Everyone agrees that it’s good practice to keep a record of configurations and setups for any field instrument. I’m constantly recommending it to our customers for their transmitters, controllers, recorders, and other complex configurable devices.
Siemens clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters even have a system in place to make this process easy. By connecting the meter to a PC through the RS-232 serial port, you can use a terminal program and the SITE command to fetch a data file that holds all the instrument’s configuration data.
The terminal program can also be used — with a set of instructions specific to the flowmeter — for viewing real-time operational data, performing device setup, uploading logger data, or uploading configurations known as SITE setups.
Recently, I was called to visit a plant and look at a misbehaving flowmeter. From previous discussions with the operator, I knew he’d saved SITE setup files for every flowmeter installed in the plant.
I asked if the customer would e-mail me the setup file before my visit, so I could check out how the flowmeter was set up. My request was met with a chuckle and “Well, if you really think it’s worth it…”
I assured him it was, and shortly after, received the file by e-mail.
When I opened the file, I saw why he’d made the comment. The file was a raw tag_name.txt file from Hyperterminal. Since Hyperterminal saves streaming data with its “Capture Text” function, the raw text appears on the screen as a mish-mash of words and numbers – not easy to read or understand at all.
Look at it! What goes with what? I guess if you work it day in and day out, you might be able to figure it out. But for the occasional user, it’s chaos, which is what the user was referring to.
So here’s an easy workaround.
On your PC, change the file from tag_name.txt to tag_name.csv. Your PC will come back with a warning, “If you change a file name extension, the file might become unusable. Are you sure you want to change it?” Click [Yes.]
Now, you have a file that opens in Microsoft Excel (or any other spreadsheet program) in a very readable format.
Notice that each parameter is associated with its value or variable on the same line. One parameter per line. Nice and easy.
While you’re changing the extension, consider changing the filename to a tag ID or asset number that’s associated with that particular flowmeter. If you’re only doing one or two flowmeters, it’s not a big deal, but when you have several installed, this can make finding the right configuration files much easier.
Siemens terminal program solution
Until Windows 7 came along, Microsoft pre-installed Hyperterminal by default with all Windows operating systems, so it was the terminal program of choice. For users on Windows 7 or newer, Siemens has a solution. Its Siware software program runs a terminal mode that connects to devices, manages setup, and displays real-time data, just like Hyperterminal used to.
Before capturing data from the flowmeter, Siware’s browser function lets you pick the file destination on your PC, give it a meaningful name, and append the .CSV extension — all before running the SITE command.
What you end up with is a set of SITE files that are named so you can find them easily, and that will open in the easy-to-understand Excel file format.
One last note…
To establish a serial connection between your flowmeter and a PC, you need an RS-232 port and cable. Most PCs today don’t have the right port, so you’ll probably need an RS-232 to USB converter. Be sure to look for one with an FTDI chipset. The cheap versions don’t work as well.
The chart below lists the Siemens cables you need to connect your PC to a SITRANS FUS ultrasonic clamp-on flowmeter:
Learn more about Siemens SITRANS F US clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters at Lesman.com
Lesman Instrument Company is the authorized Siemens representative in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Paducah KY, Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. If you are located outside that area, you can find your local sales office or get technical assistance by calling 800-365-8766.