Posts Tagged ‘DeviceMaster UP’

Industrial Headache Relief & Time Saver with DeviceMaster® UP

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Is your project quickly approaching the deadline? Are you on a tight schedule and have no time to waste installing and configuring difficult-to-use gateways? Or are you just having trouble isolating the problem that is causing your system to go down or operate in a degraded state?

Comtrol DeviceMaster UP Industrial Ethernet Gateway Solution

Comtrol’s DeviceMaster UP provides diagnostic and communication features that other gateways do not.  These capabilities provide an extra hand to assist integrators throughout the installation troubleshooting stages of a project as well as maintenance during the lifetime of the deployment.


Aircraft Part Manufacturing Automation

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DeviceMaster UP: Manufacturing Automation

A large sensor and measuring instrument manufacturer has teamed up with Comtrol to offer an innovative factory automation capability to industrial manufacturers and warehouse distribution centers.  Optimizing efficiency and increasing productivity through mechanization and industrial innovation is the goal.

An industrial production company creating aircraft parts received a plan from a factory automation integrator to streamline a floor process in the warehouse.  The specific assembly process was responsible for etching numbers onto finished parts and readying them for shipment.

Included in the assembly, the sensor manufacturer’s laser marking machine etches part numbers on the completed projects.  A robotic arm then receives each etched piece and packs it properly for shipping.  This configuration is integrated and controlled by a PLC, PC application and Comtrol’s DeviceMaster® UP 2-Port 2E with its DualConnectPlus™ feature.  This manufacturer needed to connect the raw/ASCII laser marker over serial RS-232 to an EtherNet/IP enabled PLC.

Laser Marking Assembly - DeviceMaster UP


Ethernet Over Fiber-Optics: As clear as glass!

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Ethernet Over Fiber-Optics

As the demand for Ethernet connectivity increases in the market, so do the demands on Ethernet connectivity.  By transmitting Ethernet signals over fiber-optic cabling, users are able to extend the distance Ethernet signals will reach, protect against external Electro-Magnetic Interference (eliminating internal), and shield products from electrical surges.  All in all – by transmitting your data through light in a glass cable, fiber-optic connectivity is a great way to get more out of your Ethernet connections!

While the sales pitch on fiber above certainly sounds appealing, there are many aspects to consider during a migration to fiber-optic connectivity.  In order to select the best fiber optic connectivity solution, we must address:

1. Type of fiber-optic communication
2. Bandwidth
3. Fiber-optic connection type

Relating directly to these concerns, users must ask themselves

1. Type of fiber-optic communication

How do I want my data to be sent over fiber?

fiber-optic communication Fiber-optic communication is available in two different forms: Single-Mode and Multi-Mode.  Single-Mode, generally associated with longer distance capabilities, provides a hyper-efficient mode of transportation for the data-carrying light signals.  Multi-Mode fiber, while less expensive, is a less efficient method of fiber transmission.  As data travels across Single-Mode fiber it will degrade less than it would over the same distance with Multi-Mode fiber.

Furthermore, each fiber strand is designed to support a specific wavelength of fiber transmission.  Wavelength, measuring the distance between successive crests of a light wave, also influences efficiency and distance fiber can be transmitted.


Efficiency in Energy Management

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An energy meter manufacturing company based in Cairo, Egypt discovered that there is an economical solution to the extra time and cost that can be accrued by sending out company personnel to manually read electrical meters and log energy usage from each floor of a commercial building.

Property management and energy companies can reduce time and expenses by adding a DeviceMaster® Ethernet gateway to their physical system configurations as well as a corresponding software program on their networks.

Comtrol’s DeviceMaster UP 1-Port has been used by the energy meter manufacturing company to complement its meters and provide as a package to property management companies.  The DeviceMaster UP 1-Port has the capability to connect the energy meters together for remote reading and monitoring.Energy Meter Management


Connecting an Ethernet raw ASCII device to EtherNet/IP

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How logical!

– Joe House

Comtrol’s DeviceMaster® UP is most commonly associated with connecting serial devices to industrial protocols such as EtherNet/IP.  This common association tells less than half of the DeviceMaster UP’s capabilities in EtherNet/IP. The DeviceMaster UP is also capable of connecting ASCII over Ethernet devices to EtherNet/IP – something that is only logical.

