There are times when new products have to be developed in a matter of few days rather than months or even weeks. Such rapid product development requirements have to be met with an agile product development methodology. And more importantly, when a hardware design is involved, it calls on the expertise of the design house. For the hardware design, there are two possibilities. There might be proven ready-made platforms available that have the necessary features required and it can be used for product development. Or it might call for a full-fledged hardware development as the requirement matrix is not met with existing platforms. Embien, being a specialist in rapid product development methodology has done both kinds of development. In this particular case study, we will explore how we have used one of our COTS Ready to deploy eStorm-L1 Kit to create a product - Remote Data Acquisition System - for our customer in a matter of few days.
For a customer in the industrial domain, there was a requirement to develop a system that has to acquire analog data from sensor/transducers and digital data over the RS485 interface. These acquisitions must be done at a configurable time intervals and pushed to a server. The data must also be available locally over a display interface and options available to configure various parameters involved. The system should be able to run continuously from battery supply for one year and also withstand the rugged industrial environment. For various business reasons, the whole product has to be developed and deployed within a week.
To meet the requirements, various options were considered and finally it was decided to be developed based on our eStorm-L1 platform. Some of the key facts that decided in favor of Ready to deploy eStorm-L1 Kit are
eStorm-L1 platform is based on Freescale Kinetis KL25 and powered by industry-leading ARM Cortex-M0+ core. The core can run at 48MHz that is quite powerful for the said application. Also, ARM's low power consumption needs no introduction. KL25 incorporated the best power management options needed. As the whole system has to be powered by a 1200mA battery for over a year, we need not look any further.
With its high resolution ADC, analog data is precisely measured in the range of microvolts for each step. eStorm-L1 is designed to support 8 channels of analog inputs with individual signal conditioning circuit for each input. They can accept standard analog voltage inputs ranging from -10V to +10V and current inputs from 4 to 20mA. Most industrial sensors/transducers commonly available will support this range of voltage/current outputs. Apart from this standard ranges, some sensors/transducers provide outputs such as 0 to 10V, 0 to 5V, and 0 to 20mA which is also supported in the system as value addition. Power supply to the sensor/transducer can also be provided from the system.
Digital inputs with separate conditioning circuit provided in the device can also be used to read digital events like pulse outputs from external devices. Pulse input frequency can range up to 50 kHz.
RS485 interface receives the digital data from external devices such as meters, PLC's, data concentrators etc. Designed with recommended conditions, the RS485 can be used to support easily up to 32 devices and acts as the master.
The dual-band GSM/GPRS modem enables updating the acquired data to the server. 6-pin SIM connector supports Sim Card of different operators at both 1.8V and 3.0V voltage levels.
eStorm-L1 supports up-to 16x4 character LCD interface. Five key navigation keypad supports user interface for navigating through menu settings.
A 4K x 8-bit EEPROM available in the systems supports storing configuration and acquired data.
Availability of two LEDs enables the system to notify various events like device power status and network status. Reset switch is also available to enable factory reset of the device or entering programming mode.
Reliable and rigid enclosure made of ABS plastic is provided to withstand tough industrial conditions. It can be mounted on the wall through the protruded flanges provided in the enclosure.
With eStorm-L1 chosen as the underlying platform, our firmware engineers started working on the software development for the Remote Data Acquisition System. With their rich experience with various industrial devices, necessary modules are developed quickly. Modbus client was developed on the RS485 interface. Analog data acquisition logic is done over the 8 channel AIN interface. Menu and navigation logic are done to enable user/system integrator to configure various parameters of the system.
A complete power consumption profile is done for each peripheral in the system. Careful measurements are made and resources used sparingly. To avoid peripherals consuming power, they are switch off usually and on only during the time being used. GSM Modem, the most power-hungry component, is powered on only when communicating with the server. Data batching is also done to reduce overall on time. LCD Backlight is switched on only when the user is using the UI. Power supply to external sensors is powered on only just before analog data is acquired and switched off immediately after. Further the processor is made to run in active mode only when it is time for data acquisition. During other times it remains in low power sleep mode consuming very low current. But the responsiveness of the system is not compromised and the user can view the current data on character LCD upon pressing any of the navigation keys at any instant.
Successful development of this Remote Data Acquisition System is yet another demonstrator of capabilities of Embien Technologies. This product is done within a week, enclosed in custom enclosures, and deployed across geographies in varying harsh environment conditions. Embien look forward to support you in your rapid product development cycle and we are available over email or our web-form.