The Art of CYA: Useful Troubleshooting Tools

I have an interesting job. I get to talk to people all over North America. Some are frustrated, some are angry but most just want to get the job done and are cooperative. There’s one thing I can count on happening about ten times a day. All of a sudden, I’ll hear, “Hold on let me run to the truck” or “I need to drive back to the office to get that” or “I have no idea what you just said.”

When we plan on site visits, the first research we do is not the device, application, manuals or customer history. It’s choosing a restaurant for dinner that has the best craft beer. We already know where the issue lies. The gateway is always going to be in the middle, so let’s say Protocol A presents data for RTA to read, RTA takes that data and presents it to Protocol B. If you say Protocol B and RTA are not seeing the data, then we know how to troubleshoot Protocol A. If you say that Protocol B isn’t seeing the data, but the gateway has the data from Protocol A, then we know to troubleshoot Protocol B. If you tell me nothing is working, then that beer might be needed at lunch.

All kidding aside, when you go on site, please CYA. Here are some tips and tools for troubleshooting.

1. Ethernet switch/hub with cat5 cables – it’s good to have a good 6’ to 10’footer

2. 24VDC power supply or wall wart with power strip

3. We find the following Modbus Tools to be very effective for Modbus RTU and Modbus TCP/IP testing:

  • ModScan32 – $65 – makes your PC RTU Master/TPC Client (first 3 minutes are free)
  • ModSim32 – $85 – makes your PC RTU Slave/TCP Sever (first 3 minutes are free)

4. BACnet Tools:

5. EtherNet/IP Tool:

  • EIPScan is the best tool for EtherNet/IP development. It’s $900 and gives you full functionality to test your EtherNet/IP products


  • TCP Test Tool: Your PC can act as either a Client or Server
  • Mitty or Terminal: Troubleshoot your RS232 serial ASCII devices; Free and located on the CD for every RTA product

7. RS485 to USB convertor:

8. RS232 to USB convertor with a NULL Modem cable

9. It’s not a bad idea to have a backup RTA unit (aka peace of mind)

10. Tools such as wire stripper, screwdrivers, extra wiring and voltage meter

11. Gender changers, null adapters

12. RTA CD with all the tools and guides for troubleshooting (userguide diagnostics is very helpful)

13. Whatever else you need to CYA

Our support number is 1-800-249-1612. Whether you just want to bounce an idea around for troubleshooting or are too lazy to read the userguide for setup, give us a call.

Not being prepared when going on site will bite you and ultimately, cost you time and money.