Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What will become of America?

Now that the Democratic party seems to have achieved their goal of 60 votes in the Senate, they now have total control of the US Government. What does that mean to us the people. Well that will depend on where you fall on the economical yard stick. If you are looking for a hand out, you are in great shape. If you are in business, you will be paying for those looking for that handout. If you are conservative and religious in your ways of thinking, it is going to be a long 2 years in having to wait for the next election before you can hope for any change. There will be change of course in that 2 year period of time, just not change for the better. Before we know it we will have government controlled health care, several major banks and businesses will be government owned, guns will all be outlawed, and the federal government will be the all powerful ruling power in this country, and not the people, as it was originally established. We seem to be moving closer everyday to becoming like one of the European countries that our ancestors left years ago in search of personal freedoms.

Is Loyalty mising?

What ever happened to loyalty. I was always taught if you commit to do something you do not have a change of heart in the middle and go in the opposite direction. Yet this seems to be a everyday occurrence today. Why it is even OK for our elected officials. Those who were elected to office by people of one party and then change in the middle because "it looked greener on the other side of the fence". I feel bad for the republicans in the state of Pennsylvania who elected Senator Arlen Specter to office. Now he has decided to "turn tails" and run to the other side. Yet just a couple of months ago he said he was a dedicated Republican. Obviously no one can be trusted to tell the truth anymore. Just what was offered to him by the Democratic party? We all know that their goal was to have the 60 votes in the Senate. They could not get it honestly so they steal it at the expense of all Americans. This really sets a good example for all young people in America to follow.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

bank bailout

The Federal Government bailout of the banking industry has sure been great news since the trouble began. We have gone all the way from our hard earned tax money paying large bonuses to managers and employees who helped cause the problem to now paying for lobbyists in Washington.All this so that these same managers and employees don't have following the rules set forth concerning the amount of pay they can get as their company continues to receive our tax money. This makes "perfect sense" that they take the government money and then pay another to fight against the same government that gave them the money. Maybe they figure they are helping to stimulate the economy by spending. I would like to know what management class in college teaches that principle. How much longer are we the American people going to stand by and let our hard earned money be spent in this manner?

Unemployment Numbers

Week after week the new unemployment numbers are remaining high. They say we now have a total of 6.1 million people in the US collecting unemployment. They are watching this number closely because history shows that when weekly numbers start to decline it is 6 to 10 weeks before the end of the recession. So far the number has not declined. This weeks number was higher than expected. What has happened to the $787 billion stimus package that was to "save or create" 3.5 million jobs. The numbers are not showing that it is working. When will we start to see progress in the proper direction?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Housing Starts

When you are located in North Carolina you will be effected by housing starts. The numbers released this week show it down 75% from its high in 2005 / 2006. With so few new houses being build, it directly impacts the local furniture business. They are struggling to stay busy 3-4 days per week. They are also taking different weeks off to help cut costs. That being combined with the other businesses in Western North Carolina gives this area the 2nd highest unemployment rate in the United States. But just the overall economy is not the entire story. These jobs have been disappearing for the last several years. They are being sent "overseas". Sent to places with lower labor rates so the corporations can make more money. This is where we need help from the politicians that we elect to office. The economical stimulus package is not going to help get these jobs back. It may put a few construction workers back to work but not the furniture workers. Who is looking to help the woodworking people of North Carolina?

Tax Day Tea Party

All over America yesterday there were rallies held called Tax Day Tea Parties. It gave those who so desired an opportunity to let the politicians in Washington know that they are tired of what is happening. They don't like the spending of their tax dollars in the stimulus package. They don't like the higher taxes they are seeing to help pay for this package. They just don't like a lot of things that are currently affecting them and they wanted to talk about it. Even in our little part of the woods a rally was held with approximately 700 people in attendance. I hope that the politicians were watching and listening. People need to "stand up and be counted". The politicians who are elected to represent the people need to listen to the masses who put them there instead of the few who hold all the money. We the people need help and yesterday we were asking for that help.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Siemens S5 PLC and it's Oddball CPU

We had an engineer out on a service call last week to look at an Ima Edge Bander that was failing to start. The track that moved the panels through the machine would not move and seemed to be waiting on the run signal from the PLC to start.

So we go to look at the PLC and see if we can track down that run signal. Its a strange one. It was a Siemens S5 PLC, but the CPU was non-standard (part number 6es5 921-3wa14). there was no programming port, just dual eprom/ram module slots.

Luckily we'd run into this type of CPU before and knew that we could add an AS511 card to the rack and be able to hook up our laptop for programming.

