Friday, October 25, 2013

Remote and Permanent Monitoring of PROFIBUS in Botswana

IDX has just returned from Botswana having done an installation of three shiny new COMbricks to monitor PROFIBUS network health remotely and permanently. This will be a pilot for the customer and makes it the second installation in Botswana.
The major mining companies seem to be catching wind that COMbricks is an essential tool for pre-emptive maintenance of their PROFIBUS networks.

So why is COMbricks so important in places like Botswana?
Below is a picture a dust storm one of our engineers was caught in while travelling back from the mine. The huge distances one has to travel and the dangers involved to get to these remote locations is a motivation on its own. Skills can be shared across borders, without the costs of travel time and transport. COMbricks can be a real money-saver, but more than that, a real life-saver.

Monday, October 14, 2013

IDX HDLC Gateway being tested at BlueScope Steel

Two years ago we told you about an HDLC gateway we were in the process of developing to address the need to integrate legacy devices, based on the GEM80 StarNet HDLC protocol, into modern automation systems. 

After successful commissioning on the AP2 line at Columbus Stainless in South Africa, the opportunity to address a similar requirement at BlueScope Steel - Port Kembla in Wollongong (Australia) resulted in a purchase order to do site tests being raised.
IDX HDLC Gateway

Last week, the Gateway was successfully installed for extensive testing by the plant as a critical component of a project to upgrade the drives on their Hot Skinpass Mill.
The project commissioning is scheduled for December 2013 and is being handled by TMEIC.  

IDX HDLC Gateway (bottom) connected to GEM80 PLC and Toshiba PLC via PROFIBUS Slave interface.

Some notable product facts include:
  • The Gateway is a rugged, embedded device with no moving mechanical components.
  • Flexible interface options, which out the box include PROFIBUS DP master/slave, MODBUS RTU and TCP master/slave. Other custom interfaces are possible, as long as there is a software API and a USB, PCI or PCIe hardware interface available.
  • The Gateway is able to impersonate multiple HDLC slave devices, which means you only need one gateway to replace multiple legacy devices.
  • The device supports data scaling and value offsets for signed and unsigned 16- and 32-bit integers and well as 32/64 bit floating point values.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

PROFIBUS Connectors

EasyConn PROFIBUS Connectors from Profichip

The high-end PROFIBUS Connector EasyConn PB from profichip has various features that speed up installation and troubleshooting:

Status LEDS which are visible from both sides, indicate bus and device status

Piggy-back connector with 90 degree cable outlet provides easy access to the integrated PU/diagnosis socket so that no additional hub is required.

The full metal case ensures high noise immunity.  

The switchable termination resistances which are accessable from both sides are activated by the plug with slide switches. In this way, testing of the profibus communication can be executed without removing plugs or cable, the cable ducts are equipped with transparent cover so the correct correlation of the coloured cable cores are visible.

What do the Status LEDs mean?
PWR (Yellow LED) - Shows the voltage supply of the device.
TxD (Green LED) - Shows bus activity (TxD). It sees if communications is active.
TERM (Yellow LED 2) - Informs whether the termination is switched OFF or ON. 
ERR (Red) - Indicates whether there is a wrong termination resistance or a false surge impedance that influences the bus transfer. Connect a network analyser to diagnose the faults. 

What configurations do they come in?

The 180 degree PROFIBUS connector is perfect for those situations where you need to connect to a PROFIBUS device that has limited space. This orientation of connector is also useful in the building of stub tap connectors for Profibus test equipment.

The 90 degree PROFIBUS connector is the most popular seller out of the EasyConn range as most devices are built to accommodate this type of connection. It allows for easy connection of PROFIBUS test equipment though its piggy-back connector.
In some situations, especially inside panels where there is limited space, the installer is required to reduce the bend radius on the PROFIBUS cable. The 45 degree PROFIBUS connector is well suited for these situations.

For more information and for orders visit