Friday, January 30, 2015

The Netbiter EasyConnect EC250 firmware update

Connectivity is not uniquely about industrial devices and machines, but more importantly, it is also about connecting to the client’s specific needs via IDX product support services.
A week ago, an Netbiter EC250 was brought by a customer to the IDX team for firmware update and, of course, we were glad to assist him. 
But first, let us briefly introduce the Netbiter EasyConnect EC250 or as abbreviated EC250. The Netbiter EC250 belongs to the Netbiter EC200 series industrial gateways family. It offers connectivity to the Netbiter Argos server (data storage centre in the “cloud”) via Ethernet/GSM and GPRS network technologies. The device, viable and versatile, is well suited for remote access monitoring, management and control of Modbus field devices connected to it (both MODBUS TCP device via Ethernet and serial device via RS232 and RS 485). Once subscribed to the Netbiter Argos via , myriads of Argos services can be accessed. 
The inherent competitive nature of industrial communication field is ever pushing for new innovations and services which aim at responding (satisfying) industry needs while ensuring and maintaining an uncompromised network integrity and data reliability via Netbiter Argos. In this regard, HMS, offers firmware updates for their Netbiter products. 
The firmware updates aim at improving and offering additional services via Netbiter Argos. And the easiest way of doing so is through the portal itself. If for some reason there is no access to the portal, then the firmware update can be done via the on-board RS232 interface of the Netbiter EC250. The natural question that pops up out of the reader’s mind is: how is it done? Well! Let us not wait too long! Please follow me on this simple and interesting steps journey:

1. First, establish a physical connection between your configuration station or tool (computer) and the Netbiter EC250. Using a null modem RS232 cable, connect the Netbiter EC250 to the configuration station (your PC). This connection is generally termed “direct connection”. If a direct connection cannot be established, a serial (RS232) to Ethernet cable adapter like the AB7701 Serial Server from Anybus can be used.

2. Open the page. The main web page or “welcome page” will appear which contains links to the Netbiter EC250 product either by clicking on “product” (bar menu) or using the search option box (top right hand corner) or through scrolling down the page where the Netbiter EC250 is clearly showcased.
3. Then the following page will appear. On the right hand side of the page, a link to the firmware download page is provided.  Click on the “File download" link.
4. When on the download page as shown below, go to the software download section and download the zip file “EC250 1.32.0 b878 FW Package - Software upgrade” (or latest version) as indicated with the red rectangular enclosure line. The zip file contains the following files:
Netbiter Update.v#.##exe.
5. Once the download completes, the Netbiter Update_v#.#.exe can be run. The COM port number and baudrate (set to AUTO) are selected in the respective drop-downs as indicated (red enclosure oval lines) in the snapshot below:
In the file settings section of the window, upload (click the browse button) the kernel.nbu file first, then follow the instructions as they appear on the bottom part of the update page. During the configuration process, it is required to power off the Netbiter, then power it on again and click the “start programming” button (bottom of the page). The same procedure must be followed when the EC 250_v#.#.nbu file is uploaded. The programming progress is indicated by the blue bar at the bottom of the update page. At the completion of the programming, please reboot the unit.
It is worth noting that during this process, COM port numbers as entered in step 5 may not allow communication between the configuration computer and the Netbiter EC250. To ensure that that the correct port number is used; first match the port number as seen in the device manager utility of the configuration tool with the one that is entered in the Netbiter update window. If this this does not still allow any communication to take place; please ensure that the serial/USB/Ethernet driver is correctly installed and configured.

Now, to complete our story, the client can go and attend to his pressing projects at various locations or sites with confidence in his newly acquired skills as far as Netbiter EasyConneEC250 is concerned. Once again, the IDX Team lives up to the firm’s reputation of providing reliable product support.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Anybus Communicator converts MODBUS to PROFINET for WEG SSW06 Soft-Starter

