Friday, January 26, 2018

Creating a Java Program on the HMS Anybus Communicator Hardware Platform

Time to dust off the cobwebs and do some "legacy" development! In this blog, I'm going to show you how to get to a point where you can start writing Java code on the HMS Anybus Communicator. I find that it doesn't matter what language you code in, the tricky bit is getting to the point where you can simply create and run the time-honoured "Hello World!" program. Using new editors, sorting out dependencies, making physical hardware connections can take up a big chunk of your time.

First, some information on the hardware platform:
The Anybus brand from HMS contains hundreds of gateways (or protocol converters) that can be used to convert between common industrial communications protocols such as PROFIBUS, MODBUS, Ethernet/IP, ControlNet, DeviceNet, PROFINET, CANOpen, J1939, etc. Check out anybus.com for a full list of protocols supported out of the box. Using these gateways you can for instance read registers from a MODBUS device and make them available to a PROFINET Controller. All it takes is configuration of the gateway, and no programming! 

What if I want to get information from some black box device that does not speak a common industrial data communications protocol and pass that information to a PLC that does speak a specific industrial protocol? Well then you're going to need some sort of hardware platform that a programmer can use to write code that can interpret or decode the propriety protocol that the non-standardized device speaks and map that to a standardized protocol. If the proprietary protocol is serial based (RS-232) then you can use an Java-enabled Anybus Communicator, write Java code to decode the RS-232 ASCII strings, manipulate the data and map that to the standardized protocol, load the compiled program on to there, and deploy the solution. 

Understanding the bigger picture: 
You might be using a machine on your site where the vendor of that machine is great at the science of what they do, but only problem is, the data it collects is in a "silo":

This means that one has to firstly walk to the location to take down a reading and secondly, there is no way to monitor in real time OEE performance of the machine, how much its producing, the quality of the product and if its even available at all. We've been in the fourth industrial revolution for a while now, it is the time of IIOT and we expect everything to be connected. Using gateways allows you to incorporate these silos so that data is accessible from a central location or you can even remotely control your machine:

So the big picture is that one wants to be able to monitor an asset's performance, production quality and availability so that Business Intelligence can be applied to make production related decisions. Okay, now that we understand why we want to do this, let's get going with how we're going to do this...

Setting up your development environment: 

1) Install the JAVA SE Development Kit (JDK)

The JDK can be downloaded from the Oracle website. You'll need to install this in order to compile the Java code that you'll be writing. The appropriate JDK for your OS can be found here.

2) Install HyperTerminal

HyperTerminal no longer comes with Windows, so one will have to download the HyperTerminal Applet. It is possible to download other versions which often have a cost associated with it. 

It is also possible to find hypertrm.dll and hypertrm.exe on a PC running Windows XP. These can be copied to a more modern version of Windows and run from there. You won't have a connection icon so you'll have to click in the blank area as in the image below:


3) Install a Code Editor

Install your preferred code editor, even a program such as Notepad can be used.  I like to use Notepad++ for small projects such as this. It is available here


4) Download the Appropriate Libraries
The Lib directory containing all the libraries that can be used by your code is supplied with the HMS Java SDK. I like to put this Lib directory in the same directory as my project directories, so that they can all share that Lib directory:
Within my project directory I keep the relevant project documentation and another directory called src which contains all of my source code:
This directory structure is important to understand because in the make.bat file we talk about later, there are references to the Lib directory that is two levels up. This will mean less work when creating new projects. You can reuse the make.bat file as is, and you're working with only one copy of the Lib directory.  

Important: Lib contains all of the .jar files that you'll need (like hms_jdk.jar) and things like a Math library. This directory contains what is available to you as an Anybus Communicator Java developer, so some modern Java functions may not be available and you'll have to get creative in how you write your code. Perhaps you'll even extend your own library.  

5) Write Some Code!

