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Modular Interface Links Tank Gauges

March 11, 2003
Gauging Systems GSI-E/IFI field interface

Many tank gauges are connected by arcane or proprietary protocols that make data access difficult. These older communications buses are often vulnerable to lightning, noise, or water incursion, creating major maintenance headaches. Tank farmers need better tools to upgrade and integrate these networks.

Depending on the era of your childhood, "The new GSI-E/IFI enhanced/intelligent field interface from Gauging Systems can be thought of as the Erector Set, Tinker Toys, Building Blocks, or Legos of the tank gauging world," says John Hoben, vice president, Gauging Systems. "It can be used with most cabling topologies,-10Base-FL, radio, hardwire, etc.,-for host communications and with multiple gauge manufacturers electrical standards and protocols at the same time."

The E/IFI serves as a multiple loop interface, protocol converter, data concentrator, cabling topology center, remote terminal unit, local display, and field report printer.

A CPU module is combined with single or multiple intelligent personality modules (IPMs), surge protection modules, and power supply modules. Optional modules include spread spectrum radio, cellular modem, satellite transceiver, and I/O. All components are DIN rail-mounted and housed in a NEMA 4X weatherproof enclosure.

"The CPU is the same board that has been field-proven for two years in our E/TGI model," says Hoben. It has a minimum of 2 MB non-volatile Flash memory, 16 MB RAM, two Ethernet ports (10Base-FL fiber link or 10Base-T), and two serial ports (RS-232/485 configurable).

"Operating software includes a web browser, so the E/IFI can be used as a web-enabled device," he adds. "It can be custom-programmed for special applications, with options for a ribbon printer and local display."

Each CPU module can address as many as 32 intelligent personality modules via one RS-485 port. Each personality module can have a different protocol and/or electrical standard to match the gauge used in that wiring loop, is paired with a matching power supply module, and has a matching surge protection module.

In normal operation, the IPMs refresh and hold tank data and pass it to the CPU on request or at scheduled intervals. The E/IFI software delivers information from the CPUs to the host or HMI. Data transfer from the IPMs to the host or HMI are much faster than most gauge technology, so the system adds negligible delays.

The functionalities of the IPMs can be reversed to communicate to the gauge technology, allowing IPMs to replace proprietary components.

For more information call 800/444-1327 or see


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