Industrial Automation: An introduction to the Pltouch

Pltouch processors schemaHome and industrial automation projects employ a big set of products, such as sensors, touch screens, external modules, PLCs and HMIs in order to solve specific problems and dealing with special requirements. The current scenario shows that the logic and the user interface are frequently managed by different components, using a common bus in order to communicate and modify statuses. 

Based on this state of the art, our research and development lab, designed and created a brand new product with the aim of merging some of the products presented above, in order to reduce complexity, enhance user interface experience and especially reduce the costs.

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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.

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New Android Touch Panel with Wifi Support

Android Touch Panel Rear CoverWe are proud to announce that a new product has been released on our on line store. It is an Android based touch panel for industrial and home automation HMI projects.

It features a 7″ capacitive multi touch display together with a SoC Samsung Cortex A8 microprocessor running at 1Ghz, 512 MB DDR Ram with many interfaces such as RS485, RS232, I2C, SD, Camera and many more.

The additional feature that distinguishes this touch panel is the full support of Ethernet as well as WAN 802.11 b/g/n networks.

The product comes in two versions:

  • The Ltouch FW has an anodized and polished 5mm thick frontal frame and rearward cover. Thanks to this layer of protection and a special assembly process, the product has an IP54 frontal ingress protection (dust and water).
  • The Ltouch SW is a development board that have the same features as the Ltouch FW but it does not have the frontal frame and rear cover protection. This is especially useful when it need to be mounted in an already existing structure.

0-10V, NTC/PTC and 4-20ma Arduino Analog Inputs Converter: the bmANA

The bmANA is an essential product when reading from analog inputs with Arduino.

4-20ma arduino analog input converter bmana

0-10V, NTC/PTC and 4-20ma Arduino Analog Inputs Converter

We are glad to present a simple but very powerful and flexible board that let you read different types of analog inputs. Now ready from our online store.

It is well known that in the home and (especially) in the industrial automation world the most used analog input types are 0-20ma/4-20ma (current), 0-10V (tension) or NTC/PTC thermocouples. Conversely, makers already know that the Arduino boards support 0-5V tension analog inputs only.

Based on these assumptions, we designed and created a new board that converts analog signals to 0-5V tension with 10-bit resolution. This will enhance spectrum of projects in which Arduino can be used.

The BmAna board has 4 analog inputs and each one can be set with one of the following measurement type:

  • 0-20ma (current)
  • 0-10V (tension)
  • PTC (thermocouples)
  • NTC (thermocouples)

Power supply: can be used either 5Vdc or 24Vdc for the most widespread use in every field of application.

To make easy and secure the connections with the measurement sources, we used terminal blocks.

Where and how can be used? This 0-10V, NTC/PTC and 4-20ma Arduino conversion board can be used for instance with our Bmini! Take for instance a flat cable with a RJ45 connector: plug it to the Bmini (through the J8 connector) and connect it to the bmAna. You have now expanded the functionalities of the Bmini and ready for reading almost all types of analog inputs currently used in the home and industrial automation sector.

Do you like this product? Just let us know!

In the following posts, we will present in more details the board features providing examples and technical specs.

Stay tuned!

Mounting Additional USB Storage Devices on Android

On all the Ltouch products, once a USB Storage is connected to one of the four USB connectors available, the Android system will automatically mount it on /mnt/usb and you will be able to see it from the System Preferences/Storage.

However, this happens only for the first USB storage device that you plug. If you need to mount additional Flash memories, you need to manually tell Android how (and where) to set it up. Continue reading

How the Mount SD Card Android Process works

Mount Sd Card AndroidIn this blog post, I’d like to show you how the mount SD Card Android process takes place and in particular, how to configure Android in order to auto mount a new SD Card when plugged in. The situation in which the mount point is different from /mnt has been considered as well.

The following code has been tested on the Ltouch F Android tablet for industrial and home automation projects together with Android Gingerbread.

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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.
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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 :)

Why is the Android Emulator Slow?

Intel HAXM on Android SDK ManagerThe frequent question between Android developers is: Why is the Android emulator slow?

The Android emulator is a very powerful tool that greatly improves the testing capabilities when a real device is not available. It is possible to simulate the front and back camera, sd card, internal storage, 3G network with different speeds and so on.

In real scenarios, using the default Android Emulator Images is a cumbersome process and in many occasions it is not feasible while testing complex Android applications mainly because of its slowness. Instead, developers are forced to use a real device for testing their apps.

In this post I would like to describe you an interesting method that helps to speed up the Android emulator. As a prerequisite, you need an Intel VT enabled system. Continue reading