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About av8or1

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  • Location Austin, TEXAS
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  1. Deciding on a controller

    All- Ok the weather cleared up today, so I made the final progress video demonstrating the "finished" product. I placed finished in quotes only because there are still a couple of cleanup type items that I need to do, but they are quite minor and don't involve any modification to any part of the system. (example = returning my tools to the outbuilding, etc.). Let me know what you think. Thanks again for all of the help! Jerry
  2. Deciding on a controller

    QUICK UPDATE: All- Well as of tonight I can report that I have completed the project! Wooooo-hooooooo! I have the traffic light mounted to the garage wall, the stray-reverse warning buzzer mounted and wired into the jbox, the cooling fans set in place/working, the wiring cleaned up and the regression testing finished. All is well! A few things that somehow seem noteworthy (though perhaps obvious): 1) Weather will play a factor WRT the successful operation of this system. The green light, stray-left and stray-right sensors are all mounted at the very mouth (entrance) of the garage and as such are more susceptible to weather phenomena than the other sensors. And really, it's not the sensors themselves so much as it is the reflectors. It has been raining quite a bit in Austin the past few days and I have learned just how that particular form of precipitation can cause havoc with the system. In the end I think that I will need to tell mom that if it is raining when she comes to visit, that she should ignore the stray-left and stray-right sensors. Green light won't be a problem because the water will cause the reflected light to fragment, so the sensor won't perceive any returned light, so being a dark operate sensor it will send 24VDC to the PLC, which will cause the green light to illuminate. So basically you'd see an open garage door with a green light already illuminated. Not a huge issue. 2) I learned the hard way that laying down long strips of reflective tape to match the length of the track lighting wasn't the best approach, at least not WRT the stray-left and stray-right sensors. That is because the garage floor is rather uneven (not noticeably to humans, but to a laser it is) laterally, so it was better to cut small strips of reflective tape, determine which position would cause the reflected light to be picked up by the sensor, and glue that strip down in that position. Then move on down the line, repeating that process. 3) When doing a project like this where your PLC is not located in an easily accessible area, you really need a good answer for the issue of implementing program updates/corrections, or tweaks as Bob referred to them. I don't like laptops and so I had to haul my desktop, monitor, keyboard, mouse, power cords and PLC interface cord up into the attic each time I wanted to make a program modification. By the completion of the project, the count stood at 5 so I would recommend devising a better plan than that. I didn't do so good there, but again, I just don't like laptops. Even so, I almost broke down and used one in this instance. I realize that this is a big "DUH!" but wanted to mention it anyway. Chuckle away Bob! Seems like there is more to discuss, but it's getting late and so it escapes me at the moment. As previously mentioned, I am VERY curious to see how this system will perform over the long run, after being exposed to the real world elements of a garage. It seems like it would be interesting to provide an update post regarding that subject perhaps in a year from now. But I digress. I plan to make a demo video tomorrow and post it. When I do I will provide a link for those who are curious. Once again, I would like to extend a big THANK YOU to all who contributed your wealth of knowledge to my project. I appreciate it! Jerry
  3. Deciding on a controller

    Y'all- Made quick progress video tonight, mostly to take a break from the hassle of fiddling with the sensors and to have a little fun with it. Thought I'd post. Thanks, Jerry
  4. Deciding on a controller

