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Posts from — July 2008

Keeping the toddler out: Tot-loks

Yes, this blog is mainly about factory automation software, but since it’s my personal blog, I get to have fun every once in a while (but I do have one rule: no politics).

I recently installed a set of Tot-loks on a cabinet to keep out my toddler who wants to be a monkey (she’s good at climbing). Here are my notes:

  • They’re more expensive than the normal spring latches; the deluxe starter kit cost about $20 (that kit comes with one magnetic key and four locks).
  • Sometimes they are the only solution; for example, if the door does not have enough of a gap for a spring latch and doesn’t have knobs. Plus, they are better looking, since nothing is visible outside the door, even if you could use something like this.
  • They are more work to install and require more modification, since you have to drill a 9/32″ hole almost through the door for the magnetic pickup in addition to driving at least four screws (six is better, but four seems OK).  If you remove the lock later you will have a noticeable (9/32″) hole in the door.
    • I didn’t happen to have a 9/32″ drill bit for my handy Skil drill/driver, but I was successfully able to use a 1/4″ drill bit.
    • The latch plate uses two screws.  The lock part has six screw holes, but it seems to work well with just the front two.
  • Like spring latches, you do need to test that you have installed it correctly.  If possible, test first making sure you can get the door open without using the magnetic key.
    • Of course, it’s often not easily to properly test and still know you can get the door open.  However, I had one lock that refused to open while I was trying to get it all lined up.
    • One way is to check the latch operation (making sure it opens strong using the key) with the door open.  The latch also needs enough space to work, but that can be tricky to check without closing the door.  Maybe using some strong (but not too strong) double stick tape on the latch plate before screwing would help – the tape should be strong enough that you can test operation, but weak enough you can force the door open without excessive force.
    • As always, you have to make sure the latch lines up with the latch plate.
    • The magnetic pickup part (you’ll probably need to use at least one extension piece) has to be close enough to the outer edge of the door to work.
    • The latch needs some space to work.  If it’s jammed against the latch plate, it will not be able to retract.  Sometimes my opening procedure is: push the door back a bit (to give the latch some room), wiggle the key around until I hear the latch retract, open the door while holding the key in place, and then replacing the key in its normal location (don’t forget it inside the cabinet!).
  • I highly recommend buying extra key and keeping it somewhere else – just in case you’re forgetful and lock your magnetic key in the cabinet.  (I just might have some experience with this…)
  • The lock can be broken with a screwdriver and a lot of force (handy in case you just locked your one key inside the cabinet, or you didn’t adjust the lock properly during installation).  So far my experience indicates you have a 50% chance of breaking the lock (thankfully, my sample size is very small).


July 31, 2008   No Comments

Making a Panasonic PLC Programming Cable

I’ve added a section on my wiki describing how to make a serial cable to connect to the Panasonic FP0 or FP Sigma Programming Port. Later I hope to update it with more pictures.


FPG Programming Cable

July 16, 2008   6 Comments

More on logging onto my secure sites

Note 6/21/2011: since I’ve moved to http (non-secure) a long time ago, this post really isn’t useful any more.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a couple companion sites that use a secure connection (https). But when you go to these sites, you get an error message from the browser. Basically, what is happening is this:

  1. A secure session needs a security certificate.
  2. My sites are using my hosting company’s certificate (located at
  3. But my sites have their own domain (e.g. which does not match the certificate’s domain (e.g.
  4. So the browser displays a message, because if I were running an e-commerce site, you should be concerned (and not do any business with me until the problem is fixed).
  5. But I’m not running a business (and do not want to spend the extra money for a fixed IP address and my own security certificate), so you can trust me and accept the certificate. With Firefox 3, you can add a permanent exception (so the security message only appears the first time), unlike Firefox 2, IE6, and Opera, where the message appears every time you visit.

Here are some pictures of what happens (other browsers should be similar):

Firefox 2

Press the OK button to view my site.

Domain Mismatch - Firefox 2

Internet Explorer 6

Press the Yes button to view my site.

Domain Mismatch - IE6

Firefox 3

You need to add an exception, so start by pressing the Or you can add an exception… link

Domain Mismatch - Firefox 3

which brings up the display below.  Click on the Add Exception button.

Firefox 3

which brings up this dialog.  Press the Get Certificate button.

Firefox 3

Now we’re almost done.  Press the Confirm Security Exception button, and Firefox 3 won’t bother you any more (assuming you have left Permanently store this exception checked).


July 16, 2008   No Comments

Synchronous Technology Series (MCAD)

Deelip Menezes has a 5-part series up giving a short (but very useful) hands-on tour of Siemens’ Synchronous Technology. It’s certainly not comprehensive, but it gave me a better idea of what it (ST) really is, instead of the marketing buzz.

Originally, I was quite skeptical. Basically, Synchronous Technology is adding direct editing (like SpaceClaim) to Siemens’ Mechanical CAD programs (SolidEdge, NX) but keeping some parametric-driven (“design intent”) goodness. I’m less skeptical after reading Deelip’s series – at a minimum, it does seem like a very good user interface. But I still wonder what an expert Pro/E user would think. Unfortunately I don’t have the time or knowledge to really evaluate it.


July 14, 2008   No Comments