Controls target M2M

March 4, 2004
New hardware and software from Opto 22 uses the familiar Internet Protocol (IP) to link machine processes such as sensor and production data with enterprise software.
The Snap-ARL-ASDS is a Linux-based computer from Opto 22 with 16 Mbytes of RAM, 8 Mbytes of Flash, and 512 kbytes of battery-backed SRAM. It can accommodate a variety of embedded runtime operating systems such as Linux or QNX, letting designers develop custom I/O.

New hardware and software from Opto 22 uses the familiar Internet Protocol (IP) to link machine processes such as sensor and production data with enterprise software. The products from the Temecula, Calif., company ( are part of a burgeoning area called M2M (for machine-to-machine). The idea behind M2M is to build a system on an IP foundation as a means of letting industrial devices exchange data easily.

One new controller from the company takes advantage of the Linux operating system, the bedrock of open-source programming. It lets engineers custom design systems from the ground up and provides an alternative to Windows-based PC and PLC platforms often used for machine I/O control. Notably, the Snap-ARL-ASDS I/O processor is based on an ARM CPU rather than a Pentium. Its Linux kernel and drivers let programmers develop custom applications. (Source code and Linux development tools are available at

Units mount on Snap B-Series racks and work with analog, digital, and serial I/O modules. They also feature an RS-232 port, a 10-Mbit/sec Ethernet connection, and support FTP and Samba file-transfer protocols.

Programmers can build applications with popular programming languages such as C, Java, and Bash script. Compiled executable files can be downloaded to the Snap I/O brain, protecting source code and intellectual property and reducing the likelihood of reverse engineering the control program.

Another product called Snap-LCE is a stand-alone, real-time industrial controller compatible with the company's Snap Ethernet-based I/O. A built-in 10/100-Mbits/sec Ethernet port links the controller to networks, computers running industrial automation software, and Ethernet-based I/O systems, eliminating the need for separate network cards. Two serial ports also let the controller hook up via PPP protocol.

The controller can run up to 15 programs simultaneously with 8 Mbytes of memory for program storage. Plus, the controller can exchange data with any OPC client including third-party HMIs, enterprise applications, and databases. It works with analog, digital, and series signals for both process-control and discrete-manufacturing applications with up to 512 I/O points.

Tying it all together is a software suite called ioProject. It consists of ioControl 5.1 control programming software and ioDisplay 5.1, a graphics-based HMI program.

The ioControl software lets users design control and data-acquisition applications. A major enhancement to this version includes PID control and support for velocity, parallel, ISA, and interacting PID algorithms. It can run 16 algorithms simultaneously and works with Windows XP.

The ioDisplay software lets designers develop operator interfaces for Windows-based clients communicating with Snap Ethernet controllers. Improvements include a multithread I/O scanning engine, better security, and easier alarm configuring.

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