MKV HMI Upgrade From Window XP to WorkStationST


Thread Starter


Our plant MKV two HMIs were upgrade from Windows XP to Window 7 with WorkstationST recently. however, we are experiencing periodic loss of communication. We are still using the old arcnet card CCSI20020DEV1. Why are we getting loss signals to the HMIs?

Please send the answer to [email protected]

The likely reason the HMIs are still using the original ARCnet cards is that there is no current version of ARCnet card being manufactured currently which is compatible with WorkstationST.

You should be working with the supplier of the upgraded HMIs to resolve this problem. You will need to tell them what is happening to the ARCnet communications when you "lose communication" (and you'll need to be much more descriptive of that term as well--do you mean you're losing data on the CIMPLICITY displays? Alarms in the Alarm Window?

When you notice the loss of communication, you need to look at BOTH HMIs and detail what's happening on each of them, including looking at the LEDs on the ARCnet card to see if they're flashing, or solidly lit, or not lit--and write down the conditions. You'll also need to go to the <C> processor of the Mark V and note any alarms being displayed on the LCC/SLCC Display. If there are any alarms being displayed on any of the other processors, you should write them down as well.

Are you able to open any of the Mark V Displays, like Logic Forcing or Control Constants Adjust, or Prevote Data?

What are you doing to restore communications? Restarting the HMI(s)? Before you re-start the HMI(s), do you clear any alarms from the displays of the Mark V processors, particularly <C>?

It should be noted that because the Mark V is no longer supported by GE that their software support in their newest HMI operating system, WorkstationST, is probably a little lacking. But, you should definitely push the supplier to get this problem fixed.

Lastly, you should investigate all of the coaxial StageLink cables, any BNC tee connectors, and any termination resistors on the ends of the StageLink segments (refer to the Mark V Application Manual, GEH-6195, and the Mark V Maintenance Manual, GEH-5980, for details about the StageLink). It's not uncommon for these components to fail over time. At some sites, the wrong coaxial cable was used (it would work sometimes for years, then start developing problems), and some of the BNC fittings (tee connectors and termination resistors) were not the proper ones (there are BNC fittings for ARCnet networks, and BNC fittings for Ethernet (10-Base2 networks)--and while they're physically the same size, they are not interchangeable. Also, the atmosphere at some sites results in corrosion of some of the BNC fittings. And, some sites had some very poor crimps/terminations of BNC connectors on coaxial cables. It may just be that because the cables weren't disturbed for years and they were recently disturbed during the HMI upgrade that problems have started.

So, eliminate the cables/BNC connector/termination resistor problems, first. Document exactly what's happening at each end of the StageLink segments by noting LED status and Alarms.

And work with the supplier to resolve this problem--after you have confirmed all of the StageLink components (cables; terminations; BNC fittings; termination resistors; and any fiber optic repeaters which might be used at your site) are all working properly. Once you have determined everything is physically okay with the network components, you'll have to get the supplier involved--and they likely will start by asking if you've checked all the network components to be sure they are all working properly.

Please write back to let us know what you find, and how the problem is resolved!
Happy to read CSA feedback.

We too having 10 HMI's for 5 GT's with Win XP. We are not planning to upgrade to Win 7. What would be the advantage for upgrade? Yes we understood Win XP is becomes obsolete.

take care

> What would be the advantage for upgrade?

The biggest risk is if the PCs are ever connected to the Internet they are vulnerable to viruses and malware. I'm told even short periods of Internet connectivity can result in viruses and malware as they search out machines running the outdated OS.

Even some removable media (floppy disks;flash drives ("thumb drives"); CDs and DVDs) can also transmit viruses and malware unless they are verified prior to insertion into a host PC. (Some removable media have been found to be infected out of the manufacturer's packaging--so diligence is ALWAYS prudent.)

If the HMIs are not connected to the Internet--either permanently or periodically--then risk is low as long as removable media are carefully scrutinized before use in the HMI PC.

Some sites are very effectively protecting their MS-WinXP-based systems by running them in virtual machines on PCs with newer OSes and virtual machine software. This doesn't protect against problems introduced via removable media which hasn't been checked for the absence of viruses and malware, or which are connected to the Internet via the host OS (this is never recommended). The host OS needs to have effective antivirus and anti-malware software which is updated periodically (through the use of removable media).

At some point, though, companies providing support for antivirus and anti-malware software running on MS-WinXP-based PCs are going to stop providing that support. And then care and diligence is going to become even more important.

Effective back-ups of known clean hard drives, using something like Acronis True Image (which can create bootable backups), is extremely important--even for new GE HMIs. Sometimes, trying to remove viruses or malware can damage or render the PC useless; a complete restore from a bootable back-up is INVALUABLE under these circumstances.

Sites need to have policies about using removable media, and if the PCs are connected to the Internet, about websites which can and cannot be accessed--along with firewalls and other prudent protections. The policies need to be strict and enforced--the consequences are too great otherwise.

So, prudent back-ups, staying off the Internet--even with the best protection measures, use of "scrubbed" removable media are all the best protection. At some point, an unsupported OS will have to be replaced.

There are other options available for GE Mark V HMIs (besides the OEM), running newer OSs and with simpler configurations and better features.

> The likely reason the HMIs are still using the original
> ARCnet cards is that there is no current version of ARCnet
> card being manufactured currently which is compatible with WorkstationST.

I had another thought/possibility about this particular aspect of your configuration. The ARCnet cards which were originally provided with most GE Mark V HMIs were ISA ARCnet cards; I think TCI (the GE proprietary MS-Windows background service necessary for a PC to use an ARCnet card to communicate with a Mark V turbine control panel) was only capable of using ARCnet cards connected to an ISA bus. If I recall correctly, GE never wrote a version of TCI that would work with a PCI (the later PC bus for NICs and other accessory cards). And no one is currently producing ISA-bus ARCnet cards capable of communicating with TCI and Mark Vs.

However, having said all of the above, I wonder if WorkstationST (the GE proprietary MS-Windows service that's necessary for CIMPLICITY to communicate with any GE Mark&* Speedtronic turbine control panel) might have been updated to work with newer PCI, or PCIe, bus ARCnet NICs (Network Interface Cards). I there is a Control Panel applet for WorkstationST which has a tab for configuring the ISA-bus ARCnet card. If there's also a tab, or a field on the ARCnet configuration tab, for PCI (and/or PCIe) bus ARCnet cards. If so, you could ask the GE Mark V HMI supplier if they can tell you (or sell you) PCI (or PCIe) ARCnet cards. If you think that may be the problem.

Again, the chips used on most ISA ARCnet cards are no longer being produced. So, no ISA ARCnet cards are available--which may explain why the new HMIs are re-using the old ARCnet cards. And, it may be that GE has upgraded/updated their proprietary MS-Windows service (WorkstationST) to work with newer ARCnet cards (which they should!) Because what are they going to do when the ISA ARCnet cards start failing.?.?.?

I'll ask a former colleague about this, and if I find out anything new I'll post back.

In the meanwhile, barswann, please let us know how you're faring in resolving this problem--or if you've resolved it, what you've done.