Copy the following code into a text editor and save the file as Main.java in the src directory (two levels up from Lib). Remember, the file name must be the same as the class name! We'll look at doing something more interesting than printing out the test "Hello World!" at a later stage, for now, let's just get our development environment in place.  

import java.io.*;
import java.lang.*;
import hms_jtk.abs.*;
import hms_jtk.led.*; 
import hms_jtk.serial.*;
import java.lang.*; 
import java.util.*;
public class Main extends Thread
{
 public static void main(String[] args)
 {
  new Main().start();
 }
 public void run()
 {
  System.out.println("Hello World!");
 }
}

You'll also need to make a Main.control file. Open up Notepad, copy the following instructions (from HMS) into it and save as Main.control in the same directory as Main.java. 
//----------------------------------------------------------------------
// This file contains control flags (parameters) that are used by the
// ClassLinker program when generating output file from application's
// class files. ClassLinker expects that the application control file
// will have the same name as main application file and have '.control'
// extension.
//----------------------------------------------------------------------
// List of directories and/or library zip/jar files separated by semicolon.
// LinkClassPath is used to find files required for linking application
// classes.
LinkClassPath=.;..\..\lib\java.jar;..\..\lib\javax.jar;..\..\lib;..\..\lib\hms_jtk.jar
// Map file contains detailed information about all classes composing
// the final binary image.
// Possible values: Y or N
// If 'Y' is specified then a file with extension '.map' is created.
// Output map file can be created in HTML format if MapFileHtml
// switch is set to 'Y'. The file extension is then '.map.html'
MapFile=Y
MapFileHtml=N
// List files contain source code mixed with java bytecodes.
// If file name is specified then a list file with extension '.list'
// is created.
// Multiple list files can be created by separating the class file
// names with semicolons.
// Output list file can be created in HTML format if ListFileHtml
// switch is set to 'Y'. The file extension is then '.list.html'
ListFile=
ListFileHtml=Y
// Possible values: Y or N
// If Y is specified then all console output is suppressed.
// However, all error messages will be printed.
QuietMode=N
//Amount of references (0 = System default)
References=0
//Amount of strings (0 = System default)
Strings=0
//Amount of user threads (0 = System default)
Threads=0
//Amount of software timers (0 = System default)
Timers=0
//Platform the java application should be built for (<=16 characters)
Platform=ABC

5) Compiling the Code and Holding Thumbs that it Works!
To compile the code we will put all the commands we need to that in a Windows batch file. In the code below, you will have to make sure that the JDK_Home path matches that of the JDK you installed in step 1. In addition, you may need to adjust the -classpath arguments to point the the Lib directory we spoke about in step 4. If you have the Lib directory two directories up from where your Main.java source file is, then you won't need to edit the -classpath arguments. 
Copy the following instructions into a text editor like Notepad and save the file as make.bat in the same directory as where you stored the Main.java file. 
@echo off
set JDK_HOME=C:\"Program Files (x86)"\Java\j2sdk1.4.2_11
if %JDK_HOME%.==. goto SETHOME
echo Compiling...
%JDK_HOME%\bin\javac -g -target 1.1 -classpath .;..\..\lib\javax.jar;..\..\lib\hms_jtk.jar -bootclasspath ..\..\lib\java.jar *.java
if errorlevel==1 goto ERROR
echo Linking...
set CLASSPATH=..\..\lib\ClassLinker.jar;..\..\lib
%JDK_HOME%\bin\java ClassLinker -f Main -d
if errorlevel==0 goto EXIT
:ERROR
echo Build failed
goto EXIT
:SETHOME
echo Missing JDK_HOME environment variable. For example: SET JDK_HOME=C:\JDK1.3
:EXIT
pause
make.bat

You can run this batch file from the command line or by double clicking it in Windows explorer. This will be your debugger and any errors will be displayed here. Hopefully, there are no errors and the code compiles and leaves you with a Main.bin file that we will be using to send to the Anybus Communicator. This binary file contains all the instructions the Anybus Communicator needs to follow for that application. 

6) Create an Autoexec.bat file
While we are making batch files, lets make another one that we will send to the Anybus Communicator and will allow the Main.bin program to start automatically when the unit is powered. Open Notepad and type in the following instruction: 
Main.bin
Save the file as Autoexec.bat in the same directory as the Main.bin directory. 

