Control Engineering Embedded Control eNewsletter for September 2002


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Embedded control in September Control Engineering

Control Engineering's September issue is posted on the Web. Dave Harrold's cover story topic is integrating control and safety in process control applications. In an article specific for embedded and machine control, I discuss some of the new object-oriented programming tools coming out to help you write better programs, faster and easier. These include IEC 61499 and 61804 function blocks. 61499 specifically addresses distributed control programming while 61804 is more specific to process control applications. Also discussed is Siemens ProfiNet initiative. Check these out, and more, at

I receive a few requests a month for a list of the leading suppliers for various control and HMI products. You can find a comprehensive listing of suppliers of probably every control system product you need at our online Buyer's Guide .

Or from the Control Engineering home page, click the 'Search the Buyer's Guide' button. Links from group, category, or company search results will take you right to the company listing and provide web links and contact information.

Try it today. (Buyer's Guide, Automation Integrator Guide, and site search require registration.)

What's hot at IMTS

There were several control and control-related product improvements exhibited at the recent IMTS show. As you might expect, most were CNC-related, but read on.

The new Cimplicity iCell from GE Fanuc Automation is a supervisory software package that manages multiple CNC machine tools from a central location. It supports such operations as parts machining, data collection, remote diagnostics, and state-change monitoring, as well as enabling quick recovery in the event of a failure. This is part of the company's overall retooling of offerings designed to help end-users improve machine uptime and overall productivity by implementing Six Sigma standards.

For more, go to

MDSI, champion of PC-based, open CNC and motion control, has enhanced its OpenCNC package with new servo algorithms increasing cutting speeds up to 25% over the previous version and expanded rotary tool center point compression. The company shared its booth with several OEMs who have standardized on OpenCNC including Fryer Machine, Raycon, and Telco Automation.

For more, go to

Bosch Rexroth released version 22 of its System 200 control software, which includes extended diagnostics and IndraStep SFC sequencers. The company also introduced a new industrial PC.

Get more by visiting

Siemens Energy & Automation introduced a compact CNC, Model 802C-MM for conventional turning machines. The package controls two axes plus a spindle and is designed for toolroom lathes featuring tool measuring, thread cutting, and chamfer/radius cutting functions.

More is available at


Let's get started

'Among the sweetest words you can hear at work, right after 'take the day off,' are these twin beauties: `Let's give it a try,' and, 'Let's see what happens.' How glorious it is to stop discussing, committee-ing and deliberating, and actually START. As good old Will Shakespeare put it, 'Action is eloquence.' (We can only be grateful that Shakespeare had no high school counselor to convince him to do some sensible career planning.)'

Dale Dauten, business writer and consultant, started his latest 'E-Luminations' newsletter with the thought above. I'm taking this thought a different direction than he did, applying it to manufacturing. How many have bosses caught up in the analysis game? How many of you are caught in that trap?

Once I was quality assurance manager in a manufacturing plant (a position I swore I'd never hold again!) We had some machines consistently producing bad parts. My urge was to solve the problem. I'd dig in and figure out if the problem lay in raw materials, the die, the control, whatever. My boss's advice? 'Write a memo blaming the manufacturing engineering manager and copy the general manager.' That's it. I like Mr. Dauten's advice. Or as Nike puts it, 'Just do it.'

Learn more at

Any stories of good and bad bosses? Let me know for a future column at

Control remote devices

A technology slowly growing into its own is remote device management. I probably first heard about this at a Motorola semiconductor conference where a Coke machine was shown that could dial up its owner and say, 'Hi, I'm out of regular and getting low on diet.' Embedded software combined with ever-improving communications, processors, and memory.

Axeda (formerly eMation and PC Soft before that) has staked its future on what it calls 'Device Relationship Management' and has recently integrated its technology into its Wizcon SCADA software.

Visit the Axeda website at

Matt Miller, marketing manager for OSIsoft, recently explained to Control Engineering editors that company's Echo Historian (Embedded Component Historian Object). This really is a different solution than Axeda's. Its larger footprint is meant to provide real time and archived machine or process data. Remote diagnostics and predictive maintenance are two prominent benefits.

Learn more at

Tony Phipps, product manager for Intrinsyc Software in an interview at the Microsoft Embedded Web site, suggests that remote device management software can make use of many technologies in providing an end-to-end solution for customers. He states that the key is to focus on open standards and offer solutions that are non-proprietary. Internet-based technologies have become a central part of remote device management solutions. One should ensure the solution is simple to use and administered with little end-user involvement, fits within current business systems, and can collect and manage key data from remote devices when developing an application.

