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Newsletter Issue # 3

Real Time Automation's - Best Darn Newsletter 

Less is Definitely Not More
Time For A Change
How RTA Will Grow in 2011 and the Impact you have on That Growth
Technical Article
Comprehensive LonWorks Overview
Fun for All
Fun Facts and Trivia

Get a free flying light-up RTA Whirly this month only!

Email your name and address to: jladd@rta- automation.com by December 12th to claim your steal of the month.

What is our Industry Missing?
Modbus Data Types
MIcroLogix in a Time of Maximum Information
DF/1 in a World of Acronyms

RTA Gives to Toys for Tots & You Can Help!

Rinaldi Claus is helping us make a difference this holiday season. Nov 15th to Dec 15th, 5% of all of our gateway sales will go toward buying lots of toys to donate to the Toys for Tots Foundation to help make the holidays brighter for less fortunate children in our area!

View Gateways


Less is the New More... I Don't Think So

It’s easy to find the trends that rock our industry and our society to be ever amusing. Fast food chains scramble to offer healthy options with lower calories and small portions while consumers are ordering more double, triple, quadruple, super-mega sized meals than ever. In our industry big players are scrambling to create lower function, lower cost offerings while the world is demanding more function, data and control in all applications and processes. Health conscience zealots and marketers touting Asian penetration take this advice; Less is not the new more.
Apples and oranges are somewhat interchangeable. Apples and fries are not.  It’s a great idea on paper and in the focus group but not reality. The big companies in our own industry seem to be chasing similar well intended ideas.  They are creating low level PLCs and devices to meet the price points needed to penetrate India and Asia. Yet we have factories moving back to America for first time because increased technology has made it competitive. How big of a window are you going to have to sell underpowered devices into systems that won’t be competitive on deployment in a world market? The future will not be bringing a lot of opportunity for systems or devices that that do less. Efficiency comes with a cost but in most cases it is easily justified over the decades of service many applications see.

The future is bright for those that can add additional features and functions in products while not turning them into clunky, inefficient, almost unusabley complex paperweights.
We are embracing that future and will be introducing upgrades to our entire line of gateway in 2012. Aztec calendar and 2012 apocalyptic texts be darned we are ready to hit the ground running.

Starting in early 2012 Real Time Automation will be releasing upgrades across our entire line of gateways and will be releasing over 50 new versions. Profinet server, Profibus slave, CC-Link, Lonworks and BACnet MS/TP master protocols will all be added to the 460 line of gateways.
We have taken extreme care to make sure that the simplicity of our gateway products remains while adding features. With additions like security, alarming, improved data limits and streamlined configuration screens we are confident we have made our simple gateways even better. We hope you will agree.


RTA News Team

Trivia Challenge

· What two families produced both a father and son who were US Presidents?

· The sum of opposite sides of a traditional playing die always equal what?

·What were the first four countries to have television?

· What percentage of all photocopier faults worldwide are caused by people sitting on them and photocopying their butts?


Answers located on bottom of page.

Time For a Change

A Column of personal opinion by John Rinaldi, Founder and Owner of Real Time Automation.

I love Christmas. Especially where I live because it’s snowy and cold and white; just like it’s supposed to be.

But Christmas has another side. It means that another year is in the book. And again it’s time to start the plan for next year.

The one thing I can count on is that things are gonna change next year. They always do.

I’m changing and not always in good ways. Now when I wake up in the morning I need some pieces of finely honed glass to enable me to read. I’ve thought about just getting longer arms but figure I’d end up with my newspaper in Larry the Smoker’s house next door [That’s really what he calls himself].

In our lives, in the automation industry, and even in the larger world there is more and faster change than ever before.

Once upon a time you’d get a job after high school. You’d do pretty much the same job for the same company for the next 30 years and be paid pretty well for it. Then you’d retire and collect a nice pension. It was a good deal for a lot of people but it doesn’t work that way anymore. Hasn’t for a while. Things have changed.

I’ve been thinking about change lately because I’ve started to think about all the people that have contributed to RTA’s success over the years. Many of whom you may have worked directly with in the past.

I got scores of emails over the years complimenting the way that these people helped you guys figure out what you needed to do or worked with you to solve a tough problem. The patience and genuine interest they had in making you successful are hard to find. I believe our current staff has those same qualities and that didn’t happen without change.

Many of those people in our past had other goals and plans for their lives.

Passions for things that we don’t do at RTA. Even with the opportunity to take on other roles, and learn new skills, the RTA path just wasn’t right. So we had to move on.

Without the passion to motivate you in any job, you just can’t deliver value to an organization. Delivering value is one of the real keys for me. I say this over and over. You guys all judge us on the value we deliver year after year. You’re going to expect us to deliver more value to you in 2012 than we did in 2011. That means more products, even faster and easier to use configuration, better support, an easier to use web site, a fast product selection guide and on and on. To do that every single one of us at RTA has to make a commitment to personally deliver more value to the organization than we did last year.

That’s the only way that RTA can deliver more value to you. And only if that happens can we expect more success in 2012 than we had in 2011. That’s how the system works.

One of my most important jobs is to make sure that we accomplish that for you. But I can’t do it alone. I really need your help. I need all of you to email me, call me or go to our website and hit the Contact US button and let me know what you need. I am really counting on your help in 2012 cause I have a bit of a problem with prognostication.