7) Physical Connections
Connect the Anybus Communicator to a 24V DC power supply and connect the supplied programming cable to the RS-232 port of your PC (most likely via a USB to Serial adapter) and the RJ11 jack of the Anybus Communicator. A typical layout will look something like this:

8) Check your COM port number
Open Device Manager on your PC and check that the COM port is available and healthy. Note the COM port number. In my case it's COM port 1.

If you are using an Ethernet to Serial converter like the one I spoke about in this blog post, then the COM port won't be in device manager but rather in the Serial/IP Control Panel in Windows Control Panel.

9) Connect via HyperTerminal to the the Anybus Communicator
Make sure the programming cable is connected as in step 7 and open HyperTerminal to create a new connection. Select the COM port as per step 8:

Set the port settings to be as follows:
A blank terminal should be visible. Note the connection status. It is possible to save the connection for future use:
Power up the Anybus Communicator (or cycle the power if you have already powered it). If your COM port is working correctly working then you should see the following start-up sequence:
You'll notice that the Anybus Communicator already has a program running on it out of the box (note that if someone has programmed the gateway before you that there may be another program on it). We will now quit the default program a load our own "Hello World" program onto it.

10) Uploading our Program to the Anybus Communicator
- Type in "q" to quite the program (if there is a custom program already running on the gateway and "q" does not work, you could try hit "esc" really early in the boot sequence before the program starts).
- Type in "rb" (read binary) and then "enter" to start the receive binary file sequence
- You'll have to work quickly here... From the menu, select "Transfer" -> "Send File"
- Browse for the Main.bin file you compiled in step 5, select Ymodem and press the "Send" button:
If you do not complete the last two steps quickly enough, the rb sequence will end and you'll get a "synchronization" error. No problem, just type "rb" again and repeat the last two steps...just be quicker this time!
You should see a window that looks like this:
- Once that completes, type in rb again to send the autoexec.bat file that you made in step 6 to the Anybus Communicator in exactly the same way you uploaded the Main.bin file. 

By rebooting the Anybus Communicator, your "Hello World" program should start up automatically!



If you think there is a step missing here, let us know and we'll be glad to help out. If you need someone to code the solution for you, we can certainly help out there too. We've done loads of applications using the Java Enabled Anybus Communicator. We'll demonstrate some more real world implementations in future blogs...something more useful than "Hello World" ;-) 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Your path to becoming a PROFIBUS expert in South Africa

The PROFIBUS Competence and Training Centre of Southern Africa (PCC) has been providing internationally certified PROFIBUS training since 2004. The centre is operated by Industrial Data Xchange. The courses are conducted by lecturers that have real on-site experience and have an in-depth knowledge of the content developments of the technology by attending PI Training Centre meetings across the globe. We believe that hands-on training is key and by the end of the course you will feel confident in creating your own network!

We've mapped out the path for you below: 

The entry level stage is for individuals who have no experience with PROFIBUS. If someone has been tasked with installing or maintaining a PROFIBUS network, they should at least have the PROFIBUS Installer certification. This should give the end user some level of confidence that the installation will work reliably. 

Which course is for me?
Installer Course
Engineer Course
PA Engineer Course
Start from the basics and learn how to properly build PROFIBUS networks according to the specification. Most faults can be prevented by building and installing PROFIBUS cable correctly and with care in the first place. Make sure only Certified Installers touch your network!


If you have already obtained the Installer Certification and want to learn more about how PROFIBUS works from first principals, then this course is for you. Network configuration, decoding diagnostic messages, optimizing timing settings, system debugging and troubleshooting are all topics that are packed into this course. 
Once you have the Engineer Certification, learn about PA network design and implementation. Doing the right calculations before commissioning can save a great deal of time and money. We also configure devices using common engineering tools. 
Installer with Troubleshooting Course
Installer with Engineer
Course

System Designer
Course

Identical to the Installer course but with an extra half day of learning how to use test equipment effectively to troubleshoot common PROFIBUS faults. This is where your installer knowledge really gets put to the test! Easily our most popular course!
Fast-track your way to an Engineer certification by doing the Installer Certification on the first day and continuing with the Engineer Certification over the rest of the course. An intensive course, but also the best value for the time and money that is committed to it.
We look at the control system life cycle, the consideration of maintenance, choosing the right technology and components, network layout and design, high availability, redundancy, control system and network timing, safety and documentation and drawing standards. 
What else do you need to know? 

