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For over 37 years I (Sal Tuzzo) have been involved with product, system and instrument development where
I have been required to use some sort of computer or computer controlled system. This has directed me to slowly evolve, or to say the
least, be assimilated to its dependency which allowed me the ease of recording past experiences, designs, etc.,hence, cognitive intellectual
knowledge. This educational-experience is without doubt the most expensive throughout my career as well as allowing me to start this
company in 1980 and still hold its ground. After spending many hours programming in assembly on a Nova Series, PDP series,
Motorola 6800 and Intel 8080 micros, the jump to the IBM PC was easy. Designing and developing peripherals along with writing drivers
lead me to purchase the state of the art in desktop computing. However as most new developers will eventually learn, If it is not
broke, don't fix it. The largest capitol investment was the transition to Windows, I bet you could have guessed that. The
development systems I am using today evolved from a 640K DRAM PC with four 360K floppy drives to a Dual Xeon 3.0GHz with 4 GIG SDRAM and
a 500 Gig of storage locally and 18 Terabytes of storage on the 2 way servers, which are now obsolete before I even finish talking about
it. However, for our needs, these systems are still efficient. Graphics went from dual monitors, 640x320 CGA and MGA to
256Meg PCI Nvidia dual monitors connected to a 21" 1600x1200 pixel monitor and a 1440x900 LCD monitor under Windows 2000
sp4. For those who are starting out in CAD arena, the more pixels the better. A maximum of 21" high resolution monitor is Ideal.
I have used flat screens with 1280x1024 19" and was not happy with the performance. However the 24"x19" from Apple
Computer has 1900x1600 and is really efficient but bears a tag over $1000.00. That will drop in time and that is the next upgrade for
The other issues are web server and web browser compatibilities. During the development of this site I found out that the pages displayed varied from browser to browser as well as release levels within the same browser. This web site is being updated on a regular basis and we are attempting to test this site using several of the top browsers and technology. At present we are still working out some of the bugs in web development and various browser philosophies. The browser plug-ins that are required to view this site are the FLASH, SHOCKWAVE, QUICKTIME, MEDIAPLAYER. If you require one of the plug-ins for your browser, a window will pop up and ask if you want to automatically install it, you will then be linked to the suppliers site for the downloading or automatic installation, your choice. Presently this site has been tested with Internet Explorer 8.0 and higher, all versions of Firefox from 6 to 48+ http://www.mozilla.org and Opera browsers. MAC Safari also works great. For those that have many platforms to handle, I suggest Firefox which supports Unix, Linux, Windows and other platforms. This web site is set up to be proportional to the screen resolution the user has set, however for best results a screen resolution of 1024x768 and above are suggested.
Several software programs were used to create these presentation and are listed below. I am sure that in time these packages will be outdated as well, however for the last five plus years they have been very stable. Keep in mind that I did upgrade some of this software only to a point that it had all the basic functionality as previous releases. The next upgrade for this software will require me to change from Windows NT 4.0 to a different operating system. The latest upgrade was from Visio 5.0 to MS Visio Professional and Windows 2000. The upgrade to Windows 2000 was a very costly one as was the updating to Windows XP-Pro and I doubt if I will upgrade to Windows 7 for some time since I would have to replace all the desktops to start. I am looking at the costs to upgrade to a MAC when I am assured that the design software and my design files may be transferred over, till then Win XP stays in place even though it support ends Apr 2014. Also I have invested a lot of time in the security of this network and system. I am sure like many running XP there are packages that will not run on Win 7 and therefore have to either be recompiled or updated if possible. In some cases they will have to be re-written to accommodate the update.
BASIL Networks has purchased Windows 7 Professional and the new hardware that it required to support the OS. All of BASIL Networks, PLLC
software is designed to work from XP, Win7 32/64 Win8.x 32/64 and we are working on testing windows 10.
Act for the CRM database of suppliers of components, etc.
Although all of these program packages combined appear to be many to use for one application and cumbersome to maneuver, they are all integrated within one expensive windows environment allowing communications through that environment to ease handling of data. Over the years I have found that no one program has all the functionality and be "comfortable" to work with. For those who are starting to develop an engineering publication format, it would be easier to start one main program and deal with the inconsistencies and some limitations until you become more familiar with the format that works best for you. All the analysis and presentation could be done within MathCAD itself, which by the way is what I did for the initial engineering analysis. Several requests for publication allowed me to address other issues and now we use a combination of C and MatLab since MatLab scripts are very closely related to the C language and now has report capability as well. The only external package to help the cross platform issue is the PDF file maker. For my internal and corporate publications I was guided to put this publication format together which led to a full HTML presentation package. This forced the evaluation of several HTML editors. As an engineer and not a "WEB developer", I wanted something that is easy to learn and apply immediately with many bells and whistles. My selection was Namo WebEdit and was new to the market and was used to create this web site. It should be considered that most companies today use a web server internally for their private Intranet communications and engineers will eventually use WYSIWYG HTML/XML editors like they use a word processor today.
