All-in-one Control: Opto 22's Snap Ultimate I/O
employs up to 16 I/O modules, each with four separate sensor channels, to
"talk" to lane controllers, credit card readers, coin counters, currency
readers, toll displays, change dispensers, receipt printers, and numerous
other I/O devices.
Controller simplifies toll booth automation
Don't have the correct change at an unmanned toll stop? That's not a problem for the Advanced Toll Payment Machine (ATPM), which counts your car's axles, determines its vehicle class, calculates its toll, accepts cash or credit, dispenses change, prints receipts, actuates toll gates, and even allows itself to be remotely monitored over the Internet. The unit, scheduled for use on toll roads in Orange County, California, accomplishes all that by employing a device called the Snap Ultimate I/O, an Ethernet-based controller capable of communicating with the existing lane controllers used at countless toll gates around the country. Designed by engineers at Opto 22 (Temecula, CA), Snap Ultimate I/O employs up to 16 I/O modules, each with four separate sensor channels, to "talk" to lane controllers, credit card readers, coin counters, currency readers, toll displays, change dispensers, receipt printers, and numerous other I/O devices. Each module incorporates connectors for wiring to I/O devices, and uses an Ethernet connector atop the processor module to provide the communication link. A Motorola ColdFire 5407 microcontroller in the processor module serves as the ATPM's brain and enables TCP/IP-based communication over the Internet with state agencies that need to monitor each tool booth.
At $89, the Virtu ultrasonic proximity sensor from Hyde Park Electronics is poised to compete against photoelectric sensors at the high end of their price range. That's significantly less than the typical price tag of $150 and up for an ultrasonic sensor. Unlike photoelectrics, ultrasonic sensors are unaffected by dust and dirt, making them an attractive option for harsh environments.
Hyde Park engineers chiseled cost out of the design by removing some of the more time-consuming manual assembly steps. They also designed the sensor housing to accommodate epoxy potting without the need for costly overfilling to ensure that components are completely covered. And they brought the cost down by minimizing some of the enhanced configurables available in more expensive ultrasonic sensors. In addition to simple on/of automatic switch control, users can set the sensor range (2 to 20 inches) via a pushbutton teach function, which can be used to recalibrate all Virtu sensors on a production line. The pushbutton unit is removable from the power line, avoiding any accidental limit changes.
Hyde Park engineers will customize the sensor for the requirements of a particular application, as it has recently done for Sidel, a packaging machinery manufacturer.
Program and Remove: Hyde Park's Virtu sonic sensor
(top) features a rugged NEMA 4X and IP67 rated plastic housing with
versatile dual-mount capability. The square-bodied back end with corner
through holes and the threaded 18-mm diameter front end can accomodate a
range of mounting configurations. The pushbutton control unit (bottom)
used to program the sensing range can be removed from the power line.
Limit ranges are stored in nonvolatile memory and therefore are retained
when power is removed from the
The promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) is that devices, gadgets, and appliances we use every day will be able to communicate with one another. This potential is not limited to household items or smartphones, but also things we find in our yard and garden, as evidenced by a recent challenge from the element14 design community.
If you didn't realize that PowerPoint presentations are inherently hilarious, you have to see Don McMillan take one apart. McMillan -- aka the Technically Funny Comic -- worked for 10 years as an engineer before he switched to stand-up comedy.
The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge was a Washington State suspension bridge that opened in 1940 and spanned the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound between Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula. It opened to traffic on July 1, 1940, and dramatically collapsed into Puget Sound on November 7, just four months after it opened.
Noting that we now live in an era of “confusion and ill-conceived stuff,” Ammunition design studio founder Robert Brunner, speaking at Gigaom Roadmap, said that by adding connectivity to everything and its mother, we aren't necessarily doing ourselves any favors, with many ‘things’ just fine in their unconnected state.
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