  • There is an exam at the end of each course to help attendees practise what they learnt.
  • There is no need to bring anything! Lunch, equipment and training materials are provided.
  • All scheduled courses are held at the IDX offices in Fourways, Johannesburg, but contact us if you need us to do special onsite training.
Bookings are essential. Please contact us to book your next course or if you need any more information. We look forward to seeing you in the next course!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Changing a device's PROFIBUS address using the Nettest II handheld PROFIBUS tester

NetTEST II Diagnostic Tool for PROFIBUSThe Nettest II is one of those tools that our PROFIBUS Engineers ensure that they have with them when going on a PROFIBUS callout. It's particularly useful as a pre-commissioning device to quickly test a section of newly assembled PROFIBUS cable before using it. It's amazing how easily installers can swap the A and B line, leave off a termination, create a short between the lines or shield or forget to attach the shield in a connector. If the cable passes the Nettest II Line Tests, you can be confident that the cable will work reliably in your installation. You can also view signal strengths, view a live list and monitor statistics, but did you know that you can change the address of a device? 
We occasionally get asked: "How can one change the address of the device that has no rotary dials or dip switches?" 
The answer would be to use a Class 2 Master. However, a technician on a night shift might need to replace a piece of equipment, and can't, because they do not have access to a computer running software with Class 2 Master functionality.  
With a Nettest II, it's possible to do it by using the following steps: 

On the main menu select 
“Line Test” 
> Select “Profibus Master mode” 
> Select “Extended Master” 
> Select “Master Parameters” and set these up so to match the segment to which you are attached. (i.e. baud rate = 45.45kb if connecting through a Siemens coupler) press “Enter” when done. 
> Select “Config. with livelist” and press “Enter” to delete Slave Definitions 
  
Once all of the device have been found press enter to terminate and enter again to begin the ident number capture. 
  
> Once this is complete press enter to return to the Extended Master Menu 
> Select “Slave Menu” 
> Select “Process Slave” 
> Select the device whose address you wish to change. 
> Select Single DP Services 
> Scroll to and select “SET_SLAVE_ADD_REQ” 

> Scroll to the new address and press “Enter”

Good luck! Let us know if you need any help with test tool advice, training or troubleshooting a PROFIBUS network.  

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Remote Monitoring of HVAC Systems

What are HVAC Systems?
Automated systems that incorporate Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) apparatus to perform heating and/or cooling for residential, commercial or industrial buildings. A fundamental function of the system is to providing fresh outdoor air to decrease and dilute interior airborne contaminants such as odors from occupants, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) emitted from interior furnishings, chemicals used for cleaning, etc. These HVAC systems can be customized in an energy-efficient design to suit your specific needs and provide a consistent and comfortable indoor environment suitable for all.

Fig 1: HVAC Automated Closed Loop System

Remote Monitoring of HVAC Systems
With structures of this nature, remote monitoring is a vital feature that will assist with visualization of measurable primary element variables. By using the Netbiter Remote Monitoring Solution, we were able to achieve remote monitoring on medical laboratory facilities. Since the labs were located at remote sites to assist with medical treatment and aid, there was a lack of technical support in these regions. The installation needed to operate with minimal maintenance. 

