Many DCB products are managed with a web browser interface using Microsoft Explorer or Mozilla Firefox instead of a more traditional terminal command-line operation. Some DCB customers need to automate this operation for convenience or use at unattended sites. This paper explains one quick, economical technique used to accomplish this goal.
Our example application of this type would be a utility company having several remote unattended sites, each equipped with a LAN. Each site also has DCB IP-6600 series router or ET-6600 Bridge and an auto-answer modem for dial-in LAN access.
There is also a headquarters location that contains a PC running Windows, small LAN, and a single IP-6600 or ET-6600 along with a dial-out modem. They want to dial into one remote site at a time, either under operator control from the headquarters LAN or on an automated basis, and collect data or control remote equipment.
The IP or ET devices can easily be configured for an automatic connection (dial upon demand) to a single remote location, but not for multiple locations. An operator could manually configure a phone number in the local device, click on the dial button, and perform their remote operations…. Then disconnect and repeat this process for each location. It would be much easier to create a "macro" icon on the operator's Windows desktop that, when clicked, automatically configures the correct phone number in the router, dials the connection, and then starts the application program (if needed). Another icon would be clicked to force a hang-up at the router, or the router could be configured for auto-disconnect after a certain period of inactivity.
I set up two icons on my desktop to dial two locations, and one icon to force a disconnect. The process took less than 30 minutes from the time I started looking for software until I had the icons on the desktop and ready to use.
First, I searched Google for the keywords "windows macro recorder shareware". Many possible packages came up, and I picked one at random for the trial… I downloaded the free trial shareware package of "Workspace Macro PRO" from Tethys Solutions ( http://www.tethyssolutions.com ). This package sells for about $40.00, and there are many other programs available in the $10 to $200 range. This one was selected at random, and worked well.
I downloaded and installed the macro recorder package. I now have about 5 minutes into the project after looking at it and recording a simple macro to test that I was doing it correctly.
Next, I started recording a "dial location 1" macro beginning with clicking on the Windows "START" button, followed by the "Internet Explorer" icon. After Explorer started, I entered the IP address of the router, logged into it, and configured a telephone number. Next was to move to the tools area and click on the "dial tools" screen, followed by the "Dial" button. I then closed Explorer to finish out the macro.
End recording with the "end" button the program displays at the bottom of the screen, and it asks for a name for that macro. I called this one "Dial Location 1".
I then repeated this process for a second location, and again for a "Disconnect" icon.
Now, I have three new icons on the desktop… Total time is under 30 minutes.
I tested it by dialing each remote location and verifying that a valid connection was created.
To dial a remote location, I simply double click on the appropriate icon. Many icons could be created
To use this technique with the Encrypted Bridge (ET-6600 series), you must make sure that the pass phrases are all correct, and that all IP addresses are on the same subnet (at ALL locations). Using the router (IP-6600 series), requires different subnets at each location (and the easiest way is to use NAT at the remote locations). In this simple case, we just make sure the routers are configured correctly to operate manually ahead of time. More complicated configuration may be performed with the macros, including changing remote IP addresses, authentication, and static routes.
The recorded dialing macros could also be integrated into other application software macros and scheduled to automate the entire process. To help the macro run faster, I had already connected to the router and saved the username/password in Explorer, then made a blank page the Explorer home page.
Some ET and IP series product users have written custom C++ programs to perform similar tasks. The recorded macro method is a simple, economical, and quick way to accomplish the same task. It only takes a few minutes to record the mouse movements, clicks, and keystrokes.
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