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'[OT] Ad questions'
2006\12\14@164329 by William Couture

face picon face
Hi folks,

The company I work for (Athena Controls) is thinking of advertising a new
product in Embedded magazine.

My boss is asking for my opinions, and I'd like to pick your collective brains.

The product (though not the proposed ad) can be seen at
  http://www.picemulator.com/emc40.pdf
(135K) and is designed as a 4 zone temperature controller.

They also want to market it as a more general purpose OEM embedded
controller.

So, the questions are:
  * If you were going to use this as an embedded controller, what would
    you like to see in terms of programming / libraries?  What language(s)
    would you want supported?

  * What hardware features are particularly appealing?  What does it lack?

  * If the above board did not fit your requirements, would you consider using
    Athena Controls to design your controller?  And what sort of volume would
    you be considering?

  * Would you see an advantage of a controller like this over using a PLC?

  * Other comments?

Feel free to ask questions, I'll try to provide answers.

Thanks,
  Bill

--
Psst...  Hey, you... Buddy...  Want a kitten?  straycatblues.petfinder.org

2006\12\15@000515 by Vasile Surducan

face picon face
On 12/14/06, William Couture <spam_OUTbcoutureTakeThisOuTspamgmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

At a first look, this controller is more like an evaluation board, seems huge.
For a comparison take a look to a romanian product:
http://www.datronix.ro/dcx130E.htm

>
> Feel free to ask questions, I'll try to provide answers.
>
> Thanks,
>   Bill
>
> --
> Psst...  Hey, you... Buddy...  Want a kitten?  straycatblues.petfinder.org
> -

2006\12\15@011950 by Bob Axtell

face picon face
William Couture wrote:
{Quote hidden}

I'm consulting with a company who develops PLC-based switchgear products.

Their main consideration is that the PLC (or whatever is used) can be
available to purchase as replacements. The
power companies that use the PLC must KNOW that the components will be
available for 10-15 years BEFORE
they buy the item in the first place. It makes  it very hard for a
newcomer, or one without a large name (such as Siemens)
to break into that market. I could replace that PLC in 30 days with a
PIC16F877A and a few peripherals, but they
can't do it.

and YES, the ladder language sucks.

--Bob
> Feel free to ask questions, I'll try to provide answers.
>
> Thanks,
>    Bill
>
>  

2006\12\15@082449 by William Couture

face picon face
On 12/15/06, Vasile Surducan <.....piclist9KILLspamspam@spam@gmail.com> wrote:

>  At a first look, this controller is more like an evaluation board, seems huge.
> For a comparison take a look to a romanian product:
> http://www.datronix.ro/dcx130E.htm

We also make DIN controllers in various form factors, see
 http://www.athenacontrols.com/pages/tempproc.html

but, our EE keeps saying that we need to have a multizone controller
(true), and that this is the best design (questionable).

As for evaulation board, not quite.  It's meant to be an embedded
controller board, not something that is a "drop in" to a mounting
bracket in a panel.

Bill

--
Psst...  Hey, you... Buddy...  Want a kitten?  straycatblues.petfinder.org

2006\12\15@083809 by William Couture

face picon face
On 12/15/06, Bob Axtell <engineerspamKILLspamneomailbox.com> wrote:
> I'm consulting with a company who develops PLC-based switchgear products.
>
> Their main consideration is that the PLC (or whatever is used) can be
> available to purchase as replacements. The
> power companies that use the PLC must KNOW that the components will be
> available for 10-15 years BEFORE
> they buy the item in the first place. It makes  it very hard for a
> newcomer, or one without a large name (such as Siemens)
> to break into that market. I could replace that PLC in 30 days with a
> PIC16F877A and a few peripherals, but they
> can't do it.

The thought here is not that we would enter the PLC market, but that our
controller board could be used in place of a PLC.

Lots of places want "temperature" (humidity / etc) control, plus some "logic".

So, they used a PLC with a canned PID to get both control and logic.

But, specific controllers can do a better control job than a PLC.

So, the thought is that if we can give them a multizone controller plus
programmability, they can buy our board for less than the cost of a PLC
with the analog package (seems to be in the $500 or so range).

> and YES, the ladder language sucks.

