Versions Compared

Key

  • This line was added.
  • This line was removed.
  • Formatting was changed.

Clients – Master Channels

A substantial portion of the RediGate functionality relates to its ability to act as a protocol master to third-party devices, storing data locally in internal real-time databases, and using that stored data in a variety of ways. Because of the large number of interrelated ACE objects that potentially can make up a working Master Channel, it's important to understand Master Channels at a high level before trying to learn about each object's property configuration.
In the next few sections that follow, the "Master Channel" and related capabilities are described functionally using block diagrams. After that, the remaining sub-sections describe the ACE objects and their properties that are part of the Master Channels portion of the configuration.

Master Channels Explained

The RediGate is capable of supporting many different protocol drivers, allowing it to communicate with third-party field equipment. Each type of equipment has its own unique communication protocol and data structure. The RediGate is described as a "master", because it initiates the communication to the other device.

In order to talk with the third-party equipment, a number of things need to be known about the communication network and the device. These are shown below in block diagram.

The RediGate must connect to the device (PLC, RTU, data concentrator) using some physical network – this might be over a network or a local serial port. It must send requests to the device using its native communication protocol and must request certain types of data from specified internal memory locations (registers) in the device. Once the RediGate retrieves the data from the third-party device, it stores a local copy in its internal Real-Time Databases (RTDB). From that point, other processes can use or re-transmit the data, or other host systems can request data from the RediGate.

Master/Slave Channel Functional Elements

In order for the RediGate to retrieve data from the device, the ACE configuration must include the following elements as a minimum:

  • Master Channel: Defines polling sequence and timing
  • Circuit: Defines which physical port to use for the connection
  • Field Unit: Specifies what protocol to use and which registers to poll. Note that different Field Unit types are used depending on the third-party device protocol.
  • RTDB: Defines a data area inside the RediGate in which to store data obtained from the device


In addition, the RediGate can be defined as a slave device to another master, allowing the other master to retrieve data that has been stored in the RTDB data areas. This requires one or more sets of Slave Channel elements to also be defined:

  • Slave Channel: Defines slave address and protocol type used in communication to another master device.
  • Slave Attach: Defines which RTDB contains data that will be made available to the master on this unit's slave address.


The normal polling sequence is as follows (numbers refer to the elements in the following diagram):

  1. The Master Channel generates a poll request based on its Scan Table. The Master Channel simply scans devices by address, but is not dependent on any specific communication protocol
  2. The Protocol Task (Field Unit definition) looks up the requested poll in its Poll Table and sends the defined command to the external device in the correct protocol format.
  3. The response from the device is processed and validated
  4. The device data is then stored into the RTDB defined for that Field Unit. This polling cycle continues based on the timing and sequence defined in the ACE configuration for the Master Channel. The RTDB typically only contains the last known value for each data point in its register locations (there are some cases where the protocol is capable of supporting event-based data).



When an external master device requests data from the Slave Channel, the following sequence is observed:

  1. The master request is received by the Slave Channel for certain registers in the RTDB.
  2. The Slave Channel requests the latest value stored in these registers from the RTDB. Note that the external device is not polled directly to request data at this time, only the stored copy of last-known data in the RTDB.
  3. The RTDB returns data to the Slave Channel, which then returns the data to that master that requested it.


If the host sends a command via the Slave Channel to set certain register values in the device, the following sequence is observed. Note that in this case the command is typically sent on a pass-through basis directly to the device, different from the previous sequence where data is requested from the RTDB:

  1. The host command message is received by the Slave Channel (5), which is passed internally from the Slave Channel to the Master Channel task. The Master Channel, in turn, sends the request to the Field Unit protocol task (1), which sends a poll to the field unit (2), and waits for a valid response from the device (3).
  2. After receiving the response, the Field Unit protocol task notifies the Master Channel of the command's success or an invalid response. No notification is given if the command times out.
  3. The Master Channel passes the success or failure notification to the Slave Channel, and the Slave Channel notifies the host (7).


Note that in the foregoing command sequence, no data is returned from the Field Unit to the RTDB. If the command sent from the master included writing data to the third-party device, that data is written directly to the device and does not exist in the RTDB unless a subsequent Master Channel polling process subsequently requests it, as described above in steps 1-4.

ISaGRAF Channel Functional Elements

One of the features in the RediGate is the ability to define an ISaGRAF internal logic device (PLC) that operates as a stand-alone device within the system.

