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CompactRIO saving data to database on network drive


dblk22vball

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I was looking at different hardware that NI sells for an application at our facility. We will be measuring at least 14 different sensors in a harsh environment, specifically near ovens and in a high dust environment. A standard PC would be usable, but take alot of support because of the dust, which currently is killing PCs in the area in less than a year.

I was thinking that the compactRIO looked like a good choice for its rubustness and lack of fans (which usually fails from the dust). Since it runs on realt time instead of windows, is it possible to save the data to a database on a network drive?? I am using the databasse connectivity toolkit and some SQL queries currently to connect to the database.

I am not sure if the database connectivity toolkit will work though without windows because I think I read somewhere that it uses activeX controls (activeX controls not availible in real time ????)

I am saving to a *.dsn database (access ODBC). With a normal PC I have the netowrk drive mapped in My Computer and just connect to it as I would any other database on the computer locally. Can you "mount" or map a network drive with real time or do you not need to???

I know that I could ftp to the network drive, but then how would I insert the data into the database, another program on another PC??

Thanks for letting me pick your brain. :)

Kenny

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Thanks for letting me pick your brain. :)

Kenny

You're welcome, For storing data on a remote drive RT has no network shares client. What you can access remote is a DB via TCP/IP (I think you should just try to run the DB toolkit, I wouldn't know why not. Another item would be FTP

In order to have the RT correct running you should make two processess (typo?) one for the data reading and storing to a queue and one for communicating with the DB.

But why not go with a normal PC, let's say a CompactRIO+RT costs 10k

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Yea, I was going back and forth on the cost issue. I was also considering the PXI and CompactDAQ (compactdaq being the cheapest).

I guess the reason that I was getting away from the PC is that our IT dept does not always have a PC ready. So we may be down for a couple of days, which is not a good thing.

If we did the compactdaq though, it is USB based, so the PC has to be relativly close to the daq unit (barring the use of repeaters and then you run into the issue of running extra power across the ceiling of the plant floor). I was thinking that with the RIO or PXI I could use our network to transfer the data easily and not have to worry about a PC on the floor, I could have it in the nice air conditioned office area :)

I think that the PXI would be the simplest way to do it without a PC, but again you are in the 10K range. ARRG!!!!

I suppose we could build a custom enclosure for a PC (which was done for the networking gear that is out there) but that only increases the life span by maybe a year and costs roughly $1-2k for a "air flowing sealed" encolusre (oxymoron I know). But the user needs to be able to use the keyboard and mouse and look at the data on a monitor.

Kenny

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If we did the compactdaq though, it is USB based, so the PC has to be relativly close to the daq unit (barring the use of repeaters and then you run into the issue of running extra power across the ceiling of the plant floor).

You should look at fiber optic USB repeaters, I believe NI has a list of ones that will work with the CompactDAQ.

I think that the PXI would be the simplest way to do it without a PC, but again you are in the 10K range. ARRG!!!!

What about one of these Hush PCs. No fans, all passively cooled. Not 10k each either...

Or, a Mac Mini (after all, it can run Windows, if you are so inclined) in a sealed fiberglass enclosure and some "shop air" exchange capabilities. If you have some construction capabilities you can mod these fiberglass enclosures up quite nicely. I've used them to house, computers, fieldpoint systems, and SCXI chassis for use in "harsh" environments.

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You might want to look at using Compact FieldPoint instead of CompactRIO. You can cut the cost by using an 1804 or 1808 backplane and connecting to it via ethernet. That way you can keep the computer far outside the harsh environment. You can choose to use a BP-4 or BP-8 backplane with an RT controller for more deterministic control.

Using the ethernet backplane allows you to connect to a standard PC and will not require any additional LabVIEW modules, such as RT or FPGA. This would probably be the lowest cost option, and since it will still be running under Windows, you can use all of your database VIs to easily store the data. Depending on the I/O you need, you can probably come in around the 3K range.

Using a Windows system with an RT controller, (and LabVIEW 8.0 and higher), you can used shared varibles to transfer data over ethernet back to a progam running on the PC to log it to a database. This is very easy to do, now that you don't have to mess with RT FIFOs anymore.

I would not suggest the Mac Mini due to driver issues. NI is not currently supporting the new Intel based Macs, and dropped RT support on Macs some time ago. I know that there has been several issues with drivers trying to run through Virtual PC on a Mac. If you choose to develop on the Mac, you will need to purchase a new Mac license for LabVIEW and the database tool kit is not available for it. The database tool kit is ActiveX based, and therefore only compatible with Windows.

John Ridpath

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I meant a mac mini running windows. Just to get the small size and powerful computer.

I do not know if you can run Windows directly on any Mac, Intel based included. I think you can only run Windows through Virtual PC or Parallels. I have heard that NI-488.2 can run though Parallels, but have not confirmed it. I do know that NI-DAQmx will not run through Virtual PC. If you can run Windows directly on a Mac, and not use OS X at all, please let me know. Maybe I have the wrong assumption.

John Ridpath

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I do not know if you can run Windows directly on any Mac, Intel based included. I think you can only run Windows through Virtual PC or Parallels. I have heard that NI-488.2 can run though Parallels, but have not confirmed it. I do know that NI-DAQmx will not run through Virtual PC. If you can run Windows directly on a Mac, and not use OS X at all, please let me know. Maybe I have the wrong assumption.

John Ridpath

You can run Windows on Intel Macs using Apple's Bootcamp program. Basically, it gives you Windows XP drivers for Apple hardware, partitions your hard drive (so you have somewhere to put Windows) and gives you a boot menu to select whether to launch MacOS X or Windows XP. Bootcamp is beta software until Leopard (next version of MacOS) is released in Spring 2007, but many people are using it. So yes, you can buy a Mac and use it exclusively as a Windows machine.

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Although lavezza beat me to it, Boot Camp can run windows on a mac in a dual boot capability.

I've also have many Shuttle PCs and they are of good quality, small size, and hold up to fairly harsh environments.

Of course, if you want Mac Mini size you can look here and get a pc a little cheaper with the same form factor.

I really just wanted to point out that if the original poster had a drill and some hole saws and access to "shop air" he could make an lower cost enclosure fairly easily.

BTW, I have been using the 1808 and 1804 fieldpoint backplanes and have been happy with thier use.

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Thank you all for your responses.

I am thinking that I will be going with a Fieldpoint system and our IT department is going to allow me to create an image of the hard drive and have a PC on standby for a computer out in the shop that will just be a monitor, no controlling.

I can then have the "main" PC in the supervisors pod and it will not be subjected to the conditions in the shop and should not fail anytime soon.

I have used the shuttle PCs before and they are great little machines. Highly recommended for the small form factor.

Kenny

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Thank you all for your responses.

I am thinking that I will be going with a Fieldpoint system and our IT department is going to allow me to create an image of the hard drive and have a PC on standby for a computer out in the shop that will just be a monitor, no controlling.

I can then have the "main" PC in the supervisors pod and it will not be subjected to the conditions in the shop and should not fail anytime soon.

I have used the shuttle PCs before and they are great little machines. Highly recommended for the small form factor.

Kenny

Compact FieldPoint is a more rugged form factor than the original FieldPoint (that has problems with vibration). I would also recommend getting additional memory (atleast 512MB) for your FP system.

Also, a quick call/visit from your local NI Rep will save you loads of time in selecting all the components you need for you system.

He/She can also explain the benefits/disadvantages of each platform. For example, Compact RIO doesn't at all seem like the right choice for your application if you don't need the high speed FPGA capability, some modules are only available in one form factor etc. etc.

Neville.

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