F4T Programming Resources

The F4T Touch Screen Controller is manufactured by Watlow Electric.

There are several communications possibilities available for use the F4T Controller.

Native Ethernet Interface

  • Modbus TCP protocol for all functions. See Testing Modbus TCP below for a utility to test Modbus communications via the native Ethernet interface.
  • SCPI commands for limited set of most frequently used functions. See SCPI Programming Mode for Ethernet below for more information and a utility to test SCPI communications via the native Ethernet interface.
  • Communicates with Watlow Composer Software, which is used to create/archive profiles and create/archive the controller setup via its native Ethernet interface. NOTE: Composer Software is not intended to be used as part of an automated test system. You cannot control or monitor the chamber with Composer Software.
  • See F4T Ethernet Setup IP address configuration instructions.

Native RS-232 Interface

  • Modbus RTU communications protocol only.

USB Host Port

  • For transfer of Datalog, Configuration, and Profile files to flash drives only. Not for communications.

GPIB Converter (TE-0003 and TE-1052)

  • Connects to the F4T's RS-232 Interface.
  • Lets you send simple read-write messages over GPIB to control and query the F4T. The converter does all of the Modbus RTU packet formatting so programming is easy.
  • More information HERE.

Ethernet Converter (TE-1056)

  • Connects to the F4T's RS-232 Interface.
  • Lets you send simple read-write messages over Ethernet to control and query the F4T. The converter does all of the Modbus RTU packet formatting so programming is easy.
  • Why use the Ethernet Converter when the F4T Controller has an Ethernet Interface?
    The native F4T Ethernet Interface uses the Modbus TCP protocol. The TE-1056 Ethernet Interface Converter converts the controller's RS-232 Modbus interface to Ethernet. The converter takes care of the Modbus packet formatting so the command structure is simplified. The most compelling reason why you would want to use TE-1056 Ethernet Interface Converter instead of the F4T's native Ethernet interface is if you wanted to program using simple ASCII commands instead of Modbus packets. Note that Watlow Composer software will only work with the native F4T Ethernet interface.
  • The F4T’s native Ethernet Interface accepts both Modbus and SCPI commands. You do not need the TE-1056 if you want to send SCPI commands directly to the F4T’s native Ethernet Interface!
  • More information HERE.

Testing Modbus TCP
ModbusTcpTest is a Windows-executable utility which can either read or write to Modbus registers on a controller equipped with the Modbus TCP protocol such as the F4T Touch-Screen Controller. ModbusTcpTest works with a connection to the chamber’s Ethernet port. It does NOT work with the TE-1056 (ICS 8099) Serial Modbus-Ethernet converter. Download ModbusTcpTest (567k)


SCPI Programming Mode for Ethernet
SCPI commands are ASCII text strings. The SCPI protocol is only available over Ethernet port 5025. Available SCPI commands for the F4T are in this document.

Testing F4T SCPI Commands using PuTTY
PuTTY is an SSH and telnet client for the Windows platform. PuTTY can be downloaded from http://www.putty.org/. Examples of how to use PuTTY to test SCPI commands over Ethernet with the F4T are in this document.


Composer Software
Composer Software is used to create/archive profiles and create/archive the controller setup via its native Ethernet interface. It CANNOT be used as part of an automated test system.

Sample 32-bit Modbus RTU Packet (Serial Interface)
F4T_32-bit_ModbusRTU_Packet.pdf (86K) illustrates sample 32-bit Modbus RTU (Serial Interface) packets to write a temperature set point and read the actual temperature.

Sample 32-bit Modbus TCP Packet (native Ethernet Interface)
F4T_32_bit-ModbusTCP_Packet.pdf (82K) illustrates sample 32-bit Modbus TCP (Native Ethernet Interface) packets to write a temperature set point and read the actual temperature. NOT for the TE-1056 Ethernet Converter (ICS 8099).

Common F4T Modbus Registers
F4T_Common_modbus_registers.pdf (194K) lists the registers needed for the most customer applications.

F4T Firmware Updates
More info and download links...


Android Connectivity to TestEquity Chambers using Virtuino Modbus

Virtuino Modbus is an HMI (Human Machine Interface) platform to create screens on your Android device to control and monitor systems via Modbus TCI/IP protocol.

Download the project files and instructions HERE (7.6M). TestEquity has created project files which provide a user interface using this application with the following features:

  • Set manual Set Point (SP)
  • Read temperature and humidity
  • Read if communication units are set for degree C or F
  • Set/Read event output status
  • Start a profile with the ability to select the profile number and start step
  • Pause, Terminate, and Resume a profile
  • Monitor the current profile step number and step type
  • Monitor Target Set Point (TSP, the set point target in a ramp or profile) and Current Set Point (CSP, the instantaneous set point during a ramp or profile)
  • For controllers with Cascade Control (Part Temperature Control, requires F4T-T-CASCADE or Model 155): Ability to switch to Simple Set Point mode (disables part temperature control)
  • Log temperature and humidity values to a file with user-settable scan times. Logs file can be exported as a .xls file.
  • Plot the log as a graph in real-time.

Other Modbus Technical Resources

Modbus Industry Organization
Visit www.modbus.org for a more information about the Modbus RTU and Modbus TCP implementation specifications.

Python
See MinimalModbus for programming Modbus RTU in Python. See Common F4T Modbus Registers above for a list of the most common registers you will need to read from or write to.

FieldTalk Modbus Master Library for .NET
Visit modbusdriver.com for a third party Modbus software driver. The software may be purchased from this site and is an excellent buy to get your software quickly talking to Modbus devices when writing a .NET application. The software driver include their technical support assistance. See the documentation for converting between relative versus absolute Modbus addressing for a given driver. See Common F4T Modbus Registers above for a list of the most common registers you will need to read from or write to.


F4T Ethernet Setup

Connectivity issues with Ethernet are almost always a matter of the wrong IP address configuration. This document discusses how to set up the F4T and your computer for Ethernet connectivity. F4T_Ethernet_Setup.pdf (371K)


RS-232 Troubleshooting Tips

We receive many calls each week regarding RS-232 communication issues. There are several issues which must be addressed in order to communicate successfully with the chamber. With thousands of chambers in the field, we have never had a verified case of a bad serial interface in the controller. Below are several of the most common communication issues.

Are you using the correct cable?
The DB-9 connector is wired to accommodate a null-modem cable. A null-modem cable has pins 2 and 3 swapped on each end. You CANNOT use a straight through cable.

Null-Modem Cable

Does your software communicate using the Modbus RTU protocol?
To communicate with the controller from a PC, you need to run software that uses the Modbus RTU protocol. You CANNOT use Hyperterminal. You CANNOT send simple ASCII or SCPI commands directly to the chamber's RS-232 interface.

Modbus Registers
Each controller function has a "register" number which can be read or written to (when applicable).

Common F4T Modbus Registers
F4T_Common_modbus_registers.pdf (194K) lists the registers needed for the most customer applications.