Home of the ICON - Instrumentation and Control Over Networks Last updated April 1, 2007

     Input/Output (I/O)
     General specifications
     Program Capabilities
     HMI Capabilities
     Programming mode
     Debug mode
     HMI creation mode
     Historical Data Files
     File Maintenance
     Group Software Development
     System Parameters
     Programming ICON
     Program Instruction List
     Program Debugging
     Creating an HMI
     HMI Objects List
     Periodic Files
     Event Files
     HMI Runtime Operation
     File Transfer Operations
     Reporting Operations
     Phone: (406) 599-1053

ICON Overview

The ICON is a small, reliable, low cost "Web Appliance" style product designed for general purpose data acquisition and process control systems. It is unique because all programming, configuration and operation takes place from a Java enabled web browser or separate Java application program.

LAN/WAN Connectivity 
The ICON is connected with a 10baseT ethernet port to a Local Area Network (LAN) and becomes a "Web server" which is accessed from a Java enabled web browser. Therefore it is compatible with Windows, Unix (Linux) and Macintosh machines. This allows many users to be connected to the ICON simultaneously.

For small networks a DSL, cable or dial modem router may be used to connect the ICON and other local PCs on the ICON LAN to the Internet. In this configuration the ICON can be accessed by the local PCs or remote PCs located anywhere on the Internet. 

You may also connect an ICON's serial port to an external auto answer modem. The ICON acts as a server, answering the call and allowing the user to log on with a user name and password just as if an ISP had been called. This is ideal for remote applications such as ambient air monitoring stations, pumping stations or hydroelectric plants where only a phone line is available.

Because the ICON uses standard Internet protocols and 10BaseT ethernet it can become part of any modern LAN/WAN and take advantage of all the products designed to transport and handle TCP/IP including DSL, cable and dial modems, routers, firewalls, all types of ethernet interconnects including Home Phone Line Networking, Power Line Carrier Networking , fiber optic and RF (802.11, Bluetooth) links. 

Operation of the ICON is encrypted password protected and includes a different authentication key for each password. One password enables programming and HMI configuration. Other passwords select different Human Machine Interface (HMI) operation capabilities. Some users may be allowed to view data only. Other users can view data and make parameter changes. 

The only access to the ICON is through the proprietary ICON software. There is no other software such as Telnet or FTP that could allow a "Cracker" to gain access to the ICON. As long as the passwords and authentication keys are kept secret, it is virtually impossible for unauthorized people to gain access to the ICON. 

Of course standard Internet techniques of firewalls and "Virtual Private Networks" can be added to increase security.

Input/Output (I/O) Specifications

The ICON is designed to access the following types of I/O:

  • For very low cost, slower speed, highly distributed I/O, our 1-wire sensors and actuators can be used. These devices have reasonable accuracy for many applications including home, greenhouse and commercial building monitoring and control. Devices include temperature, relative humidity and light sensors, weather station, A-D/digital inputs, counter/frequency inputs, digital outputs (including mechanical and solid state relay) and D-A outputs. These are interfaced through our Modbus to 1-wire gateway board called ICONIO. 
  • For higher speed or accuracy I/O, third party serial Modbus RTU slave units can be connected over RS232 or 2-wire RS485. There are many manufacturers of such devices but we recommend www.automationdirect.com. The following models will work: Terminator field I/O with TK1-MODBUS interface, DL05, DL06, DL205 with D2-250 CPU, DL305 with D3-350 CPU and DL405 with D4-450 CPU. 
  • X-10 power line carrier I/O. Can be used to control 110V AC wall sockets to turn devices on and off. Can also receive X-10 signals from remote controllers. 

General specifications
  • ICON is contained on a two-board set that includes one ICON Controller board and one ICONIO board. 
  • The top ICONIO board contains the power supply, option switches, RS232 to RS485 converter and four Dallas 1-wire buses. 
  • The bottom processor board contains the 133Mhz 586 processor with hardware floating point, RAM memory, compact flash disk, battery-backed real time clock with watchdog reset, two RS232 serial ports and one 10BaseT ethernet port. 
  • The compact flash disk holds the ICON software execution engine (loaded to RAM at boot time), user written data acquisition and control program with HMI, historical data, html pages (including standard and user written help) and jpeg and gif pictures. 
  • The first serial port can be configured for modem dial-in, Modbus or can control a PowerLinc model 1132 RS232 to X10 interface unit to connect the ICON to the power line for X10 control. The second serial port is used to connect the processor board to the I/O board to read the option switches, control the 1-wire busses and then continue on to up to 31 additional Modbus I/O devices from the RS485 converter.

Application Program Capabilities
  • Structured with four program execution loops. The scan timing for each loop can be set in 1 mS increments. (Currently the fastest feedback control is on a 100 mS time base.)
  • Each loop is further partitioned into modules. Within each module are inserted the necessary data acquisition and control instructions to program the desired task. 
  • Program variables are described in here.
  • Program instructions are described in here.

