Data logging: Trolley museum controls rectifiers remotely

What the nonprofit Pennsylvania Trolley Museum was missing was a practical way to keep its East Site, and a small booster at its West site—which are 3,500 ft apart—in constant communication.


Washington, PA —The nonprofit Pennsylvania Trolley Museum (PTM) keeps historic trolley lines running with two 500 kW 600 Vdc trolley rectifiers at its East Site, a small booster at its West Site, and more than 100 volunteers. What PTM was missing, however, was a practical way to keep these sites—which are 3,500 ft apart—in constant communication. Donated data loggers from Red Lion provide monitoring, notification and logging options, as well as multiple protocol conversion and a built-in Web server.

The museum’s application offered several unique requirements:

  • Remote control of the East Site rectifiers at the West Site.

  • The ability for the dispatcher to view in real time the current power demand to avoid setting a costly “super peak.”

  • A means to data log the demand intervals (15 minute) and the operations of the rectifier breakers.

  • A way to notify offsite volunteers that the electrical system has a problem.

  • The ability to keep the PLC clocks accurate over a long period of time.

  • A solution that was cost-effective, reliable, and simple to implement and program.

To control trolley rectifiers remotely, the museum considered purchasing one of several dedicated rectifier control devices on the market, but the price tag of more than $9,000 per unit was too costly. Source: PTM

To control trolley rectifiers remotely, the museum considered purchasing one of several dedicated rectifier control devices on the market, but the price tag of more than $9,000 per unit was too costly for the nonprofit. Even at this price, however,

Red Lion donated a Data Station Plus so volunteers could keep the historic site running. The device provides a virtual HMI with built-in PC-based SCADA functionality (DSPSX & DSPGT) for remote control and monitoring of sites and power usage. Data logging is done directly to CSV files on CompactFlash cards.

The device sends alarm messages to volunteer engineers via e-mail or text message. The unit receives and maintains accurate times from an Internet time source via the SNTP (simple network time protocol) client facility, while the Webserver provides worldwide access to data logs. According to Red Lion, 10 Base-T/100 Base-TX Ethernet connection can connect to an unlimited number of devices via four protocols simultaneously, and independent serial ports provide virtually unlimited integration methods. Extensive built-in drivers provide data mapping to PLCs, PCs, and SCADA systems is also provided.

Red Lion’s donation also included a development kit containing its Crimson 2.0 software for simple programming and implementation of the equipment. A Red Lion brochure on the Data Station Plus, available in three models (DSPLE, DSPSX and DSPGT), is newly available.

—Edited by Renee Robbins , editorial director, Control Engineering Weekly News (Register here and scroll down to select your choice of eNewsletters free.)

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
Detecting security breaches: Forensic invenstigations depend on knowing your networks inside and out; Wireless workers; Opening robotic control; Product exclusive: Robust encoders
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.