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IoT Embedded Controllers


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Some PLCs are expensive and power hungry making embedded controllers more useful for low cost applications.

I'm wondering what controllers others have seen available that can talk to serial devices as well as digital and analogue and are able to communicate via LTE networks?

I've seen this device http://www.remoteworx.eu/ however, it is limited to GSM and WiFi but has available protocols common to IoT and plant SCADA systems.

Does anyone use Rasberry Pi's, PIC controllers or other embedded techonologies and if so what are they?

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There is a whole ecosystem of modules and solutions for connection of IoT devices via LTE, which are available on the market.

The generic requirement is for an LTE  modem (3G or 4G) which provides the connection to the network; generally used in conjuncton with a microcontroller based device which connects to the modem and performs the funcion of gathering and processing sensor data for uploading, or which  implements downloaded commands for control functions.

My company Genesys which is a sponsor of this community develops IoT solutions rouind our own proprietary modules.  LX Innovatons in Sydney does likewise as do other specialist electronics development service providers.  Companies like Braetec, M2M Connectivity and Netcomm supply modules and/or LTE modems.

I am not a fan of the Rasberry Pi as a production solution, as it is a "closed architectue" device with no guaranteed longevity of supply.  The Beaglebome Black is based on a production chipset so is a safer bet. 

Many people are using Arduino ad the lower end of the complexiy spectrum.

There are many suitable PIC mocrocontrollers, as well as Cortex M0/M3/M4/M7 offerings from ST, NXP and other vendors.  MCP430's are a good low power solution.



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The spectrum from a PLC to Raspberry Pi is vast. And a PIC is a microcontroller which is another thing altogether. Typically if your application suits a PLC, it does so for reasons of industrial compatibility, operator familiarity and existing software frameworks. If your application is not heavily reliant on those things, then it could be a contender for the likes of a Raspberry Pi or a PIC based solution. If you're looking at >1000 units/year, and you have the budget for custom development, then look to a PIC (or one of many, many, other microcontrollers of which Geoff lists a few - talk to an elec engineer). If you're looking at a handful of units for a short term pilot or similar, then look to the Raspberry Pi.

But don't be too quick to write off the PLCs. Have you looked at the CLICK range? It would be hard to get similar functionality from a non-PLC solution for much cheaper:


Non-PLC solutions are attractive if you have specific requirements and the volumes to justify the development. Non-PLC, embedded solutions are my bread and butter, but even I would caution against thinking that the nifty, nimble, low-power and buzzword compliant world of embedded electronics is a drop in replacement for a PLC.

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The CLICK series look like a useful range of relatively low cost devices for bespoke IoT/M2M applications.

I see thay have an Australian presence https://www.directautomation.com.au/plc-pc-control/click-plc-units.html so presumably the devices sourced locally are C-ticked?

There is a big risk that equipment which is not compliant with Australan reguations or standards will be directly imported and deployed - particularly non-compliant radio equipment.  Also opportunities for distributors to pick up product lines for importation.



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