Binary Math and Absolute Encoders

Jul 13, 2016 10:00:00 AM | Posted by Jeff Monforton

An absolute encoder, while necessary and useful, can offer some challenges if the user doesn’t understand the mathematics of how they work and function.

There are numerous applications that employ encoders in automation control. The purposes are too numerous to list. However, there is one type of encoder that is used that does offer some challenges to those unfamiliar with the mathematics of how they work: The absolute encoder.
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User-defined function best practices

Jun 10, 2015 5:20:00 AM | Posted by Jeff Monforton

When designing the UDF, there are some questions that need to be considered.

Modern automation controllers continue to expand with options and opportunities for the programmer. One of those improvements is the ability to develop User-Defined Functions (UDF), or Add-On Instructions in the Rockwell Automation ecosystem. These improve portability, consistency, and code security, all of which add to the kit of the automation programmer. Like all tools they can be used properly or abused; who hasn’t pried the lid off of a can of paint with a ‘screwdriver’? I’d like to take a moment and discuss some of the options and opportunities that these constructs offer and some of the Best Practices that should be employed.

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Separating good code from bad: The "paper-and-pencil" method

Nov 4, 2014 6:23:00 AM | Posted by Jeff Monforton

As the digital age continues to grow, the automation industry keeps up with upgrading or replacing control systems. When migrating, try the simple paper-and-pencil method to
help identify programming issues.

In society today, computer technology has become ever present. We use smartphones, tablets, laptops, the internet, web pages, and smart TVs. The digital age is certainly all around us. The automation world has also been moving in that direction for over 25 years.

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Operator Interface Graphics 101

Mar 18, 2014 7:52:48 AM | Posted by Jeff Monforton

Graphics on an operator interface can range from very simple to extremely complex, so when creating them there are a few tips you should keep in mind.

Most automation and process control projects provide an operator interface presenting the current state of the system. These can range from the very simple to the extremely complex. The one aspect that they exhibit—perceived or real—is a reflection of the total job quality. The quality of the graphics will certainly leave a lasting impression; after all they are in the operators view every day.

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Good vs. poor documentation: Don’t be ‘that guy’

Dec 17, 2013 8:20:23 AM | Posted by Jeff Monforton

A well organized and well documented system, complete with commentary within your code, can only help you and your fellow developers and programmers.

Over the years we have all had to modify, repair, debug, and otherwise live with someone else’s code. The platforms vary, but the challenges remain the same—the biggest of which is, “What in #@$! was this guy thinking?!” Looking at that single—sometimes painful and often confusing—question leaves us wondering how it happened in the first place.

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Understanding State-Full Programming Methods

Jul 2, 2013 3:47:00 AM | Posted by Jeff Monforton

When considering the solution to a programming task, there is generally no shortage of approaches. These typically range from the mundane to the extremely complicated. There is one approach to consider when solving a problem and that is through the use of a state machine.

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Encapsulated Data in Automation Programming

Jan 8, 2013 2:50:00 AM | Posted by Jeff Monforton

One problem we face when developing an automation solution is managing and organizing the vast amounts data that are needed. This applies to numerous scenarios, whether it is developing a tracking system, controlling conveyors, or discrete machine control. Not only is the organization of the data important to the control system directly, graphics development is equally concerned.

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Plan for Networking Success

Jul 5, 2012 3:28:42 AM | Posted by Jeff Monforton

A major part of today’s communication revolves around Ethernet networking. In our world, this is used for either communications or I/O control. The current state-of-the-art network hardware makes the implementation of these types of networks extremely easy and secure. The fact that this is the same technology that is used in every corporation’s IT department makes it even more attractive.

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