    QUICK UPDATE: Hope it's ok to continue with this project report... Well after a bunch of fiddling and fabbing about, I can state that I have achieved victory over the green light sensor!!! Woooo-hoooooo! The reflector is gorilla-glued to the garage floor and the sensor works repeatably. Of course, I realize that my victory may be short lived because I haven't seen yet exactly what will happen once the glue fully dries. And it began to rain tonight, so the reflector got a bit wet (we're only talking droplets here) and there was plenty of moisture in the air. Therefore I am interested to see if there are any resulting adverse affects. I'd think not, but that's still TBD. And while I am on the subject, this is actually the "last frontier" of the engineering-related questions I had at the outset of this project: how will this somewhat-sophisticated and arguably expensive equipment measure up over time and exposure to the real-world elements of temperature variance, weather phenomenon and human-generated "hazards" associated with the typical American garage? I thought about this for several nights prior to even considering launching myself into the fray. And I must confess that I had my doubts about the long(er)-term viability of such an implementation. Maintenance issues were an additional concern. That said, the decision to press ahead came with an interest to learn more about PLCs and PLC programming coupled with the rather simplistic notion of "you don't know until you put it to the test". So now will come that test. I am quite curious to see how the system will perform over time... But I digress. A quick little note that once said or read will seem quite obvious and even borderline "duh" territory, but the procedure that I found the most effective to establish a "proper alignment" between the sensor and the reflector such that you would enable the sensor's receiver to pick up the reflected laser beam was to switch off all of the lights in the garage, go completely "dark" and note where the beam hit the ceiling (or in this case it was occasionally hitting the garage door) in relation to the sensor. Sometimes it would be difficult to see where the reflected beam terminated, so I found that temporarily blocking the beam with your hand, then removing your hand and continuing that alternating pattern briefly would cause enough of a light differential that the human eye could distinguish the reflected beam's end point without too much difficulty. Also of note is that even the slightest perceptable movement of sensor or reflector to the human touch makes a significant difference to the sensor. So I ended up using the handle-end of a screw driver to ever-so-lightly tap the sensor around its mounting axis and ever-so-small shims for the reflective tape (prior to the sticky-back covering material removal of course). Also, I have mounted the garage door sensor with a custom L-bracket attached to the top inner rib of the top garage door panel. As anticipated that went smoothly and quickly. I then drug everything up into the attic (again) and reprogrammed the controller to reverse the logic of the garage door sensor. Now code/logic works correctly. The ironic thing is that the red light sensor will occasionally discontinue proper operation, due to a small shift in how the traveller (or come-along piece) rests in the track lighting case. So that will require more fiddling on my part and I am a bit concerned about it because I plan to use the same approach with the stray-left and stray-right sensors, which are next on the project's agenda. Oh well, I suppose it's just more fiddling at this point, much like the green light sensor was. Keep you updated, thanks! Jerry
  5. Deciding on a controller

    Bob- Thank you for the tip! I hadn't heard of panduit before now. Learn something new everyday! Well I thought that things were kinda downhill now that the sensors were working reliably. Eh, not so fast. I have successfully mounted the yellow light and red light sensors and they work without much hassle. I plan on installing the garage door sensor tomorrow night and expect it to go even smoother. However the green light sensor has been another story. I just cannot get the proverbial moons to align (literally) so that the sensor's receiver picks up the emitted laser beam off of the reflector. The problem appeared to be with the mounting of the sensors to the ceiling. So I called the local distributor and bought some 18mm sensor-specific mounting brackets. The first set were adjustable but not right for this application (no way to lock them down into position). So I returned them and bought a set of more "rigid" brackets. Those definitely improve the situation, but the green light sensor is still giving me fits. It has to do with the mounting of the tape on the floor and possible interference from the bottom of the garage door and/or the garage door spring boom. I did get it to work reliably once or twice, but the tape wasn't glued down and it was quite difficult to repeat. So I suspect that more "fiddling" is in order. And this one is for you Bob: I realized that with these new sensors being dark operate I'll need to reverse the logic of the garage door sensor's PLC program contact. So that means dragging the stuff up into the attic again. hahahaha! I'm attaching a picture of the red light sensor mounting and the green light sensor mounting. The red light sensor is kinda cool in that I ended up needing to custom-fab a slide-along piece that could fit into the track lighting casing and also receive the sensor mount. That worked out and so now I have a little over two feet of travel to manually adjust the red light sensor position. The green light sensor picture simply illustrates the problem for you, it was taken from directly below the sensor with the garage door open. Still working..... Jerry
  6. Deciding on a controller

    Hi y'all- A quick question if I may. Last night I was installing the fans in the jbox and doing a little experimenting. Not with the wiring or anything, that was straightforward. I ended up returning the controller and power supply and just wiring these two +12VDC fans in series, powered by one of the +24VDC terminal blocks. And so the fans are in and are running just fine. Anyway. In playing around with them, they seem to spin rather slowly and don't seem to put out a lot of CFMs. But that could just be my perception. They are quiet, that's for certain. So what's the issue then? Well I was experimenting with a rather simple concept really, but one that made me think a little bit. So I decided to pose it to the forum. The issue is the arrangement of these fans. I have two fan holes that came with the jbox and these holes already have fan guards on them. One is on the bottom of the jbox, the other on the top. Initially I thought I would mount the lower fan such that it draws air into the jbox from below and then mount the top fan such that it pulls air out of the box. Kind of a colder to hotter thing (hot air rises). However after the aforementioned experimentation yesterday, there didn't seem to be much air being drawn away from the microcontroller by the top fan. Therefore it almost seemed like a better idea to point both fans inward and then let the air escape naturally through holes that are in the sides (both) of the jbox. But it didn't make much sense theoretically ... the first option would seem to lend itself to be the better choice. I realize that it's a trivial concept, but given the temps that the controller is likely to experience in the TEXAS summer I'd like to implement the smartest choice. Thoughts? Thanks!
  7. Deciding on a controller

