Merging modern software development with electrons and metal
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My Hopes for 2010

My blog plans for 2010 are my blog hopes for 2010 because it will  be challenging to do them all.

What I’d really like to do:

  1. More software development posts, including real world examples of what can go wrong (and right — but wrong is more funny)
  2. Finish my current PCB series
  3. Start a series on real world system integration using CANOpen and AMC DX15C08 servo drives
  4. Improve the site, including adding a blogroll and maybe changing the theme

Other hopes include:

  1. A bit more on mechanical CAD software
  2. More automation product posts
  3. Embedded development experiences with my new toy (and how it could be useful in a factory environment)
  4. Get rid of my backlog of draft posts (currently > 30)

January 5, 2010   No Comments

Fiftieth Post

So I’ve finally reached 50 published posts, at a rate of about a post every 10 ten days – not bad, considering how busy I’ve been.

I’ve made a small site change – my trac and subversion sites are now on http, not on https.  Https wasn’t really necessary, and as I plan on making better use of these sites I decided the hassles of secure sites weren’t really worth it.

October 29, 2008   No 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

Trac and Subversion sites are up

Webfaction dramatically improved their hosting plans, making it easy for me to add more applications.

So I’ve added a Subversion (svn) repository and a Trac site to this site. Right now they are pretty empty, but I will be adding to them over time.

The svn repository will host my blog project files, and will be used for posts on using version control. The Trac site contains additional information related to this blog. Both sites are read-only – I don’t have time to deal with link spam, wiki spam, or polluted repositories.

The svn site is It will redirect a web browser from http, but not a client (such as my choice, TortoiseSVN ).

The trac site is It will redirect from http.

Note that since I’m not paying extra for my own SSL certificate, you’re going to have to trust me (accept the browser pop-ups) if you want to use the sites.

Note 4/20/2011: my svn and trac sites are http; https was a fun experiment, but not necessary for this site.


January 16, 2008   1 Comment

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.


June 4, 2007   No Comments