So we do a bit of troubleshooting and discover that the tracks arn't starting because a flag was not being reset due to some bad information in some counters in the program. But here's the problem: we can't change the counter information, or modify the program in ram because the program is stored on the eprom modules.

Normally that wouldn't be an issue, we'd just modify the program and burn them to a new set of eprom modules. But in this case when we did that, the program would not run. the OB sections of the program would not process for some reason. We tried many different ways of doing this, and finally decided that our version of the Step5 software just could not create write modules that this particular PLC could read.

We called Siemens support, but they didn't seem to have much info on that CPU model, and they were as stuck as we were for a solution. nobody could understand why we couldn't make an eprom set for this PLC using our Step 5 software.

But remember, their original modules would process, just had bad info in the program.

Our solution was not obvious. We took the eprom chips off their original module and read them in a third party eprom reader. Then we made the programming changes we needed on a new set of eproms using the step 5 software and removed them from the module as well and read them into the PC.

Then we compared the images of the chips (byte by byte) and found where our changes were.

Luckily we only needed to change one line of code, and via trial and error we worked out what byte on the eprom did what in the program. This was an intensive and tedious endeavor.

We isolated the changes we needed to make and wrote a new set of eprom chips that included our changed code. We soldered them back into the modules and put them back in the PLC.

The PLC booted correctly and loaded the changed code into RAM just as it was supposed to. I took the PLC rack back to the customer site and installed it into the machine. which started right up and ran like a champ.

The moral of the story is that there are usually more than one way to solve a given problem. Just keep an open mind and surround yourself with brilliant people. They help a lot.
I was assigned to repair a Siemens 6SC130-0FE00 SERVO AMPLIFIER CARD. I tested all the power transistors with my DMM's Diode Test Mode. The power transistors did not test shorted or leaky. I then tested the diodes with my DMM. I found two leaky diodes,part number SB130 (labeled V123 and V622 on the PCB). I replaced the diodes to make the repair.

I then had to build a test set to power up the Servo Amplifier Card, and test its ability to run a motor. The main challenge with powering up the Servo Amplifier Card was with the switching power supply circuit. The Servo Amplifier Card only has the Switching Transformer whose primary winding is connected to ribbon connector X211. The switching circuitry to drive the primary winding is located on another card that I did not have.

The primary winding resistance read less than one ohm. This meant that if my switching circuit were to lock up in the full on mode, the chances were very high that the primary winding would be damaged. Thus great care had to be made in choosing a MOSFET that could handle the high voltage and current to safely switch the primary winding.

Once I had my switching circuit built, I had to experiment with the frequency and high voltage until I had good logic and analog voltages on the card. From the age of the card, I knew that the ballpark frequency would be around 15kHz to 25kHz. The best frequency for this card was 16.7kHz. My high voltage for the switching circuit was created from an external bridge recifier and two high voltage electrolytic capacitors wired in series. I used a VARIAC (Variable Transformer) connected to the AC input of the bridge rectifier to adjust the DC Voltage across the high voltage capacitors.

Now that I was able to power up the Servo Amplifier Card, the next step was to build a way to fire the power transistor outputs to the motor. The Servo Amplifier Card has six opto-coupled inputs at the ribbon connector X211, that turn on the the power transistor stages. Three inputs are used to fire the "High Side" power transistors, and three inputs are used to fire the three "Low Side" power transistors. The motor's rotation is dependent upon how these six inputs are sequenced.

I knew that I did not have to fire each power transistor output stage in this sequence. I only needed to see that a stage fired to know that it was good. So I connected six push button switches to the correct input pins of ribbon connector X211. The only caution being that I absolutely would not push at the same time the button for the "High Side" and "Low Side" power transistor stages of the same output. If I were to do so, the high current of the bus voltage connected to the P200 and M200 terminals would shoot through that power transistor stage and destroy it.

To make the motor bus voltage, I connected another bridge rectifier and two high voltage electrolytic capacitors wired in series to the terminals P200 and M200. Again, I used another VARIAC (Variable Transformer) connected to the AC input of the bridge rectifier to adjust the DC Voltage across the high voltage capacitors. I then pushed only one of the buttons to fire a single power transistor stage. I viewed the output change with an oscilloscope. I then performed the same test with the other five power transistor stages. All the six transistor power outputs turned on correctly.

Is it that difficult to figure out?

BEIJING—"China is calling for a new global currency to replace the dominant dollar, showing a growing assertiveness on revamping the world economy ahead of next week's London summit on the financial crisis.

