Showing posts from 2014

Netbiter Remote Access to ABB Analyzer

When delegates visit the IDX Academy in South Africa for training, they are always encouraged to bring their piece of equipment along with which they might be having trouble getting communications going with it - or even just understanding the data it produces. At the end of a grueling PROFIBUS Engineers Course, two delegates from ABB stayed behind to see how they could do a proof of concept to show that their AO2020 Ananlyze connects to and makes data available on PROFIBUS. They already had a PROFIBUS Master Simulator from HMS.
 Using the simulator, you can load the GSD file and connect to the PROFIBUS address of the Analyzer via a piece of PROFIBUS cable - easy!The raw data is produced in hex and binary - this can be tricky to understand. We were reading 41 A8 CC CD (hexadecimal), but knowing that the data type is an IEEE Floating Point value from the manual and entering these values into an online IEEE float to Hex calculator gave us a value that made sense: 21.10!They are now ready…

PROFIBUS Pizza with a COMbricks topping!

What do pizza and PROFIBUS have in common with each other? Cheese! 

Bandini Cheese is a South African cheese manufacturer supplying their products to numerous pizza restaurants around South Africa. They are always striving to provide the highest quality products and this ethos can been seen in other aspects of their manufacturing process. For them, the up-time of their PROFIBUS network is critical - not only do they have expectant customers, but the very nature of the cheese making process means that batches cannot just sit around while technicians try to troubleshoot the PROFIBUS network.
Realizing this, the engineers and technicians working on the plant attended the certified PROFIBUS Engineers Course at the South African PROFIBUS Competence Centre (PCC). It was here that they heard of new innovative product called COMbricks and they became one of the first companies to implement the COMbricks solution. 
Solution to what? The problem is knowing the health of the PROFIBUS network. This …

Promoting the various Engineering Disciplines in South Africa

The Africa Engineering Week is running this week from 1-5 September 2014 at the Doornfontein Campus of the University of Johannesburg. The aim of the event is to showcase various disciplines of Engineering and encourage scholars to consider choosing a career in the Engineering and Science fields. 
IDX is a branch patron member of the SAIMC (The Society for Automation, Instrumentation, Measurement and Control) and assisted at the SAIMC exhibition space. School children from various regions in South Africa were told about the FIRST Tech Challenge, where teams of learners can participate in a challenge by designing, building and programming robots that will compete with other teams using a sports model. The wining robot from 2014 is currently on display so make sure that you visit the stand!
At the same time, visitors can find out more about the SAIMC, its affiliation with ECSA (Engineering Council of South Africa) and its mission. Members of the SAIMC receive many benefits including invit…

COMbricks - the vaccine for the "PROFIBUS Virus"

Sometimes the intermittent and unexplained failures of a PROFIBUS network can only be explained as one thing: "my system has caught the PROFIBUS virus!"This is how it must appear to someone who doesn't have the right tools to analyse and monitor what is going on with the network. It is important to realize is that an error, on a PROFIBUS network, does not necessarily mean a system failure. A classic statement that our PROFIBUS Engineersreceive on arriving to troubleshoot a PROFIBUS network is: "but it was running fine for all these years - why does it fail suddenly now?"To answer that question, you can think of it this way: does a person die the moment they have a cough? Maybe a bit of a drastic analogy, but the answer is of course not! The person will go to the doctor for a checkup, who uses his tools to listen and see what is going on.If his symptoms are left unattended, then the outlook might not be so great. PROFIBUS is robust though! You need to violate in…

Certified PROFINET Training in South Africa

Certified PROFINET Engineers Course in South Africa
The PROFIBUS/PROFINET Competence Centre of South Africa recently ran two Certified PROFINET Engineers in a row at Siemens South Africa. Using tools such as Netilities from PROCENTEC, the delegates were able to quickly understand the structure of their PROFINET network. They are able to configure their devices to match their setup in the controller. Configuration of the S7-1200 PROFINET controller from Siemens is done in TIA Portal.

