67 protection rating, and are compatible with DeviceNet, CANopen, INTERBUS, and Profibus DP communications protocols. Phoenix Contact, Enter 579

Small PLCs get world-wide access

The FP Web Server allows users of the tiny but powerful FP0 line of PLCs to link the controllers to the Internet, even where no local network exists. The size of a pack of cigarettes, the FP Web Server provides serial connection to a local network or modem connection to an outside ISP. "You can create your own network using that," explains Erwin Wu, Aromat's motion-control products manager. Once on the Web, users can access the PLCs remotely to monitor functions, change operating parameters, or even make changes to PLC programming using the company's FPWIN-GR software tools. The low-cost Server holds html Web pages for interactive function monitoring and adjustment, and can even transmit system messages by e-mail if desired. "You need an e-mail server for that-it has to know your network's e-mail server's IP address-but you can set it up to send basic text messages or ask it to send data along," says Wu. In addition, the Server can link two FP0 PLCs directly in a client/server network, enabling simplified distributed control. The FP Web Server supports 10Base-T and transparent PPP Ethernet standards. Aromat Corp., Enter 580

Stepper motor control made easy

Stepper motors enjoy widespread use in industrial applications, and Nippon Pulse Motor Co. has just introduced a PC/104 Bus controller designed for a wide range of equipment designs. The feature-rich NPMC5023-2104, which employs the company's own motion chip, offers 2-axis control, a high pulse rate capability (4.9M pps) for microstepping, S-curve ramp up and ramp down, encoder feedback inputs, and linear interpolation. Windows 98 is the operating system. And since many engineers like to write their own applications for their controllers, the source code in C language is provided as part of the software package. "The advantage is that engineers can create their own motion profile," says Mat Masuda, general manager. Target applications for the PC/104 Bus controller include semiconductor, medical instruments, and any equipment design involving two-axis motion (though cards can be stacked to obtain additional axes). The company is currently working on a 4-axis version of the card, due out in 2003. Price is $230 per unit for quantities of ten for the 2-axis model. Nippon Pulse Motor Co., Enter 581

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