A single DeviceMaster UP 1-Port is capable of supporting one serial connection AND one logical, TCP socket connection simultaneously.  By supporting both connections simultaneously, a DeviceMaster UP 1-Port can connect two devices to a PLC.

ASCII - Ethernet port splitterIf the DeviceMaster UP only has one Ethernet port – how can you connect two things into a single port?

The DeviceMaster UP supports ASCII over Ethernet connections through a logical TCP socket connection, something that only requires the DeviceMaster UP, Ethernet device, and PLC be on the same network.  Put in different terms – the DeviceMaster UP, Ethernet device, and PLC must all be able to communicate via TCP/IP addressing.

There are certainly many ways to put three products on the same network. The easiest, however, is to connect all three products to one of Comtrol’s RocketLinx Ethernet switches such as the ES8105.  This method is shown below.  Please note the black lines illustrate physical connections via copper Ethernet cables while the dotted red line represents a logical connection between the Ethernet device (printer) and the PLC.  This is the intended target for data transmission.

DeviceMaster Ethernet to EtherNet/IP


As the number of Ethernet connected devices continues to increase in the industrial market space, it is foolish to expect them all to behave the same.  Some devices, such as a bar code scanner may just send ASCII data without command from the PLC.  Anytime a new bar code is read it is automatically packetized and sent.  Other devices, like a printer, may demand a prompt from the PLC to send data. The PLC says, “print this,” and the printer prints and reports back, “Done.”

Clearly this is an oversimplification but it does lead to a valid point.  To truly provide a flexible connection to EtherNet/IP when communicating with ASCII over Ethernet devices, the DeviceMaster UP must be able to work with both devices that simply send data and those that demand a prompt to send data.  In context of establishing connections, the DeviceMaster UP is capable of operating as either a client or server.  In other words, the DeviceMaster UP can be set to listen for a connection – or to initiate one.

Either way, the DeviceMaster UP can be configured easily through the web interface under the “Configure Ethernet Device” heading.  For a bar code scanner, a customer may select the DeviceMaster UP to be configured as a client; a client simply listens to the ASCII over Ethernet data from the scanner and sends it on to the PLC after converting to EtherNet/IP.  In the above printing application, the DeviceMaster UP may operate as a server – receiving commands from the PLC in EtherNet/IP and passing them onto the printer in TCP/IP.  Whichever way your application demands you will be greeted by the below page:

DeviceMaster UP

After entering all appropriate system information, the DeviceMaster UP can make your intended connection – from an Ethernet device to EtherNet/IP.  In the end it is the DeviceMaster’s flexibility that makes it a valuable product, whether converting serial to EtherNet/IP, or Ethernet (TCP/IP) to EtherNet/IP, the Comtrol DeviceMaster UP is the ticket – either way it’s only logical!

Ward Systems Inc. Auto-Guided Manufacturing Vehicle

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An industrial automation manufacturing company located in Grass Valley, California, needed to create and design a working communication system to connect multiple devices on auto-guided machines.  Ward Systems Inc., designs manufactures and distributes automated pallet handlers used in warehouse and industrial settings.

Ward Systems AGV auto-guided vehicle

In order for the handlers to be automatically guided through a warehouse with precision, cameras attached to the vehicle itself must be as accurate as possible.  These cameras also need to interact with a PLC running Modbus TCP/IP, which writes and ready data to and from the cameras’ power for efficient battery usage.

As shown to the right, five cameras needed to communicate with a PLC on each handler.  Ward Systems decided to use Comtrol’s DeviceMaster® UP 4-Port and a daisy-chained DeviceMaster UP 1-Port to provide support for each camera.  All of the cameras are directly connected to one network switch, which is then connected to the DeviceMaster switch, which is then connected to the DeviceMaster UP 4-Port and DeviceMaster UP 1-Port.  The PLC is also connected to the network switch, along with a detachable PC used for configuration and programming.  An RFID reader and a custom PCB board connect to the two remaining ports on the DeviceMaster UP 4-Port.

The cameras on the pallet handlers support raw/ASCII data, while the PLC supports Modbus TCP/IP.  Comtrol’s DeviceMaster UP enables communication between the two different protocols to make the entire system a success.

