What I’m Working On Next

After two years self-employed at Insights In Automation, it’s obvious where you, my customers, want me focusing my time: Training.

While you have hired me to write PLC programs and convert HMI files, and even have gifted me a dozen “coffees” in appreciation for my free articles and videos over at TheAutomationBlog.com, all of those combined haven’t come close to the number of you taking my courses over at TheAutomationSchool.com.

That in mind, my focus for this next year reflects what you my customers have asked for: New and Expanded Training Courses.

Now you may not be aware of this fact, but creating a ten hour course like my ControlLogix course,”PAC Basics,” is a monumental task.

It literally takes months to create a course like that, and even shorter courses like my Micro800 Nano Basics course take several weeks to put together.

So in the immediate future I’m going to focus on expanding existing courses as well as producing shorter, less expensive “quick start” courses in the 30 to 60 minutes range.

And to that end, I’ve just completed filming my first “quick start” on how to use CCW to upload and download parameters to A-B VFDs over USB, Ethernet, and using the A-B 1203-USB cable.

I also recorded a new lesson for both of my PLC Basics courses, showing how to install the free A-B software on Windows 10.

I’ve even filmed several new lessons for my Nano Basics course, including lessons on Analog I/O, Expansion I/O, as well as Controlling VFD’s on Modbus and Ethernet.

Now that I have all this newly recorded footage, I have a lot of “post production” to do, enough to keep me busy for the next couple of weeks!

Once done, I hope to get back into the studio to record more “quick starts,” and some of the suggestions students have submitted include:

  • Converting PanelView projects to PanelView Plus
  • Converting MicroLogix projects to Micro800
  • Converting MicroLogix projects to CompactLogix
  • How to setup High Speed Counter modules with Encoders
  • Using the PanelView 5000 with Logix
  • Using PanelView 800 with the Micro800, MicroLogix, and CompactLogix

Note: If you’d like to suggest an addition to the above list, please don’t hesitate to send it to me at:

New courses aren’t the only thing I’ll be working on over the next twelve months.

A new site update will come to TheAutomatoinSchool.com this summer making taking courses and connecting with the instructor easier.

And there is a redesign to TheAutomationBlog.com I hope to roll out, which includes a facelift for TheAutomationMinute.com, TheAutomationPodcast.com, TheAutomationForums.com, and InsightsInAutomation.com.

Finally, in appreciation of my patrons over at Patreon.com/Automation, I plan to merge AutomationFiles.com and AutomationTutorials.com into a new online marketplace called The Automation Exchange.

This new site will not only enable patrons to download free videos and files every month, but will also allow anyone in our community offer sample code or tutorials for sale on the site.

And that about wraps up my plans for the next year 🙂 If you have any thoughts, questions, or suggestions on this blog please don’t hesitate to share them with me at TheAutomationForums.com.

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A week full of challenges

Good morning everyone!

You know, it’s been a long time since I’ve been so happy to see a week come to an end, but I have to say I’m definitely happy last week is over!

It all started ten days ago when issues at my webhost inadvertently took down all of my automation websites.

I’m sure you can imagine that as a full time online trainer and blogger that’s as close to a worse case scenario!

And while the server did come back up early Saturday morning, behind the scenes several of the sites were not fully working, hampering my publication schedule for last week (you may have noticed I didn’t publish any new lessons, videos, or blogs last week…)

So after talking to my current web host’s tech support, I came to the conclusion that this would probably be the best time to search for a new web host.

After doing some research (and shelling out a small fortune,) I began the week long process of migrating all my automation sites over to the new server.

Now that alone would have been enough to throw my week into chaos, but on top of that Windows 10 on my main PC decided to stop booting.

After hours of trying to run startup troubleshooters and attempting to revert to restore points, I was no better off and had to resort to reinstalling everything.

Unfortunately that only bought me 48 hours, after which Windows 10 again found it could no longer completely boot up, nor could it repair itself or revert to restore points.

So I assumed my SSD was going bad and I rushed in a replace and re-installed all the software I use a second time.

You would think those two issues would be enough for one week, however at the same time Google had decided to start marking every website that doesn’t use HTTPS as being “not secure” in Google Chrome.

UGH.

So with everything else going on I also spent much of the week (and half of the weekend) securing SSL certificates switching all of my automation websites over to HTTPS.

And while that work still continues on this week (any blog post or page that displays a picture using HTTP instead of HTTPS will get that page marked as insecure) the lion share of it has been completed.

Even with all of the problems that occurred last week, I’m happy to say the week wasn’t a total bust.

The newly moved websites all seem to be working well, and there is the relief that the almost every page on every site no longer shows “Not Secure” in Chrome.

And, knock on wood, the new SDD and Windows 10 seem to be getting along just fine.