Yup, I know.  I did a ladder editor / compiler / CPU kernel for work, and
was allowed to make it GPL:
  http://www.desmet-c.com/tplc001a.zip

Bill

--
Psst...  Hey, you... Buddy...  Want a kitten?  straycatblues.petfinder.org

2006\12\15@091905 by Mark Scoville

flavicon
face
The DIN controllers sure look like private labeled versions of Ascon units
(Italian company). http://www.ascon.it

-- Mark

> We also make DIN controllers in various form factors, see
>   http://www.athenacontrols.com/pages/tempproc.html
>



2006\12\15@101738 by William Couture

face picon face
On 12/15/06, Mark Scoville <.....mscovilleKILLspamspam.....unicontrolinc.com> wrote:
> The DIN controllers sure look like private labeled versions of Ascon units
> (Italian company). http://www.ascon.it

Nope.  I can walk 20 feet and talk to the people making them.

Bill

--
Psst...  Hey, you... Buddy...  Want a kitten?  straycatblues.petfinder.org

2006\12\15@123635 by Aaron

picon face


William Couture wrote:

{Quote hidden}

First of all the last line on the 2nd page of the datasheet is
incorrect.  Modbus is actually a Schneider Electric trademark not
Allen-Bradley.

We do temperature control for our products.  Generally done in a PLC,
but sometimes in a DIN temperature controller for systems that have a
very low-end & inexpensive PLC.  I've seen anything from 2 zones up to
the machine we recently quoted that would have nearly 100.

Disadvantages I see in the emc40 for the type of equipment we build:

1.  Packaging - bare circuit boards are not friendly.

2.  Power Supply -  I'd rather hook it directly to 120 VAC or 24 VDC
than supply my own transformer.

3.  Can't program it in ladder logic.  Others on list have commented how
they despise ladder logic, but for low volume, custom machines of the
type I'm involved with, I'm not sure there is a much better option.

Aaron

2006\12\15@132117 by Mark Scoville

flavicon
face
No kidding. Made right in good old PA?

The resemblance of the Athena C10 unit to an Ascon C1 is spooky. Maybe Ascon
buys them from you?

www.ascon.it/dbAscon/scheda.php?idlang=2&idcont=1&pcmA=2&pcmB=2&pcmC=
1&pcmD=1&pcmE=0

http://www.athenacontrols.com/pdf/C10.pdf


-- Mark

> {Original Message removed}

2006\12\15@134109 by William Couture

face picon face
On 12/15/06, Mark Scoville <EraseMEmscovillespam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTunicontrolinc.com> wrote:
> No kidding. Made right in good old PA?
>
> The resemblance of the Athena C10 unit to an Ascon C1 is spooky. Maybe Ascon
> buys them from you?
>
> www.ascon.it/dbAscon/scheda.php?idlang=2&idcont=1&pcmA=2&pcmB=2&pcmC=
> 1&pcmD=1&pcmE=0
>
> http://www.athenacontrols.com/pdf/C10.pdf

Oops... sorry, missed that.

The "Platinum" series we buy from someone else (I forget who).  But we are
phasing them out, they aren't much cheaper than what we make and do not
work nearly as well.

Units like the 32C (www.athenacontrols.com/pdf/catalog/900M091U00.pdf,
page 10), 16C, etc, are produced just "over the wall".

The reason for different packaging on essentially "identical"
functional units is:
  1) The size restraints of where it will be mounted
  2) Larger packaging allows for more connectors on the rear, and thus
      more functionality.

The EMC40 is actually running a 4-zone version of the 32C / 16C / etc code.

Bill

--
Psst...  Hey, you... Buddy...  Want a kitten?  straycatblues.petfinder.org

2006\12\15@134733 by William Couture

face picon face
On 12/15/06, Aaron <aaron.groupsspamspam_OUTgmail.com> wrote:
>
> Disadvantages I see in the emc40 for the type of equipment we build:
>
> 2.  Power Supply -  I'd rather hook it directly to 120 VAC or 24 VDC
> than supply my own transformer.

It will run off 24VDC.  The bridge rectifier will provide 22V on the output
side.  If that isn't good enough, you can provide 24VDC via the output
connector, though you have to provide your own fusing and make sure
the ground is connected correctly.

> 3.  Can't program it in ladder logic.  Others on list have commented how
> they despise ladder logic, but for low volume, custom machines of the
> type I'm involved with, I'm not sure there is a much better option.

Actually, TinyPLC (mentioned earlier) was written for the EMC40.

Bill

--
Psst...  Hey, you... Buddy...  Want a kitten?  straycatblues.petfinder.org

2006\12\18@182501 by alan smith

picon face
actually lots cheaper....look at automation direct....can get the Koyo PLC for $99, analog is cheap too.  Hard to beat the asians at this UNLESS your going after a specific market such as HVAC where the techs do not want to deal with ladder logic.

