All posts by garrys

Here is a Method That can Help You with Difficult Level Sensing

Turn a capacitive proximity sensor into a level sensor. This is ideal for tanks and vessels that you cannot drill through the side for mounting.

Wrap bare wire around the sensing head and extend it to the length you need to detect. Insulate the wire using electrical tape all the way down, but leave the end exposed. This acts like an antenna. Anything touching the end will now be detected. I have used 14 and 12 awg wire, depending on the application.

This is ideal for hard to mount areas. You can bend the wire any way you want as long as the insulation (electrical tape) is not exposed.I have had the wire extend up to 30 feet from the sensor without an issue.

Some quick information about capacitive proximity sensors.
A capacitor is defined as two electrically charged plates separated by a dielectric. In the case of a capacitive proximity sensor, the dielectric is the material that you are trying to detect. As the material moves closer to the electrostatic field of the sensor, oscillation begins. It will get past a threshold and trigger the output to switch.

Some common dielectric constants for material:
Glass – 5
Wood – 2.7
Paper – 2.3
Air, Vacuum – 1
Water – 80
Once you know the dielectric constant you can determine the sensing range (Sr) by a chart that usually comes with the sensor or in the manufactures manual.

Example: Water is 80 so the sensing range is 100%

I generally just try the sensor to determine if it will be suitable for the application.

If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.

Get Rid Of Surges That Are Destroying Your PLC Outputs

DC Solenoids are the worse culprits for electrical surges on your system. When the electrically generated field collapses an opposite polarity voltage is generated. This voltage spike can be high enough to weld the contacts on a PLC output relay.

To protect your PLC output relay, use a diode to ensure that when the solenoid switches off the voltage spike is released through the diode instead of the relay.

 

The diode should be rated to handle 10 times the voltage that you are switching and enough for the current flow of the circuit.

Parts of the diode:

The cathode of the diode is marked by a band.  The electron flow will only occur in one direction.

Installation:
Install the diode as close as possible in parallel with the solenoid. The cathode should be wired to the positive source of the solenoid. (Dissipate negative polarity voltage spike)

Note: You could also install an interposing device to handle the surge such as a SSR. (Solid State Relay) This is generally more money, space in the panel and wiring.

Note: Allot of solenoids come already with surge suppressing diodes from the manufacturer. If not, you will usually need this information when troubleshooting and discover your welded contacts of the output relay.

If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.

Building a PLC Program That You Can Be Proud Of – Part 2

In part 1 we looked at writing PLC programs to control a traffic light using discrete bits and then using timed sequencing using indirect addressing.  We will now look at how we can use indirect addressing for inputs as well as output to control the sequence in the program.

Lets look at an example of controlling pneumatic (air) cylinders.

Video of  Pneumatic Cylinder Sequencing on YouTube.

This site contains a video of the three cylinders and the sequence required.

This program will have the following inputs. Even thought no sensors are mounted on the cylinders, it is best to have sensor inputs when the cylinder is extended (out) and retracted (in)
Inputs:
Cylinder 1 In – X1
Cylinder 1 Out – X2
Cylinder 2 In – X3
Cylinder 2 Out – X4
Cylinder 3 In – X5
Cylinger 3 Out – X6
Start PB NO – X7
Stop PB NO – X8
Step PB NO – X9

This program will have the following outputs.
Outputs:
Cylinder 1 In – Y1
Cylinder 1 Out – Y2
Cylinder 2 In – Y3
Cylinder 2 Out – Y4
Cylinder 3 In – Y5
Cylinger 3 Out – Y6

We will use the following pointers:
V0 – Output pointer starting at address V2000
V1 – Input pointer starting at address V1000
V10 will be the input word
V20 will be the output word

Before we start and write the code lets look at the sequence that we are trying to accomplish. The best way to do this is a chart indicating the inputs and output. I use either graph paper or a spreadsheet software to configure the sequence.
I usually start with the outputs configure the sequence that I would like to see. Then based upon the output sequence, I figure out the input sequence.