    All- Well the sensors did indeed arrive on Friday. However the weekend has been packed full of stuff to do, so I only got around to working on the project last night. Not sure I can finish today, but will try. In the meantime I put together a quick video regarding the sensors, mostly for the fun of it, but I hope that it might help someone in the future. For the folk here who do PLCs and such everyday, the video is likely a bit pedestrian and perhaps a bit of a yawnfest, but hey. Again, the goal was to pass on a bit of what I have learned, just as those on this forum have done for me. The discussion is not fully comprehensive, but has a fair amount of detail to it. Have a look, I mention the forum in the beginning. Feedback welcomed. Jerry
  8. Deciding on a controller

    ANOTHER QUICK UPDATE: I spoke with the local distributor this morning who inquired with AB regarding the sensor manufacturing process. He was told that these sensors are indeed made in Champaign, IL and not abroad. Apparently they were simply out of them and needed to manufacture a "new batch". So my sensors should be quite new. And according to the tracking number, they should arrive tonight. Therefore hopefully I can close out the project over the weekend. I haven't hung the light on the wall yet; I'd prefer to ensure that the sensors will work satisfactorily first. Anyway. Will post again when completed, hopefully this weekend. Thanks, Jerry
  9. Deciding on a controller

    QUICK UPDATE: The fan setup I had just wasn't going to work. So I returned the fan controller and the power supply/adapter. I'll keep the fans and just direct-wire them into the system. They're 12V fans, so I can just put them in series and connect them to one of the +24V terminal blocks. Perhaps not the most ideal solution, but it will work. Still awaiting news on the sensors. Thanks, Jerry
  10. Deciding on a controller

    Hi Bob, Well I was kinda concerned about it really, if to be open. Therefore I decided to investigate further and since I didn't know exactly how PC fans operated, the decision to implement something was a given. The specifications for the Micrologix 1000 are: Operating Temperature ... Horizontal mounting 0…55 °C (32…131 °F) Operating Temperature ... Vertical mounting 0…40 °C (32…104 °F) Nonoperating Temperature ... -40…85 °C (-40…185 °F) My mounting is horizontal on a DIN rail, which would seem to provide the best heat dissipation/cooling of any of the mounting options that I looked into, so I went with that. My attic has a radiant heat barrier on the inner side of the decking, which supposedly reduces temperatures appreciably. Eh. Even so, it seemed possible to me that the temps could push the 131 °F limit. Somehow though it still seemed like overkill. Overkill works for me though, so I went ahead with it. I have a +12VDC power supply/transformer, a fan controller and two fans. Unfortunately they aren't playing nicey-nice together, so I am still working on the configuration. The setup will be external to the PLC, though clearly, I will install it within the enclosure. Anyway. Thank you for the feedback from an expert. Good to know that I was on the right track. -J
  11. Deciding on a controller

    Alright this is a little disappointing. The local distributor tells me that the AB folk in IL didn't have my sensors in stock, even though his computer screen said that they did. Apparently they are being shipped from overseas (?!?!) and won't arrive at the factory until Friday. So they may not ship until the following Monday (one week from today). That would mean that I wouldn't get them until next Friday most likely. Ehgad! I inquired with the distributor as to why this was the case. Was the sensor not actually built at the factory in IL? Is it an odd part that practically no one purchases and so it had to be special-ordered? His answers were basically 'yes' and 'no' but couldn't offer anything further really since he doesn't work for AB. So does anyone know how AB goes about manufacturing their products? Are some built in IL and others elsewhere? What gives? I am curious more than anything... Thanks, Jerry
  12. Deciding on a controller