I was even able to record three new lessons for my upcoming Micro800 course, Nano Basics, which I plan to launch later this week in an early access sale.

That said, I do pray that all of last week’s issues are truly behind me and I can get on with creating new affordable automation courses for all those out their who need to learn how to use these products on a budget.

Have a great week 😉

Sincerely,

Shawn Tierney of The Automation Blog

Over two hours of PLC communications how-to

Good morning visitors,

If you’re new to The Automation Guy blog, this is where I post about what I’ve working on over at The Automation Blog, Minute, Podcast, and School.

Recently in preparation for recording some advanced communication lessons in my ControlLogix course, PAC Basics course, I took a break from filming lessons to created some new content for my YouTube channel.

The result is over two hours of free PLC communications videos releasing in the next three weeks.

theautomationguy-com-170117

It all starts with The Automation Minute Season 3, Episode 9, in which I discuss the odd fact that Rockwell now states you need RSLogix 500 to program the MicroLogix, while the much less expensive RSLogix Micro will do.

Next in Episode 10, we take a look at the programming cables needed to program the MicroLogix family of PLCs.

Then in Episode 11, 12, and 13 I walk viewers through configuring RSLinx and Downloading a new program to the MicroLogix 1000, 1200, and 1500.

And in Episode 14 and 15 I show how to setup RSLinx to communication to a MicroLogix 1100 and 1400 and download to them.

In Episode 16 and 17 I demonstrate how to communicate to a SLC-500 using Serial DF1, and then DH485.

The in Episode 18, I show connecting and downloading to a PLC-5 using Serial DF1. And in Episode 19 I show connecting to a SLC-504 and PLC-5 using a USB to DH+ converter.

 

And to wrap the series up, in The Automation Podcast Episode 36, I show where I find demos for all of the above PLC’s, as well as the process I used to re-configure and download them.

In total, the result is over two hours of free PLC connectivity videos which I’m hoping people will find useful for many years to come.

Sincerely,

Shawn Tierney, TheAutomationGuy.com

What I’ve been working on…

PB2-6.70So you may be asking yourself, “where’s Shawn been?” as the updates to my blogs, videos, and podcasts have been a little sporadic.

Well, for the last several weeks I’ve been focusing on remaking my two year old PLC Basics video course, and I’m happy to announce I’m nearing completion of the filming stage!

And as I start thinking ahead to post production and retailing, I’ve been thinking about potential re-sellers discounts and customer bonuses, and I’ll discuss my thoughts on those in more detail tomorrow.

Why I’m making a new version

The original course, titled “Micro Programmable Controller Basics,” was my first video training course which I recorded in 2014 after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

There was a much larger learning curve to create a video course than I thought, and because of that I didn’t actually released the course on DVD until January of 2015.

Since then, hundreds of students from over 45 countries have purchased the course, and it currently maintains a 4.5 out of 5 star rating.

However, as it was my very first course, and I’ve had nearly two years to reflect on both it and student feedback, there were several things about the course I wanted to change.

So earlier this year I began pre-production of an updated version, and I’m glad to say I’m in the process of filming the final lessons this week.

What’s next

Since I’m self employed and much of my revenue comes from selling my courses, my immediate goal is to focus on increasing sales of my existing PLC and PanelView Plus courses, as well as creating several new PLC and HMI courses.

However, I’m also considering the idea of releasing the next few courses as shorter, less expensive digital courses, and expanding them over time base on student feedback and popularity.

I’ll also soon be writing about the expansion of my PLC and HMI consulting via WebEx, and several block of time options I recently released.

But for today I just wanted to post an update as to where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing, and as always you’re invited to post any comments or questions.

Sincerely,

Shawn Tierney

PS – Not sure what everyone’s hobbies are, but lately I’ve been into reading and writing about Sci Fi, Running, and more, and have included links to my “hobby” websites in the menu above 😉

Free

Get free Tech Support and Training Courses:

Since launching my own business, I’ve received many requests for free email, phone, and in person technical support.

I’ve also had quite a few request for free or low cost vouchers for my training courses.

So in today’s article entitled “Free,” I list the top free resources available:

Free Tech Support:

As an automation consultant I offer free consulting via my website, TheAutomationBlog.com.

If you have a technical question, just find an existing article on a related topic and post your question as a comment.

Then if I or another reader knows the answer you’ll often get a response within a day or two.

What about free email, phone, and live consulting?

I currently do not offer free consulting via email, phone, or in-person.