William Couture <@spam@bcoutureKILLspamspamgmail.com> wrote:  On 12/15/06, Bob Axtell wrote:
> I'm consulting with a company who develops PLC-based switchgear products.
>
> Their main consideration is that the PLC (or whatever is used) can be
> available to purchase as replacements. The
> power companies that use the PLC must KNOW that the components will be
> available for 10-15 years BEFORE
> they buy the item in the first place. It makes it very hard for a
> newcomer, or one without a large name (such as Siemens)
> to break into that market. I could replace that PLC in 30 days with a
> PIC16F877A and a few peripherals, but they
> can't do it.

The thought here is not that we would enter the PLC market, but that our
controller board could be used in place of a PLC.

Lots of places want "temperature" (humidity / etc) control, plus some "logic".

So, they used a PLC with a canned PID to get both control and logic.

But, specific controllers can do a better control job than a PLC.

So, the thought is that if we can give them a multizone controller plus
programmability, they can buy our board for less than the cost of a PLC
with the analog package (seems to be in the $500 or so range).

> and YES, the ladder language sucks.

Yup, I know. I did a ladder editor / compiler / CPU kernel for work, and
was allowed to make it GPL:
http://www.desmet-c.com/tplc001a.zip

Bill

--
Psst... Hey, you... Buddy... Want a kitten? straycatblues.petfinder.org

2006\12\18@184932 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 12/19/06, alan smith <KILLspammicro_eng2KILLspamspamyahoo.com> wrote:
> actually lots cheaper....look at automation direct....can get the Koyo PLC for $99,
> analog is cheap too.  Hard to beat the asians at this UNLESS your going after a
> specific market such as HVAC where the techs do not want to deal with ladder logic.
>

That is kind of true. For low end PLCs, Asian players are really good.

However, in the higher end, Siemens/Rockwell Automation/Schneider still dominate
even in Asia market. I think software is the key. The Japanese players
seem not to
have a good software package.

Regards,
Xiaofan

2006\12\20@125232 by alan smith

picon face
actually the AD software package is cheap and pretty decent.  That and the fact its an American product actually.  
 
 Just finishing a AB project using a microlinx and panelview, RSLogix500 isnt too bad, but does the same job as the AD package but for $$$$$ more.  First time using a HMI touchscreen tho...it was kinda fun.

Xiaofan Chen <RemoveMExiaofancTakeThisOuTspamgmail.com> wrote:
 On 12/19/06, alan smith wrote:
> actually lots cheaper....look at automation direct....can get the Koyo PLC for $99,
> analog is cheap too. Hard to beat the asians at this UNLESS your going after a
> specific market such as HVAC where the techs do not want to deal with ladder logic.
>

That is kind of true. For low end PLCs, Asian players are really good.

However, in the higher end, Siemens/Rockwell Automation/Schneider still dominate
even in Asia market. I think software is the key. The Japanese players
seem not to
have a good software package.

Regards,
Xiaofan

2006\12\20@183628 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 12/21/06, alan smith <spamBeGonemicro_eng2spamBeGonespamyahoo.com> wrote:
> actually the AD software package is cheap and pretty decent.
> That and the fact its an American product actually.
>
>   Just finishing a AB project using a microlinx and panelview,
> RSLogix500 isnt too bad, but does the same job as the AD
> package but for $$$$$ more.  First time using a HMI touchscreen
> tho...it was kinda fun.
>

Microlinx? I think it should be MicroLogix. Is RSLogix 500 very
expensive? I heard it is not very expensive and very easy to use.
I have not used it. I will start to set up two small Control Logix system
for I/O testing from January and will need to learn RSLogix 5000
which is said to be a bit complicated (but very powerful).

Interestingly, people know AB (Allen-Bradley) better than
Rockwell Automation. The AB product does not any Rockwell
Automation name mentioned. Only Rockwell Software is
mentioned in the software packages (RSLinx/RSNetWorx/RSLogix/...).

Regards,
Xiaofan Chen

Hardware/Firmware Engineer, Distributed I/O
Rockwell Automation Asia Pacific Business Center
Singapore

2006\12\21@071911 by Hazelwood Lyle

flavicon
face
> >   Just finishing a AB project using a microlinx and panelview,
> > RSLogix500 isnt too bad, but does the same job as the AD
> > package but for $$$$$ more.  First time using a HMI touchscreen
> > tho...it was kinda fun.
> >
>
> Microlinx? I think it should be MicroLogix. Is RSLogix 500 very
> expensive? I heard it is not very expensive and very easy to use.
> I have not used it. I will start to set up two small Control
> Logix system
> for I/O testing from January and will need to learn RSLogix 5000
> which is said to be a bit complicated (but very powerful).
>
> Interestingly, people know AB (Allen-Bradley) better than
> Rockwell Automation. The AB product does not any Rockwell
> Automation name mentioned. Only Rockwell Software is
> mentioned in the software packages (RSLinx/RSNetWorx/RSLogix/...).

