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 Post subject: Rusty, Horses, and Atom24s
PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:54 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:26 am
Posts: 799
Location: CA bay Area
Rusty Schwarz is an interesting fellow. After 30 years in the TeleCom industry, he retired to a horse farm. And automated the barn. And then other places on the farm. He controls all this remotely with wireless comms and distributed networking. He started with Stamps, and quickly found his growing requirements outstripped them, so he went to Atom24s.
And so we have the story of Rusty's Uber Computer:

Uber Computer Circuit Description

When I retired after 30 years in the telecom biz to start a horse farm in Oklahoma, I didn't hang up my soldering iron. I wanted to use as much technology as I could to make my work easier and more efficient. I'd worked with automation systems before, and I knew I didn't want to try to make a better thermostat than Honeywell or G.E., a better burglar/fire alarm system than DSC, etc. These commercial, off the shelf systems do what they're supposed to... most of the time.... However, I wanted to monitor and integrate these subsystems. For example, if the weather system detects a rainstorm, the "uber computer" will want to close any open garage doors. If the fire alarm goes off, the uber-computer ensures the front gates open to admit the emergency vehicles. Should the barn flyspray not run at least once in 24 hours, I'll find a message on a display in the barn reminding me to, "Check Flyspray" for low bug-juice level.

This is a SCADA system: Supervisory, Control And Data Acquisition, and, as do most such systems, operates in a master/slave configuration. The master unit is a Rabbit Semiconductor BL2600, and the Webserver function is handled by a BL2010. RemoteTerminal Units, (“nodes”), strategically placed around the farm, are connected by wired RS-485 network and 433 mHz radio link. Sensors collect data from the attached systems and send it up to the uber-computer over the network as each node is polled. Instructions from the uber-computer to the node operate relay contacts wired back into the attached systems.

Two versions of the remote nodes were designed: a full-size and a mini, and were originally based on the Parallax Stamp. However, as the nodes were called on to do more and more, it became clear the Stamps were nearing exhaustion. For applications where memory space was running out or additional speed was needed, Atom 24s were swapped in. Even so, the Atoms were limited by the hardware constraints of the original node design.

A new series of nodes is in the works; specifically designed to take advantage of hardware features found in the Atom. The master/slave network connection will be dedicated to the hardware UART ports, AX- ports brought out to convenient terminal strips, etc. The new PCBs will also contain two types of surge protection on board, as lightning-induced surges in the datalink were quite troublesome early on in the project.

Photo “full-node” shows a full size node completely populated with opto-isolated inputs and relay outputs. Two voltage comparators are onboard, but they're hardly ever used.

Photo “mini-node” is a smaller package designed primarily for one-wire applications. Because the one-wire overhead uses much of the Stamp resources, only a few I/O ports are actually connected to opto-isolators or open-collector relay driver circuits.

Photo “sws-node” shows a full size node, without an enclosure, mounted in a Structured Wiring Cabinet along with an Ethernet LAN hub, CCTV and telephone line distribution, alarm system, etc.

Photo “barn-node” shows a full-size and mini node on the job at our main barn. This full size node enclosure has room for a small LCD display and also contains circuitry to signal the front gate system. This mini-node has a DC/DC converter needed for the one-wire barometer sensor.

FULL_NODE.JPG [ 143.6 KiB | Viewed 2135 times ]
MINI_NODE.JPG [ 112.41 KiB | Viewed 2140 times ]
SWS_NODE.JPG [ 128.91 KiB | Viewed 2140 times ]
BARN_NODE.JPG [ 57.44 KiB | Viewed 2141 times ]

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