Software Toolbox Technical Blog

Logging OPC Data with Custom Time Formats

4 min read

By Connor Mason on Feb 15, 2024 2:00:00 PM

When logging data to a database or text file, the way that data is presented is essential due to the implications it has for who, or what, is reading this data to make decisions. Without the correct configuration of the data’s timestamps, records can easily become misinterpreted or sorted in non-chronological order by further systems. It’s critical that your data logging solution provides flexibility to get your data when you want it, how you want it, and stored the way you want it. Providing full control of the timestamp format for many users is not just a feature of our OPC Data Logger, but a requirement based on other connected systems and standards. Customizable Time Formats is the focus of today’s blog, but it is just one of the OPC Data Logger’s many flexible features that have our fans raving over it.

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OPC Data Client and NuGet: The What, Why, and How

5 min read

By Zachary Parham on Feb 8, 2024 2:00:00 PM

Software Toolbox has been a fixture in the automation industry since 1996, offering software tools and components from project conception to completion. Our expert staff is committed to helping customers leverage current technologies while offering ways to enhance or expand systems and approaches to achieve even greater returns. When it comes to our OPC Data Client Development Toolkit, that promise remains the same, and we want to help you make the best decisions for your development workflow.

The OPC Data Client has offered the usage of NuGet packages since 2016 as an alternative to adding assembly references via the components when writing custom OPC client applications. As our users have moved towards the use of NuGet, we made this a requirement for .NET Framework beginning with our V2022.2 release. In this blog post and accompanying video, we will cover what NuGet is, when to use it, and how to use it if it makes sense for your requirements.

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Automating Data Entry from Test Stand & QC Devices as Keyboard Input

9 min read

By Jessica Dillon on Feb 1, 2024 2:00:00 PM

Unlike off-the-shelf OPC servers and drivers that talk to specific devices or protocols and no others, OmniServer can be configured to talk to virtually any device or combination of serial, USB, or Ethernet connected devices with some outliers based on the complexity of the protocol. OmniServer helps you bring data that would otherwise be inaccessible into your process and business systems, helping you make more effective decisions. In our experience there are still many software applications that do not have open interfaces such as OPC for data input. This is particularly common in quality control and test stand applications. Operators use a digital device to capture a measurement, and then have to type that into their test stand or QC software. This slows testing rates and can be error prone. There is a better way. 

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DataHub – 5 Quick Steps to Writing to a Database Table

10 min read

By Kyle Persyn on Jan 18, 2024 2:00:00 PM

If you've been keeping up with our previously released Cogent DataHub blogs, you're already aware that Cogent DataHub is renowned for its extensive connectivity. However, it's worth emphasizing that DataHub's connectivity includes MQTT, IoT, OPC DA, OPC UA, OPC UA Alarms & Conditions, OPC Classic Alarms & Events, Modbus, Excel, ODBC & more. These methods of connectivity help users realize that with DataHub, data has the freedom to seamlessly traverse across various platforms. We truly believe that "once the data is in DataHub, it can go anywhere, securely".

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Why Are My Data Values Wrong? - Exploring Modbus TOP Server Settings

12 min read

By Ryan Royse on Jan 11, 2024 2:00:00 PM

In the world of industrial automation and control systems, communication protocols play a crucial role in ensuring seamless data exchange between devices. Modbus started as a protocol used in Modicon, now Schneider Electric, PLCs in the 1970’s. It was adopted across the industry for its clarity and simplicity. With any protocol, including and especially with Modbus, there are areas where the parties to the communication, the client and server, can interpret the bit stream of data differently once exchanged because the Modbus protocol specification does not speak to those interpretations.

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Data Exchange File Formats: Exploring ETL Tools with OPC Router

3 min read

By Nicole Knox on Dec 21, 2023 2:00:00 PM

To achieve operational and business goals, many industrial automation system architectures are designed to push and pull data from a multitude of sources and destinations that come with a variety of formats. Bridging the gap between systems that use distinct standards and protocols can be challenging if the right tools aren't properly selected, and too often users resort to custom software. This is where users can leverage OPC Router’s ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) Tools—a valuable solution for seamlessly repackaging data across processes that use distinct standards or protocols.

In this article, we will briefly introduce the power of OPC Router’s ETL Tools, exploring a few use cases that highlight their role in structuring data into popular file formats. If you are not already familiar with what OPC Router is and what it can do for your particular process, you can visit the OPC Router website or the OPC Router Technical Guides with a Quick Start for New Users.

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Exploring Cogent DataHub's Alarm & Notifications Plug-In

5 min read

By John Gonzalez on Dec 14, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Cogent DataHub is primarily known for its extensive connectivity to OPC DA, OPC UA, OPC A&E, Databases, Historians, Excel, ODBC, DDE, Linux, Modbus and more. However, it is worth noting that this platform offers more than just connectivity. In this blog post, we'll cover the capabilities of DataHub’s Alarm & Notification Plug-In, which supports the configuration of custom alarms, events, and notifications. You can enhance your A&E Client applications by adding this feature to any DataHub License Pack, and generate alarms based on any data integrated into the DataHub, or simply send email/SMS alerts.

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Exploring MQTT – Understanding Quality of Service (QoS) with DataHub

7 min read

By Connor Mason on Nov 30, 2023 2:00:00 PM

MQTT continues to grow in popularity and implementation within the industrial automation community. For those who are still new and learning about this protocol, MQTT is a light-weight transfer protocol built around a publish/subscribe architecture. In simple terms, MQTT can be compared to a mail envelope, providing structure and a common appearance with a supported delivery system, while the actual content of that envelope can vary widely.

Because of the ambiguity of message content, implementations of MQTT can be utilized for various needs across segments in our industry, though the varying message content presents its own issues that are outside the scope of this article. There are multiple solutions for providing structure and standards around the message content that we will discuss in future posts.

This blog will primarily focus on the reliability of message delivery based on the concept of Quality of Service (QoS). We will be utilizing the Cogent DataHub to showcase these options, as it can act as both the MQTT Broker & Client. It is important to note that this information can be applied to various MQTT implementations, including other Software Toolbox product offerings with MQTT, such as OPC Router or the TOP Server MQTT client driver.

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