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Matthew

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About Matthew

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  1. Protective Covers for Unitronics Vision Controllers

    Tell me about it. Thin, clear covers are very difficult for anyone to understand but we do our best here to explain...
  2. As has been noted elsewhere... Protective Lexan Covers are Now Available for All Vision Controllers. Even though the Unitronics Vision controllers are very economical, there’s no sense damaging them when you can easily apply a durable protective cover. We now offer a self-adhesive Lexan protective film custom cut for each Vision controller from Unitronics. This includes the V130, V350, V280, V290, V530, V560, V570, V1040and V1210. These protective covers are resistant to the following chemicals: Acetone, Methylene Chloride, Isopropyl Alcohol, Ethyl Acetate, Gasoline, Diesel Fuel, Coffee, Clorox3, Vinegar and more… AMPS currently has covers in stock to protect the V130, V350 and V570 controllers.
  3. Thanks, Joe. I clicked the link but didn't see anything that would be appropriate for the COM port. Would you mind referring me to a model number?
  4. I have a customer who is submitting their machine for CE approval. Everything was moving along nicely until they failed the ESD test. It appears that static discharge passing through the Com port on their V350 causes the PLC to shut down. 24 V DC power is still there but the screen is blank. The guy running the test must then shut off power and re-start in order to make the display come on again. Perhaps a little more background would be helpful. The machine has a USB port on the outside of it for end-customer convenience. Inside the control panel, then, is a USB-to-serial converter wired between that USB port and the Com port on the V350. The test seems to be injecting ESD on that external USB port and then running all the way into the PLC's Com port. Does anyone out there have experience in this area? I am hoping there is something I can do with software to monitor for this condition and then Reset the PLC. This would be acceptable to CE and we would then pass the test.
  5. My company, AMPS Industrial Controls, recently finished the installation and start-up on a control system for the Custar Stone Quarry project we mentioned late last year. This quarry is located in northwest Ohio and it supplies stone for road projects all over the region. We are pleased to say that everything went very well and the quarry is now up and running with wireless Ethernet communication between all three control stations. This was really a fun project so we would like to take this opportunity to explain it in some detail... Background – Unitronics Vision System With Wireless Ethernet from Westermo The stone quarry in Custar, Ohio is quite old. It has been crushing stone and providing northwest Ohio with rock for over 100 years! One problem, though, is that the numerous expansions and upgrades which have happened over the decades have resulted in control stations positioned all over the place. Our job was to integrate all the conveyors and crushers into one central PLC-based control system that could be operated from any location in the quarry. Ideally, this would be done wirelessly so as to simplify installation. Of course, reliability was a great concern. This quarry runs year-round and downtime is very costly. We must ensure that any breakdown in wireless communication would not result in shutting down the quarry. Safety was also a big concern. Great care would need to be taken to safely control crushing equipment remotely. AMPS Industrial Controls would also build the electrical control panels which must hold up to harsh outdoor conditions and be very reliable. We decided a control system based upon the Unitronics Vision line of PLCs would be a good solution. These controllers could be coupled with wireless Ethernet radio modems from Westermo to allow control from anywhere in the quarry. AMPS would handle the programming of the PLCs and would design the system to be reliable, easy to use and intuitive for the operators. Unitronics V570 to Control Main Operator Station The 5.7″ color touch-screen on the Unitronics V570 could serve as the HMI for the main control station. The new V1040 may have been an even better product but it had not quite been released when we started the job. This station is located at the highest point in the quarry inside a booth with a window so the operator can see everything that’s going on. It’s a small booth, though, so we didn’t want to take up too much space. The Unitronics V570 was a perfect fit. From this perch, the operator can control all the conveyors and crushers that wind through the quarry. In the photo below, you can see the main control station circled in red. Unitronics V350 to Control Other Stations The other two control stations only really required small HMI screens because the operators are not used as often. Most of the everyday control will take place from the main station. Because the large color touch-screens were not needed here, we selected the V350. Still part of the Vision series of controllers, the V350 provides full Ethernet capability with extensive I/O options but packaged with a smaller color touch-screen. The photo below shows the small booth where one of the V350 electrical control panels is installed. Not fancy but very nice accommodations in cold weather. Wireless Ethernet Communication Details The Westermo RM-240 was perfect for this application. These devices were easy to configure with a web browser. They formed their own WiFi network on site and were very reliable. The antennas were installed at each location and have been very reliable in all weather conditions. Each Vision PLC from Unitronics was installed with an Ethernet module to connect to the Westermo devices. Modbus IP is the protocol we used. I can’t speak highly enough of both the Unitronics and Westermo products. This control system has been in use for a couple months now and we haven’t had a single phone call from the customer. It is controlling every conveyor and crusher in the quarry. Even a crusher that draws 4,000 starting Amps! As always, it was nothing but pleasure working with the Unitronics Vision controllers.
  6. Increased Inventory