Another notch under the Anybus Communicator's belt as it successfully proves that a WEG SSW06 Soft-Starter (that speaks MODBUS) can be connected to a PROFINET network.
IDX presented free Anybus Communicator training at ZEST WEG Group in Johannesburg, South Africa, and attendees are always encouraged to bring their own devices to see if the Anybus Communicator will work for their application. The training ended in proving practically that the SSW06 Soft-Starter with a MODBUS RS485 interface could be enabled to appear as a PROFINET device. The training itself is made up of a theory portion that introduces the Anybus Communicator and covers some basic MODBUS theory. In the practical portion, the delegates configure the Anybus Communicator to talk to a MODBUS slave simulator program on a PC connected through the Anybus Serial Server. Once they are comfortable reading and writing registers, they move onto the real stuff: Reading a temperature from the Netbiter IO Extender which is a real MODBUS slave. They should then feel comfortable enough to connect and configure the gateway for their own device. 
The gateway used was the AB7013 Anybus Communicator for PROFINET, but it was explained that the same MODBUS configuration on the Communicator could be used for applications in DeviceNet, ControlNet, MODBUS TCP, Ethernet/IP, PROFIBUS, CANOpen, CC-Link, EtherCat and most of the other industrial communication protocols. Feel free to visit for a complete list of protocols they can do. If you can't find your protocol, contact IDX - they have a long history of legacy and "strange" protocol conversion solutions. 
Pervin and Andries from ZEST configure the Anybus Communicator 
Time also allowed for discussions on how to monitor MODBUS devices remotely using the Netbiter range from HMS. And, what would a demo be without showing the ProfiTrace software to check the health of a PROFIBUS network? Often communication problems lie with the physical installation of the PROFIBUS or PROFINET network (and other protocols too) so having the right tools, and training, is essential for the vendor and the customer. Feel free to contact IDX for more information on industrial-communications-certified training and test equipment. 

Peter and Elvis from ZEST make sense of the data from the WEG Soft-Starter 
The tricky part is making sense of the data that you are receiving, but fortunately, the Anybus configuration software displays the data in a live format so that the user can compare the results with what is happening on the slave. It helps to have the documentation of the slave that you are trying to connect handy. It it should show how to change the communication settings (baud rate, parity, etc) and have a MODBUS register table. 
IDX host free training at their premises in Fourways. Visit the IDX Website for the latest training schedule and to book your seat.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How to connect to a Pepperl & Fuchs Advanced diagnostics module (ADM) using RS485 and Pactware

Quick guide to get access to the P+F advanced diagnostic module via RS485 and COM converter.
In order to do this, you need an RS485 converter which can convert RS485 to either ethernet or USB.
I used a device from HMS (Anybus) called the Serial Server (AB7701). This device connects to RS232, 422 or 485 and makes the data available over ethernet to your computer using a virtual com port.
Connect the converter to the Diagnostic bus connection on the Pepperl & Fuchs fieldbus power hub

1. Once you have the com port available on your PC, Check the comport number via “manage my computer”

Make sure that the FieldConnexd Diagnostic server (FDS) is running. Go to “Windows button”>“All programs” > “Pepperl+Fuchs” and start FDS control center

In case the FDS is not running click onto “Start FDS” (in case it is running nothing is left to do here)
click onto “Hide”. To avoid that this piece of software will be forgotten in future click onto settings and choose under “FDS settings” “Start with Windows” (that’s the default configuration).

3. Start PACTware and create a new project in case it is not done automatically
4. Add “FieldConnex Diagnostic Server” underneath the Host PC (e.g. right click onto the Host PC)
5. Do a right click onto FDS in the project tree and choose “Connect”
The FDS should be displayerd in bold letters.
6. Choose in the following window “Scan available FDS Ports”
7. Choose in the following window the COM port of your virtual COM converter and click onto “Next”
Now the DTM will scan the selected COM port for availabe P+F diagnostic modules. If the selection of the COM port and the wiring is OK the diagnostic module shall show up in the follwing window.
(if not please check the wiring). If it does not show up and wiring is OK please check the ADM address setting on the left hand side of the diagnostic module. There are 8 DIP switches for address setting and the address must be anything between 1 and 31 (address 0 is forbidden!) click onto “Next”.
9. Now the ADM should show up in the project tree
10. Establish connection to the ADM
11. Go for “Device” > “Additional functions”. If in the highlighted area something is “grayed out” you don’t have an appropriate license.

In that case go for "All programs"> Pepperl+Fuchs¨>Activation tool¨ Type in your license key, and click to activate.
After restarting the PACTware you will have access to all functionality.