Click here to learn more. Visit Intrinsyc Software at


There is still life in embedded product development

New products for the embedded control space keep appearing.

Here are some small controllers, communications products, and peripherals. Here's a $99 palm-sized PLC that includes a metal enclosure, nine inputs, nine outputs, program selectable input (analog, pulse, high speed counter), 10-bit resolution analog input, 32 timers and 32 counters, 256 internal relays, and real-time clock. IP99 series from International Parallel Machines.

Visit the company at

ç Create and debug your control program and configure and use the built-in Human Machine Interface (HMI) all from a Java-enabled Web browser (including PDAs). No other software is required! The Icon controller from i-netcontrol also includes a historical data recording system for periodic and event(alarm) data, with e-mail capability. The product communicates through Ethernet or serially through an auto-answer modem, which uses PPP, plus serial RS-232/485 RTU Modbus for sensor and instrument data input and output control.

Learn more at

Zontec Inc. has two new programming utilities, S2K DLL and S2K ActiveX DLL, for accessing quality assurance information regardless of its data format or where the data is stored. The DLLs provide pre-fabricated software plug-ins that significantly automate the development, customization, and testing of application front-ends to Zontec's software.

Visit the company website at

Ampro Computers introduced the MIPS-based EnCore M3, which doubles I/O performance while reducing cost compared to an earlier model. The EnCore module communicates with a custom logic board via a PCI interface and standardized I/O signals.

For more, go to the company website at

A new family of Wildcards is available from Mosaic Industries to expand control capabilities of Panel-Touch Controller, a C-programmable embedded computer combined with an operator interface. These modular 2x2.5-in. plug-in boards are for applications requiring multiple I/O points, high resolution, data acquisition, and real-time control. e

For more, go to

parvus Corp. introduced the PC/104 Variable Railed Card Cage, a flexible board-mounting solution used to contain PC/104 modules within an embedded computer system. The card cage is designed to accommodate non-standard spacing of PC/104 printed circuit boards within a card stack.

Visit the company website at

Xycom Automation, a subsidiary of Pro-face America, has announced addition of PMC-based I/O modules and an expanded IndustryPack (IP) I/O point offering. IP and PMC mezzanine modules are applicable to systems having high I/O point density and a diverse mix of analog, digital, fieldbus, motion control, and serial requirements with low slot space. Drivers for VxWorks, Linux, Microsoft Windows, LynxOS, pSOS+, QNX/Neutrino, and OS-9 are currently supported.

Visit Xycom at

Acces I/O Products has introduced Model 104-ICOM-2S, a low-cost dual-port PC/104 utility board, featuring 60V optical isolation. Two serial ports, based on 16C550 UART with a 16-byte FIFO, are available via two DB9 male connectors with jack screws.

For more, visit

Zave mode.

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ç CMX Systems, designer of real-time operating systems and TCP/IP software, and Cyan Technology, developers of low-power flash microcontrollers, have launched the CMX-MicroNet TCP/IP stack on the eCOG1 16-bit engine. The Cyan-CMX solution reduces the cost of networking devices and Internet connectivity. Focused on the low-power, real-time communications needs of developers, Cyan Technology offers a 16-bit flash microcontroller capable of running code at less than 10 microAmps and 25-MIPS execution speed. CMX-Micronet is a small footprint TCP/IP software stack.

Find the company websites at and at

The Stealth LittlePC series computer system features a Geode GX1-300 MHz processor that is capable of running Microsoft Windows, Linux, and other embedded and real-time operating systems. Designed without cooling fans, the extruded aluminum chassis acts as a heat sink to dissipate internal heat and provide long-term reliability. I/O expansion capabilities include, dual Ethernet, 4-serial, 2-parallel, 2-USB, VGA/composite/S-Video, PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports.

Find more at

Online webcasts, conference, expo

Control Engineering is working with four participants to do two technology webcasts focused on automation productivity. The events are part of the SupplyChainLinkExpo, a free two-day online conference and tradeshow from Reed Business Information taking place on your desktop Oct. 16 and 17. To find out more, learn about participants, see other webcast topics, or register to view them, go to Control Engineering Online or the SupplyChainLinkExpo website.

A short list of those involved include 3M, Control Engineering, Design News, GE Fanuc, Honeywell, IBM, Microsoft, OPC Foundation, Rockwell Automation, Segway, and Unilever.

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