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Access Control UL294/294B Regulations: Why Do They Matter?

Access Control UL294 is the standard of safety for Access Control System units that all access control systems must meet. UL294B is a newer standard, specifically for the use of Power over Ethernet (PoE) components used within access control systems where PoE is the primary power source.

Government and state regulations are moving toward required access control UL294 compliance. Comtrol’s RocketLinx ACS7106 is the first UL294B certified switch enabling confidence in deployment and integration within access control systems. 

The ACS7106 switch features four 10/100BASE-TX PoE Plus ports for providing power and data to remote PDs (Powered Devices) such as access card readers and IP surveillance cameras, and two 10/100/1000BASE-TX uplink ports that assure maximum throughput for high bandwidth applications.

The official site for the UL Standards states that:

SCOPE (Access Control UL294)

1.1 These requirements apply to the construction, performance, and operation of systems intended to regulate or control:

a)    Entry into a protected area or a restricted area or

b)    Access to or the use of a device(s) by electrical, electronic or mechanical means.


Meeting Your Network Needs: Unmanaged vs. Managed Switches Explained

The world is moving towards managed switches as complexity and demand increases. But what are the differences and how do you know which switch is going to be right for you?Unmanaged vs. Managed Switches Explained RocketLinx_group 3_left

Unmanaged Switches

An unmanaged switch reduces costs and simplifies the configuration process. On the other side, a managed switch is more intelligent, allows for new technology and application adjustments, as well as enabling better troubleshooting and most importantly increased security.

An unmanaged switch is less expensive at initial purchase. An unmanaged switch contains a fixed set of rules and will handle incoming data based on those rules. It’s important to note that the forwarding rules cannot be changed, which may increase downtime to discover and fix a problem. An unmanaged switch can simplify the configuration process or decrease the product cost in some of these areas; a less powerful processor, may contain less memory, fewer LEDs, fewer ports. Depending on your network needs those cost saving efforts can greatly benefit your company.

Managed Switches

The best feature of a managed switch is its configurability. When using a managed switch you are free to adjust the rules for your application at any time, this can be very useful in the Industrial Automation field and many others. The configurability can save costs and downtime when you are free to separate your networks.  The best way to benefit from this configurability would be to have an engineer in your company who understands the managed switch’s complexity. A managed switch offers other valuable resources such as; the support of VLANs, IGMP snooping, port mirroring, decreased downtime and increased security.

Comtrol offers a wide selection of industrial, enterprise, and hardened switches supporting 10/100/1000 Ethernet, fiber, and PoE applications.  The end decision of a managed switch or unmanaged switch will be determined by your unique network needs.

Tech Tip: DTE and DCE

DTE – Data Terminal Equipment

DTE, short for Data Terminal Equipment is a device that controls data flowing to or from a computer. The term is most often used in reference to serial communications defined by the RS-232C standard. This standard defines the two ends of the communications channel as being a DTE, and a DCE device.

DCE – Data Circuit-Terminating Equipment

In practical terms, the DCE, or Data Circuit-Terminating Equipment, is usually a modem and the data terminal equipment is the computer itself, or more precisely, the computer’s UART chip.

Comtrol serial ports are Data Terminal Equipment devices except for products which have been specifically designed to be switchable from Data Terminal Equipment to Data Circuit-Terminating Equipment.


When connecting a Data Terminal Equipment device to another Data Terminal Equipment device it is necessary to use a Null Modem cable.

When connecting a Data Terminal Equipment device to a Data Circuit-Terminating Equipment device it is necessary to use a Straight Thru cable.

Comtrol at ITS Heartland

Comtrol will be attending ITS Heartland on April 25 to the 27 in Des Moines, Iowa. Attendees will have an opportunity to network and share experiences across a wide variety of ITS disciplines.

Comtrol at ITS Heartland




Comtrol at ITS Heartland

The many different training and networking opportunities available through this event will provide participants with the tools necessary to effectively plan and deploy ITS technologies within their own jurisdictions. Register Today!

Contact Katya Lee at 763-957-6122 to learn more.

Save a Trip to Your Traffic Cabinet with the Ping Reset Feature

Ping Reset to reboot any IP device!

Ping Reset will allow you to reset any IP device in your traffic cabinet.
Ping Reset

Common IP Devices:
  • Loop Detectors
  • Radar systems
  • Traffic controllers
  • Any Ethernet switch
  • Dynamic message signs (DMS)
  • IP, PTZ, Analog cameras
  • Battery Back Ups
  • Malfunction Management Unit (MMU)
  • Any IP addressable device



The RocketLinx ES8510-XT is a managed industrial Ethernet switch, equipped with seven 10/100TX ports and three 10/100/100 RJ45/100-FX/Gigabit SX/LX/LHX/ZX/SFP combo ports.  Two Gigabit ports may be used to form a non-stop Redundant Ring while the third Gigabit port enables connection to an upper switch, couple ring, or public server.  The Gigabit combo port design provides flexibility to choose copper or fiber media supporting 100BASE-FX or 1000BASE-X, Multi-Mode or Single-Mode for a wide variety of distance and installation requirements.

For more information, contact Katya Lee at 763.957.6122

IO-Link 101: 10 Terms to Know

IO-Link 101: 10 Terms to Know

Here are 10 terms to know to help understand IO-Link 101.

1. IO-Link System

An IO-Link system is comprised of sensors and/or actuators that support IO-Link (version 1.0 or 1.1) which are connected via a master, such as Comtrol offers. The master then will communicate to a controller (PLC, HMI, SCADA, etc.) through an industrial Ethernet protocol such as Ethernet/IP, Profinet IO or Modbus TCP.IO-Link 101

Full Explanation

2. MultiLink – Comtrol Specific Benefit

MultiLink provides the capability to simultaneously access multiple IO-Link controllers running different industrial Ethernet protocols.

