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Visualizing the Internet of Things

Visualizing the Internet of Things - Ben Orchard presentation

All this talk about the Internet of Things... but what does it really mean to you and me?

At the Internet of Things North America conference last week in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Opto 22's Ben Orchard presented some new ideas on how we can approach these "smart" sensors and devices and equipment so they make sense for us.

Ben starts in his own geeky house, where his Philips hue lights, WeMo switches, and Twitter account (among other things) make up his own personal Internet of Things.

Key point here: his IoT is different from your IoT, which is different from mine.

Ben's lights and switches and data come from different manufacturers or services, each of which has kindly provided an app he can use to see and control them. The apps on his Android phone are of course somewhat different from those on his wife's iPhone or his son's tablet.

Switching between these apps is annoying for Ben and his family. And building and maintaining separate apps for all these devices is costly for manufacturers.

So...what's been missing in all the talk of an Internet of Things? Universal visualization: a universal app that Ben or you or I can use to control all our Things on our assorted mobile devices.

Watch the presentation and see Ben demonstrate how a modern web browser, already built into computers and mobile devices, can be that universal app—one that works for Ben's house plus an Allen-Bradley PLC, a SATEC power meter over Modbus/TCP, and a huge number of industrial control and building automation systems and equipment.



B1 and B2 Migration: Connecting Optomux to Modbus Systems

E1 and E2 brain boards communicate with Optomux and Modbus/TCP systems simultaneously

Due to the unavailability of essential parts, B1 and B2 brain boards have reached their end of life. As you know, though, we developed drop-in replacements some time ago:

  • The digital E1 replaces the B1.
  • The analog E2 replaces the B2.

E1s and E2s can be used as simple replacements, but they also offer new opportunities for communication with other systems. One of these is Modbus/TCP.

If you have Modbus hardware or software running on Ethernet, your new E1 or E2 can communicate natively with them using the Modbus/TCP protocol.

That means you can keep your existing Optomux software running over serial and plug the E1 or E2 into your Ethernet network, so that Modbus/TCP clients can exchange data with the Optomux system. Note that both systems can communicate simultaneously with the brain boards.

For more information:



Engineering Student Controls Fertilizer Runoff

Farm near Watsonville, CA

BioResource and Agricultural Engineering student Marie Donangelo plans to reduce runoff from fertilizers through PAC-based control.

Thanks to an OptoGreen Grant, Donangelo is building an automated fertilizer application system as a term project for her Computer Controls for Agriculture class.

Controlled by an Opto 22 programmable automation controller, the system includes sensors to automate steering along furrows. These sensors track the furrow and sense its end.

The amount of fertilizer delivered through a variable flow hopper is carefully programmed for each crop to eliminate excess fertilizer runoff into surrounding creeks.

The OptoGreen Grant includes an Opto 22 SNAP PAC System with I/O, a Wired+Wireless SNAP PAC Ethernet brain, and a SNAP PAC controller. And of course PAC Project Basic automation software is included with the controller.

Donangelo attends California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, well known for its programs in both engineering and agriculture. The university works closely with farms near California's Central Coast.

Do you have a project that could use an OptoGreen Grant? Our OptoGreen Grant program was started in 2007 and provides Opto 22 automation hardware and software at no charge to companies and organizations who are working on products, services, or research related to "green" energy and environmental concerns.
Find out more about OptoGreen Grants.



Tech Tip: Simulating Digital Inputs

Changing IVAL in PAC Control debugger

Suppose you're building a PAC Control strategy and a PAC Display HMI right now, but you don't have all your hardware yet. How can you test your control system and HMI?

That's the situation presented in a recent OptoForum post, and as it turns out, there's more than one way to do it—some of them a lot simpler than others.

Using simulation commands in PAC Control is one way. If you've been an OptoNews reader for awhile you may remember we had a tech tip on simulation commands several months ago.

In the forum, our own OptoMary points out a couple of other ways that may be simpler:

  • In your PAC Control strategy, create variables that temporarily take the place of your inputs-to-be. They can be used in PAC Display until you have hardware in place.
  • In PAC Control's debugger, change the IVAL status of the digital point.

Mary includes more details in her post and also brings groov into the mix as a possible supplement or substitute for PAC Display.

Read the Simulate Digital Input OptoForum post.

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