Comtrol’s DeviceMaster UP is designed to provide innovative PLC to device connectivity.  The DeviceMaster UP provides EtherNet/IP, Modbus/TCP, Modbus RTU/ASCII, and PROFINET IO connectivity to a wide variety of devices.  A highly advanced raw/ASCII device interface functionality simplifies PLC programming and ensures robust operation.  These features greatly simplify connecting devices such as bar code scanners, RFID readers, weigh scales, vision systems, printers, encoders and sensors to PLCs.  The DeviceMaster UP’s many unique features provide connectivity options and flexibility not provided by other gateway products.

For more information about Comtrol’s DeviceMaster products, please visit

DeviceMaster® UP Plays Key Role in Oil Pipeline Monitoring

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Modbus Router

System critical automation processes, such as monitoring oil pipelines, can be very demanding on a communication infrastructure.  Performing reliable real-time communication over long distances from multiple Modbus masters to large numbers of remote devices can be a major challenge.  The communication equipment must be highly flexible and robust to perform such a task and the DeviceMaster UP meets that challenge.

oil pipeline monitoring device server modbus

When a major oil company asked Comtrol to help them upgrade their current pipeline infrastructure, Comtrol provided a solution with the DeviceMaster UP running our Modbus Router firmware.  Highly flexible and robust, the Modbus router provided the required communication needs.  Multiple Ethernet and serial Modbus masters were connected to multiple serial Modbus slaves.  The flexible Modbus routing capabilities, the wide operating temperature range, and the robust operation provided by the DeviceMaster UP proved to be the perfect solution.

the process of transporting oil from the oil well to the refining plant must be monitored very closely in order to ensure the total overall health of the system.  Sensors all the way along the length of the pipeline must be constantly checked to ensure safe flow rates, pressure levels and temperatures are maintained.  When a problem is detected, it must be quickly dealt with to avert a possible shutdown or, in worse cases, a catastrophic failure.

Satellite links are used to connect the control center where the SCADA systems reside, to remote Ethernet networks.  It is at those remote Ethernet networks where the DeviceMaster UP provides simultaneous connections between both Ethernet and dial-up modem-based serial Modbus masters to the Modbus slave devices.  In this way, all the individual remote networks, or subnets, are combined to form one large network.  Comtrol’s Modbus Router provides the required real-time connectivity between the Modbus controllers and devices on the network.

Modbus Router Firmware

Modbus router DeviceMaster UP

  • Highly flexible with many Modbus connectivity options
  • Masters: Modbus/TCP, Serial Modbus RTU/ASCII, and Modbus RTU/ASCII over Ethernet TCP/IP
  • Slaves: Modbus/TCP and Serial Modbus RTU/ASCII
  • Automatic protocol conversion and routing
  • Turn serial Modbus masters into Modbus/TCP masters for network wide connectivity
  • Connect Modbus masters to Modbus devices anywhere on a network
  • Simultaneously connect multiple Modbus masters to individual slave devices

Modbus/TCP Master-to-Master Communication

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Modbus/TCP Communication

A large oil and natural gas platform in the North Sea was expanding their facility capabilities by adding a massive system module (over 1.5 million lbs) to the existing platform infrastructure.  In order for the two systems to communicate seamlessly with one another, the proper communication channels needed to be established.

Control systems on each structure were configured to communicate with each other through a serial Modbus RTU RS-232 or RS-485 channel.  However, the Modbus device configuration on each side was designed to communicate as a master, while traditional Modbus communication takes place between a master and a slave.

Each structure’s respective developers had invested substantial resources into their control systems, so the systems integrator needed to find a way to overcome this obstacle by converting one configuration to act as a slave in the most cost-effective way possible – or by making two Modbus master devices communicate with one another.  Many industry experts have expressed that master-to-master Modbus communication is impossible, but Comtrol had already developed an innovative solution to make a Modbus master communicate with another master.

Modbus TCP Master-to-Master Communication

The systems integrator assigned to this task researched master-to-master connectivity and ultimately discovered the DeviceMaster® UP’s capabilities on a respected online forum.  Hesitantly beginning the application, the integrator was highly satisfied with the end result.

