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The latest measurement and data acquisition news.

  • CMC Isolated Counter Inputs

    CMC MultiCon Counter Application

     

    The CMC series of display, controller and data logging modules added optically isolated counter inputs, this allows easy integration to a variety of applications in the manufacturing industry.  The CP2 and CP4 expansion cards add two or four inputs which are compatible with a wide variety of sensors including proximity sensors as well as incremental encoders.  Applications such as counting the current quantities of produced components, calculating the production cycles, measuring length or balancing production with control of the drive mechanism of the production line are all possible with the CMC series.

  • TCW240B Featuring Push Mode

    TCW240B Push Mode

    The TCW240B from Teracom now features a push mode with the latest firmware, allowing users to send data to specific server rather than be polled.  The main advantage is that the remote TCW240B no longer requires a static IP address, multiple units can be located on various private networks which allow easier deployment and lower running costs.

    Integration is simple, the firmware allows the status.xml file to be sent a programmable time and also sent immediately on an alarm.  Currently the N3tSensors platform is fully supported and within the year we expect to add more as they are requested.

  • Fieldlogger Data Logger Update

    The Fieldlogger has had both updates to its configuration software and firmware, its a free upgrade and can be downloaded from www.fieldlogger.net.

    The updates include...

    • When downloading data via FTP (FieldLogger as a client), there is an option for receiving the file directly in the CSV format. Besides that, this kind of download allows data to be deleted after the download process is done (valid only when logging in an SD card).
    • FieldLogger can now connect to a server in the cloud, allowing access to its data from anywhere at any time.
    • It now has the possibility to protect its configuration and logged data by passwords.
    • New “Modbus over TCP” protocol option, besides the existing “Modbus TCP” one.
    • Capability of remote channels decimal places assignment, not needing the creation of virtual channels for dividing by “10” (or “100”, or “1000”) anymore.
    • New data export formats and more configuration options for the exports are available. A few bugs and limitations were corrected, like (example) the incapability of exporting a XLS file with more than 65535 rows.
    • Report generation was improved! There are now three available report layouts: “chart + maximums and minimums”, “chart + data table” and “bar graph + averages”. Besides that, initial and final time stamps are informed on the report.
    • There are better criteria to show the “Force loggings restart” check box, at the moment of sending the configuration to the equipment. Default option now is “checked” (forcing the restart of the loggings).
    • Virtual channels have two more operations: processing two remote channels (16-bit) into a floating number (32-bit) or into an integer (also 32-bit), but swapping the “high” and “low” bytes of the original registers. This can turn the readings compatible to some equipment that work with a byte order (endianness) different from the one expected by FieldLogger.
  • Expanding Your CNC with RS485 MODBUS

    Through the course of building our CNC router here at Omni Instruments I ran into a number of unforeseen issues with some of the components.  In particular our breakout board had a short across some of the inputs which meant that I was unable to wire in the limit and home switches.  As I'm sure you know if you're reading this article, running a CNC router without the proper limit switches can be dangerous to both you and your machine.  Not to mention that homing switches just make life so much easier when switching between jobs.

    So I was faced with a decision: do I find a way to make this machine work now or do I wait a few weeks for BuildYourCNC.com to provide us with a functional breakout board?  Let's just say that BuildYourCNC.com was slow to respond, slow to deliver and gave us a number of wrong parts.  I figured I was better off trying to make things work with some bits we already had around the shop.

    The Solution

    After a bit of playing around with the Mach3 software I stumbled across some menus that made mention of MODBUS.  This led me to do some studying on the capabilities of this feature, during which I determined that I could fix my limit/home switch issues with an RS485 bus.  Fortunately for me, we had the parts on the shelf, so I was able to walk back in the stock room and grab them.  Nonetheless, if you find yourself in need of a similar solution, these are stock items here at Omni and can usually be shipped the same day.

