One of the things I find odd about life is how some of the simplest things cause some of the greatest frustrations. Shoelaces are the first thing that comes to mind. Why are shoe laces so long? Do they just make one size for the large boots? It seems that every pair of shoes I buy has shoelaces that are twice what I need.
My list is long and I won’t bore you with it, but there is a frustration that all vendors of EtherNet/IP Adapters face and that’s what I’d like to address today. That frustration is testing. There isn’t a decent way to put together a decent test program that can validate your Adapter’s functionality in your QA or production system.
A lot of people use a CompactLogix PLC or other controller, but that’s hardly a nice solution. It’s hard to log tests to a database from a PLC, plus that’s a pretty expensive solution. It’s also a solution that needs a highly trained and valuable PLC programmer to set up and maintain.
A better solution is now available. We are just releasing a DLL for Windows and a set of Python test scripts that you can use to create a simple EtherNet/IP Windows test system. We are using that in our production test and giving it away to people when they purchase an EtherNet/IP Adapter Royalty Free Source code stack.
Some people have used royalty free EtherNet/IP controller code to create that solution, but now you have all the functionality of the RTA Scanner source code without the expense of licensing it.
Here’s what you can do with it:
• Open an EtherNet/IP connection with an EtherNet/IP Adapter device
• Read and Write any Attribute in any EtherNet/IP Object using Explicit messages. This is perfect for setting your configuration when you commission a new EtherNet/IP device.
• Test your I/O messaging by doing cyclic communications. You can send outputs to your Adapter device and get back your inputs. If you’re really ambitious, you can set up an I/O module and do closed loop communications
• Interface your data and the results of your testing with a database through standard Python extensions.
I’m really excited about making this functionality available and look forward to getting your comments, questions and suggestions.