Developing Software Tools to Troubleshoot Networks

Diego Machuca, Software Systems Engineer

Lord and company vision is to be the world number one automation systems provider by completing each project on time, under budget and with excellence. In order to accomplish L&C vision, innovation and creativity plays a main key to meet projects expectations and exceed them. Troubleshooting hardware and software often require great amount of effort and time. Some of the tools for troubleshooting either software or hardware are generic for a specific system or a specific brand in the automation industry. These tools in some cases are not enough for a thoroughly troubleshoot process. For this reason Lord and Company has developed internal software tools that helps make this process more effective and less demanding on L&C employees to provide with a better project outcome.

 

On a current project engineers ran into a situation where a specific decoding software was needed to be able to process large amounts of data and find possible mistakes in the code. It is common on MosCAD networks to transmit data in frames where the programmer has the ability to program such messages. The messages transmitted can be via wireline links, radio link, and local RTU-RTU links. Radio link and local links can be captured via Motorola’s STS tool called Protocol Analyzer and in a more sophisticated wireline link a network sniffer software (Wireshark) can be used to capture all network traffic in a period of time.

 

Lord and Company has developed software to troubleshoot Motorola MosCAD system network communications. Packets being sent and received can be capture by using a port mirroring device connected to the system network and using any packet sniffing software such as Wireshark. Once the packages have been captured, Lord and Company software can convert and analyze them, providing the programmer with a readable format of the messages in the network. On the first release of the tool the programmer can copy and paste a captured message in hexadecimal format and transformed into a decimal format that is presented in a table format. The table format allows a programmer to understand, verify and validate the contents of the frame.

 

This software tool was developed using C# and Visual Studio 2013 IDE, it can be used on all Windows operating systems 32 and 64 bit. Programmers at Lord and Company keep improving, innovating and developing internal software tools that will help achieve the company’s vision. Future development of the software tool will have additional features to cross reference a messages with other data pre-defined data, save analyzed data into files, print and some others as needed.

 

machuca1

Figure 1. Window with input box and result output table.