Many mechatronics designs rely on a real-time operating system such as ThreadX from Express Logic. This type of small RTOS requires less memory than other operating systems such as Windows, Linux, VxWorks, and QNX, for example. So it suits applications that can take advantage of a low-cost processor and a small amount of memory. But by choosing a smaller memory, designers might conclude they limit the code and applications their system can use. To address this problem, Express Logic can now incorporate “downloadable application modules” in ThreadX. That means a small computer system can dynamically receive additional instructions from local mass storage (SD flash card, USB memory stick, small hard drive, and so on) or via a network. Thus additional or larger applications can still run on a small computer and companies can upload new or revised code without worrying about running out of memory space for the target processor. For details about ThreadX with downloadable modules, please visit: http://rtos.com/products/threadx/downloadable_application_modules.
According to Express Logic, ThreadX modules are collections of application threads, not linked with the ThreadX kernel. Instead, modules are loaded into target memory and use ThreadX kernel services via an interface with a Module Manager. The ThreadX Module Manager–part of the ThreadX kernel–starts a module and handles all module requests for ThreadX application-programming interface (API) services. Although ThreadX has only one copy of the Module Manager, it does not limit the number of modules that can be loaded at the same time, nor does it limit the number of threads in any module. Express Logic licenses ThreadX with Downloadable Modules for a fee that starts at $US 17,500. The license includes full source code and does not require any royalty fee.
If you have an existing system going through an upgrade or plan to implement a mechatronics controller with an RTOS, ThreadX deserves a close look. For more information on ThreadX for a wide range of applications, visit: http://rtos.com/products/threadx/. –Jon Titus
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.