Migrating from PROFIBUS to PROFINET is covered in the training and is shown to be quite seamless with COMbricks from PROCENTEC. In addition to this, COMbricks users can permanently monitor their PROFIBUS installation. Remote access and alarms are also possible. The modular nature of COMbricks allows the user to add slave, IO, fibre optic, PA, scope and repeater modules. Tapping into the network teaches the delegates the fundamentals of the PROFINET protocol. Start-up procedures and diagnosti…

Choosing the right PROFIBUS cable

Choosing the right PROFIBUS cable Is the application PROFIBUS DP or PROFIBUS PA? My cable is purple, can I use it? DP cable has a 150Ω  impedance PA cable has a 100Ω  impedance RS485, CAN bus, DeviceNet and other data cables can be purple in colour but have a 120 Ω impedance So what if my cable impedance is wrong? PROFIBUS devices and their terminations are designed to match specific impedance.  Your data signal will degrade and your waveforms will be malformed. Use a test tool like PROFIBUS Troubleshooting Toolkit from PROCENTEC with built in scope function to check your signals
The T1 Pepper Active Terminator matches can sort our any impedance mismatches

IDX KNX Test Laboratory now offers device certification services

We are pleased to introduce IDX as a new certified ISO 17025 KNX Test Lab, located in Johannesburg, South Africa.
IDX, a certified KNX Advanced Training Centre since 2011, was thoroughly audited by the KNX Association and achieved certified test laboratory status in May 2014. We are therefore able to provide interworking certification for your products according to volume 8/7/1 of the KNX Specification.

Our hourly rate for testing is €75.00 per hour. If you would be interested in considering the use of our services, please contact us so that we can determine how we can assist you with KNX certification of your products.

for more information and contact details, visit

IDX achieves certified KNX Test Lab status

IDX has been a certified KNX training centre since 2011 – offering both Basic and advanced courses. Due to our vendor neutrality, we have also become known as a valuable source of independent advice and knowledge in the building automation industry.  In 2013, IDX was invited by the KNX association to become a certified KNX test lab. After a year of preparation, and following a rigorous on-site audit by the KNX association, IDX succeeded in achieving the status of certified KNX test laboratory. In terms of our service offering as a test laboratory, IDX is able to offer interworking testing according to volume 8/7/1 of the KNX standard. Our hourly rates are extremely competitive, and we are committed to offering service of the highest quality. Although based in South Africa, we can accept devices for testing from all around the world.

The essential PROFIBUS survival kit

the essential profibus survival kit  trainingThey say that knowledge is power. Being well versed in the PROFIBUS protocol and learning how to develop sound fault finding strategies is instrumental in implementing and maintaining PROFIBUS networks. Ensure that you, your SI and your staff are certified to work with PROFIBUS networks.

test equipment Trying to fault-find a PROFIBUS network without the right tools is like shooting in the dark. Cable line testers like the Nettest II ensure that you get your cable installation done correctly the first time. Advanced profibus analysers such as ProfiTrace show you the true health of the network and generate reports for certifications. 

remote/permanent monitoring One cannot always be onsite. Let COMbricks monitor you network 24/7, alert you when something goes wrong and allow you access from anywhere in the world. It modular design allows you to interface with PROFINET systems, PROFIBUS PA, fibre optics and IO.
more info: 

Easter special on the Netbiter EC350

Remote monitoring: Get all your eggs into one basket this Easter!
The new Netbiter ec350
Was: R11 190 Now: R7 870
Promotion runs from 22 April to 30 June 2014. Price excludes VAT and shipping.
-GPRS and 3G enabled -Remote monitoring of MODBUS devices -Remote debugging or programming of PLCs -Built-in GPS receiver -4 Analog and 2 digital inputs -Relay contact for remote genset starting -Ethernet Interface -Serial interfaces (RS232 and RS485) -Free web access via ARGOS data centre -Alarms, reports and customizable dashboard
For more information, visit or contact them on +27 11 548 9960

Free Anybus Communicator training presented to Eaton at The IDX Academy

As the renovations are coming to a close at the IDX Academy, the trainers have become eager to get training up and running again at IDX. The first course in the new facilities was a fully-booked Certified PROFIBUS Engineers Course. This week, IDX presented their free Anybus Communicator Training to Eaton covering the following:

- Some essential aspects of the MODBUS protocol - What is the Anybus Communicator and what are it's applications - A free lunch! - Real-life practical examples on the newly built training rigs 

There is no charge for the training and the attendees found it very worthwhile, especially since they were able to bring their own device and use the training rigs to test how they can use the Anybus Communicator for their specific needs. 
The device in question is the S811+ Soft Starter from Eaton and it was shown that this could be interfaced with PROFIBUS, DeviceNet, ControlNet, Ethernet/IP, PROFINET or any of the other major industrial protocols. 
The training is not li…

Anybus IPconfig tool can't find my AnybusX Gateway's IP Address

Hopefully this post will help you if you are having trouble finding the IP address of your Anybus X gateway. The MODBUS TCP Client Range of these gateways enable you to control a MODBUS TCP server and port that information to a whole host of different protocols such as PROFINET, PROFIBUS, DeviceNet, etc. 

When you get one of these units out of the box, you shouldn't have any problems searching for and configuring the gateway on your Ethernet network, but sometimes you are given a configuration that has been used in the plant already and now you need to make some changes. 
So what is your first step? Install and run the Anybus IPconfig tool (available on the Anybus website or on the the CD that comes with your unit). Assuming your physical Ethernet connection is intact, you should be able to scan the network for any HMS devices that are connected to the network. 
Tip: I would connect and Ethernet cable directly to the Gateway from the PC and disable the wireless card to avoid confusio…

GEM80/StarNET to PROFIBUS Slave Gateway successfully commissioned

The first IDX Gateway was successfully commissioned at Bluescope Steel, Wollongong Australia, at the end of February, marking a new milestone for the adoption of the IDX Gateway as a proven legacy StarNET HDLC interface solution. 

This particular gateway is configured as a StarNET HDLC slave to PROFIBUS Slave and acts as a single StarNET slave which in turns appears as a single PROFIBUS slave to exchange data with the Toshiba PROFIBUS master.

A key customer requirement of a sub-65ms data loop-back turnaround time of 60 16-bit integer values through the gateway was validated through an extensive testing process that had begun in October 2013. Of course, reliable and predictable operation was also a requirement.

The IDX Gateway is now available in a new DIN-rail mountable embedded platform, shown above, to be able to accommodate standard length PCI/PCIe industrial data communication interface cards for a variety of protocols.

Connecting the ComAp Generator Control Panel to the Netbiter

In this blog, I will discuss the steps involved in getting the Netbiter to record and display values coming out of the ComAp Generator Panel, so that one can do remote monitoring and control of the generator. The Netbiter Model used in this case is the EC220 and the panel used is the InteliLite AMF 26 P. The steps followed here can be applied to any MODBUS device due to the generic  nature of the Netbiter. 

Step 1 - Physical Connection  Check that the Control Panel has a communication module attached to the back of it. You will need to establish the medium (RS458/RS232) and the protocol spoken (MODBUS RTU/ASCII) - all of this information will come from the user manual of the generator. Finally confirm the communication settings (baud rate, parity, stop bits, etc) - these can sometimes be changed so check what they are on the actual panel. In this case, we have the following settings: MOUBUS RTU over RS232 (you'll need an external converter to convert the RS232 to RS485). Baud rate: 9…

PROFIBUS PA Link with Remote Monitoring Capabilities

It's here! Transparent PROFIBUS PA link for 12 Mbps with COMbricks!

PROCENTEC’s transparent PROFIBUS PA link/coupler enables seamless high speed integration to PROFIBUS PA. It powers the attached devices and fully emulates all PA devices as DP devices on the PROFIBUS DP side. It does not require adjusted busparameters and is therefore suitable for all DCS and PLC systems, even ones running on 12 Mbps. The combined internal ProfiTrace and oscilloscope make this product extremely useful for remote maintenance over Ethernet. Jitter, noise, DC current, DC voltage, bar graph and oscilloscope, it is all there and easy to access. The free CommDTM allows access for asset management tools over Ethernet. The PA link is a module that fits in the COMbricks system able to carry 9 PA links and a RS 485 or Fiber Optic module. It can also be a customized mix of PA modules with other communication modules. The PA link can provide 500 mA segment current on a customizable bus voltage.