Note: Here is the location for a quick review of numbering systems from a previous post.

Once the sequence has been established, the next step is writing the program.
Input program that will set the input bits in V10.

Control part of the program:
The first scan will reset the input and output pointers.
The input pointer is compared to the input word V10. If they are equal then the output pointer and input pointer are incremented. If the STEP input is hit, then the output and input pointers are incremented.
The output pointer is then compared to the maximum value (end of sequence). If it is greater than or equal to the maximum value then the pointers will be reset.
Line 12 will move the outputs indirectly to the output word.

Output program that will set the actual outputs based upon the bits in V20

As you can see the actual program is very small however the sequence can be thousands of steps. This is a very straight forward and powerful method of programming. Programming this sequence using bits, timers and no indirect addressing would be very difficult and hard to read. Modifications would have to be a complete re-write of the program.

Modifications:
The entire program sequence could change without further lines of code. Only the values in the registers would need to be modified. This could lead to different sequences for different products.
We used a step input to have the program move forward through the sequence. It would be just as easy to add a step reverse function for the program. We would just have decrement the pointers and check to make sure when we were at the beginning of the sequence.

Troubleshooting:
When troubleshooting this program we would only need to look at the compares to determine what input and or output is not working correctly.

Integration with a touch panel display is simplified when using this type of programming method.

What other advantages do you see?

In Part 3 we will build on the traffic light sequencing used in part one with inputs for pedestrian and car detection.

Contact me for the above program. I will be happy to email it to you.
If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry

You can download the software and simulator free at the following address. Also listed are helpful guides to walk you through your first program.
Do-more Designer Software

How to use video’s for Do-more Designer Software




If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.

Building a PLC Program That You Can Be Proud Of – Part 1

What is the best way to program a PLC? 
My answer is simple. The best way is one in which someone can look at your program and understand it. I cannot stress enough the need for good documentation of your program. The best programs are ones that I can return to after several years and understand what it is doing within a few minutes. Programs should read like a book. This will aid in troubleshooting, modifying or teaching.

How do you approach a PLC program?
You must know everything about the logic or process before starting your program. Making a flow chart is one good method to learning the logic and process. The flow chart will bring out questions like the following:
What happens after a power outage? (In each condition of the outputs)
What happens if a sensor is not made? How long do you wait?
What are the critical items to monitor? (Ex. Air Pressure, Weight, Length, etc)
What happens…
Once you have written your program and are in the troubleshooting stage you can usually go back and add to your flow chart. Usually there is always something that needs to be added, changed or modified based upon the actual functioning of the program.
Consider each project a complete leaning opportunity.

Once you know what you want to do with the PLC and have a good understanding of the logic flow, then it is time to start coding. Remember that there is no write or wrong method to program the PLC, either the program will work or it will not work.

Let’s look at an example. We will start with something that we all know how it works.
Traffic Lights

We will look at three programming examples for the lights. Two different approaches to programming will be used, but the program function is the same. The last example will modify the logic for a car being sensed.

Logic:
First Example:
Traffic Light Program
Sample program for traffic light intersection with lights facing North /South and West /East.
Green is on for 5 seconds
Yellow is on for 2 seconds
Red has an overlap of 3 seconds
This program uses discrete bits and timers to accomplish this task.
The $FirstScan bit will reset the timers so if power is lost, the lights will start with Red / Red overlap before starting the sequence again.
The outputs are controlled by when the timers are on (Done) or off (Not Done)
North / South Traffic Lights
West / East Traffic Lights

You will notice that this program is fully documented and easy to understand.