The Netbiter EC350 gateway and extension IO cards are designed with robust internal electronics and high tension screw terminals that can withstand vibration and frequent movement
Fig 2: Netbiter Installation Panel
The extension IO cards are purposed to poll information from the field instrument sensors (eg: temperature probes, pressure sensors, digital relay contacts or switches). These cards come in a variety of combinations to suit all IO signals. Alternatively the Netbiter EC 350 can communicate directly with field instruments and controllers that are enabled with a Modbus interface.
From the cards the information is then transferred via Modbus RS485 serial communication to the Netbiter EC 350 gateway. The information is then transmitted via 3G to the Netbiter Argos Cloud server. The information in the cloud service can then be managed, analysed and presented in a SCADA dashboard format. 
This real time data is now accessible from anywhere in the world via a secure log in portal. You are also able to set up reports and extract historical data. The system allows for data logging, alarm functionality and GPS tracking. A profile was created for the first Lab and exported to the rest, helping to maintain uniformity and reduce engineering time spent on repetitive configurations.
The dashboards can be created in various stages, eg: profile, project or system dashboards. They can be modified, renamed and customized to represent specific and detailed information required. Here is a simple example of a dashboard.
Fig 3: Netbiter Argos Dashboard

If you would like to find out more information contact IDX technical solutions:

Email:     info[at]idx.co.za
Contact: +27 11 548 9960
Web:       www.idx.co.za

Friday, August 25, 2017

PROFINET Installation Tips & Tricks On Guidelines


PROFINET INSTALLATION TIPS AND TRICKS

Are your PROFINET assets installed within specification? How do you ensure high network availability?

Profinet is a very widely utilised Industrial Ethernet technology and is respected for its advanced diagnostics, simple commissioning, and robustness within various industrial environments. Within the installation and implementation of a Profinet network, various precautions should be taken, and standards put in place that should be adhered to. Without such adherence to the guidelines, communication issues may arise.



Minimizing Interference and Noise

Cable clearance guidelines
Profinet cables running in close proximity to high voltage machinery and unshielded high voltage cables can cause severe EMC interference and disruption of the networks communications.
  • Always maintain a minimum 20cm separation distance between Profinet cables and un-shielded supply cables (>400V)
  • Fiber optics should be considered when running though an area with substantial risk of EMC interference 
  • Utilise earthed metallic cable trays or conduit to protect cabling from interference when running between cabinets.
Proper Grounding Techniques Implemented
Proper grounding is crucial for all Profinet Installations, Cables should be earthed at each device, and as the cable enters and exits cabinets to the functional earthing system.
Why is this important? Profinet cables have a shield that surrounds the cores, to protect the signal from noise and EMC injection. The shield carries any pickup to earth, the path from where the noise is picked up, to where  it is drained to earth should be as short as possible.



Utilise the right network components for your PROFINET Network

Connectors
Bad connectors = Bad communications!

Always use Profinet connectors, standard RJ45 connectors are not acceptable for industrial environments:
  • Industrial RJ45 connectors have an steel housing that earth the cables shield within the device
  • Connector offers cable strain relief, connectors clamp onto the cables sheath to ensure the cores do not slip loose under movement device or cable movement
  • Rugged industrialised design
When building up cables, be sure to utilise an appropriate Profinet stripping tool, in order to reduce accidental wiring faults and ensure a consistent connection at each device.

Managed Switches
Although utilising managed switches is not a prerequisite for a Profinet network, it is extremely useful, and crucial for consistent up time, high network availability and ease of maintenance and troubleshooting. An un-managed switch has no built in intelligence, except to send incoming Ethernet frames out to the right port (Port the destination device is connected to). 
Managed switches add intelligence, supporting a number of useful IT protocols. Some of the features that a managed switch will offer you over an un-managed switch:
  • Integrated SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) and LLDP (Link Layer Discovery Protocol), specialised protocols allowing users to retrieve data and statistics saved within switches, such as retries, real-time bandwidth utiilisation, network topology
  • Mirror port, a managed switch will allow you set up a mirror port that channels all the switches data to a single configured port. This is extremely useful if you want to run diagnostics on your Profinet network without interrupting transmission. You can utilise Profinet Engineering tools such as Procentec Netilities to monitor all network traffic on a mirror port and provide valuable diagnostic information to user.
  • Certain managed switches can be utilised for the creation of redundant network structures
  • Advanced features, may include: Loop protection, advanced VLAN functionality, More precise diagnostics and control of network traffic



Precise Commissioning, Maintenance and Diagnostic Tools

With any industrial automation technology, specialized tools, software and network components can assist you with various tasks, from: Network commission, upgrade and to run diagnostics. There are plenty of great tools available on the market. Some of the more popular tools imperative for your installation are listed below:


Netilities
Dedicated PROFINET diagnostics engineering tool. Generating a live list and providing various crucial statistics about the network. Netilities is crucial when commissioning Profinet networks, providing maintenance tasks and troubleshooting problems. You can interface Netilities with you network using a standard Ethernet/WLAN port on a PC, or the ProfiTap for a secure connection.





