Monthly Notes

Where Marc gets to talk about, and mainly to, himself.

Dr Marc SinclairI ended last month with a strange repair. The customer reported the machine suddenly not working.  I got there to find a large machine with many loose wires and a remote IO unit with not much connected to it!! 
The documentation was not 100% but there was enough to get all but two wires back into their homes,  with the manufacturer on holiday, I had to best guess those :)  Anyway within three hours the machine was up and running again, this is the sort of thing I enjoy, and a pleased customer at the end is nice too.

Every now and then I get to wear my white coat and work on clean products.  here's me in the wash-room of a large food manufacturer, looking like a doctor :) 

I am updating the Germaine Systems Accounts system which has run happily under dBase III for 25 years, so if you don’t get paid this month - that's why :)

New systems this month include a small  filler using a Siemens LOGO!, and a small machine using  a Siemens S7-1200 and Micromaster drives.

The Siemens Logo! has come on since its birth as a programmable relay. I use them when customers don't want a PLC. They can be programmed from the front screen at a push, but the programming software runs happily under Linux, and is a dream to use. it now allows expansion to the IO and the OBA7 series has an Ethernet port!

Two new control systems this month, one, of course, using the Siemens Logo! and the other using S7-1200 and Micromaster inverters.


Building control systems this week.  One system using Siemens G110 inverter drives, and a smart little display from Lascar. The second panel uses Siemens s7-1200 PLC and touch screen for pumping and mixing.
I am in the design phase of a small control unit using the latest LOGO! I'd actually forgotten what fun these are to use.


At last some free time,  I finally managed to install the fire safe that I bought six years ago, only to discover that I already have everything backed up on three continents via cloud storage, still if the planet explodes, I still have it all on CDROM :) Who'd be a prophet in this game?


I'm having a clear out here at Sinclair towers, and I decided as we have no floppy disc drives, we may as well get rid of all the floppy discs we have. I cut them all up for security purposes, and to recover the metal for recycling :)

Two new panel orders, one for a simple, single motor machine using a Siemens G110 inverter drive. The other using the Siemens S7-1200 PLC to control chemical mixing.


I'm working on a large public transport control system at the moment.  With two more jobs this month.  One panel for remote control of pumping between tanks, and another smaller panel for building automation, both using the Siemens S7-1200 PLCs and Siemens inverters. and both with Internet connectivity.

I've updated the sample drawings for some more recent ones.

I went to see a newly installed machine,there were no drawings or CE marks :-O

The HSE have produced a document to help you if you are buying new machinery

Download it now, now there is no excuse :)

Electrical control panel with pilz unit and contactors:)

Getting busy again as the weather warms up :)

After my taste of stardom in the onion video,  it's back to work. 

Three panels in the workshop and another customer for PlantSMS this time reporting material usage. 

New OpenSuse 12.3 today, I've been using this distro for three years now on my main desktop machine, very polished, quick and easy to use.   I run Inkscape for drawing Thunderbird for mail and Libre office (Open Office) for spreadsheets.  All open source, it's the future you know :)

I've completed one of the small electrical control panels, (see the picture).   I build all panels to the same quality, large, small, complex or simple, they are all numbered and documented so that anyone can service and support them. My many years in service and maintenance taught me that sooner or later someone will want to modify or service the machine, and a little time spent now, will save many hours for someone, in the future. 

  For all you accountants out there, this is an investment, technicians and maintenance personnel appreciate and remember well built and documented machines, and one day,  some of them will be in the position of specifying and buying equipment.  Sales, is a long game.

I've been very busy.  as usual at this time of year, breakdowns are happening. simple stuff but i really do enjoy repairing them :)

I designed and installed a control system into an onion peeling machine and was asked to 'star' in the video, well more of  supporting role really,  It was good fun and I'll link to it when it is completed.

More network fun with Siemens S7-1200 PLCs and Plantmonitor.  This really is the future of automation.

Yay, one of my customers asked me to star in a product video ;) 

All the best for the new year, two panels in the office and one more to build before March.    I'm continuing the move to the new UK based server, and from today no more fax.

I've simplified the terms and conditions of the website and the privacy policy.  The website is now covered by the creative commons licence  :)

Moved the tier 1 services to a new server, UK based this time :)

I hope to move all other services including PlantSMS and Plantmonitor over the next 3 months.

I raised a glass to Gerry Anderson, who died today.   Everyone who build machines owes a little something to this guy.  I remember numerous control panels, especially in Thunderbirds.  The controls were all functionally grouped, intuitively placed with good use of colour and form.

The sinclair boys are growing moustaches for charity check out Movember

We raised £67 for charity :)  and had some fun.

deskStarted the month by tidying up my desk, I got down to the surface - it's made of glass :)