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Kickstarter funding backs ‘first’ Arduino-based PLCs

13 August, 2015

An Austrian company has developed a range of PLCs (programmable logic controllers) based on the open-source Arduino platform and backed by $65,829 of crowd-sourced funding, raised via a Kickstarter appeal.

Innsbruck-based SG-Tronic says that its flexible and expandable Controllino PLCs will allow users to create tailored automation applications. According to CEO Marco Riedesser, they will “give users the opportunity to create custom automation tasks to precisely meet their needs.”

Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. Launched in 2005, it offers a low-cost way to create devices that interact with their environment via sensors and actuators.

SG-Tronic first tried to raise Kickstarter funding for its Arduino-based controllers early last year but abandoned the campaign after raising just $16,345 of the $100,000 it was seeking. But another Kickstarter campaign, later in 2014, was more successful, raising $65,829 from 191 backers, thus comfortably exceeding its reduced target of $50,000.

Using this funding, SG-Tronic has developed a family of three PLCs – called the Mini, Maxi and Mega – aimed at different levels of application complexity. All are based on Atmel’s ATmega microcontroller with a clock speed of 16MHz. The highest specification version (the Mega) can handle currents up to 30A and offers 16 relays outputs, 24 analogue/digital inputs, 12 high-side switch digital outputs, and 12 half-bridge digital outputs.

Key design aspects of the Controllino PLCs include:

•  automatic input voltage range selection that allows a single input to be used for analogue or digital duties, and for 12V or 24V input voltages, without any user action;

•  direct contact with the processor contact via the pin header, as happens with a basic Arduino board, except that on the PLC all of the pins are also ESD-protected to 4kV;

SG-Tronic says that its Controllino PLCs are the first to be based on the Arduino platform

•  an internal real-time clock (RTC) that can be switched on and off via the front panel; and

•  interfaces including SPI, I2C, RS-232 and RS-485, as well as a front-panel USB port that supports external programming.

The Mini version offers six relays outputs, eight analogue/digital inputs and eight digital outputs. The Maxi version offers ten relay outputs, 12 analogue/digital inputs and 12 digital outputs, and includes an Ethernet connecter as well as a second RS-232 interface.

Ex-VAT prices are €119 for the Mini, €199 for the Maxi and €269 for the Mega.

Conrad Business Supplies will be selling the Controllino PLCs through its Europe-wide distribution network. The PLCs will be demonstrated on its stand at the SPS IPC Drives show in Nuremberg in November.




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