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Posts from — November 2010

Eagle 3D PCBs with Alibre: What’s Left?

I haven’t forgotten about my Eagle 3D PCBs with Alibre series.  There is one big topic left:  putting all the pieces together using Alibre assemblies.  Unfortunately, my experience is that mating parts to create assemblies is often very tricky (especially when you’re using imported parts), and there’s not a lot of resources.

I’ve done a fair amount of research, but it’s hard to give the same kind of step-by-step instructions for mating parts in an assembly that I did for extruding the PCB.

Also, I’ve just re-done my blog PC (a Thinkpad X61t) with a bigger hard drive and Windows 7 64-bit, so that’s sucked up a lot of time recently.   (Side note: there’s not a lot of 64-bit software out there yet.  But so far I’m quite please with the upgrade.  Alibre Design 2011 does have a 64-bit version, but only for Professional and Expert users.)

What I’ll probably do is write an article (hopefully in the next week) with some notes on how I mated everything together.  I’ll post the files in Alibre Design 2011 format so you can see what I did.

Then this series will be complete.  But I do plan on writing about some Alibre tips that are sort-of related to this series.  And I do have a new series planned that’s more automation related.

November 20, 2010   No Comments

There’s No Substitute For The Real (.NET) Thing

Sometimes, the .NET framework’s backwards compatibility doesn’t work, and you have to install the exact version required by an assembly.

Recently, I was working on a project that used a number of components compiled for .NET 1.1 (I didn’t have the source code) — and, since I strongly prefer Visual Studio 2005 over the earlier versions, I was writing my test code in VS 2005, which installed .NET 2.0 only on the computer.

The result?  No obvious error messages from .NET (which I would’ve expected if there were version incompatibilities), but the .NET Remoting portion did not work.  The only error message was about being unable to serialize an object.

The solution?  I installed the .NET framework V1.1, and the Remoting (and serialization) problems went away.

November 20, 2010   No Comments

A More Detailed Look At Delcam PowerShape-e

Yep, this is from a while back, but I think it’s worth pointing out Deelip Menezes’ 7-part series on Delcam PowerShape 2010.

I did play around a bit with PowerShape-e 2009, but I found it hard to figure out.  OK, I didn’t do any tutorials, but I’ve had better luck figuring out other MCAD programs.  Since I now have licenses for Alibre Design and VX/ZW3D and my time is limited, I haven’t used free but limited programs like PowerShape-e or CoCreate-PE in over a year.

The PowerShape-e business model (not feature limited compared to PowerShape, but you pay every time you want to get your data out) doesn’t match well with my requirements (that’s the same reason I don’t like using “free” PCB design software that is locked to a specific proto house).

If you’re looking at acquiring MCAD software, I recommend considering all the CAD design software possibilities, including lesser known programs such as PowerShape, IRONCAD, KeyCreator, SpaceClaim, ZW3D, and Solid Edge.  And I highly recommend reading Deelip’s blog; he is a blogging machine (1000 posts in about 4.5 years), and has written many interesting multi-part series.

November 16, 2010   No Comments

A Less Expensive Magnetic Linear Encoder

I haven’t found the linear encoder promised land I was looking for, but recently I did learn a bit about some reasonably priced linear encoders: Turck’s LI20 and LI50 hall effect based magnetic linear encoders.

The LI20 is available with 10 micron resolution, and handles speeds up to 25 m/sec.  The LI50 is available with 5 micron resolution and speeds up to 16.25 m/sec (although at 5 microns, max speed is about 3 m/sec).

If I have my part numbers and PLC Center pricing correct, a T8.LI20.1111.2050 with 1 meter encoder strip (magnetic band) would be about $315, and a T8.I.LI50.1111.2250 with a 1 meter encoder strip would be about $430.  (For the magnetic band, I’m assuming buying 90 m (T8.B1.10.010.0900 or T8.B2.10.010.0900) and cutting into 90 pieces each 1 m long; it looks buying shorter lengths is considerably more expensive per meter).

Note 5/10/2010: Honeywell also makes affordable magnetorestrictive linear encoders, although I don’t think they are well suited for typical industrial automation applications.  Minimum resolution is 140 microns, length is 75 or 225 mm, and output is analog or RS-232 (225mm only).  The SPS-L225-HALS (225mm analog) is about $250.

November 13, 2010   No Comments