HART communications without busting the budget

The HART communication protocol has been firmly established as the standard means of configuring field instruments for some years.   But talking to a field instrument needs a communicator.

There are the handheld communicators, Rosemount’s  x75s and the “budget-priced” Meriam MFC 4150, but at a cost that’s more a capital appropriation than an MRO expense.  Even the Meriam, with a 3-year field device description subscription starts at more than $4000.

People continue to ask me if there isn’t a more budget conscious approach to HART configuration.

There is: Pactware software, a Windows application that can talk HART to field instruments.  And even better: It’s a free download with NO licensing fee.

So, before you get started, here’s what you need to make it work

  1. MACTek Viator USB HART modemThe software. I use the Krohne version.  It runs in both XP and Windows 7 (32-bit).  http://www.pactware.com/en/products/pactware.html
  2. A HART modem, to connect your PC to the field device.  I use the Viator USB HART modem from MACTek. It runs about $500.
  3. Now, you need to download two more file types:  The first is a basic HART driver (called a DTM) that enables and manages HART communications through a HART modem. http://www.codewrights.biz/
  4. Next, you need a driver (DTM file) for each model field instrument. The instrument manufacturer is responsible for providing the DTMs. Some do, and some don’t. It depends.  You can ask the manufacturer whether a DTM is available, and where to download it.
    Field Instrument Drivers in Pactware

HART needs at least 230 ohms of loop resistance to operate, so when trying to connect with an instrument on the shop bench, be sure to put a resistor in the loop, because it won’t communicate with just an instrument and a power supply.

Obviously, a laptop with a HART modem is not useable in a hazardous area, but the nature of HART allows it to communicate without being directly connected to the instrument. It works fine connected at the marshalling panel, control panel, or wherever wiring terminations for loop can be found.

The power of  PC offers two key advantages over a handheld.

  1. The configuration parameters are listed in an overview form:
    PactWare Screen Shot
  2. By running on a PC, the graphics can offer more than a handheld, like echo profiles for non-contact radar or ultrasonic level instruments:TVT echo profile in PactWare

So, if you think a HART handheld is a budget-buster in your world, consider Pactware and a HART modem as your HART communications tool.


Learn more about HART Handheld Communicators and Modems at Lesman.com

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  1. #1 by SteinIsaac on July 8, 2016 - 8:04 am

    How to buy the Siemens SIMATIC PDM?

  2. #3 by Kevin Fernandes on March 5, 2016 - 12:10 am

    I am developing a HART field device of my own.I have an USB HART modem from ProComSol,a field device into which a HART compatible IC is used,and am using Devcom 2000 software.I would like to know that whether it is necessary to have DD or DTM file?

    • #4 by danstips on April 20, 2016 - 2:33 pm

      Hi Kevin, The DevCom2000 uses the registered DD files from the HART Communication Foundation.

  3. #5 by Andres Rodriguez on June 2, 2015 - 11:00 pm

    Could you tell me where to download the DTM file for SITRANS TH300?
    Thank you!

  4. #7 by J. Barry on November 18, 2013 - 3:21 pm

    Thanks for this information. Have you had any success with a generic DTM that supports wireless HART? I was able to connect with the Pactware version from ICS but it doesn’t show the software key in the default parameters. Otherwise, it seems to work very well.

  5. #8 by sidharth on November 16, 2013 - 6:28 am

    can we make our pc as slave??i mean any software for it??

  6. #9 by soe min on October 27, 2013 - 11:55 pm

    where can i get the Simatic PDM software around 75 USD? I have some rosemount 3051 dp pressure transmitters to calibrate.

    • #10 by Selzer, Paul R on November 21, 2013 - 3:31 pm

      Here’s another way to calibrate Rosemount HART Transmitters without a HART communicator for $75.

      Baxter Bioscience
      4501 Colorado Blvd.
      Los Angeles, California 90039
      T 001-818-507-5569 F 818-507-5560 M 949-382-5205

  7. #11 by Frank Seipel on June 13, 2013 - 9:59 pm

    I agree, I’ve used Pactware on numerous occasions. The only downside is Rosemount devices — they often don’t offer recent version DTM’s, only DD’s. So if you must configure Rosemount, consider Simatic PDM software, around $75, which can handle DD’s as well as DTM’s. Microflex also sells HART modems — at $245 for USB — even less than Mactek. Microflex also offers a bundle with generic DTM driver for pactware. I’d suggest steering clear of the bluetooth Mactek modem though the USB one works great. Bluetooth is a fiasco to get working with the bluetooth communication stacks.

  8. #12 by Ted Dimm on April 5, 2013 - 6:18 am

    With Honeywell ST 700 & 800 SmartLine Transmitters you don’t need a hand held device, or a computer or or any software or products to fully configure your transmitters. Just order the transmitter with a display and configuration buttons and complete configuration is avialable externally (i.e with out removing any covers) in ANY electrical classification!

  9. #13 by Paul R. Selzer on March 15, 2013 - 2:52 pm

    This is a great way for all to be able to communicate with their FF and HART devices without having to spend $5000 on a Emerson 475 protocol communicator. thank you!!!

  1. Changing the COM port for a USB HART modem in Pactware | Dan's Tips

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