To point out, there are presently three unique application programs within the BASIL Networks site and a forth being discussed, A WYSIWYG web editor for the layout of the site, a forum application package for support, a blog application package for publications and coming soon an e-commerce shopping basket package. A blog is not a website, a forum is not a blog, an e-commerce shopping basket is an on-line store and is neither a blog or a website. A website is where a blog application, a forum application and e-commerce application reside to be conveniently accessed via the website.
Most office application packages like MatCAD, MatLab, and others allow for HTML/XML conversion to make it easy to publish a web page. some of the more challenging issues experienced were with operating system incompatibilities generating animation graphics. Another expense through the years in upgrading of the Windows XP OS (now expired). So when upgrading if there is a * or note next to the OS look for the fine print. Windows 7 through 10 is under consideration, however the expense is all new hardware as well. BASIL Networks decided on purchasing Redhat Enterprise Linux and currently investigating the OS for a new development environment. We have been using this over the past six years now for all our server applications and it is very stable. We are still forced to keep the Windows based systems due to our instrumentation development environment only during the transition period. The costs savings is very good and our knowledge of computers is an advantage to setup easy installations over the network for additional workstations local or remote. We also switched to Firefox, and Opera and have been evaluating Chrome on a stand alone system for a default browser for the best cross platform compatibility, however there are still a few sites that are IE exclusive and the browser competition to dominate the market and add code snippets that make the competitions browser format differently is still very active. The issue remains that those who have invested many man hours in development of specialized instrumentation that integrates Windows XP's 25 year life still have to have support for it, BASIL Networks is one of those companies in that arena. The upgrade cost is far more than just a few hundred dollars for the OS and some hardware. The old adage "if it's not broken don't fix it" fits well. There are many software packages that will still run on Windows 7 and 10 that will work in a 32 bit mode, however all of the network client-server applications and hardware drivers have to be upgraded and validated.
Our Newest addition is a 3D printer that is capable of creating a 7 cubic inch block area of plastic. As of this update 3D printing is still being developed. Even the most expensive printers require serious maintenance. We are looking at purchasing a laser cutter for plastic (50 to 60 watt) will work fine for our development needs.
The hardware used for peripheral development was a custom designed 12 slot PCI industrial rack mount enclosure complete with a LCD front panel display, mouse and keyboard. The oscilloscope used to collect timing data was a Tektronix TDS7104 Digital Phosphor Oscilloscope. This scope has a 10 GSPS, 1GHz bandwidth collection range with 8 Meg RAM per channel option. The scope OS is Windows 98 and has one of the easiest user interfaces that I have used in some time. I have used the 754 series 500MSPS scopes but this is a much better evolved device. With a 100mbs TCP/IP this device was easy to put on the network and store the raw data to a MathCAD compatible file. The scope has a jitter measurements option as well and has a measured stability of a few pico-seconds that we were able to measure in the lab. Because of the high speed of this PCB making connections were difficult to say the least. This scope uses high input impedance active FET input type probes. Our timing diagrams show waveform distortion at the rise and fall time in the 5 ns area when trying to probe a point on the PCB. The next revision of this PCB layout will have 50 ohm termination test points to accurately measure the digital performance and limits of the design. The DAC output analog connections were not a problem since they were taken directly at the output connector into 50 ohms.
Similar test equipment was used on the Bridge Test System development for calibration. One interesting factor with the test system current measurements. A comparison for accuracy was performed using both low and high current probes from Tektronix and a simple Bell $25.00 hall effect current sensor with a range of 0 to 100 amps. The frequency response of the Bell sensor stated better than 60KHz but I was able to get better than 150KHz. When we compared the two different probes, the Bell was well within 1% over the range as well as the Tektronix. Granted the Tektronix frequency range was specified at 5MHz and the price proved it. Since our test were under 50KHz the less expensive probes were selected. I also found several other manufacturers that manufactured these devices that would work at high temperatures and calibrated to 1% over the range.
For Web Development I switched completely to Linux. I have a separate Linux web server and mail server that is connected to the windows server network with Samba allowing smooth integration for web development. I also highly recommend using a separate Linux box for development somewhere completely OFF-LINE and disconnected from the on-line network however similar to the actual environment you will be running. I have tried using the MS Window versions of Apache and MySQL with PHP, however, by the time I finished reviewing the MS Windows licensing expenses Linux was definitely the best choice for both price and performance.
I hope this information helps if you are looking for an integrated design environment (IDE) to control your company. If you have suggestions or other comments I can be reached at JT My public PGP key if required is JT PGP Key.
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