2014 Corn and Soybean Planting Season

A tractor prepares a farm field for planting

The USDA released its 2014 report on prospective planting for the upcoming farming season a little over a week ago. Being a numbers person, I like to dig through these types of reports to see what interesting facts I can find. I will focus on corn and soybeans since I am in Iowa and that is about all we grow around here so those are the crops with which I am most familiar. Plus, those two crops comprise 40% of the total farmed acres in the United States.

Attending EE Live! In San Jose, California

The EE Live! Conference is on

Upon arrival in San Jose I headed down to baggage claim to retrieve my suitcase that I was forced to check due to just being on a completely full plane. I then headed outside and was struck with what felt like a heat wave after being in the Midwest for one of our coldest winters. Granted it was only around 60°F, but when I left North Dakota it was around 35°F.

Attending EE Live! in San Jose allowed me to attend numerous sessions and learn about many different technologies and ideas…

Day one of the 2014 EELive! Conference

The EE Live! Conference is on

EELive!, formerly known as DESIGN West, is an annual week-long engineering industry event which includes the embedded systems conference, training sessions, boot camps, postmortems, and a large expo featuring exhibits from vendors across the industry.

It’s April 1 and I’m still cold… So let’s destroy the North Pole!!! Ha Ha Ha!!!!!!

April 1, 2014. 22ºF (coldºC)

Happy April Fool's Day

Here in Iowa, we’re tired of waiting for spring. This winter was awful, setting records for snowfall and below-zero temperatures. Like Vanilla Ice said “too cold, too cold!” All caused by the Polar Vortex. That’s why at DISTek Integration we are pleased to announce that we are going to destroy the polar vortex by demagnetizing the north pole!

New in Mathworks Simulink 2014A, the Data Dictionary

The new Simulink Data Dictionary is a key component to MBSD

For software engineers who use Simulink to do Model Based Software Development (MBSD), the ability to manage variables, also known as signals and parameters in Simulink, has always been a challenge. It has been possible but not without shortcomings, especially when dealing with large software systems.

For those not familiar with Simulink, Here is a brief outline of what the past issues have been.

An introduction to ISOBUS Sequence Control – ISO 11783 – Part 14

Sequence Control as defined in ISO 11783 – part 14 provides the ability for a tractor to record and perform a sequence of actions within either the tractor or its attached implements. The value to the operator is that he can activate a sequence of steps via one button press or action step. Usually, the sequence of steps would occur at the headland of the field. Besides simplifying the actions required of the operator at the headland and allowing the operator to concentrate on positioning the tractor and implement for another pass through the field, sequence control eliminates forgotten steps that can happen near the end of a long day in the field.

Using Google Test to Unit Test C Code

While the Google Test framework is designed for C++ it can be used to create a framework for C unit testing. Reference the Google Test documentation for more details on the capabilities of Google Test.

The Framework

These framework files are included in any C unit test project.
•A header file to define macros to interface from C++ to C – gtest_c.h
•A header file to provide C interfaces to the Google Test comparison functions – Gtest_helper.h.
•A helper file to interface Google Test comparison function to C – Gtest_helper.cc

Book Report: The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn

Photo: © Judex | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Has someone ever exceeded your expectations through their actions? How did that make you feel? Was it contagious?

Mark Sanborn’s book The Fred Factor showcases how Fred the postal carrier went above and beyond the expected in delivering mail. Delivering mail is simple and monotonous, the same day in and day out. However, the way Fred performed his tasks was anything but ordinary. According to Sanborn, if Fred can deliver mail and catch the attention, in a very positive manner, of those he serves, any person can perform their role in what they do for a living in a better way.

National Instruments Architect Summit: New Certification Guidlines

As LabVIEW and TestStand developers creating customer applications, acquiring and maintaining our National Instruments certifications is important to both DISTek and our customers. Certification demonstrates up-to-date expertise with the software as new features are released and maintains our presence as product experts in the technical community. To keep certifications current, we must periodically take the next higher certification exam or recertify at our current level.

CLA Certification

NI Architect Summit: Object Oriented Programming in LabVIEW

Last week I attended the NI Architect Summit, and I saw some patterns emerge while sitting in on the frameworks track. All of the framework content was related to challenges in LabVIEW Object Oriented Programming (LVOOP). LabVIEW is sold as a software tool for scientists and engineers, yet also provides features including LVOOP for advanced users. The takeaways below speak to the challenge of transitioning from a procedural single-threaded dataflow design to a parallel messaging architecture using LVOOP.

CONEXPO – CONAGG 2014

What is it like to come to the CONEXPO show for the first time? Well, it would be easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the show and the distractions of Las Vegas. It is manageable by taking some time to put together a plan and to build a set of priorities for what you want to see.

The Caterpillar Display at CONEXPO.  Photo: Gary Honey

FIRST Robotics team 525 – Cedar Falls HS at the Central Illinois Regional Competition

DISTek fully supports STEMS (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education and the development of the next generation of engineers. Many DISTek employees have volunteered to work with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego League programs at the elementary school level, and robotics programs at the secondary school level.
The FIRST website describes the program: