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Posts Tagged ‘Ethernet’

A Technical Support FAQ: Problem uploading firmware to DeviceMaster®

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Why can’t I upload firmware to my DeviceMaster?


The most common reason for firmware updates to fail is due to a timer that needs to be reconfigured called the “Bootloader Timeout.” This timer can only be configured when an IP address has been configured in the DeviceMaster and IP communications are active (such as being able to ping the DeviceMaster or open the web page in the DeviceMaster) There are a few different methods to modify this timer.

DeviceMaster PortVision Plus

Use PortVision Plus:

This method is dependent on the version of SocketServer or NS-Link installed in the DeviceMaster.

  • Double-click on the DeviceMaster in PortVision Plus. This opens the “Configure Device” page.
  • At the bottom of this page will be displayed the “Bootloader Timeout:” value.  If the option is not present, one of two conditions exist.
  1. The firmware is too old in which case use the Telnet method following
  2. PortVision Plus is not able to communicate to the DeviceMaster via TCP/IP
  • Change the value to 45 and click on the “Apply Changes” button and then the “Close” button.  Now try to upload the firmware.  If it is successful, then set the Bootloader Timeout back to the original value.

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.


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 – “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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