As seen in the diagram, Comtrol was able to fix this integrator’s problem using the DeviceMaster UP 2-Port 2E Modbus gateway running Modbus/TCP firmware.  Information coming from each control system/Modbus master device would be routed through serial Modbus/TCP firmware.  Information coming from each control system/Modbus master device would be routed through serial Modbus RTU into the DeviceMaster UP.  Internally, the firmware essentially provides a Modbus slave to respond to each (external) master’s commands.  The slaves are then internally linked to each other to complete the communication process.  Without viewing the internal configuration, the end user only observes that the DeviceMaster UP enables a successful connection from one master to another.

The Modbus/TCP firmware is the original DeviceMaster UP Modbus application.  It has been designed to provide great flexibility for connecting both Modbus serial slaves and Raw/ASCII devices to a variety of Modbus controllers and applications.  Such advanced Raw/ASCII options as filtering, command/response mode, peer-to-peer Modbus communications, and simultaneous connections to multiple Modbus controllers and/or Ethernet TCP/IP applications make the Modbus/TCP firmware the flagship of all Modbus gateways.

For more information on Modbus master-to-master communication please contact support at 763.957.6000

For more information about Comtrol’s DeviceMaster products, please visit

DeviceMaster UP – “Is it really that easy?”

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DeviceMaster UP – Industrial Ethernet Gateway Connectivity

At Comtrol, we believe that gateways should be intelligent, robust and easy to use… and we enjoy explaining that, “Yes, it really is that easy.” With its web-based configuration, example programs, and simplified interfaces, the DeviceMaster UP delivers near plug-and-play Industrial connectivity. To learn more about the DeviceMaster UP’s features including:

DeviceMaster UP industrial ethernet gateway

  • Protocol Flexibility – offering EtherNet/IP, PROFINET IO, Modbus/TCP, Modbus RTU & Modbus/ASCII connectivity
  • DualConnectPlus™ technology
  • Applications
  • Web-based configuration
  • Large received packet support
  • Intelligent packet identification

… and more, (including protocol specifications and highlights) click here!


Industrial Automation – Bar Code Scanning

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As industrial automation continues to develop and make processes such as scanning, packaging, shipping and assembly more efficient, Comtrol’s products have provided the connectivity required to integrate crucial elements in the automation system.

Bar Code Scanner

In conjunction with Compunetics Systems, a Michigan-based company specializing in automated data collection; Comtrol has contributed to a comprehensive communications solution specifically designed for bar code scanning. Compunetics has developed a custom enclosure containing Comtrol’s DeviceMaster® UP and an internal voltage converter to power the scanning system and convert ASCII serial data from the bar code scanner to EtherNet/IPPROFINET IO or Modbus/TCP (industrial network protocols) for the end programmable logic controller (PLC).

As seen in the diagram, the enclosure has three ports, enabling an RS-232 serial connection, a 24VDC power supply connection and an Ethernet connection. Twenty four volts of direct current power are delivered into the enclosure; once inside the enclosure the standard 24VDC of power is stepped down to five volts where +5VDC is wired into pin nine of the serial port, easily powering the attached scanner. The DeviceMaster UP industrial Ethernet gateway has a flexible power input of 5-30VDC thus allowing performance on the enclosure’s five volt circuit. This serial power delivery eliminates the need to introduce an extra power supply for the bar code scanner. The bar code scanner then sends information and process data back through the serial connection to the DeviceMaster, which routes the information over Ethernet (EtherNet/IP, RROFINET IO or Modbus/TCP) to a PLC.

This joint industrial hardened solution not only enables the automation system, but the enclosure decreases necessary cabling and is customizable upon customer request. Installation is easy; all that is required is the enclosure, a 24VDC power supply, Ethernet cabling, DeviceMaster UP configuration and scanner connection.

Comtrol’s DeviceMaster UP is designed to provide innovative PLC to device connectivity. The DeviceMaster UP provides EtherNet/IP, Modbus/TCP, Modbus RTU/ASCII, and PROFINET IO connectivity to a wide variety of devices. A highly advanced raw/ASCII device interface functionality simplifies PLC programming and ensures robust operation. These features greatly simplify connecting devices such as bar code scanners, RFID readers, weigh scales, vision systems, printers, encoders and sensors to PLCs. The DeviceMaster UP’s many unique features provide connectivity options and flexibility not provided by other gateway products.


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