Siemens Comtext with Windows NT

  • Thread starter Michael Griffin
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Michael Griffin

Has anyone been able to successfully run Siemens Comtext software with Windows NT? Comtext is the software used to program certain models of Siemens OPs (operator panels). I don't need to be able to have it communicate via the serial port, just to be able to look at and modify programs off line. I would use another computer (which has Windows 95) to download the program to the OP when it is done.

I use Windows 95 on my own computer and have never experienced any problems. However, several other people have tried to use Comtext on
computers with Windows NT without success. The program briefly begins to start up before immediately crashing (before any actual screens are displayed). The same result happens whether the program is executed from the Windows desktop or from a Windows NT "DOS prompt" window.

I do not believe that Siemens has a direct replacement for Comtext, and we expect the existing hardware we use it with (dozens of OPs) to be around for many years yet to come. They should outlast the useful mechanical life of their machines. Protool (or at least Protool Light version 5) only supports the newer series of OPs.

In a more general sense, is anyone aware of what future possibilities there will be for Windows "DOS" software support? I was told that DOS support will be completely phased out with future versions of Windows. If so, then this may be a problem, as some industrial hardware manufacturers will not be producing Windows versions of their older software, nor necessarily supporting older devices in their newer software.
However, the existing hardware itself will be in service for at least another 10 to 15 years (or more). I have a good many pieces of hardware from
various manufacturers which are in this situation.

It is not feasible just to keep an old computer around, as there is no guarantee that it will continue to function, and it becomes impossible to
find spare parts after only a few years. I won't be able to even reverse engineer an old program to implement it on new hardware if I can't even open the old program.

Michael Griffin
London, Ont. Canada
[email protected]

I'm sure that COMTEXT won't run under NT however ProTool Pro (I have V5.1) has most OP's from OP3 etc upto OP37, What are you trying to configure?

I Beleive there is a conversion utility from Siemens to convert COMTEXT to PROTOOL although I've not used it personally.

As you stated I think there will lots of problems soon, we used alot of 'old' DOS programs for NC Drives, Siemens S5, Bosch PLC's etc etc and I'm sure the day will come when I need to carry 2 Laptops everywhere!!

Iain Smith

Michael Griffin

>I'm sure that COMTEXT won't run under NT however ProTool Pro (I
>have V5.1) has most OP's from OP3 etc upto OP37, What are you
>trying to configure?

I'm not sure what Siemens OPs you are familiar with, but we use the following:

- The oldest ones we have are the OP1 & TD1. This uses DOS based ComTD.

- Later equipment used the OP20. This was the first OP we used which used Comtext. This OP was a drastic change from the OP1 in how it worked, and was available in several different sizes. You will be familiar with the fact that Comtext is actually a CP/M program which needed a CP/M emulator to run on a DOS computer.

- Next we got the OP15 and OP5 (first generation). These also used the same Comtext software. Siemens discontinued the OP20 when the OP15 and OP5 came out. With the OP5 and OP15, Siemens started using liquid crystal displays
which were larger than on the OP20. This is when the current text display screen sizes were established.

- These were followed by the OP15 and OP5 (second generation). These use Protool. They look physically identical to the first generation OP5 and OP15 hardware, but the guts are different. There are really more or less an OP17 and OP7 in OP15 and OP5 boxes. Protool will not talk to the original OP15, and Comtext will not talk to the newer OP15 (and the same for the OP5).

- The OP3 is not quite the same as the other OPs, as it is missing certain functions, and some of the remaining ones do not work the same way. However, it is still programmed with Protool. We don't use these in the same sort of applications as the other OPs.

- We are currently using the OP17 and OP7. These are programmed with Protool (I am actually using Protool Lite).

The above OPs essentially fall into three classes:
1) The OP1. (ComTD)
2) The OP20, OP5 and OP15 (first generation). (Comtext)
3) The OP5, OP15 (second generation), OP7 and OP17. (Protool)

My problem is that the hardware from #2 (OP20, OP5, OP15) is not going away simply because Siemens stopped selling new ones (nor from #1 for that matter). The reason this question came up is because one of my co-workers is currently reverse engineering a machine which has an OP20 so he can add some improved instrumentation. He needed to examine the OP
program to check what screens, messages, etc. are present.

>I beleive there is a conversion utility from Siemens to convert
>COMTEXT to PROTOOL although I've not used it personally.

As far as I know, there is no way to easily translate programs between classes. The conversion utility I have seen does some of the work for you, but you still essentially have to re-write the program. Furthermore, each new generation of software did not offer any ability to program older generations of devices.
This is understandable when dealing with the OP1, as the fundamental concepts it uses are totally different from the following generation.
However, the second and third classes both use the same concepts of screens, alarms, events, fields, etc., but backward compatability was not provided.

Michael Griffin
London, Ont. Canada
[email protected]