Their naming conventions get a bit confusing..
RSLogix 500 is the programming software for the very popular SLC-500
series PLCs, as well as the smaller Micro-Logix family. RSLogix 5 is
the same but for the PLC5 family of processors. PanelBuilder32 is the
application for designing the HMI for PanelView terminals. RSLinx is
the communications hub to link all these applications to the target
hardware, by some combination of Ethernet, RS485, Data Highway +, or
a few other interfaces (at least one of which is CAN based).

All the above software is from Rockwell, except PanelBuilder32, which
is still listed as Allen Bradley, even though it uses the same RSLinx
interface as the others.

I don't know much about their cost, except that a "lite" version of
RSLinx is free with RSLogix 500. If you'll be using these regularly, I
suggest getting some level of "Tech Connect" support, so that you can
get software updates as they come out. The cost for this support is
based on the number of hardware devices that you are supporting.

Feel free to contact me on or offlist if there are any questions I can
answer for you. I'm not a salesman, but I am a regular user.

LyleHaze

2006\12\21@113204 by Aaron

picon face


Xiaofan Chen wrote:

>Microlinx? I think it should be MicroLogix. Is RSLogix 500 very
>expensive?
>

We paid $1100+ for another copy a year ago.

>I heard it is not very expensive and very easy to use.
>I have not used it. I will start to set up two small Control Logix system
>for I/O testing from January and will need to learn RSLogix 5000
>which is said to be a bit complicated (but very powerful).
>  
>

RSLogix5000 is a bit more expensive, we paid over $3100 when bundled
with RSNetworx.  I think it is $2500 if you don't buy the Networx
bundle.  I was able to become halfway proficient with it in a week or
so.  I was already quite famalier with the RSLogix 500 for SLC and
MicroLogix, though.

Aaron


'[OT] Ad questions'
2007\01\08@120507 by alan smith
picon face
I'm a bit late on reading this thread...but yes, it was Micrologix.  RSlogix isnt too bad to spin up on, but then again I was using the older version from AB....for the SLC500 bricks....can't recall the name but it fit on 2 floppy's  :-)
 
 Interesting to see that there are a few of us on this list that write PLC programs as well as PIC code.  I actually enjoyed the Panelview development, too bad I couldnt spend more time on it to really make it cool....but.....they needed to ship the stuff out, so they got a functional interface.
 
 Xiaofan....did you change employers?  I thought you were working for the German outfit but now your working for Rockwell?  Maybe thats why you were here visiting some time ago, for the training.
 
 

Aaron <TakeThisOuTaaron.groupsEraseMEspamspam_OUTgmail.com> wrote:
 

Xiaofan Chen wrote:

>Microlinx? I think it should be MicroLogix. Is RSLogix 500 very
>expensive?
>

We paid $1100+ for another copy a year ago.

>I heard it is not very expensive and very easy to use.
>I have not used it. I will start to set up two small Control Logix system
>for I/O testing from January and will need to learn RSLogix 5000
>which is said to be a bit complicated (but very powerful).
>
>

RSLogix5000 is a bit more expensive, we paid over $3100 when bundled
with RSNetworx. I think it is $2500 if you don't buy the Networx
bundle. I was able to become halfway proficient with it in a week or
so. I was already quite famalier with the RSLogix 500 for SLC and
MicroLogix, though.

Aaron

2007\01\08@225050 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 1/9/07, alan smith <RemoveMEmicro_eng2spamTakeThisOuTyahoo.com> wrote:
>  Xiaofan....did you change employers?  I thought you were
> working for the German outfit but now your working for Rockwell?
> Maybe thats why you were here visiting some time ago, for the training.
>

Yes I was working for Pepperl+Fuchs (http://www.pepperl-fuchs.com)
Singapore doing level sensors/discrete I/O and then photoelectric
sensors until May 2006. Then I moved on to the newly setup
Rockwell Automation Asia Pacific Business Center doing distributed I/O
(http://www.ab.com/io). So I was under training in US (Cleveland) from
July 24 to November 4, 2006.

I am still learning on the PLC/PAC side. We only need them for product testing.

Regards,
Xiaofan

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