New Arm Cortex A8 MCU touch screen

Arm powered logoIn this post, I’d like to share with you a video preview of the latest development board (Single Board Computer) with Android OS that I’m working on. It has a capacitive 7″ touch screen. Compared to the MCU ARM used in a previous home automation project, this SBC is shipped with an ARM Cortex A8 MCU at 1 GHz and with no doubt it is very powerful and fast.

In addition to Android (up to ver 4), it supports WinCE and Ubuntu. It has 512MB DDR2 on board SDRAM, 4GB of iNand flash memory, Ethernet, serial ports (3x Rs232, Rs485, uart, i2c, spi) and 4x USB Hosts, HDMI and TV OUT, 2x SD, G-sensor, GPS and GPRS interfaces and many more. For those of you interested to use this ARM Cortex in industrial automation, I designed a native Android library that manage the rs485 modbus protocol.

Take a look at the complete technical specifications. I’m working to share the Android projects I used for smart homes and industrial automation. If you find it interesting and you think that it could be a valid solution to your needs, please consider to buy it :)

As usual, comments are welcome!

Android Arduino Communication through Modbus and Rs485

In this post I’d like to describe you a project I’m working on that consists of connecting an Android multi touch panel to one (or more) Arduino slave(s) using modbus protocol and RS485.
Even though the idea of this project could be applied in many fields, I chose to contextualize it in a typical smart home context: a touch display that dims lights, shows temperatures and bulbs statuses.


The nice feature of the Android multi touch panel I used is that it has many interfaces such as Ethernet, RS485, RS32 and I²C as well.
I expressly selected RS485 because Arduino-based microcontrollers are not ready for Ethernet yet (even though some examples still exist but without great success). Indeed, RS485 is a well known standard that has been widely used in the indus­trial con­text and in building automa­tion appli­ca­tions. It is a half-duplex, 2-wires, low noise bus that allows high speeds and remote devices connection (up to 1200 meters).
Furthermore, modbus is a serial communication protocol, developed for industrial applications, open and easy to deploy and maintain. I used modbus RTU, but other variations of the protocol still exist though. Continue reading

Industrial Automation with Android: Acquisition of 6 PT100 Probes

The project I’m working on is about making an industrial automation system using an ARM Cortex A8 1Ghz Android-based touch HMI and a slave bm6PTI expansion module that communicates using RS485 and Modbus.

From the Android touch screen is possible to directly read 6 class B PT100 Temperature probes through an expansion module using RS485 and Modbus protocol at a speed of 19200 bps.

If required, it is possible to extend the project by adding other expansions modules up to a total of 63 bm6PTI therefore 378 temperature probes can be read.

Continue reading

Industrial Automation and Future Trends

Industrial Automation remote I/O moduleThere is debate on the feasibility of employing Android on Industrial Automation applications.
Big companies contend the market share and most of the time constrains customers to use their proprietary software.

The world is changing and the Internet allows users to benefit from almost infinite availability of information, technical specifications and even to find people that freely share their knowledge and expertise.

Our vision is that in the close future, more industrial automation applications will benefit from the open community and they will lay the foundation to a new revival of this sector.

In this post, I want to show you how the integration of Android in industrial automation applications is possible. I also noted that is surprisingly straightforward.
Continue reading

Android Industrial: AC Drive over rs485

The following video represents an example of HMI in Industrial applications. In particular, in this project I used an Android multi touch that runs on Cortex A8 at 1Ghz and show how it can greatly control an AC drive. Specifically, I used a Allen-Bradley adjustable frequency AC drive.

The Android UI on the touch screen device allows to:

  • Start/Stop the motor
  • Set the direction (forward, backward)
  • Manage the output relay
  • Control the status of the digital inputs
  • See the parameters such as the current, frequency and output voltage
  • Set the motor frequency

You’ll find the source code and complete specifications of the project on my github channel. Don’t miss to check it out also our wiki section! As usual, comments are welcome :)

Arduino Android communication through Modbus TCP

Arduino ethernet modbus tcpThe project I want to share with you today is how to communicate between Arduino and Android through Modbus TCP.

This article belongs to a set of walkthrough articles that are based on understanding:

  1. How Arduino communicates to Android devices not only by means of USB
  2. How easily is to use the lightweight modbus protocol in both Arduino and Android
  3. How the two slightly different implementations of modbus TCP and RTU, can be used in industrial and home applications

Take a look at how to communicate between Arduino and Android through RS485 and modbus RTU article if you are interested in knowing the “serial” version of the current article. Continue reading

Android Modbus RTU library for ICS

We are very happy to let you know that a new release of the Android Modbus RTU library for Android is available for our customers. So what adds this new version? Basically, the most important feature (and most awaited) is the full support for Android Ice Cream Sandwich, specifically for the following modbus functions:

  • Function Code 03, Read Holding Registers designed for reading registers in one of the devices active in the bus line.
  • Function Code 16, Preset Holding Registers designed for writing registers in one of the devices active in the bus line.

You can now design your Android apps that leverages all the powerful and exciting features of the ICS.

Since we made also hardware modifications to the board in order to improve the RS485 bus signal quality, the customers that already has our Ltouch boards can still use the version v0.2. Starting from February 2014, all the Android panels that we sell on the store, will have the new circuitry. Check out our download section!

For any further information, please contact us!

Biemme Store Opening

We are happy to announce that our new on line store is now open. The key product we want to present is our new development board. Take a look at it, we hope you will find useful for your needs.

To date, we were concentrated to provide the customers two development boards with capacitive touch screens that can be used in many contexts like industrial and home automation systems. The availability of many interfaces (like Ethernet, rs485 etc) and the possibility to install Android, Linux and WinCE 6.0, make the boards very flexible.

For professional users that would like to to integrate our board into their existing industrial instruments, we designed a free native Android library that supports the modbus RTU protocol through rs485. In this way, you only need to create an Android project, link the modbus library and call the methods provided.

Development board in stock:

The first board includes an aluminum frame 5mm thick and a rearward steel protection cover. The frontal frame has a button to power on/off the system and to set and wake up from standby. The frame could be white or black.

Ltouch with white frame development board
The second board does not include the frontal frame and rearward protection as the picture on the right shows, in order to allow the customer to place it inside an already existing structure.
The board works also with Arduino slaves, take a look at these nice demo video on youtube.

Ltouch without frame development board

Android touch

Ltouch touch screen boardWe designed and developed a control system that uses our new board with Android operating system and a 7″ capacitive touch screen (figure on the right). It is connected to a pool of Arduino’s slaves over rs485 channel. Our tests suggest that the most efficient and lightweight communication protocol is the modbus. It works greatly also on Arduino devices. Indeed, we used Maxim’s max485 chip in order to convert Arduino TTL serial signal to rs485. Terminator resistor (120 Ohm) is connected accross the two wires to limit data corruption. Continue reading

Rtu modbus

Logo ModbusThe modbus protocol defines how communication takes place between a “master”, that manage the system, and one or more “slaves” that reply to the masters’ requests.

The protocol defines how master and slave communicate, the format of the messages exchanged between the two parties, how master and slave have to be identified and how the error messages being handled. Continue reading