The surprise proposal by Beijing's central bank governor reflects unease about its vast holdings of U.S. government bonds and adds to Chinese pressure to overhaul a global financial system dominated by the dollar and Western governments. Both the United States and the European Union brushed off the idea."

Full story at

Once again some one has missed the entire problem. The problem is that America had a strong economy because of people having jobs and money to spend. Then short sighted CEO's started packing up operations and moving to countries with weak economies and no regulations on industry (Minimum wages, Occupational safety, Environmental protection, etc) to save money and put out a cheaper product to increase sales. OK fine and dandy. In the short run.

The problem is when Americans don’t work they don’t buy. This worked great for a while, Mexico, china and 3rd world countries got jobs they didn't have before so good for them. Problem is they were relying on Americans to buy their products and not their own people (they damn sure weren't getting paid enough to buy what they were making) As Americans started losing their jobs and taking lower paying jobs they could no longer spend. So in effort to get sales up more jobs were exported to reduce prices and get sales back. Rinse and repeat a few times and you get what we have now.

Americans with no jobs so they have no money to spend on those cheap imports. Mexico, China, other 3rd world countries that thought things were going to be great because they now have jobs making things to sell in America now get the rug yanked out from under their feet. The cash cow cant make milk if it does not eat.

The thing that really kills me is no one saw this coming. Well no one in power. I still remember when I was working a factory when Clinton signed NAFTA. Every Blue Collar Shower After Worker saw this as bad thing, and this would bite them in the ass in the long run
Global Currency is not the answer. A level playing field is. Every one has the same rules to play by (Minimum wages, Occupational safety, Environmental protection, etc) is the only answer to get a "Free" and "Fair" global economy.

Cable Fabrication

How many times has a defective cable shut your line or machine down? Has your cable been run over by a forklift or cut in some other way? Did you know that REA Technologies has the capability and the expertise to fabricate you a replacement at a fraction of the OEM cost and often a lot quicker? We can fabricate drive programming cables for most any drive, plc cables, encoder cables, motor cables, power cables, just about any cable you might need. The biggest hinderance that may arise would be if there is a conversion taking place in the cable. This can be tricky and you may even be forced to go back to the OEM. We make various cables for such manufacturers as Fanuc, Yaskawa, Siemens, Baldor, Allen Bradley, Rosso knitting machines, and many others. REA serves all industries from knitting machines, metal working, food processing, wood working, fiber optics, anything that is automated. We are very competitive on pricing often beating the OEM by hundreds of dollars. And the best part is that you don't have to wait for your cable to be made in Japan and put on a slow ship to the states. When we make a cable all of the info is documented in a file and kept here for your future needs. Should you have a cable requirement please contact me and let's talk about it. You will be pleased, guaranteed.

Hard Times

It is becoming harder each day for a small company to collect on their AR. I hear on a daily basis that customers can not pay this week because their customers have not paid them. It is a trickle down effect. Everyone is cutting back in one form or another. Several businesses are only working a 4 day week. Others are staggering their employees to only work 4 days. Even others are taking full weeks off the save. All of these has an effect on the individual worker who then has the same problem in paying their own bills at home. So the cycle can start all over again. I hope that there is an end in sight.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Justice is Served

How much did election year politics play into the Alaskian Sen. Ted Stevens case? With the goal of the Democratic party to have total control over the Federal Government, they needed the longest serving Republican in the Senate to loose his seat. How else to accomplish that but to find a "big" way to sway the voters against the one they have elected for decades. It really makes you wonder just what occured now that the judge over the case has ordered an investigation against the prosecutors involved. Is justice really being served?

GM Bankruptcy

Well it looks like GM is going to go Chapter 11 bankruptcy. What is that going to do to the $13.4 billion that the government has given them? And are they still going to receive the 16.6 billion additional dollars they have asked for? They owe almost half of their debt to the union for their health benefit fund for retirees. So I guess some of our money went there. I am sure the Democratic controlled government will not complain about that. Given they received the biggest share of the unions vote. Is the government going to help pay for the small business employees health benefit package? Are they going to help the small business' pay off their debt? As a group, small business' is just as important in the overall picture as GM.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

High Unemployment rate

The unemployment rate for our area in North Carolina has reached 14%. That would include textile, fiber optic cable and the woodworking industry, amoung others. We also have some large producers of automotive parts. How is the new economic stymulas package going to address the needs of these industries? Most of the jobs for this group is being relocated overseas. What about all of the industries that service those. All of the small "mon and pop" operations that exist. What are we all suppose to do? I don't see where the government is trying to help us. We are not the banking, GM or Chrysler that is talked about in the news on a hourly basis, but we are very important to the economy of the United States. When is someone going to stand up for us?