I do offer paid consulting services at a rate of $100 per hour, and you can find out more about the services I’m currently offering at InsightsInAutomation.com/consulting

NOTE: Rockwell does offer some free support services, and last time I checked they included:

  • Free telephone tech support on Component devices including the Micro800, as well as on Software Activations
  • Free online tech support via chat on Component devices including the Micro800, as well as on Software Activations at www.ab.com
  • Thousands of free Tech Notes in their knowledgebase at www.ab.com
  • Free user to user support forums at www.ab.com
  • And many Rockwell distributors also offer their customers free phone and in-person support as well

Free and Discounted Training Courses:

As an automation trainer I offer free and discounted training courses on my website, TheAutomationSchool.com.

And while not all of my courses are offered for free, many are listed at discounted rates.

I do also offer custom online paid training services at a rate of $100 per hour, and you can find out more about the training services I currently offer at InsightsInAutomation.com/consulting

NOTE: Rockwell does offer some free training courses, and last time I checked they included:

  • Local Rockwell “on tour” courses
  • Regional Rockwell Automation on the Move trade shows
  • Annual Automation Fair
  • Note: Most of the training documents from the above sessions can be downloaded for free from www.ab.com
  • Note: Many Rockwell distributors also offer free and low cost training to their customers.

Sincerely,

Shawn Tierney
The Automation Guy

What’s Next

The Last Few Months…

You may have noticed the frequency of my blogs, videos, and podcasts has slowed over the last two PVP Basicsmonths as I split my time between a WWTP SACADA project, and creating my very first PanelView course, PVP Basics.

That course, which is currently on sale at Udemy.com, took far longer to create than I had hoped, and after completing it I came to the conclusion that I needed to make some upgrades to my studio.

So What’s Next?

Now that I’ve completed the studio upgrades, my next goal is to produce several more PLC courses, with much of the needed PLC equipment now on order.

Why the focus on training courses?

Well, while I truly enjoy blogging and creating helpful how to videos, neither of those nor my Patreon backers and other donations come even close to paying the bills, whereas my training course have that potential.

So with that in mind, I’m focusing the next several weeks to updating my existing PLC Basics (intro to PLCs) course, as well as creating new courses on the Micro 800, MicroLogix, SLC-500, PLC-5, and Compact/ControlLogix.

Workbench PLC StuffEach will be a couple of hours in length, and I estimate each will take 40-80 hours to complete (it’s truly mind boggling how much time it takes to record, edit, render, and publish a video course!)

Each of these new courses will also forgo the raw basics of “what is ladder logic” and “what is a Bit, Byte, and Word” found in my PLC Basics course.

Instead, they will be designed for someone who has already taken that course, or has already programed another PLC, and wants to learn how to use the specific series covered by each course.

Hopefully if everything works out as planned I’ll be posting weekly updates here.

If you would like to submit your suggestions on what should be covered (which will also garner you a 50% off coupon!) check out any of the coming soon courses over at TheAutomationSchool.com as each contains a feedback form.

Well, that’s it for todays blog post, have a great weekend!

Shawn Tierney

Who is “The Automation Guy”

Hello and welcome to the TheAutomationGuy.com, a blog of somewhat random musings from the author of The Automation Blog, Podcast, Minute and School (that’s me.)

Shawn-at-Worcester-Water-Trade-Show-2002Let me start my first post by addressing the elephant in the room: Why did I give myself the title of “The Automation Guy?”

Well, aside form the fact that I’m the current owner of TheAutomationGuy.com.

Half a lifetime ago and only a year out of college I was very fortunate to find a job in the Automation Industry as an Rockwell Automation Distributor Automation Specialist.

Shawn Albany SLC- TrainingThat’s a fancy title for the employee who gets sent off to factory training a couple weeks a year so he’s able to answer customer product questions.

And I’m sure happens to most technical people supporting sales, I was often introduced as the “expert,” or “guru,” which I always felt implied that I had super-human levels of expertise and knowledge.

So to counter those lofty and misleading titles which my salepeople just seemed unable to stop using, I got in the habit of prempting them by introducing myself as a PLC, HMI, or SCADA “GUY” whenever I met with a new client

Shawn-on-PLC-Basics-SetFast forward a quarter century and I’m now self employed as an Automation Blogger, Trainer, and Consultant running multiple websites which start with “TheAutomation,” and it just sort of made sense to give myself the title of TheAutomationGuy.

That’s not to say I know everything about automation, or represent the world of automation  in any way shape or form.

It just simply reflects the fact that I’m the “automation guy” who writes PLC, HMI, and SCADA articles on TheAutomationBlog.com, publishes videos and podcast at Shawn-on-PVP-SetTheAutomationMinute.com and TheAutomationPodcast.com, and teaches automation courses at TheAutomationSchool.com.

And of course, I’m also the current owner of TheAutomationGuy.com too 🙂

Well that’sit for today – hope you all have a great rest of your week!

Sincerely,

Shawn Michael Tierney
The Automation Guy