How do you make programmable automation controllers better? Try making them faster, increasing their communications and connectivity options and enhancing their programming flexibility with open-source operating systems and support for Web-based applications. Those are some of the key improvement strategies PAC vendors have implemented on their latest models. Read on for a look at two new Linux-based PACs, as well as communications enhancements to a popular line of PACs.
A New Linux PAC
Artila Electronics has come out with a new PAC that makes use of the company's M-501, a Linux-ready System-on-Module based on an ARM9 microcontroller. Called the iPAC-5010, this new stand-alone PAC brings the benefits of the popular M-501 to users who don't wish to do their own hardware integration, according to Volker Soffel, owner of MicroController Pros Corp., Artila's U.S. distributor. The iPAC-5010 provides 16 channels of isolated digital input, eight channels of transistors for external relay switching, RS-485 and RS-232 serial ports, two USB ports, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. USB camera and an SD socket are also available. The iPAC-5010 also features dual 10/100 Mbps Ethernet ports. With its embedded Web server, Busybox utility and Gnu C/C++ tool set, the iPAC-5010 readily supports Web-based applications. It has DIN-RAIL mount design, wide range of 9 to 40V dc power input capability and low power RISC SoC make the iPAC-5010 extremely suitable for numerous industrial applications.
This Linux Box Flies
United Electronic Industries has souped up its UEIPAC Cube programmable automation controllers — ruggedized, embedded computers running a Linux OS and offering two Ethernet ports, a serial port, an SD Card interface, an inter-PAC sync interface and either three or six slots for I/O boards. The company has sped up the PAC's maximum sample rate and its ability to process PID loops by a factor of eight, according to Bob Judd, the company's marketing director. The UEIPAC now allows analog input sample rates up to 576 kilosamples per sec and up to eight simultaneous PID loops at greater than 20 kHz. “The extra speed dramatically increases the PAC's ability to work with larger, more complex automation applications,” says Judd. UEIPAC Cubes come in versions that support three or six I/O boards. More than 20 such boards are available, including analog input, analog output, digital I/O, counter/timer, quadrature encoder, serial I/O, CAN bus and ARINC 429 interfaces.
Connectivity Options Increase
Opto 22 has rolled out a new stand-alone version of its SNAP-PAC programmable automation controller with multiple serial ports and built-in Ethernet IP support. Unlike previous models with three dedicated serial ports, the SNAP-PAC-S2 has four serial ports, each one configurable for either RS-232 or RS-485. According to David Crump, the company's communications director, the SNAP-PAC-S2's multitude of ports allow it to connect to a wide range of machines and devices that communicate via serial Modbus or ASCII strings or even RS-232 PPP modem connections. The Ethernet-IP ready SNAP-PAC-S2 also features two 10/100 Mbps Ethernet interfaces for host and I/O communication over Ethernet networks. These two independent interfaces can be used to create dual Ethernet networks for segmenting I/O and host traffic or to create redundant Ethernet links for critical applications.
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