ProfiTap
If you don't have a mirror port available on a managed switch by the PLC, you may require a dedicated tap device, that allows you to monitor traffic and information running through the network. A tap device can also be a more secure way to connect you PC to your industrial network, allowing only one way traffic for monitoring.





Atlas
Permanent diagnostics monitoring, trending and network overview. The Atlas will assist you managing and maintaining large factory networks by providing you with insight and knowledge of the networks health, state and performance. The Atlas offers a unique Quality Factor rating, that takes a weighted algorithm of the networks performance and risk and displays this in a user friendly and interpret-able manner.




Internationally certified training ensuring site competence 

One of the first steps all organisations should take to ensure a successful Profinet Integration is ensure all stakeholders involved with the implementation have the necessary training, foundation understanding and certification.

The PROFINET / PROFIBUS Competence Center of Southern Africa runs the Certified PROFINET Engineers Course periodically on our scheduled course at our offices, alternatively at a sites convenience. 

Why should I attend training?
Certified PROFINET Engineers course provides the foundation for a clear site competence, knowledge and know how. Training is crucial for any installers, designers and C&I Maintenance staff. 

What will be covered?
The PROFINET Engineers Course combines in-depth theoretical knowledge along with hands-on practical exposure. 

How long is the course?
The Certified PROFINET Engineers Course spans over 2.5 days, with an written and practical examination to be completed on the last day. Lunch will be provided each day.


How do i sign up?
Contact the IDX Academy to obtain additional information, booking forms and pricing
academy@idx.co.za  |  (+27) 11-548-9960  |  WEBSITE

For more information please feel free to contact the PROFIBUS / PROFINET Competence Centre info@idx.co.za  |  +27 11 548 9960  |  www.profibuscentre.co.za


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Bridging SQL to Profibus

Introduction

A client came to us with a situation where he required some data on his SQL database to be sent to his PLC. In his case, he has a couple of sensors inserting data directly to his SQL database and he needed these data to be processed by his Profibus PLC controller so that the correct actions could be taken.

The solution accepted by the client was a SQL to Profibus bridge. IDX offered to provide a custom software that would extract the SQL data in real-time and expose the extracted data as a Modbus TCP slave device. The data could then be converted to a Profibus protocol using a gateway such as the Anybus X-Gateway AB9001, and sent directly to the PLC controller.


IDX 8
We provided the client with a custom software called IDX 8. IDX 8 is a customised software offered by IDX, it contains a suite of different functionalities which includes tag management, remote monitoring, historian, alarms and events, data exchange, etc. The function of interest here is its data exchange component which allows for real-time data to be shared with various different systems.
After the client installed IDX 8 on his test server that he brought over for a demonstration of our proposed solution. We continued to setup IDX 8 to extract the SQL data and expose it as a Modbus slave, the steps for the setup are as follows:
  • Setup Data Exchange service
  • Setup SQL interface
  • Setup Modbus Slave interface
After the setup we demonstrated to the client that the data was indeed being extracted from the SQL database, this is shown below using the “Live Tag View” function that IDX 8 supplies:
The ANYBUS X-Gateway AB9001
To configure the AB9001, all that is required is an “IPConfig.exe” tool supplied by HMS and a web browser. We used the “IPConfig.exe” tool to setup the IP address of the AB9001 gateway then configured the Modbus settings using a web browser by accessing the device’s web interface using the assigned IP address.
The hardest part in this process was the mapping of the Modbus transactions to instruct the Modbus master to read the correct values from the correct Modbus slave registers. Once that was done, we used the “Transaction Monitor” function that is provided by the device through its web server to demonstrate to the client that the values read by IDX 8 was indeed being exposed as a Modbus slave device. This is shown in the image below:
Setting up the Anybus X as a PROFIBUS slave
Setting up the Profibus DP slave on the Anybus X-Gateway was done by just assigning a slave address to the device on its “Profibus DP V-1” menu in its web server. After that we then checked the mapping of the Modbus Master registers to the Profibus DP Slave device using the “Mapping Overview” page provided by the web server.
To confirm that the gateway was indeed ready for Profibus communication, we setup a Profibus Master simulation using a tool called Profitrace from Procentec. We demonstrated to the client that the Profibus Master was indeed in data communications with the gateway and that data from that was originally from the SQL was indeed being sent through to the simulated master, this is shown in the image below:

