Week #15: (5/4-8) Other Microcontrollers, IoT & IIoT.

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rjagodowski
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Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2015 6:59 pm

Week #15: (5/4-8) Other Microcontrollers, IoT & IIoT.

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Click here for Final Exam Information.

NOTE: This is the last week of classes. Day classes end on Friday, May 8.

This week we will discuss other microcontrollers & platforms such as Propeller, Arduino, Raspberri Pi and how the once discrete realms of PLCs and Microcontrollers are getting blurred with the reduced cost, increase performance, and the expansion of IoT (Internet of Things) and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) technologies.

There are numerous microcontrollers available. Our lowly BS2 is, by most measures, is at the low end of the performance and capability spectrum. That doesn't mean it isn't useful, but there are numerous alternatives available for embedded control devices.

One shortcoming we've mentioned about the BS2 is the lack of an interrupt system. Here are two links, one from Wikibooks.org and the other from Wikipedia on interrupts. As most of you learned in the StopLight design problem, interrupts can be a very convenient feature as without them, you have to use polling (which can waste processor time) or other methods such as latching circuits (which requires polling and extra hardware). While the myriad of applications you've experienced with the Basic Stamp (BoEBot/EET-101, EET-250 & EET-260 experiments) shows a processor can still be quite useful without an interrupt system, a controller with hardware interrupts extends versatility even further.

Here's a guide to the difference in applications between an 8 Bit MCU vs. 32 Bit MCU. MCU = MicroController Unit

Here's a link to: Choosing a MCU for your next design; 8 bit or 32 bit? from Atmel, a lead designer of PICs (Peripheral Interface Controller). An interesting point of fact, however, is that Microchip (the company that built the brain for the Basic Stamp) recently purchased Atmel. The conclusion of this article basically summarizes with a statement that if your design is a simple, stand alone application, the traditional 8-bit processor is still probably the way to go. However, if your need is for an IoT (Internet of Things) application than the newer 32 bit (and higher) processors with builtin in networking/wireless capabilities should be your chosen path. Here is Microchip's Advanced Parts Selector.

Here are some links explaining IoT (Internet of Things) and the Industrial IoT:

The Internet of Things (IoT) from Wikipedia.

The Internet of Things from networking giant Cisco.

The Industrial Internet of Things from i-scoop.eu.


Another term commonly used in microcontroller descriptions is ARM - Advanced RISC Machine. RISC is defined here and RISC is Reduced Instruction Set Computer is contrasted against a CISC Complex Instruction Set Computer.

The Arduino from Sparkfun.

Parallax Propeller (Multi-core) from Wikipedia. Parallax Activity Bot and Parallax ELEV-8 Quadcopter.

RaspberryPi.org and RaspberryPi Hardware Guide. Here's a summary of the features of the third generation Raspberry Pi Pi 3.

25 Fun Thngs to do with a Raspberry Pi from CNET.com .

Raspberry Pi options from Adafruit.com. Due to the low pricing of these devices they sometimes seem to be on perpetual backorder. For instance, the Pi Zero is $10 and the "full featured" Pi 3 is under $35. The Pi 3 Starter Pack is $85. Compare these to the price of the BS2 Stamp Module for $49 or even the Parallax Propeller Chip for $7.99 or even an Arduino Chip for $4.49. The Raspberry Pi units are putting a lot of pressure on the traditional 8 & 16 bit MCUs. Of course, they are not as power efficient, but they offer higher level programming and interfacing options, not available or cost effective on the lowly 8 & 16 bit units.

Arduino based PLCs, Controllino and the OpenPLC project. The distinctions between the PLC world and the MicroController world have been blurred. Certainly large corporations who are using reliable Allen-Bradley, Siemens, Mitsubishi, Omron and Schneider Electric will not be interested in these offerings. But smaller companies and new installations will require that Automation Engineers be able to offer low-cost and reliable alternatives. The Micro800 series we use from Allen-Bradley is a direct response by A-B to counter low cost offerings like the Click PLC by Automation Direct. There is a growing need for these relatively low-input count, reliable PLCs and as the IoT and IIoT build-outs continue, this demand should continue to increase.
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