This program is based upon time events. The base rate is one second. If we create a list of what the outputs look like after each second and then send them to the physical output channel we will have the second type of approach to this logic…

Logic:
Second Example:
Traffic Light Program

Sample program for traffic light intersection with lights facing North /South and West /East.
Green is on for 5 seconds
Yellow is on for 2 seconds
Red has an overlap of 3 seconds

This program uses indirect addressing to program
Lets look at the list of outputs we want based upon the following addresses: (Notice the Bit location)
Y0 – Red_Light_NS
Y1 – Yellow_Light_NS
Y2 – Green_Light NS
Y8 – Red_Light_WE
Y9 – Yellow_Light_WE
Y10 – Green_Light_WE

We have 20 steps to do in the sequence based upon 1 second increments. (V1000 to V1019)

Here is what the hex values translated to binary look like:
(Review of numbering systems from previous blog)

The $FirstScan bit will reset the pointers so if power is lost, the lights will start with Red / Red overlap before starting the sequence again.

Lets look at the program:

The $FirstScan bit will move  the number 1000 into V0. V0 will act as our pointer for the list of outputs. (V1000 to V1019)
Every 1 second ($1Second) V0 will increment by a value of 1. We will then compare the value to 1020 which indicates the end of the sequence. If the value is greater or equal to then our pointer is reset to the value of 1000. This is done by moving the number 1000 into V0.
The last step is moving our output word indirectly V0 to our output word V1. Indirectly means that the value in V0 will point to a memory location dictated by the number it contains.
ex: V0 has a value of 1000 so this means that V[V0] will move V1000 into our output word.

Set the outputs
Our physical outputs are set by casing our output word (V1) into bits. Depending on the programmable controller this can be done my moving to a word that can be addressed by bits or in our case we can cast the word into bits. [V1:#]

This program code is allot smaller than the first using discrete bits and timers. With documentation it is also easier to read.

One of the advantages of indirect addressing to program is that it makes modifications easier. Lets modify the last program…

The North will stay green until a car approaches from the West. It will remain green for 1 more second before turning yellow and completing the cycle. If the car is always there then the lights will always function.
X0 – Car West/East

Just a couple of contacts have been added to the logic on the line that increments the pointer. The setting of the outputs do not change.
If the value at V0 is equal to 1006 then stop incrementing V0. X0 (Car at intersection) comes then the pointer will increment. The cycle will complete and continue until X0 is not present. It will then stop when the pointer V0 equals 1006 again.

Watch on YouTube : Building a PLC Program That You Can Be Proud Of

In part 2 we will look at indirect addressing with a sequence that is event driven, not timed like the above.

Contact me for the above programs. I will be happy to email them to you.
If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry

You can download the software and simulator free at the following address. Also listed are helpful guides to walk you through your first program.
Do-more Designer Software

How to use video’s for Do-more Designer Software

One of the better PLC programming books is PLC Programming for Industrial Automation by Keven Collins. Here is the link to the free download.

http://staffweb.itsligo.ie/staff/kcollins/plc/plcprogramming.pdf




If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.

Who Else Wants To Know How A PLC Scans?

Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) will scan very quickly. This can be anywhere from 1 to 20 ms, which translates into 1000 to 500 times each second. But what exactly is a scan?

A scan is when the PLC will complete the following:

Read Inputs:
Look at all of the inputs to the programmable controller. Digital, Analog, Communication
Execute Program:
Solve the logic to determine the output status. PLCs generally will solve the logic from left to right, top to bottom. The output of the rung before is available for the next rung.
This is like some of the popular bands of PLCs like MitsubishiAllen Bradley, Siemens, Omron, Automation Direct, etc. There are some exceptions like older Modicon models which solve the logic top to bottom, left to right. Always refer to the manufactures manual to ensure the program execution method.
Diagnostics and Communication:
The PLC will do a self check. It will verify that no errors exists in memory, cards attached, etc. This is critical because the PLC in an industrial application can have devastating effects if something malfunctions and the machine continues to function erratically. The PLC will stop executing, return the outputs to a normal state and indicate an error has occurred.
Communication will happen to the remote I/O, operator panels, etc.
Update Outputs:
Outputs are set according to the PLC program. (Digital, Analog) This is where the physical items will start moving. (Motors, Valves etc.)
To understand the scan, lets take a look at an example.
The following program will look at input X0 and set an internal bit for one scan one the rising edge of the input and one on the trailing edge of the input. The rising edge is when the input transitions from off to on and the trailing edge is when the input transitions from on to off.
The bits will only be on for one scan so we will increment an internal word by one when the bits go on. This way we will be able to see the bit increment in the word.
Leading edge one shot (one scan) bit. When the input signal goes on (X0) and C1 is not on, then C0 is turned on. The next rung will have C0 and X0 on so C1 turns on.
Remember: The PLC will scan from left to right, top to bottom and the outputs from the previous rung are available for the next.
C0 is on so the increment will add one to D0.
The next scan X0 is still on, C1 is now on so output C0 is turned off. C0 has been now on for one scan from the transition from off to on.
Trailing edge one shot (one scan) bit. When the input signal goes ooff (X0) and C3 is not on, then C2 is turned on. The next rung will have C2 and not X0 on so C3 turns on.
C2 is on so the increment will add one to D1.
The next scan X0 is still off, C3 is now on so output C2 is turned off. C2 has been now on for one scan from the transition from on to off.

Contact me for the above program. I will be happy to email it to you.
If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry

You can download the software and simulator free at the following address. Also listed are helpful guides to walk you through your first program.
Do-more Designer Software

How to use video’s for Do-more Designer Software




If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.

Here’s a Quick Way to Connect RS232 Equipment

Most programmable controllers will come with a RS232 communication port. This recommended standard (RS) has voltage signals in the range between 3 to 15 volts DC with respect to the ground/common pin. RS232 devices are classed either DTE (data terminal equipment) or DCE (data communication equipment).
The maximum cable length for the communication cable is 15m, however depending on the environment I have seen this as much as 50m without an issue.
Most RS232 connectors are 9 pin like the diagram below, but they can also come in 25 pin or RJ45 connectors.

 

A minimum 3 wire RS232 connection consists of only the transmit data, receive data and ground. This is commonly used if full handshaking is not required.

Pin 2 RD ————————– Pin 3 TD
Pin 3 TD ————————– Pin 2 RD
Pin 5 Ground ———————- Pin 5 Ground
Pin 7 RTS                                       Pin 8 CTS
Pin 8 CTS                                       Pin 7 RTS
Cable Shield

Note: I always jump Pin 4 and 6 out together on each side.
The shield on the connection cable should only be connect to one housing when making the cable. I usually connect it on the PLC end.

5 wire RS232 connection consists of the  transmit data, receive data, ground, request to send (RTS), clear to send (CTS)

Pin 2 RD ————————– Pin 3 TD
Pin 3 TD ————————– Pin 2 RD
Pin 5 Ground ———————- Pin 5 Ground
Pin 7 RTS  ———————— Pin 8 CTS
Pin 8 CTS  ———————— Pin 7 RTS
Cable Shield

Note: The shield on the connection cable should only be connect to one housing when making the cable. I usually connect it on the PLC end.

RS232 is a one to one communication method. (1:1) This means it is designed to communicate to one device. If multiple devices are needed,(1:N) RS422 or RS485 should be used by way of converters.
RS232 must have the same settings on each end. (Port Settings)
These include the following parameters:
Bits per second:  9600 (Baud Rate)
Data Bits: 8
Parity: None
Stop Bits: 1
Flow Control: None

If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.

The Secret Of Getting Rid Of Noise On Your Analog Signal

Allot of times in industrial environments we get noise on the analog signal input to PLC’s or other controllers. The noise can be generated by motors, bad wiring, etc.

Placing a 1- 100 uF capacitor on the input signal and ground (common to the cabinet)  will reduce the noise that the input is receiving.

If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.

Who Else Wants To Lean PLC Programming For Free?

