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What is the proper usage of the 'Install' button on a ZoneMax controller?
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What is the proper usage of the 'Install' button on a ZoneMax controller?


  • ZoneMax control card, the immediate equipment it is installed on, and the network of ZoneMax control cards it is connected to.  'EasyRoll' Software is tangentially related


The 'Install' button of a ZoneMax control card is used to reconfigure the entire network of ZoneMax control cards at one time, using the card that the 'Install' button was pressed on as the 'head' node of the new network configuration.  Due to how many of these networks are configured, using this 'Install' button is rarely advised on any customer system.  For reconfiguring a specific ZoneMax Control Card, an operator should instead use the 'EasyRoll ZoneMax Configuration' software.

(above: a ZoneMax Control Card.  The 'Install' button can be seen near the center of the card).

ZoneMax Control Cards are connected to each other by network connections, and are effectively daisy-chained together in a single line.  By design, any Control Card in a network understands how far away it is from another module immediately connected to it, and also understands how many other modules are between it and any other module on that network.

(above: A demonstration of how four ZoneMax Control Cards are connected together, via Ethernet).

When the 'Install' button is used on any given ZoneMax card in a network, it will assign that card with the first possible IP of that card's network, and then have that card branch outward to find the next device that communicates.  In most cases, it is assumed that the card that the 'Install' was pressed on is the one that is supposed to be at the 'head' end of the network.  Since any given card doesn't know whether or not it's intended to be mounted on the left-hand or right-hand side of a conveyor section, it will attempt to connect on both its left and right sides, and see where it first gets a response.  The first response that the card receives is assumed to be the next sequential address, and then that card that responded will then look downstream in that same direction for a response on any card plugged into that end.  

Where this causes problems is when the 'Install' button is pressed on a card that is in the 'middle' of the network.  Since the card attempts to reach out on both the left and right side, both sides will produce responses.  However, one will be faster, so that will be assumed to be the next address.  Depending on response speeds of both sides, the address configuration of the network could be gravely misinterpreted by this "Auto-Configuration" routine prompted by the 'Install' button.  When an 'Install' is performed on an incorrect ZoneMax controller, the user will often see the conveyor running backward at some of the nearby zones, usually without any actual photoeye input prompting that movement.

In addition, there is one other issue that occurs when using the 'Install' button - even when it's performed on the Head node of the network:

(above: the 'ZoneMax Diagnostics' screen, as seen from a customer site using Intelligrated's MC4 Software)

In many of our ZoneMax networks, we utilize different sets of IP addresses for different parts of the conveyor system being controlled.  In the above example, the first 3 nodes have an IP address in the format 192.168.201.XXX - these 3 represent conveyors leading up to a barcode scanner.  The nodes after that are all in the format 192.168.202.XXX, representing the scanner bed up through the end of the system.  Configurations like this are often custom-built to a customer's specific building, and experience major problems when the 'Install' button is used.

The 'Install' button does not understand how to handle different formats of IP addresses, and will usually default to '192.168.201.XXX'.  In the example shown above, using the 'Install' button on the head node of the network would reconfigure the entire network to match the 192.168.201.XXX schema - which would cause all but the first 3 zones of the network to fail to operate as intended.

As such, the 'Install' button should only be used on the head node of a network that uses the default ZoneMax IP format for all of its nodes, and only by a technician that understands how to restore the ZoneMax network from a backup configuration file in the case that the default Auto Configuration procedure does not function as intended for a specific system.

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Published on 4/26/2022.
Last Modified on 4/26/2022.
Last Modified by Michael Sander.
Article has been viewed 3292 times.
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