The Channel/RTU structure described in the previous section is very similar to the structure used for the ISaGRAF field unit. In this case, the RediGate uses an "Internal Channel" to communicate with the ISaGRAF field unit, whereas the Master Channel is used to communicate externally to other devices.

An ISaGRAF Field Unit may be thought of as a "virtual RTU". It is "virtual" because it doesn't exist as a separate device, but rather it resides inside the RediGate. As in the case of an external RTU, this ISaGRAF "virtual RTU" may contain I/O boards connected to field wiring, and may include programming logic. This is diagrammed below.

In order to preserve a logical consistency between the ISaGRAF channel and other Master Channels, an analogous structure of ACE objects is used for the Internal Channel.

Master Channel Structure

Internal Channel Structure (ISaGRAF)

Master Channel: Defines polling sequence and timing to external devices

Internal Channel: Defines polling sequence and timing to internal

Circuit: Defines which physical port to use for the connection (Async or Network)

Virtual Circuit: Defines a logical port to use for internal connection to ISaGRAF unit

Field Unit: Specifies what protocol to use and which registers to poll. Note that different Field Unit definitions are used depending on the third-party device protocol.

ISaGRAF Field Unit: Specifies a specific type of field unit definition for the ISaGRAF unit, as well as which registers to poll.

RTDB: Defines a data area in which to store data obtained from the device

RTDB: Defines data area in which to store data obtained from the ISaGRAF unit. Note that this is different from data stored internally within the ISaGRAF logic device. The RTDB is necessary if ISaGRAF data is to be used externally by other master systems or the HCP.



In the case of a Master Channel, there are two locations where the data is stored. The external Field Unit contains certain data that are accessed using a protocol request. The RediGate contains an RTDB, which includes only the points of data obtained using the Master Channel polling.

For the ISaGRAF RTU the situation is analogous. One set of data resides inside the ISaGRAF RTU logic device and may contain any number of internal values. But only the data polled from ISaGRAF using the Internal Channel is available within the RTDB, which may be made available to other systems.

The data flow diagram for the ISaGRAF unit is shown below. Compare this with the data flow diagram for an external device (Master/Slave Channel Functional Elements).

  1. The Internal Channel generates a poll request based on its Scan Table.
  2. The ISaGRAF Protocol task (Field Unit definition) looks up the requested poll in its Poll Table and sends the defined command to the internal ISaGRAF RTU.
  3. The response from ISaGRAF is processed and validated
  4. The ISaGRAF data is then stored into the RTDB. This polling cycle continues based on the timing and sequence defined in the ACE configuration for the Internal Channel. The RTDB typically only contains the last known value for each data point in its register locations.



When an external master device requests data using the Slave Channel, the following sequence is observed:

  1. The master request is received by the Slave Channel for certain registers in the RTDB.
  2. The Slave Channel requests the latest value stored in these registers from the RTDB. Note that when using a generic master device, the ISaGRAF device is not polled directly to request data at this time, only the last-known value stored in the RTDB.
  3. The RTDB returns data to the Slave Channel, which then returns the data to that master that requested it.


If the host sends a command to the Slave Channel for ISaGRAF, the following sequence is observed. Note that in this case the command is typically sent on a pass-through basis directly to ISaGRAF, different from the previous sequence where data is requested from the RTDB:

  1. The host command message is received by the Slave Channel (5), which is passed internally from the Slave Channel to the Internal Channel task. The Internal Channel, in turn, sends the request to the ISaGRAF Field Unit protocol task (1), which sends a poll to the internal RTU (2), and waits for a valid response (3).
  2. After receiving the response, the ISaGRAF Field Unit protocol task notifies the Internal Channel of the command's success or an invalid response. No notification is given if the command times out.
  3. The Internal Channel passes the success or failure notification to the Slave Channel, and the Slave Channel notifies the host (7).


The ISaGRAF Workbench is one type of master that may be used with the ISaGRAF RTU. The Workbench issues special protocol messages which are passed to ISaGRAF, allowing the system designer to examine ISaGRAF internal registers, troubleshoot operation of the program, download a new ISaGRAF logic program, etc. The ISaGRAF Workbench must connect to the ISaGRAF RTU through a Slave Channel as described above in order to gain this special access to the ISaGRAF logic processing functionality. See the Elecsys ISaGRAF Manual for more information on using and programming the ISaGRAF RTU.

