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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
Industrial Control Handbook 3rd ed.
Author:
Andrew Parr
ISBN:
0-7506-3934-2
Publisher:
Newnes
Pages:
800pp
Price:
£95-00
Reviewer:
Chris Hills
Subject:
embedded systems; internals and hardware
Appeared in:
11-2
This is a heavyweight book. Hardback, 800 pages,£95 and in it's third edition since 1986. This current edition is 1998. This should tell you much about the book. Despite the high price it has sold well enough over a decade to warrant two new editions. (New editions cost a lot more than reprints or the original.) There are not many books of this price one can say that of.

So what manner of book is it that has endured thus? It is a comprehensive handbook for engineers. It covers all manner of transducers, temperature, pressure, position, flow, strain, level, optics, velocity. Hydraulics, pneumatics, closed loop, distributed systems, maintenance and safety. It is not a course book for students (no exercises or questions). It is not a cookbook for hobby or home users.

Whilst this is a new edition parts are obviously still from the older editions. There is a section on using computers for industrial control that looks at the PC. It gives a very good history of the PC but only up as far as EISA. PCI is not mentioned at all. Also the screen types mentioned only (just) get as far as standard VGA. Block graphics on a 25*80 column screen is the main focus. Having said all that many (most?) PC's used for industrial control are 386&486 types running a DOS or Windows 3.1 as (very) intelligent terminals. Sound and graphics are usually provided by an external klaxon and flashing lights.

Whilst the book is well laid out with a contents section that has a 1 to 2 page granularity I feel it would be better to have some of the very useful tables that are in the text as appendices at the back. There is very little heavy maths as this is a book for working engineers rather than theoreticians. There are a lot of practical simple equations that even I could understand. Similarly there are copious diagrams of sensor systems and usage.

This is an old-fashioned solid textbook with no frills, icons, free CD's etc. On that side whilst the author does give his email address there are no pointers to the many very useful web sites that could have been included. Next time perhaps. However industrial control always has been conservative. It has to be, it is usually safety critical.

As befits industrial control the book is laid out in self-contained sections so one is able to dip into this book for specific topics. Whilst software is covered there is virtually no source code in this book. It is NOT a programmer's book.

If you are in industrial control your company probably has this book already. (Maybe time for an upgrade to the third edition?) If it does not ask "why not?"