Merging modern software development with electrons and metal
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About

A look at a small part of the world of factory and industrial automation from someone who likes software development, precision machined metal, and motors, with side trips into other areas.

I cover what I find interesting, and, of course, what I know about. Factory automation, machine building, and related areas such as process control is a very large and fragmented area (much like embedded development); my experience mainly is in building custom or semi-custom automated machinery.

At work, I basically do hardware and software integration: I write the software and design the electrical wiring to help (along with our mechanical designers and technicians) make a working system out of a bunch of commercial components (motion controllers, PLCs, sensors, etc) and custom mechanical parts.

I’ve been interested in embedded development for a long time.  And, time allowing, I love to learn about other areas, such as mechanical design.  My blog reflects these interests as well; at times, it feels like it’s become “The System Integrator’s Blog” (but watch out for embedded topics in the future, and yes, I will be getting back to automation software).

It’s tempting to write certain types of articles just to get noticed, but what I hope to provide is useful resources and help for other developers.  Since it takes substantial time to write articles (instead of just commenting on news items), my posting schedule will be erratic at times.  My goal is a post a week, but my family and my job are my top priorities.

I’ve used computers since the days of the Commodore 64 and VIC-20.   My first PC programming was with a friend on a original IBM PC with MS-DOS 1.1 and dual 5.25″ floppies.  I’ve also programmed on HP calculators (HP-34C and HP-41C), the Atari ST, Apple II, HP desktops (68000 systems IIRC), HP 1000 minis and Windows PCs in languages such as QuickBASIC, Pascal, Modula-2, Visual BASIC, FORTRAN, Python, C++, VB.NET, and C#.  Of course, I’ve written software for industrial controllers such as Galil motion controllers, Adept robots in V+ and AIM, Denso robots, IMS MDrives, Animatics SmartMotors, MicroMo MVP2001 controllers, and Panasonic PLCs in ladder and Structured Text.

I’ve been writing automation software for well over a decade, and have been fortunate to work in a variety of areas, including material handling (barcode reading, conveyors, etc), metrology, assembly, and test systems.

Tony