    Having analyzed our 2010 sales, looking particularly at areas of dynamic growth, we are increasing our inventory of Unitronics products. The increases will be seen mainly in the Vision Series of OPLCs but Snap I/O modules and Expansion I/O modules will also be increased. 2010 was a great year for us, in no small part due to the growth we saw in Unitronics sales. This is nice to see because it comes as a direct result of the strategy of increasing our presence on the web and emphasizing the quality, features and value of the Unitronics products. The control system design and electrical control panels side of the business has also been partly responsible for the growth so it is accurate to say our 2010 sales were balanced very well between standard control system components and electrical control panels. The Unitronics product line will continue to be one we emphasize in 2011 so we are in the process of ramping up inventory levels. This may take several weeks but shortly we will have a broad representation of V130, V350, V560, V570 and V1040 PLCs along with a good assortment of I/O modules on our shelf. Our goal is to fill orders for our OEM customers directly from our inventory and have all the most common PLCs available even if it’s not one currently used by one of our regular customers. Unitronics Vision, Jazz and I/O items we will stock include… V130-33-R2 V130-33-RA22 V130-33-T2 V130-33-TA24 V350-35-R2 V350-35-T2 V350-35-TA24 V560-T25B V570-57-T20B V1040-T20B V200-18-E1B V200-18-E3XB V200-18-E4XB V200-18-E5B V200-18-E6B EX-A1 EX-RC1 IO-AI4-AO2 IO-ATC8 IO-D16A3-RO16 IO-D16A3-TO16 IO-DI16 IO-DI8-RO8 IO-DI8-TO8 IO-RO16 EX-D16A3-RO8 EX-D16A3-TO16 GSM-KIT-41J V100-17-ET2 V200-19-ET1 JZ10-11-R16
  7. Next week I will be traveling to meet with Sam Calagione and his head brewmaster, Floris. I'll be traveling with the president and production engineer from a longtime customer, Sabco, to work on a new nano-brewery. We’ve built the control panels for Sabco’s Brew-Magic for many years but there is a need for a similar, but larger, brewing system to serve the booming craft brewing industry. This is what we’ll be working on next week. The really cool part is getting to work on it with Sam and Floris of The Discovery Channel’s Brewmasters program. I work with machinery manufacturers on control system design and electrical control panel fabrication all the time but it's unusual to get to spend my day working with beer! Sabco is one of our very best customers and we’re grateful for the opportunity to work on another project. We’re just beginning the design process but we anticipate using the new V1040 from Unitronics. This PLC with built-in 10.4″ touch-screen will be an economical way to get thermocouple inputs along with both analog and digital outputs. The high-resolution graphics will provide a great interface with the brewer, too. The target customer is nano-breweries, craft breweries who need a pilot system and brewpubs who want to serve their own craft beer. The system will be capable of brewing 25-50 gallons at a time using RIMS methodology. It will have steam jacketed kettles and an electric boiler. This should be fun. I'll keep up up-to-date as things progress… Read more: http://www.ampsic.com/blog/?p=175#ixzz17iiiWCck
  8. My company (AMPS Industrial Controls) is working with Speiser Electric Company and Gerken Paving Products to update the entire control system running the stone quarry in Custer, Ohio. This is a big project because a huge section of conveyor and crusher are being added to the existing equipment.Since the work needed is extensive, they have decided to take the opportunity to update all the controls and add wireless communication between each PLC in the quarry. One central PLC with color touch-screen will have the ability to control all the others.I’m writing this short post simply to point out how nice the RM-240 wireless Ethernet devices from Westermo have been to work with. These things will do just about anything. They give you wireless Ethernet and serial communication and they are a wireless hot spot, too. They’re a breeze to set up. Just connect to them using the WiFi connection on your laptop and make sure the settings are right for your application. In my case (connecting one V570 and two V350s using Modbus IP) it was just a matter of configuring one RM-240 as an access point and the other two as clients, then give them all a matching SSID and IP addresses that I choose. Simple. Two minutes apiece and I have a fully customized wireless Ethernet network. On site we’ll add the high powered antennas and we should be up and running with minimal downtime. Of course, part of the reason this is easy is because Unitronics gives us the tools to make it happen. Not to mention the fact they let us do it very cost effectively.Our panel shop is busy building the electrical control panels so I need to make some major progress on the PLC/HMI programming tonight or else this control system won’t do anyone any good. Start-up is scheduled for November 29…
  9. Great new products on the way...