Other Internal Channel Functional Elements

In addition to the special handling of the internal ISaGRAF RTU, the Internal Channel includes other child elements that provide special features within the system. These are the Virtual RTU, Status RTU, Segment RTU, and Internal Master. These are all connected to the Internal Channel using a "Null Circuit," which is simply a placeholder to preserve the normal Channel-Circuit-Field Unit structure. These types of field units are briefly explained here.
The Virtual RTU provides a data repository (RTDB) for internal storage of data, which is not connected with any external field device or ISaGRAF unit.

The Status RTU is another type of Virtual RTU, that can be used for storing data, but it has an additional purpose. When the RediGate is configured to poll one or more Field Devices using one or more Master Channels, there is some status information for each device such as poll count, current failed/good communication status, etc. These statistics for a whole set of Field Devices may be stored in the Modbus 40,xxx registers in the Status RTU, if desired, allowing a host system to manage communication statuses for all the field units in one place. See the section Communication Status Registers for more information on field unit status values.

The Segment RTU is another type of Virtual RTU, which allows for a more flexible structure of data. Most Real-time Databases (RTDB) have a structure something like this (exact point types and count are configurable):

Data type

Register addresses

Boolean

00,001 – 00,100

Boolean

10,001 – 10,100

UINT16

30,001 – 30,100

UINT16

40,001 – 40,100

UINT32

41,001 – 41,100


The Segment RTU allows a more heterogeneous mix of register types and point counts. Rather than large "segments" of single data types (Boolean, UINT16) as listed above for a normal RTDB, the Segment RTU allows a flexible definition such as:

Segment RTDB Instance

Register type / Count

1

UINT8 2
UINT161
UINT323
UINT161
REAL327

2

UINT325
SINT162
UINT8 1
UINT1611


And finally, the Internal Master is a virtual RTU/RTDB definition that has the special property of being able to consolidate data from any other RTDB databases. Normally, an RTDB under any Field Unit definition only contains the data polled from that device defined in the Field Unit. The Internal Master allows one or more RTDB locations to be defined and populated with a copy of certain data points from other RTDB's. Because the RTDB is used to present data to an external master device using a Slave Channel or HCP communication link, this allows data subsets to be created.

Clients Object Placeholder

The Clients object is a placeholder for graphical clarity on the ACE tool, and provides a location to add client tasks to the configuration. Clients are generally tasks where the RediGate is initiating a connection "to" something else, such as to a field device or a network service.

AttributesFunction
Object TypeClients
Parent(s)System
InstanceMust be 0

 

Master Channels Placeholder

The Master Channels Identifier is a placeholder for graphical clarity on the ACE tool, and provides a location to add specific Master Channels (data concentrators) to the configuration.

AttributesFunction
Object TypeMaster Channels
Parent(s)System → Clients
InstanceMust be 0

 

Include Page
1-Master Channel
1-Master Channel

Include Page
2-Internal Channel
2-Internal Channel

 

Database Flush (DumpRTDB_V2)

 

The DumpRTDB object provides a means to periodically flush all the contents of a real-time database to a system that uses report by exception (RBE), such as the Elecsys HCP or an MQTT server (MQTT RBE, JSON RBE, Sparkplug B). Normally, data is only reported upon change of state to conserve bandwidth. Flushing the database periodically requires more bandwidth, but might be preferred in cases where an additional measure of data integrity confirmation is desired. When using DumpRTDB, it is recommended to limit the size of the configured RTDB data points (RBE-enabled fields) to approximately the size of the actual number of used registers, to limit bandwitch usage to only needed data.

AttributesFunction
Object TypeDumpRTDB 
Parent(s)System → Clients → Master Channels 
InstanceMust be 0
PropertiesValues
Interval DelayScans between RBE data refreshes. If RBE Flag parater is set to "All DBM Flags", there is one interval delay per flag (interval x 4 for each flag).
RBE FlagWhich RBE Flags in DBM to set
Device ListSelect which field units to enable RBE flags. If empty, update ALL RTDB's

 

HART Commands

 

The HART Commands object provides HART command options for Field Unit HART objects' poll tables.

See the Protocol_HART-Master protocol documentation for information on configuring HART Commands.

HART Command

 

The HART Command object specficies a particular HART command and defines data types and registers in which to store the data in responses from HART devices.

See the Protocol_HART-Master protocol documentation for information on configuring HART Commands.