    To implement this solution I used one each of the following items:

    • DigiRail-4C, MODBUS transmitter with 4x digital inputs
    • USB-i485, RS485 converter with USB interface
    • 12V power adapter, generic wall adapter for 120V AC to 12V DC

    RS485 through DigiRail and USB-i485

    The DigiRail-4C allowed me to make up for the digital inputs lost by the short in the breakout board, the USB-i485 gave my old Windows XP machine a MODBUS interface, and the 12V power adapter supplied the DigiRail-4C with power and high level voltage for the digital input.  Always remember to wire and configure your limit switches to "Active Low", that way if there is a problem with your wiring or configuration the limit will be triggered.

    I would cover the Mach3 configuration for MODBUS, but in all reality that would be a waste of time and a duplication of work.  If you have any questions on the configuration process you can feel free to get in touch, but the Mach Support Wiki has a great article titled "Modbus in Mach" which should be able to get you through the process without much trouble.

    Future Expansion

    I haven't spent the time to learn scripting for Mach3, but there are a number of ideas for further expansion using the DigiRails and MODBUS.  It's good to keep in mind that the DigiRails are not limited to digital input, but also come in a model with 2x analog input and 2x relay outputs.

    • Motor calibration using a linear displacement transducer.
    • Vacuum table control using pressure transducers, relays and solenoids.
    • Tool offset calibration using simple metal-to-metal contact.

    Some of these could surely be implemented with a better breakout board, but those can get rather expensive rather quickly.  This is a good alternative for smaller additions to your CNC system.

    We'd love to hear some of our readers' ideas for CNC expansion through MODBUS, so don't hesitate to post a comment and let us know what you're thinking!  We'll also be happy to answer any questions as best we can.

  • HPS-120 Radio Modem Configuration

    Here is a quick video how-to guide on using TeraTerm to change the baud rate of your HPS-120 wireless radio modem.
  • Teracom TCW Demo System

    tcw-demo

    Omni Instruments has added a demonstration login of the TCW line of Ethernet controllers.  Access is available at the below link...

    http://omniinstruments.no-ip.biz/login.htm

    Username : admin
    Password : demo

    The online demo will give you full access to the monitoring and configuration pages, currently we have a single temperature sensor hooked up.  This demo should help you get an idea of how easy and how capable the TCW line is.

  • Omni's New eCommerce Site Breaks $100,000 in Sales

    $100,000 in online sales might not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things seeing as it stacks up to less than 20% of our sales, but I'm sure those of you who remember our old website can see the significance.

    Prior to early September, when we launched the new Magento-powered website, online sales were nearly non-existent with maybe one online order trickling in each month.  This was primarily due to the inability to have configuration options available on the frontend of the website, disorganization of product categories, and poor search/browsing functionality.  As a matter of fact, you can see our old site here on Archive.org's site.
  • Scaling Basics

    Scaling is the process of taking a signal such as a voltage or current output from a sensor and applying calculations to present this signal in a more usable form in terms of engineering units, such as PSI, °F or %RH. There are three common techniques used in the data acquisition world including linear scaling, mapped scaling and formula scaling. All three methods have their place and time for use and will be described at length in this article.
  • HPS-120 Configuration for use with HPU-120

    This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to properly configure the HPS-120 for use with the HPU-120 using Tera Term.

    The HPS-120 and HPU-120 are part of Omni Instruments' line of wireless serial communication products, specifically for use with RS232 applications. The HPU-120 can work with up to seven HPS-120 transceivers simultaneously, allowing you to control multiple devices from one computer terminal.
  • Aero Weather Station

    Aero Weather Station

    The new Aero Weather Station from Omni Instruments bridges the gap between expensive, high end meteorological stations and lower cost hobby style systems, with an all in one, compact, monitoring system. Featuring accurate sensors and a robust aluminum construction, the Aero weather station is ideal for all climates including harsh conditions where lower cost system would typically fail. With a variety of mounting options, the Aero can be used in both permanent and temporary installations.

    The weather station can be configured to your exact requirements with wind speed, wind direction, temperature, humidity and barometric pressure sensors.

    The low power data logger powers the station with just two AA batteries and can power the system for a single year, removing the need for expensive solar panels and rechargeable batteries. Up to 600,000 readings can be stored in the units internal memory.  Data is downloaded via the USB port located on the bottom of the logger and can export your data for analysis and graphing.

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