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The robots are coming! The robots are coming! Well actually…they’re already here. Technology is always on the move and advances in robotics have made them an integral part of today’s world. From automated manufacturing, to self-driving cars, to vacuum cleaners, robots have infiltrated and will continue to infiltrate our everyday lives. The good news is that Skynet is still years away from their first prototype (that was for all of our Terminator fans). Although some have tried to label robots and automation as the newest boogeymen on the block, as they are often the primary scapegoat for high unemployment numbers, automation is nothing to fear. With many schools focusing on STEM curriculums, the future of automation holds a lot of exciting opportunities and career possibilities. Just think, 15 years ago being a Mobile App Developer was unheard of. But just as with smartphone technology, when any technology advances so does the need for designers, engineers, builders, and maintainers. Even though no one can be certain what the future holds, except Sarah Connor (sorry, I’ll stop), here at AutomationDirect we are keeping a close eye on what may be waiting just around the corner.

This issue of NOTEBOOK is loaded with interesting articles including our Cover Story which details a real-world comparison of our BRX PLC to the Arduino microcontroller in an industrial application. The Tech Brief article explores some of the great features and recent additions to our FREE Do-more Designer Software package while the Feature Story explores how device centric programming and top-down configurations can greatly improve programming efficiency. The User Solution highlights how PLCs are becoming a popular control solution in radio broadcasting and our Business Notes focuses on fostering STEM education in our local schools. You’ll also find information on our newest products, such as new unmanaged and managed Ethernet switches, power supplies, micro HMIs, pressure sensors, pneumatic total air prep (TAP) modules, and lots more. Don’t forget to test your knowledge in the issue’s Break Room. Try your best at completing the fun puzzles and compare your answers.

– Senior Editor

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In this issue of the Automation Notebook…

+Tech TopicsIssue 38 - 2017Learning ResourcesNotebook IssueProductProgrammable Control

Arduino versus BRX PLC in Industrial Automation Applications

In the world of garage or basement automation and robot builders, numerous low-cost microcontrollers and related software are used for real-time control. Arduino and Raspberry Pi are perhaps two of the most popular out of dozens of options (Figure 1). These open-source controllers are available from several suppliers, but using them in a real-time industrial…
Issue 38 - 2017Notebook IssueProductProgrammable Control

Efficient PLC Programming Driven by Programming Software

Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are available in a variety of sizes for applications big and small.  While the application’s hardware requirements often drive the PLC selection, the programming software’s capabilities should also be considered as it has a significant effect on program development.
ApplicationApplication StoriesAutomation NotebookEntertainmentIndustryIssue 38 - 2017Learning ResourcesMachine ControlNotebook IssuePLCProductProgrammable Control

PLCs Improve Controls of Radio Broadcasts

Broadcasting is a high tech industry and much of it is cutting edge, such as Ethernet-based audio over IP. Our industry employs the latest technology in many areas, such as the use of coding algorithms for bit rate reduction and remote broadcasting. But when it comes to controlling the radio signals sent out by the…
ApplicationApplication StoriesAutomationDirect SpotlightEducation/DIYIndustryIssue 38 - 2017Machine ControlNotebook IssuePLCProductProgrammable ControlSimple PLCStudent SpotlightStudent Spotlight

Copley High School's Automation Success

The Innovator team at Copley High School in Akron, Ohio needed to design a piece of equipment to snap caps together for Weaver Industries ProPak, a company that has been employing people with disabilities for about 40 years. With the existing assembly method, Weaver was struggling to meet production and contract requirements for component assembly.
Automation NotebookIssue 38 - 2017Learning ResourcesNotebook Issue

Brainteasers - Issue 38, 2017

Don’t let this issue’s Brainteasers get you tied up in knots! Sit back and relax with this invigorating round of puzzles and then be sure to impress your co-workers with your new found knowledge. If this set has you stumped, no worries just click the link at the bottom for the correct answers!
Automation NotebookIssue 38 - 2017Learning ResourcesNotebook Issue

Brainteaser Answers - Issue 38, 2017

How’d you do? Now that you’ve had a chance to solve them it’s time to check your answers! We’re confident you got all or most of them correct. Whatever the case, we hope you enjoyed your mental break. Don’t fret we’ve already got next issues puzzles in the works and they’re sure to be as…
AutomationDirect SpotlightCompany TopicsIssue 38 - 2017Learning ResourcesNewsNotebook IssueOnline BlogOnline OnlyStudent Spotlight

Robotics Is So Much More Than Robots

If you subscribe to any of our media channels then I’m sure you know about our involvement with after-school robotics programs in our community. These programs prepare students for careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields by getting them excited and engaged when it comes to not only learning new skills, but…
Issue 38 - 2017NewsNotebook IssuePress ReleasesPress ReleasesProduct

AutomationDirect Launches New High-Value BRX Programmable Logic Controller

AutomationDirect has added the new BRX PLC platform to the Do-more line of programmable logic controllers. Starting at $199, the compact BRX PLCs offer outstanding features including built-in data logging, motion control, serial and Ethernet communication, an interchangeable (hot-swappable) communications port and integrated high-speed I/O. Support for EtherNet/IP, Modbus RTU and TCP, ASCII and custom…