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  • Solo software improvement suggestion

    I've recently installed three Solo instruments, and used the current version of SoloSoft to monitor and record them.

    The configuration part of the software was intuitive, but I have several beefs about the recorder module.

    First, if you 'Start' logging without first selecting a file to save it to then the 'Save' option blanks out. This is less than intuitive. I think it would be better to change the UI to eliminate the 'Start' button altogether, and instead create two that read, "Trend Only", and "Trend and Save".

    Second, the TXT file it creates with logged data isn't amenable to manipulation in a worksheet.


    01 02 03 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 01
    00 248 01 248 02 249 4:06:37 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 248 02 249 4:06:37 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 248 02 249 4:06:39 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 248 02 249 4:06:39 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 248 02 249 4:06:40 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 248 02 249 4:06:41 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 248 02 249 4:06:42 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 248 02 249 4:06:44 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 248 02 249 4:06:44 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 248 02 249 4:06:45 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 248 02 249 4:06:46 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 248 02 249 4:06:48 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 249 02 249 4:06:49 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 249 02 249 4:06:49 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 249 02 249 4:06:50 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 249 02 249 4:06:51 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 249 02 249 4:06:53 PM 4/2/2009
    00 248 01 249 02 249 4:06:54 PM 4/2/2009
    I suggest using a CSV formatted output file, and separate data columns with commas or tabs.

    It would be much easier for the end user were the date stamp in column 1, time stamp (in 24 hour military time) in the second, and then data columns.

    I don't see where the '00', '01', and '02' columns add anything, since column order is already declared in the header line (unless it is in case instruments are added/removed during trending).

    Another point, although a minor one - it would be better to have the data in engineering units (for instance, "24.9" degrees, rather than "249").

    This was logged using a 1 second timebase to three instruments over a 19.2k connection, and don't understand why the time stamps are sometimes doubled (i.e. - 4:06:44 logged twice) or missing (4:06:51 to 04:06:53).

    I wrote a small program to slice and dice the log files and create one in a more conventional CSV format suitable for import into Excel, but this isn't something an end user should have to do.
    Last edited by rawelk; 04-05-2009, 12:23 AM. Reason: incomplete thought


  • #2
    I don't know if this is any help but I copied/pasted your displayed data into a txt file then used OpenOffice.Org spreadsheet to open it as a space separated variable file into its spreadsheet. (Minor issues - OpenOffice.Org wanted to show the time column with an "AM" but that was just a change in formatting.) I would then be able to export it as Excel.

    While this doesn't address the operation of the original software the decimal point issue is simply solved by another column set up as the raw temperature column divided by 10 with one decimal point displayed.

    You can easily eliminate the "00,01,02" columns in processing. But I take it you want to manipulate the original format to your exact specification. If the information is available regarding the communication protocol then go ahead and write your own.

    Edit - I looked at the Solo manual. Everything appears to be available by MODBUS. Therefore the protocol is defined and the way is open to write your own data gathering program.

    Time Stamp - my guess is that the time control of the sending/receiving data is not exactly the same clock as that logging the data. They are skewed somewhat.
    Last edited by bcarlton; 04-05-2009, 02:13 PM.
    thePLCguy

    Bernie

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    • #3
      Thanks, bcarlton,

      I had done what you describe (oddly enough, also using OpenOffice Calc) for the first data set, but consider it too much work for a task best avoided by not writing out the file using the current format in the first place.

      My second consideration is, if I were to use these controllers in more applications, how to document getting data from them for the remainder of our technical maintenance group. It is a lot easier to describe opening up a CSV file, and creating a chart with pre-ordered data than it is to go through all the back-and-filling to get data columns into a suitable format.

      Your name is familiar, and Yakima is known for it's thermoformers (and apples) - did you (or do you) work for IRAD or TFS?

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      • #4
        I worked for IRAD in the early 80's. I now work for MARQ Packaging, a make of case erectors and sealers as well as Arr-Tech a maker of tortilla handling equipment.
        thePLCguy

        Bernie

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