    Yes, I've got the Beta going here, too, and it's great. Not quite photo quality but very, very nice. And Ash, you're right. This affects the V350 and V570!
  10. Great new products on the way...

    Wow, I can't tell you how eager I am to get my hands on the new products coming our way from Unitronics. I've been biting my tongue not mentioning them for a couple months so that Unitronics could release the information on their timetable but...Both products were displayed at the PackExpo convention in Chicago earlier this month and Jas is blabbing about them over on the Forum. So I guess it's safe for me to reveal my enthusiasm.There could be more than what I know about but I'm told these three things are close: 10.4" Vision OPLC with 16-bit color. This is the V1040. 5.7" Vision OPLC with function keys and 16-bit color. This is the V560. New firmware to upgrade new and existing V570s to 16-bit color. From my perspective these are monumental product introductions. The two things I most commonly hear from potential customers who end up going with a competitor are, "We want a bigger screen," and "It would be nice to be able to put a high-res logo on that thing." We work primarily with OEMs so perhaps I'm in the minority but these two new products are sure to be a hit with my customers.Thanks, Unitronics!
  11. Eric, We can talk about the V1040 that Jas mentioned. We'll have them in stock as soon as they're available. I also have a blog post about it that went up today which gives a little more information.
  12. Twelve years ago when I started writing basic ladder programs for PLCs I made a lot of mistakes. Seemed like I was always getting halfway through a project only to realize I'd taken the wrong approach and needed to take two steps back before I could move forward. Frequently this resulted in me scrapping the entire program and starting over. I told myself that was fine. I was learning, right? Well... a dozen or so years later I'm still learning. Now I say, "You never want to stop learning," but I'm not sure I believe myself. I mean, wouldn't it be better to stop making mistakes, altogether? I suppose that's not likely to happen so here's the tale of my latest misstep:One of my projects for an OEM control system uses several data tables. Even though we've already built hundreds of these electrical control panels and the machines work great, we're constantly updating and improving the PLC/HMI program. Some of these changes affect the data tables. No problem, except...Two of the data tables are frequently accessed by a third-party wireless, handheld device called SynTrack. Here's where my mistake comes in: I should have put these data tables first in the list. Whenever you make a change to a data table, the starting location of all the data tables following it will change. The starting location of your first data table will never change, though, so it would have been a good idea for me to put one of these two first in the list of 7 or 8 tables. It wasn't a big deal to change this but there is an issue with the second data table that Syntrack needs to access.I can only have one table in the first position. What happens, though, when I make a change to the first data table? The starting location of table number two will change but I don't want to force changes to the software in SynTrack. An easy solution is to add a column in the first data table which holds an offset value to tell SynTrack what the starting location of table two is. SynTrack always knows where to find the first table and that first table will tell it where to find the second table. Simple but effective. Now I can make changes to any data table and SynTrack can keep up with my changes without the need to revise its software. I just need to remember to change the value of this offset integer.You can bet I'll remember this in future projects. It was aggravating to make the change this time around because changing the order of data tables required me to delete the originals and then search them all out in ladder, point to the new tables and then re-address all the fields in each of those DT function blocks.Hopefully my time-consuming mistake will help you, though.As always, I encourage you to stop by my primary website and visit my company blog where we regularly discuss Unitronics and other controls news.
  13. Ummm - what time is it?

    Thanks for posting this. Very helpful. In fact, I'm a little embarrassed about how many times I've done this the hard way. Your way is very nice.
  14. The Fascinating World of Twitter

    Well, I never thought it would happen but people have convinced us to enter the world of Twitter. We'll be tweeting often about Unitronics, control system design and the electrical control panels we build. We'd be honored to have you follow us @matthew_AMPS.
  15. It would be nice if this could be handled a little differently. Perhaps through a preference setting. Or we could choose to always have the editor display in English but VisiLogic would give us another warning if the size was inappropriate for any of the languages. I have an application with well over 100 displays. It currently has 4 languages (more to be added soon) and one of the languages is Russian. The Russian language is very frequently the longest string and so it's quite difficult for me to know what I'm looking at in VisiLogic. Spanish is hard enough but at least the alphabet is the same as English. With Russion, it's impossible for me to distinguish one phrase or word from another.
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