I have some ideas. And those ideas are going to bring a lot of changes to RTA and the kinds of products and services we’ll have for you in 2012.

I’m sure that some of the changes won’t be welcomed. I know for example that my eyesight is probably going to deteriorate some more and before long I’ll be carrying glasses with me everywhere I go. Not looking forward to that but, as I said, change is inevitable and can’t be stopped.

I wish that the changes that come your way in 2012 are pleasant ones for you and your family. And I hope that the changes we make to our product and services are what you need to be more successful.

I’m looking forward to working with all of you in the coming year. I know I sound like a shopping mall talking about Christmas so early, but this is only a bi-monthly newsletter, so Merry Christmas.

LonWorks Overview

LonWorks™ is an open solution for device networking in the Building Automation, Industrial, Public Utility and many other markets. Created by Echelon Corp in 1988 LonWorks is a leading networking solution for Building Automation with a growing presence in Industrial Automation. Estimates for the number of nodes installed worldwide range into the millions.

When used in an industrial environment, a LonWorks solution is very different from the open device networks like DeviceNet, Profibus and Modbus typically found on the factory floor. First, unlike these popular device busses, LonWorks is a completely peer-peer network. Instead of moving data through a “Master” device, any device can exchange data with any other LonWorks device on the network. Second, LonWorks is not tied to a single physical communication layer. Where DeviceNet is limited to CAN and Profibus and Modbus are limited to RS485, LonWorks can use twisted pair, Ethernet or even a power line as its communication channel. Finally, network data exchanged on LonWorks is configured by a network configuration tool. This operation called “binding” ties an input of one device to an output of another device independent of the operation or application software in either device.

The Neuron chip is the heart of almost all LonWorks based devices. The Neuron chip is a complete system on a chip. The Neuron contains the entire LonTalk protocol stack and is comprised of multiple CPUs, memory, I/O, communications port, firmware, and operating system.

The Neuron chip contains three CPU's. One CPU is the Media Access Processor (MAC). The MAC processor is responsible for the sending and receiving of messages on the network. It also checks to verify if the CRC and the message destination is correct. The Network Processor is responsible for the middle layers of the protocol, doing things like packet routing, destination addressing, end-to-end acknowledgements, retries, duplicate message detection, etc.

The third processor is the Application processor. It is the processor that runs the users custom application. This is an 8-bit processor and does not have any hardware floating point. So it will not handle every application but if you can implement your application in a typical 8-bit micro then you shouldn't have any problem using the Neuron chip. For those more powerful applications you can either port the protocol to another high-end processor or turn the Neuron into a communications co-processor. The Neuron can connect to another processor and let that high-end processor run the application while the Neuron handles the communications.

The LonTalk protocol is the core technology providing an implemented, debugged, maintained, and proven protocol. It implements full functionality of the 7 layer OSI protocol standard. This provides a great deal of flexibility and expandability. Small networks are not required to use all the services but as that network grows, the features are there for expansion without having to upgrade software or firmware.

There are a variety of addressing mechanisms within the LonTalk protocol. In one mechanism you address a device directly so that you can assign it a logical address. Within the Neuron that logical address is comprised of three parts - the Domain ID, Subnet ID and the Node ID.

There is tremendous flexibility in addressing mechanisms. Where and how each is used is beyond the scope of this overview, but suffice it to say that there are strengths and weaknesses to each. It is important to understand your network architecture so that you can pick the addressing mechanism most appropriate for your application.

A major goal of the LonTalk protocol is to give developers, from the same or different companies, the ability to design products that will be able to interact with one another. The LonTalk protocol provides a common applications framework that ensures interoperability using powerful concepts called network variables and Standard Network Variable Types (SNVTs). Functional device models have been developed by the LONMARK Interoperability Association to assure plug and play compatibility.

Communication between nodes on a network takes place using the network variables that are defined in each node. The product developer defines the network variables when the application program is created as part of the Application layer of the protocol. Network variables are shared by multiple nodes. Some nodes may send a network variable while others may receive. By only allowing links between inputs and outputs of the same type, network variables enforce an object-oriented approach to product development. This greatly simplifies the process of developing and managing distributed systems.

Whenever a node program writes a new value into one of its output variables, the new value is propagated across the network to all nodes with input network variables connected to that output network variable. This action is handled by the protocol within the Neuron Chip.

The use of Standard Network Variable Types (SNVTs, pronounced "snivets") contributes to the interoperability of LONWORKS products from different manufacturers. Echelon maintains a growing list of over 100 SNVTs for nearly all physical measurement types including the type of variable such as integer or floating point. For example, a SNVT for continuous level is defined as SNVT_lev_contin.

If all manufacturers use this variable type in their application when a network variable for continuous level is defined, any device reading a continuous level can communicate with other devices on the network that may be using the variable as a sensor output to initiate an actuator. As long as a network input variable and a network output variable are defined with the same SNVT when the developer creates the applications, they can be connected together on the network through a process called binding.

Fun Facts


·Drivers kill more deer than hunters.

·The most common time for a bank robbery is Friday, between 9 and 11am. The least likely time is Wednesday, between 3 and 6pm.

·Men who kiss their wives in the morning live, on average, 5 years longer than those who don't.

Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.


  Trivia Answers: Bush & Adams; 7; England, US, USSR, Brazil; 23%
  RTA Website