Human Machine Interface (HMI) Capabilities
  • The HMI is made up of many display screens. There can be one HMI display screen for each program module. 
  • The user can navigate from one display screen to the next with screen selection buttons located on the screens or by right clicking the mouse and selecting a screen name. 
  • A master alarm screen can be configured to pop up when the master alarm trips. This screen can also display sub alarms or contain screen selection buttons to display other alarm screens. 
  • An HMI screen consists of a colored window with title. On this screen can be located display objects to display the values of variables, input objects to set the values of variables, colored frames with optional text, screen selection buttons, help buttons which bring up user created HTML pages and jpeg or gif pictures. 
  • A screen may also contain a button to bring up the historical data reporting facilities. This allows the user to view any data from the historical periodic or event files in tabular form, send the report to the printer or save in a local PC file to be imported into a spreadsheet such as Excel. The periodic data may also be displayed in strip chart graphical form. 
  • A screen may also contain a button to allow the configuration of certain selected parameters of an instruction (such as alarm limits for the Limit instruction). 
  • The HMI text can be in any language. 
  • Variable values may be displayed in text boxes as values (or values mapped to text or pictures called selection sets), meters, bar graphs, LEDs and trend charts. 
  • Variable values may be set from text boxes, slide switches (2 or 3 position), toggle switches (2 or 3 position), knobs (continuous or 2 to 7 discrete), sliders (continuous only), buttons (2 position) or radio buttons (2 to 32 discrete). 

Programming mode
  • Ability to create a data acquisition and control program. 
  • The program is always executing, even during program development, thus preventing control loops from stopping in critical situations. 
  • Full editing capability to insert, delete, copy, move and configure instructions and complete modules. 
  • Ability to insert modules from other ICON programs saved on flash disk. This allows a library of modules to be developed. Then a new program can be created by inserting the appropriate modules from the library program on flash disk. 
  • Ability to locate any instruction by caption (instruction comment), instruction type, Module or variables used. 
  • Save and load programs using the local flash memory. Backups may also be made to the host PC computer. 
  • General configuration parameters may be set. These include loop execution timing, logon passwords with priority levels, TCP/IP connection information, email addresses and periodic and event historical data file configuration. 

Debug mode
  • Set program instruction breakpoints. 
  • Single step through instructions. 
  • View and modify variable values. 
  • The debug mode is the only place where the program can be stopped. The program will automatically start execution when leaving debug mode or if the web browser connection is unexpectedly lost. 

HMI creation and configuration mode
  • For each module the programmer may create an HMI window. The window title, size, position and background color can be set. 
  • A drag and drop interface is used to position and size HMI objects. A snap grid size can be set to help line up objects and create objects of the same size. 
  • Each object contains a box size, border type, box color, caption, font size and font color. 
  • Complex objects can be created by layering simple objects (full Z order is maintained). 
  • Objects may be copied, deleted or Z order changed. 
  • The frame object allows other objects to be grouped together (for instance to create the look of an instrument panel). Once a frame with other objects is created it can be moved, copied or deleted as a single block. 
  • Each object can be assigned a priority so that when users access HMI screens, only objects within the proper priority range, as defined for their password, will be displayed on their HMI screens. 

Historical Data Files on Flash Disk 
Each ICON can have four separate periodic data files. Each periodic file can record from 1 to 128 different items (bins) per record on a periodic time base. Each file can have a different time base. The time base can range from once per second to once per day in one second steps. It is common to record instantaneous data once per minute and average data once per hour.

The file is circular. You may specify the length of the periodic file in records. At the end of the first recording interval, data is written to record 0. At the end of the second recording interval, data is written to record 1. This continues until all periodic file records have been written to. Now at the end of the next recording interval, the data in record 0 is overwritten. Each record also contains the date and time the record was written. If the data is of long term importance, it must be transferred from the ICONís periodic file to another file located on your main computer. 

Each ICON can have four separate event (alarm) data files. Each event file can record from 1 to 128 different events. An event is recorded when the low bit of the Status variable is a 1 (odd values). Each event record contains the date and time of the recording, the data value, the status value and the event number. 

The file is circular. You may specify the length of the event file in records. The first time an event record is to be written, it is written to record 0. The next to record 1. This continues until all event records have been written to. Now at the end of the next recording interval, the data in record 0 is overwritten. If the data is of long term importance, it must be transferred from the ICONís event file to another file located on your main computer. 

Up to 128 different email recipients may be configured. Each periodic and event file may be configured to send data to all or a subset of these recipients. Data is emailed when recorded to flash disk.

If the ICON is connected to the Internet such that its IP address can change (dialup or DHCP DSL or cable modems) you may also specify a block of recipients to receive this new IP address each time it changes. This way users can access the ICON even though it's Internet IP address has changed.

File Maintenance
The ICON has a file maintenance mode. This allows any data, program, HTML or picture file to be either uploaded from your PC to the ICON (for restoration) or downloaded form the ICON to your PC (for backup). You may use these functions to update the firmware of the ICON and save and restore your application programs. You may also delete, rename or copy files on your flash disk. Finally you may select any file and determine its size in bytes and date of creation or last access. 

Group Production Software Development 
A special version of the ICON software is available at no charge. This software may be loaded on a general purpose Linux PC (with a 2.2 or higher kernel). This version does not allow you to set the date/time, use the serial I/O, perform watchdog functions, use the ICON configuration switches or allow you to reconfigure networking since this would interfere with the normal use of your Linux PC, but it does allow you to write and debug ICON programs and HMI screens. You can simulate your external I/O inputs by changing these values in the debug mode under "Inspect variables" or with variable objects you add to your HMI screens. A single Linux PC can run many copies of iconexe simultaneously allowing many developers to develop ICON programs simultaneously.

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