Full Explanation

3. IODD: IO Device Description

Every IO-Link sensor/actuator has an IODD file which allows you to interact with the device on a web interface such as Comtrol’s. Each IO-Link device manufacturer will have these available via their website. With Comtrol’s IO-Link Master you can load and store a library (up to 15790K) of IODD files for your IO-Link devices onto the Comtrol IO-Link Master so that you can configure the IO-Link sensors or actuators from the IO-Link Master web interface.

Full Explanation

4. Data Types: Process, Service, Event

Three types of data are visible with IO-Link: Process Data, Service Data and Event Data.

Full Explanation

5. Remote Parameterization

The Comtrol IO-Link Master supports remote communication from a PLC and/or HMI to an IO-Link device so that you can change an IO-Link device’s configuration or operational behavior. In addition, you can change an IO-Link device’s configuration using the Comtrol IO-Link Master web interface without a PLC or HMI.

Full Explanation

6. Auto-Device Replacement (ADR)

Allows an IO-Link device to be automatically configured using previously stored values. Quick and easy replacement of failed or damaged sensors or actuators which means reduction in production line downtime and maintenance costs.

Full Explanation

7. IO-Link Master web interface

Comtrol offers a web interface unlike any other in the IO-Link Master marketplace. It provides extensive benefits to make using an IO-Link Master as easy as possible.

  • Configure IO-Link, EtherNet/IP and Modbus TCP settings for your IO-Link device
  • View real-time diagnostics for IO-Link, EtherNet/IP, and Modbus TCP activity on your IO-Link Ports
  • Load IODD files onto the IO-Link Master for your convenience
  • Configure IO-Link devices in minutes using the IO-Link Device – Port table (GUI) or the IO-Link Device ISDU Interface, which provides ISDU handling
  • Data Storage (automatic or manual) for Auto Device Configuration
  • IO-Link Device Validation (compatible and identical) to link specific IO-Link devices to a specific port
  • Data Validation (strict or loose) for data integrity

Full Explanation

8. IO-Link Device Validation

Using IO-Link Device Validation makes your IO-Link master ports intelligent. You can link IO-Link ports to operate only when a compatible or identical IO-Link device is attached.

Full Explanation

9. ISDU: Index Service Data Unit

Comtrol offers ISDU Handling which is when the IO-Link Master handles all programming to provide PLC access to IO-Link device ISDU blocks with a flexible and simplified interface – provides multiple or single ISDU command message support and blocking and non-blocking messaging methods. The PLC ISDU message format is designed for flexibility and ease of use. Each message can contain a single command, multiple commands with the same data area size, or with commands with varying data area sizes.

IO-Link 101

Full Explanation

10. Data Validation (Strict or Loose)

Use the Data Validation option to ensure data integrity by defining the PDI and/or PDO length. Also gives the user the ability to see that data is successfully being communicated to the master.

Full Explanation

This blog post offers IO-Link 101 information to help educate about everything IO-Link 101.

Join Comtrol at ISC West

Comtrol at ISC West

Comtrol will be attending ISC West in Las Vegas on April 6-8. At ISC West you will have the chance to meet with technical reps from 1,000 exhibitors and brands in the security industry and network with over 28,000 security professionals.


Find out about new and future products and stay ahead of the competition. Encompassing everything from access control to Facial Recognition software you’re sure to find products and services that will benefit your company and clients. This year don’t miss our new IT Pavilion featuring the latest cyber security solutions.

Register Today!

Questions? Please contact Tom Baker at [email protected] or 763-957-6158

Visit us at the Profinet One-Day Training Class

Profinet One-Day Training Class

We will be exhibiting at the Profinet One-Day Training Class on March 29, a free event that provides training on how to apply PROFINET in your own projects. Comtrol will be featuring our IO-Link Masters as well as our RocketLinx Switches and DeviceMaster UP Gateways.

This class is designed for:

  • End Users
  • OEMs
  • System Integrators
  • Manufacturers of automation devices

PROFINET is a standard, unmodified Ethernet protocol designed to support the latest automation strategies.

Event Date: March 29, 2016  

Greenville Marriott
One Parkway East
Greenville, SC 29615 USA

Sign-up for the One-Day Training Class

If you have any questions please feel free to contact Brandon Roy at [email protected] or 763.957.6127

Comtrol’s RocketPort EXPRESS Working in Audio and Video Live Feeds

RocketPort EXPRESS

Comtrol’s RocketPort EXPRESS PCIe multi-port serial cards are the next generation of multi-port serial adapters, upgraded from previous PCI BUS technology.

RocketPort EXPRESS

At sporting and entertainment events instant audio and video updates are necessary. We need to know the score of the basketball game or how many personal fouls our favorite player had. Comtrol’s RocketPort EXPRESS multi-port serial cards help a leading scoreboard control company make that process easier.

They rely on our 4-port and 8-port RocketPort EXPRESS Cards to add additional serial ports to their servers. The RocketPort cards have the ability to be configured via the software drivers. This allows half of the ports on the cards to be set at RS-232 communications and the other half set at RS-422 communications. These settings allow for multiple uses within their product lines.

Sporting arenas are full of RS-232 communication needs that are used for connecting scoring controllers; these controllers that are typically built for static or amber light boards that are connected via a serial RS-232. Our customer receives a protocol from the manufacturers and implements the configuration into their software. Using the protocol they can read the data live from the signal and process it through the CG portion of their software thereby allowing the end-user to put any real-time scoring data on any LED/LCD screen of their choosing.

To view the complete story CLICK HERE

To learn more about RocketPort EXPRESS, please contact [email protected]


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