Practical Series Publications

A series of technical documents for engineers
(and others)

by Michael Gledhill

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I designed this website as a resource for control system engineers, specifically those specialising in the use of Siemens Simatic equipment. It is my intention that the website will ultimately contain a series of technical publications that cover the development, programming and use of all the various Siemens control system equipment and programming packages:

  • Programmable logic controllers (PLCs), the S7-300, 400, 1200-1500 ranges, Simatic Manager and TIA portal

  • The WinCC supervisory control and data acquisition system (SCADA)

  • Human machine interface devices (HMIs) using WinCCFlex and TIA portal

  • The process control system (PCS 7)

This is a work in progress, and I will add publications as and when I complete them.

My original intention was to start with the PLCs, these being the most common bits of kit — it is still my intention to do this.

However, before I could do this I was distracted; first by having to create a website to hold the publications and secondly by having a version control system to help me manage the development of the website.

It occurred to me that these two distractions might be useful to other people and I’ve published them:

Major publications

A website development template

The first thing I had to do was create a website to hold the publications and, being an engineer, I tried to do this with a certain precision and method that allowed the website to be reused for different publications. In short, I created a website template that can be used as needed to create a web book (you’re looking at it now).

This wasn’t as easy as it sounds, I’m no web developer and HTML and CSS were new to me; then there are all the other things: scalable images, hyphenation, displaying code fragments, web fonts, icon fonts, displaying formulae, creating an image gallery &c.—a whole load of stuff, all of it fiddly, difficult and time consuming.

It was at this point that it occurred to me that the website itself could be useful; so I wrote it up and made it the first publication.

Click the above link (or here) to go to the template website and have a look around.

A version control system with Brackets

As I built the website, I found that I needed some sort of version control system and I settled on Git and GitHub. Git has a bit of a prehistoric feel to it, it is a command line system that is quite difficult to use; but then I found out that it could be used through the Brackets text editor (my text editor of choice for building the website) and this made everything much easier.

Git and GitHub (the online version of Git) still have a steep learning curve and it took a long time to understand them—I had to make lots of notes, do a lot of reading around the subject, try a lot of different thing and experiment with it until I had an understanding of what it all meant and how it worked.

And since I had written it all down, I again thought it might be useful to other people—so I decided to publish it, you can click the above link or see it here.

Minor publications

The 1993 Land Rover Defender 200 Tdi original Owner’s Manual

This is a bit of a hobby really, I own an old Land Rover Defender 200 Tdi (1993, she’s 24 years old) and I have the original owner’s manual.

I’ve been asked several times for a copy of this manual (they seem to go missing with old Land Rovers) and rather than repeatedly photocopying it, I’ve posted it on the website, there’s also some less useful information about my dogs.

Click the above link or see it here.

Last word
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This site has been up and running in one form or another for a year now and it’s time to let you know what’s been happening.

I’ve revised and updated the Brackets-Git web pages. This followed a major proof reading exercise and the addition of new section.

I’m back on with the web development template (after a bit of a delay). Finishing this is my next task.

I’ve moved the whole website over to the secure protocol (HTTPS rather than HTTP); it seems that this is the thing to do nowadays. Google values HTTPS sites above HTTP. I’ll add a section to the web development pages explaining how to do this.

I’ve also included a fairly comprehensive privacy policy; I’m obliged to do this now because the website is hosted in England and this now falls under the General Data Protection Regulation (gdpr) rules. You can read it in all its excruciating details in the legal and privacy section. It does have some useful insights about how it all applies to Google Analytics

Oh yes, I’ve also linked to Facebook and twitter social media accounts, this is largely against my better judgement, click the icons at the bottom of the page (don’t expect any great pearls of wisdom — maybe some pictures of the dogs and the land rover).

I will explain how those social media icons work in the web development pages at some point.

That’s it — hope you find it useful.

Michael Gledhill
August 2018 — Chester