Merging modern software development with electrons and metal
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Why yet another blog?

Simple – because I couldn’t find any decent factory automation blogs. I can find plenty of software development blogs, but the few automation blogs seem to be all about company strategies and new products, not about the realities of trying to integrate various components together into a working system.

There is a lot to discuss about factory automation. My background primarily in building custom or semi-custom, relatively small machines. So I’m not very interested in hydraulics. But it’s still much more enjoyable to work on physical systems made of precision metal that move, than to work on the next overhyped and unreal Web 2.0 website (and don’t get me started on marketing abominations like “Instrumentation 2.0”)

But I also enjoy learning and applying better software development methods. Most of the factory world, however, is happy to make it into the 1970’s structured programming with IEC 61131. Unfortunately, IEC 61131 (especially structured text) looks good compared to many devices I’ve programmed, such as

  • Galil’s motion controllers with “intuitive” two letter commands. They finally added structured IF…THEN…ELSE blocks, but it’s still pretty primitive.
  • IMS’s MDrive Motion Control products.
  • Animatic’s Smart Motors.
  • And too many similar products I’ve looked at but fortunately haven’t had to program.

OK, to be fair, outside of the programming those aren’t bad products. In fact, I like the IMS MDrives with just the stepper motor and driver integrated – they work very well with Panasonic PLC’s, for example.

I’ll also be taking side trips into other areas such as desktop development, embedded development, and photography.

Tony

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