Home of the ICON - Instrumentation and Control Over Networks



ICON Controller Overview
ICON I/O Overview
ICON Manuals


     Pumping and Weather Station


     Phone: (406) 599-1053


Copyright 1998-2013

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 running on your PC.

LAN/WAN Connectivity 
The ICON is connected with a 100baseT ethernet port to a Local Area Network (LAN) and becomes a "Web server" which is accessed from a Java enabled web browser or our Java application. Therefore it is compatible with Windows, Unix (Linux) and Apple machines. This allows many users to be connected to the ICON simultaneously.

Because the ICON uses standard Internet protocols and 100BaseT 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 cellular modems. 

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:

  • The primary input data and output control operatins take place over RS485, 2-wire serial RTU Modbus. Our Modcombo device provides for 10 inputs and eight outputs. Inputs can be configured for digital, event counting, frequency or analog and the outputs are digital relays.
  • Third party serial and/or TCP Modbus RTU slave units can also be connected. For example the 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 CPUs from www.automationdirect.com can be used.

General specifications
  • ICON is contained on a two-board set that includes one ICON Controller board and one Power/Bus module. 
  • The top Power/Bus module contains the power supply and RS232 to RS485 converter. 
  • The bottom processor board contains the main processor, RAM memory, compact flash disk, battery-backed real time clock with watchdog reset, two RS232 serial ports and one 100BaseT ethernet port. 
  • The compact flash disk holds the ICON software execution engine, user written data acquisition and control program with HMI and historical data files. 
  • Each serial port can access serial Modbus RTU devices.
  • Optionally one or two additional serial ports may be added to the controller.

Application Program Capabilities
  • Structured with four program execution loops. The scan timing for each loop can be set in 100 mS increments.
  • Each loop is further partitioned into modules. Each module contains data acquisition and control instructions to program the desired task. 
  • A program is built from over 30 different types of instructions that provide the building blocks of your program. These instructions operate on the values of the program variables.

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 1024 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 ICON's 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 1024 different events. Each event record contains the date and time of the recording, the data value, the status or alarm 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 ICON's 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.

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.

Last updated December 5, 2013