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I/O board will allow Raspberry Pi to control motors

21 November, 2016

The Californian industrial automation manufacturer Opto 22 has developed a digital I/O board for the low-cost Raspberry Pi computer that will allow the Pi to monitor, control, and automate devices that were previously beyond the capabilities of its built-in 3.3V DC GPIO sensing and control connector. The new Digital I/O Carrier Board can be used to sense or switch up to 16 electrical loads up to 3A, 2.5–280V AC/DC, allowing it to monitor and control electrical loads such as motors, pumps, and sensors.

The single-board Raspberry Pi computer was designed as an educational tool, and more than 10 million have already been sold worldwide. Small electrical devices and peripherals such as LEDs and pushbuttons can be connected to the Pi’s 40-pin GPIO connector via breadboards and wires to build hobby-level monitoring and control applications.

But larger electrical loads can destroy the Raspberry Pi, and the lack of industrial-level I/O has meant that “the Pi has been stuck in the education and prototyping realms, unable to be fully leveraged in everyday commercial and industrial applications”, according to Opto 22.

Raspberry Pi developers will now be able to attach their Pi to the new carrier board, connect the included interface cable to the GPIO connector, and snap the board onto a compatible 4, 8, or 16 I/O module mounting rack. They can use the rack’s power supply to power the Pi, and then use a Pi-supported programming language to read and write to up to 16 individually selectable digital input and/or output points. The mounting rack, power supply, and I/O modules will be sold separately.

Opto 22's digital I/O carrier board will allow Raspberry Pi computers to control loads that were previously too large

A variety of input and output modules will be available and the single-channel design means that users need only buy the I/O required for their project. LEDs built into the input and output modules provide a visual indication of their status, while current-limiting built into the input channels avoids the need for current-limiting resistors. Electrical isolation separates field devices from the sensitive Pi electronics (up to 4kV). 

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