Author: Jackson Kao

Thursday, May 4, 2017

How to Remotely Monitor a Power Meter using a Netbiter EC350

Netbiter makes it simple to view your power meter data from a remote location.
This week I had the task of setting up a power meter and monitoring this device remotely, via a Netbiter EC350. I found it quick and easy to do.

Figure: 1
The Netbiter EC350 shown in figure:1, is the hardware component of the Netbiter remote monitoring solution. The gateway(EC350) can connect to a measuring device/field sensor via the following connection methods: Serial RS232 or RS485, Modbus RTU or TCP, or EtherNet/IP.

In my setup I have used RS485, which is what both devices use. Both devices also needed a 24Vdc power supply shown in Figure:2 below.
The Netbiter uses a cloud service called the Argos to store data that may be remotely accessed later on.
The gateway automatically performs data exchange via an Internet enabled Ethernet connection (WAN) or local cellular networks to the Argos cloud service.
In my setup, I have used the Ethernet port to perform data exchange to the Argos cloud.
The method of using a cloud service data eliminates the use of public or fixed IP addresses and removes the complexity of VPN tunneling.
Apart from this, the Argos service also features an authentication login process. It's possible as the main administrator to grant rights and privileges accordingly to specific user profiles.

Figure: 2
I have connected up my devices using the following steps:

  1. Both my Netbiter EC350 and power meter are powered in parallel using the 24Vdc power supply. The power supply is powered by 220Vac. Take note of the polarity of the device terminals as DC voltage will not work in the reverse polarity.
  2. The gateway is then linked via the RS485 com port, to the power meter. Note that the cable needs to be serial specific, and the connection points (A & B) need to be like for like and not inverted. if multiple slaves are used then the com ports will be series to each other.
  3. My Ethernet cable is connected to the WAN port of my Netbiter and the other end is connected into an Internet enabled data port.
  4. Based on the manual - the input terminals may be wired according to their specific measuring point. In my example I chose to measure voltage which was wired into the available polarity conscious input terminal on the power meter. 

Once my wiring was complete, I then logged into my Argos profile and add the Modbus registers as parameters in a template. The information needed for adding these registers are found in the power meter's manual. By using a template, I can install more units and export/import the same template to other various common applications. Eliminating redundant work, and making commissioning easier.
Since the Netbiter EC350 acts as a Modbus Master in this network, I needed to add the power meter as a slave device onto the Netbiter EC350 under the configuration tab. In this step, I also specified that the template needs to be allocated to this device.
Now that the device is added, I check the communication settings (baud rate, parity, etc) and make sure they correspond to the default of the manual, or I could edit the system parameters on the meter and customize them to what I need for my network.

After my system checks are done, I download my configuration to the Netbiter and I am now able to browse the device parameters (an option available by the Argos service to present data without configuring a dashboard). Once I see data coming through I compare this to the power meter shown in figure:2. Since the meter provides a local display, I could verify that my readings were accurate.

Now that the device has been confirmed, I then added the parameters to the visualization tab and created a simple dashboard, to present the data in a customized format. I also set up a logging graph and alarm list, to track the behavior of my measured values. I could also extract historical data and reports if needed.
The power meter has functionality to read and write registers, so apart from only reading input values, I could remotely access the writable registers, for example: system parameters like the baud rate or device password can be changed remotely.


If you would like to find out more information contact IDX technical solutions:

Email:     info[at]idx.co.za
Contact: +27 11 548 9960
Web:       www.idx.co.za