App note: Design considerations for a harsh industrial environment

Design Considerations for a Harsh Industrial Environment

This article discusses factors that influence the robustness of a circuit in a harsh environment, like you would find for industrial applications. The topics covered include ways to handle voltage transients and to protect against electrostatic discharge (ESD) and faults. Link here

Semiconductor (IC) robustness—what is the operating temperature range? How is high electrical noise handled? What about ESD and fault protection? These issues are not necessarily the first things that a design engineer thinks about when selecting an IC. Nonetheless, robustness is a key performance parameter for long-term operation and a reliable, reputable end product. This is especially true when designing a system for an industrial environment where harsh operating conditions are common. Industrial equipment can be exposed to a wide range of temperatures, high electrical noise on either the power-supply lines or data lines, and fault events like ESD or short circuits.

Mod Your Camera With ModBus

Industrial hardware needs to be reliable, tough, and interoperable. For this reason, there are a series of standards used for command & control connections between equipment. One of the more widespread standards is ModBus, an open protocol using a master-slave architecture, usually delivered over RS-485 serial. It’s readily found being used with PLCs, HMIs, VFDs, and all manner of other industrial equipment that comes with a TLA (three letter acronym).

[Absolutelyautomation] decided to leverage ModBus to control garden variety digital cameras, of the type found cluttering up drawers now that smartphones have come so far. This involves getting old-school, by simply soldering wires to the buttons of the camera, and using an Arduino Nano to control the camera while talking to the ModBus network.

This system could prove handy for integrating a camera into an industrial production process to monitor for faults or defective parts. The article demonstrates simple control of the camera with off-the-shelf commercial PLC hardware. Generally, industrial cameras are very expensive, so this hack may be useful where there isn’t the budget for a proper solution. Will it stand up to industrial conditions for 10 years without missing a beat? No, but it could definitely save the day in the short term for a throwaway price. One shortfall is that the camera as installed will only save pictures to its local memory card. There’s a lot to be said for serving the images right to the engineer’s desk over a network.

We’ve seen [Absolutelyautomation]’s work before – check out this implementation of Pong on an industrial controller.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, digital cameras hacks