I have always been an old school programmer. Hardware in front of you hooked up to all of the I/O. I have recently looked at the automation direct do-more designer software solution. The Do-More Designer Software will allow you to build your ladder logic, download into a simulator (comes with the software) and run the code. The price of all of this… FREE

I will not get into allot of details because the documention available already will get you through the software step by step.
– Download the software
– Install the software
– Use the YouTube videos for help with getting around the software and making your first program.

The following are several links to help you discover the plc programmer in you:

Automaion Direct – Do-more Programming Software
http://www.automationdirect.com/adc/Overview/Catalog/Software_Products/Programmable_Controller_Software/Do-more_PLC_Programming_Software

http://www.aboutplcs.com/do-more/software/

http://www.aboutplcs.com/do-more/software/simulator.html

The simulator has allot of great features, including PID simulation.

Do-more PLC – How to videos on youtube
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPdypWXY_ROoJx-HnK9gj2Z5a-i7th-UK

Update: Here is a video from YouTube about the simulator basic instructions:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnRSw3ykW6k#t=274
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JiMzBHPa7E

If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.

Here’s a Quick Way to Understand PLC Inputs and Outputs

The term I/O means Input/Output. I/O can come in two different types; Discrete or Analog Most people starting out leaning about programmable logic controls (PLC) are taught all about discrete input and outputs. Data is received from devices such as push-buttons, limit-switches etc. and devices are turned on such as motor contactor, lights, etc. Discrete input and output bits are either on or off. (1 or 0) The following program will show a motor control circuit stop start. Motor off:

Motor on:

Analog inputs Common input variables for analog are temperature, flow, pressure, etc. They are converted to an electrical signal into a PLC analog input. Standard electrical signals are 0 – 20 mA, 4 – 20 mA, 0 – 10 volts DC, -10 – 10 volts DC. Note: It is recommended that a 4 – 20 mA signal is best. If voltage is required, a resistor can be added to get a voltage input. Analog outputs Common output variables for analog are speed, flow, pressure, etc. They are converted from a word in the PLC to the output of the analog. The range of signal is then outputted to the device to control the position, rate, etc. Standard electrical signals to the device are 4 – 20 mA, 0 – 10 volts DC, -10 – 10 volts DC. Both Analog Inputs and Outputs use words to determine the signal going to or from the device. Example: 4 – 20 mA current Input – 8 bit resolution 4 mA = 000000002 = 0016 20 mA = 11111111= FF16 Example: 4 – 20 mA current Output – 8 bit resolution 0016 = 000000002 = 4 mA FF16 = 111111112 =20 mA For a review of numbering systems, follow the link below: What everyone should know about PLC numbering systems

 

Let me know if you have any questions or need further information.
Thank you,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.

Here’s a Quick Way to Convert Grey Code into Binary for PLC

Grey Code
Grey Code is used because only one bit of data will change at a time. The following chart shows the conversion of Grey Code to Binary.

Number Binary Code Grey Code Number Binary Code Grey Code
0 0000 0000 8 1000 1100
1 0001 0001 9 1001 1101
2 0010 0011 10 1010 1111
3 0011 0010 11 1011 1110
4 0100 0110 12 1100 1010
5 0101 0111 13 1101 1011
6 0110 0101 14 1110 1001
7 0111 0100 15 1111 1000

It is important for absolute encoders because if the power is interrupted the encoder will know where it is within the one bit.

Example:
Power is interrupted when the encoder is between 7 and 8. If we are looking at Binary Code all of the bits would be effected and we would not be sure as to what number we are looking at for the encoder. Therefore we have lost position. In Grey Code only one bit changes so we will still be able to tell if we were on 7 or 8 if the power was interrupted.

The following sample PLC program will convert 4 bit grey code into binary code.
This code was written in an Automation Direct PLC software called Do-more Designer.

Do-more Designer Software
How to use video’s for Do-more Designer Software

Contact me for the above program. I will be happy to email it to you.
Thank you,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.