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

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 🙂

Android Modbus RTU library new release

A new release of the Modbus RTU Android library for Ltouch multi-touch devices is available

Time has passed from the first release (v.0.1) of the modbus RTU Android library. Our customers were satisfied and many home and industrial automation projects have been developed. However, as in any software projects, some bug fixes exists and features enhancements have to be implemented.

That’s why we are proud to announce that the new version is ready for download. As usual, you will find two binaries: debug and release. The main difference is that the first will give you more informative logs whereas the second one is devoted for production. The Android devices currently supported are the Ltouch F and Ltouch S. The Modbus functions that are implemented are:

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

For details, examples and API docs, please take a look at out libraries section.

In case you need to update the library only, remember to refresh your project (especially if you are using Eclipse) in order to avoid that the older version of the library will be used in the app.

As usual, comments and suggestions are welcome! 🙂

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 Project for Smart Home Automation

Android project smart home automationThe project I’m working on is about making a home automation system using an ARM Cortex A8 1Ghz Android based development board and some Arduino slaves that communicates using rs485 and modbus.
In the previous article, I wrote about how to create Arduino slaves that wait and answer for modbus requests. Indeed, I also made some performance tests in case of rs485 communication failure. Please take a look at the end of the article.

It is now time to present how to write an Android project that acts as a master and communicates with slave devices.

The nice thing of this design is that the logic that controls the smart home system is not constrained to be on the masters’ node. Instead, it can be distributed across all the Arduino devices. Indeed, since rs485 and modbus protocol were designed for industrial environments, this project could be easily used in industrial automation.
Continue reading