A novel approach to simulating factory control system problems through a PC and four microcontrollers

Daniel Dangelo, Rajeswari Sundararajan, Narciso Macia

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    Real-World Factory equipment often incorporates various types of communication, interface and control features to provide reliable equipment performance and meet demanding production requirements. This paper discusses a novel simulation project developed to address such common problems as they may be encountered by factory equipment control systems. The reader will gain insight about typical problems and solutions. The module was written in Visual Basic (VB); provides a PC-Based, control and monitoring, Graphical User Interface (GUI); and interfaces to four industrial microcontrollers. Each of these controllers is from a separate manufacturer and programmed with a different software language, including BASIC-52, assembly, ladder and C. RS-232 protocol serially communicates with the VB program through four serial ports that are provided by a PC-Based RocketPort system. Bi-directional serial communication with both binary and ASCII data was developed to study, document and compare methodologies. The GUI was designed to monitor and control factory simulation activities, inputs and outputs (I/O) and alarm functions via microcontroller serial communications. The factory simulation layout is comprised of a variety of components to focus on diverse design and assembly challenges. These include a controllable motor driven propeller with rotation tracking capability, a closed-loop self-balancing pendulum, a hand-held pendant, temperature and light sensors with controllable sources, a light tree, motorized cam-controlled switches and a mechanical counter. The GUI enabled excellent serial communication with the four microcontrollers to provide factory simulation control and monitoring. The Microsoft VB MSComm drivers and the RocketPort system provided simultaneous and robust bi-directional serial communications. Both binary and ASCII data communications proved to be effective methods by providing fast and accurate control, alarming and monitoring.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
    StatePublished - 2006
    Event113th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, 2006 - Chicago, IL, United States
    Duration: Jun 18 2006Jun 21 2006


    Other113th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, 2006
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CityChicago, IL

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Engineering(all)


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