    bob -> Great video rig! I'll have to look into that in a few weeks when I go to find a replacement. gbradley -> Thanks! Glad it is received rather favorably here. I was a bit concerned at first regarding posting about the project at all, thinking that the experts here wouldn't be interested in a home project like this. But I am glad that I did. The advice received in this forum has been tremendous. UPDATE: Well the hopes of completing the project this weekend fell by the wayside on Friday. I returned home from work and became excited because I noticed a brown box outside my front door. Went to pick it up, all prepared to test and implement the sensor "front end" only to find that the box contained the reflective tape (AB 92-104) but no sensors. Wha-? The local distributor is quite good at getting you next day delivery when you purchase from them, but for whatever reason neither the tape nor the sensors (AB 42EF-P8KBC-F4) were available in the Austin, Dallas or Houston offices (Reynolds Company). So they had to be shipped directly from the AB factory in IL. Not sure at this point if it was an oversight or if the two component types are being shipped separately. I'll call the local distributor tomorrow and see if they can track it down for me. Anyway, maybe by early this week I can finish up. FYI. And one sidebar question if I may. In the heat of the typical TEXAS summer it gets rather warm in my attic. I mean really warm. So I came up with the idea of installing some PC fans in the enclosure to help keep the components cool. However in reviewing the literature it almost seems like it would be unnecessary, as the maximum temps for the controller and the power supply exceed the max temp that I would suspect can be reached in the attic. Still, I decided to go ahead and implement something since I - admittedly and embarassingly - didn't exactly know how PC fans worked. So I researched it, learned a fair amount and developed a design that would work somewhat well. Not ideal, but ok. So the question for you PLC experts is simply this: in your estimation would supplemental cooling like this be necessary in this design (enclosure in an attic)? Have any of your designs included some form of a cooling system? Thanks again, Jerry
  13. Deciding on a controller

    That does sound like a nice setup. What is the storage media used? (mine is 8mm tape - if you can believe that! Early 90's vintage stuff) Here is a condensed version of the progress report, not sure it's worth posting here, but I thought y'all might be interested to see that I am at least making progress.
  14. Deciding on a controller

    Thanks Joe! The traffic light passed regression testing last night, so all I need now are the sensors. Hopefully by Thursday or Friday. 'Would like to be finished by the weekend. We'll see. I made a progress video too, but had a mysterious difficulty in uploading it today. Have to go back and look at that again. My camera is getting quite old now, so it's just as well. I might need to re-shoot after getting something new. Will post when I have something viewable. Anyway.
  15. Deciding on a controller

    Hi Joe, Well there are several possible solutions to the problem really. In my design, I am using an actual traffic light that was once in service somewhere in the USA. It's the old-school type that illuminates with simple 60W light bulbs running on 120VAC (as opposed to LEDs). Specifically, my system will involve 6 sensors in total, as it will provide both longitudinal and lateral guidance. I will have 5 lights to provide such guidance, and 5 of the 6 sensors will match 1-to-1 with those lights. The standard red, yellow and green will handle the longitudinal axis. Two additional lights in the form of red arrows will do the lateral stuff. The sixth sensor exists solely to monitor the state of the garage door (open/not-open). To address your question of vehicle length, my system keys on the red light sensor (or in your words the sensor at the "inner end"). That is, the system can manually compensate for varying vehicle lengths via the red light sensor's mount (adjustable). In this way, you can move the sensor closer towards the inner wall for a longer vehicle or towards the garage door for a shorter vehicle. Make no mistake about that however, I am not attempting any form of automated length adjustment. Rather, I am mounting the sensors via standard-issue track lighting such that all one would need to do is to pull the vehicle in question into the garage, make note of the ideal parking location, then simply get a ladder and manually move the red light sensor by hand such that the laser beam is broken right as the vehicle encounters the desired stopping location. Or slightly before that actually, factoring in a driver reaction time of some sort. Finally, this same means of adjustment will be applied to the stray-left and stray-right sensors, while the green light, yellow light and garage door sensors will remain in a fixed position. A couple of pictures of the assembled traffic light are attached for reference. I completed the final wiring of the light last night. Will do a rudamentary test tonight and maybe post a video of that test. Just waiting on the sensors now really. Hope to get them by week's end and finish this thing off by the weekend. Thanks, Jerry