In very simple terms smart energy is the optimal and efficient use of energy resources. According to an estimate 37% of total energy demand is fulfilled by oil, 25% by coal and 23% by natural gas. Hence 85% of total energy supply is made from Earth’s natural resources. This shows how mankind is “eating up” the mother Earth. Every resource is finite so are these resources on Earth. The studies have shown beginning of the bad times for the human race. For example the picture on the left shows the increasing energy gap between supply and demand of energy. This simple chart shows what mankind is left with and for how many years. Another study shows that by 2050, our planet may expire if mankind continues to waist energy at current rate. So how much do we waste energy? In US alone 66% of generated electricity is wasted, 71% fuel for transportation is wasted due to in-efficient use of transport, 20% electricity is wasted in industrial and house hold users each. (continue reading…)
If you want to succeed in this field, you got to have some really good contacts. Designing a product idea is one thing, getting it into full blown product and a usable commodity in the field is the other. For that an embedded systems developer needs to do much more than design.
Lets face the fact that most developer or engineers do not have in house prototyping machinery. This includes PCB fabrication and stuffing/soldering. Also we need to source components, which, most of the times can not be found from local market. Therefore, you need someone out there to search and buy electronics components and send to you. You need to know your supplier well.
To know if he is reliable. Ask him if his already sent some components before. If there is an URL of his company. Is there any other guy to cross check what he is telling you. By the way most of the Chinese people I came to know during the process were extremely helpful and honest. The only problem has been communication issues and non-technical nature of their education as for technical marketing you do need to have technical knowledge and experience. (continue reading…)
I just started to use Cadsoft Eagle for PCB design some weeks ago. I tried many times in past but somehow left in between due to lack of interest. This time, however, I had a project in hand and the client requirement was to do it in Eagle. I am more used to the Diptrace software and I have reasons to like it. But Eagle is also a very popular PCB design software so I desire of using it.
In Eagle, I specially liked the schematic section as it looks very pretty at the end. It looks surely much more professional than drawn in Diptrace. Most of the hobby projects on Internet with pretty looking schematics you will see are designed in Eagle. Eagle saves its library files in XML format. So one can copy/paste a chuck of XML in the file to create a new footprint. Then can edit the part in the library editor of Eagle. (continue reading…)
Here is a very simple example of testing Modbus-TCP with Mango M2M. TCP is a convenient way to transport sensor/control data. The lower layers of TCP insure data reliability. This example only simulates a quick integration of a Modbus-TCP enabled remote terminal unit (RTU) with a SCADA (Mango in this case); it doesn’t give any details of Modbus RTU itself. Modbus data may transported through many other physical media as well, RS485 being the most common. There are several reasons I personally recommend Ethernet over RS485, this post may give you an idea why. This is true not just for Modbus but any communication protocol.
- The first step is to download Modbus Slave utility from here. The is only a 10 minute demo but will serve our purpose. You can search a better option for yourself. Open up the program and click “Connection”, choose “Modbus TCP/IP”.
A few years back I was a part of heated discussed in my company about Smart Grid technology. Basically, our company was asked by a government institution in power sector to do all this. I, along-with one of my colleague, were on our way for a survey for a small demo to be presented before some government officials which could show them the “goodies” of Smart Grid. To demonstrate them how it can control billing, have advanced fault indications, energy harvesting, solve our greatest issue the energy theft and other features.
We spent days selecting the platform for demo as well as for long-term production. We prepared a list of several vendors offering solutions of smart meters. Suddenly the whole project got frozen due to lack of interest from the government agency. All our efforts were in vain. We, as a private company, could not invest resources in something which did not seem fruitful, at least for the time being.
Often we need to calculate the power ratings of different components in a solar power systems. This may include the battery rating, solar charger rating, number of panels and their ratings. It all depends upon the output load, charging time and resources available. Attached is a very simple excel sheet which helps to calculate these parameters. Just change the parameters on left to see the reflected output calculations on right.
Here is a little demo of about integrating an embedded SNMP agent with Mango M2M for data monitoring. Manago M2M is an open source SCADA which is very easy to use. I am using a board design based on PIC18F97J60 Ethernet microcontroller.
- The first step is to install Mango M2M on your system using these instructions on Mango website. This installation is pretty straight forward but if you still need help, just contact me.
- Second is to install the latest Microchip TCPIP stack. I am using version 5.1 for this demo.
- Run the “TCPIP Config” utility and make sure that SNMP agent is enabled in your code.
Open Source Software vs Open Source Hardware
In the field of open source software, a community develops new program or makes addition to an existing program. Similarly, this type of approach is also used in open source hardware. But the difference between the open source software and hardware is that the development of software is free of cost, while in case of hardware, the physical developments are not easy and require some sort of investment.
- Open way of Product Development without Market Research: Open source hardware approach also helps to know about the customer’s needs and preferences without any market research. Consumers of specific product show their interest in a product and also indicate that what type of new product they want. For example their demands is 10 mega pixel cameras with zoom in and zoom out functions similarly Wi-Fi connectivity in a mobile etc. provides information about consumers demands and expectation about mobile devices. We have seen different innovative ideas through this channel. This type information and ideas enables companies in providing of best marketable products. This is also playing a vital role in products development. (continue reading…)
Alarm monitoring is a popular field where multiple network node, some times called agents, get information from attached sensors and transmit it onto the network where one or multiple servers called network monitoring system(s) (NMS) are listening to these alarms. The NMSs gather the info, calculate the statistics and present them in a way which is easily readable for human operators. The operators, then, are able to take quick decision based on these statistics.
This practice is very common in large networks where every single server, router or any other device typically keeps its own MIB (management information base) file and maintains it according to device condition. The device, other than doing it specific job, also send alarms which are typically called traps to the NMSs. However, the field has extended to general purpose small embedded devices as well for multiple applications like, power monitoring, environment and security to name a few.
Here is a little tutorial to show how to add 4MB external SPI flash in Microchip TCP/IP stack. This is useful when you need more memory and want to keep some logging data locally. The microcontroller under consideration is PIC18F97J60 and the hardware is that of PICDEM.NEt2 Ethernet development kit. Here are five easy steps:
Step-1: Launch the Microchip TCP/IP configuration utility. Choose “Show Advanced Options”