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brianafischer

Supplies for the Common Controls Engineer?

69 posts in this topic

another important tool Edited by rpraveenkum

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this is the first time i have read this forum and i saw alot of very good suggustions but i didn't notice anyone mentioning Null Modem's. i carry 2 of them along with 2 each male and female gender changers. you would be amazed how many devices you can connect to with just one cable and a couple of small, inexpensive adapters. i've also stocked my computer bag with a 6', 3-way extension cord and a small power strip. another thing i always have readily available is a 120V "cheater cord". i built mine using a 2x4 handy box, 5' of cord to plug into a receptacle, a toggle switch to turn the power on/off, a small indicator light for when the power is on, a fuse on the output, and 2' of open end SO cord with aligator clips.

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I do a lot of Rockwell network analysis and troubleshooting so I have three boxes on my demo room shelf with Ethernet, ControlNet, and DeviceNet cables, PCMCIA interface cards, terminators, taps, connectors, etc. Depending on what I'm headed out the door to do, I dump one or more of them into an old laptop bag. There's another box for RS232 work which includes my splitters and valuable PCMCIA RS232 dual-channel card. While Googling for related stuff today, I came across this: http://www.stratusengineering.com/EZTap.html *drool* That looks *so* much smaller and smoother than the usual tangle of RS232 cables I carry around. I'm sure it won't work with the FTS4Control suite from FrontLine, but it would make a lot of my DF1 and Modbus troubleshooting easier to roll out the door.

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Ken, have you tried the little program called program called portmon... an excellent debuggin tool for RS232 comm's out of your computer...

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Can't always help it, sometimes you just gotta keep your head down, and get in and right back out. I did a job in NJ several years ago, it involved putting several hundred people out of work across 3 local unions. Teamsters, and 2 local Glass and Pottery unions. (I have no idea why there were 2 locals in the same plant) these guys didn't understand that if this project didn't go down, the plant was probably going to close I find a smile, and firm handshake are two of the best tools to have with me at a customer site. anything else can be acquired elsewhere if needed. John.

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i recently was working on a machine with my 50ft extension with the guy behind my shoulder, seventy people are telling me what was wrong only to have my extension stolen from underneath all of us by the cleaning staff, caught him on camera.

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Just picked up this little beauty when I saw another integrator with one. No more big bulky power strip! It has four grounded outlets, and the cord wraps around to plug into the end outlet for storage. The outlets are placed perfectly for power bricks, and it's a surge supressor too. The plug even lights up when it's plugged into a hot outlet! Nice!

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My main problem is that customers are often continents away and thus air travel is almost mandatory, so to avoid paying extortionate fees for "overweight" i am forced to travel with a pouch containing essential set of screwdrivers, most useable size wrenches, adjustable spanner and a Fluke 189. Big inconvenience for this is reduced space on the luggage for clothes and other personal items as well as a noticeable increase in luggage weight, usually around 25 to 30 kgs, very near the limits currently enforced by most airlines. For heavy works such as extensive machinery modifications and erections my company follows BudMan's advice and ships an almost complete toolbox that afterwards remains at customers' disposal (i have anyway yet to see a complete toolbox some times after the job is completed). I'd like to work with as much tools and instruments as possible, and not much fond of either making/asking/buying tools on the spot, besides in some places the maintenance department often is a guy with some rusted wrenches, a hammer and broken screwdrivers and ends using my tools regularly, so I am thinking about traveling with a toolbox with almost all the tools i need for service and installation. All the previous toolboxes i owned broke down due to wear and tear within two years of continuous use, so I am trying to find a trolleyed one rugged enough to withstand at least 3 to 5 years of continuous traveling, easy to lug around and with enough inside space to keep all the most necessary tools. Any suggestion about brands or types will be highly appreciated.

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How about my 2 personal favorites - A stick to beat away the nosy people who insist on standing right behind me and looking over my shoulder. And a lock box to keep the same people from liberating my favorite tools when I step the other side of the machine. The stick actually serves to help both of these issues. I prefer a piece of 3/4 pipe with cap ends that looks similar to a pipe bomb. Other than that I think I have seen everything covered I would normally use.

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Of course Asprin, Tylenol, Ibuproffin, etc!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Skype, you can do a lot of tech support with Skype.

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Skype, I use it when I go into the field.

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I second Skype. I have only toyed with it until recently, but it was a life saver in the field where all we had was a radio modem. We also had a standard IP phone and Skype was much clearer and didn't have the delay. I have a regular phone number and voicemail with mine

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What a thread... I'm such a geek I really enjoyed it. It was very nice to see many people here. I don't have much to add, it has pretty much been covered. This is my take. There is no substitute for a folding table and chair. I see people programming in awkward positions and there is no way I can do that. I require a table and chair to do quality work. This makes a huge difference in success. I also take a Rubbermaid 2x4 cart with me everywhere. I drive a minivan you see! So when I unload I pull a big grey Rubbermaid cart out the back and then stick a polymer 2x4' table on top with a PADDED folding chair. Then I put my laptop case on top. 50-foot dropcord on the bottom. I use a large contractor toolbag to store all my cables, that goes on the bottom. All cables are folded into 14-16 inch lengths and wrapped with two rubber bands. When the rubber bands wear out I replace them, keep a bag of rubber bands in the van. That pretty much sums up all laptop and comms issues in a plant. The Rubbermaid cart is one you've all seen, it has a handle at one end and a cupholder and trays. You can find them for around $200 on the net. When I need to go from panel to panel (remember when there were no networks?) then I collapse the folding table and put it face up and set the laptop on top. Folding chair on the bottom so I can take it with me, wheel from panel to panel. There is no substitute for comfort. You must have a folding table and chair with you when you go for programming. Forget that standing up and your back aching - you will not do the same job as if you have the table and chair. But then I've always been a wussy. LOL If you are dealing with Ethernet networked devices in close proximity a wireless router is very cool. Just set it up yourself and you can be wireless online to your systems during startup. Be sure to configure security so the IT guys won't hold that over your head.

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In times like this, I like to keep it simple

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Nice to see what everyone else is using. I work mainly with Allen Bradley hardware and those of us who do know the nightmare of taking the correct cables especially when traveling. I found a nice RS232 cable from Black Box that works nicely. They call it a "Laptop Smart Cable" I think. It basically will configure for any RS232 with a flip of a switch. I have actually given away all my AB RS232 cables except for the mini din type for the micrologix processors. Saved a ton of space in the laptop bag.

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Do you have an exact type no for that cable? I tried looking for it but I didn't find what you are describing...

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Sorry, I named it wrong. Pulled mine out and search for the number and they call it a "Clever Cable". Here is the link to the kit I have(TS106A). The kit is $125 US. They sell just the cable for less than $100 but it doesn't come with all the gender changers. I also saw they sell a "universal" clever cable but I not familiar with it. I have had mine for years and I am very pleased with it especially using it with the AB hardware. Again, I apologize for the naming confusion and hope it is something that can be useful to everyone on multiple platforms. http://www.blackbox.com/Store/Detail.aspx/Laptop-AT-Style-Clever-Cable-Kit-Laptop-AT-Style-Clever-Cable-Kit/TS106A

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I don't know if anyone has said it yet but a great support group like all if us on Mr.PLC.

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