In the modern era, almost everything in our lives is controlled by some form of a microprocessor. Everything from your car to your toothbrush is used with a little assistance. Now, while we can’t exactly fit a 400MHz FEZ Raptor in a convenient package for a toothbrush, a vehicle has more than plenty of room. While most of us can not afford to use our own cars as a test bed, David@ Emrol was given a commercial size vehicle and an army of electronics. In a recent interview, he explains how he, and his company, used the G120 SoM to monitor the most important parts of the vehicle.
David, we were rather impressed with what you and your company were able to accomplish. Would you (or rather your company) care to share a little more details about the project?
Sure, we are almost at the point to start hardware production off the 0 series, still have some work to complete the software but there are several prototypes running in the real world.
What kind of info would you like?
What were some of the complications, or issues, you encountered during development?
I think for, this one, I first will have to describe the background specs and explain the solution we are building to meet this.
The module we designed on top of the G120 (we call this IRC) is a programmable gateway / data logger / remote control device that we use to make off the shelf devices able communicate to the host or other devices used in the same prototype.
We talk about battery management systems, vehicle controllers, charging systems etc. The actual configuration and programmed logic is stored on a SD card and is interpreted as an event driven application with an instruction set designed for rapid prototyping.
I put some screenshots on how this looks to give you an idea. With this controller we are able to design a prototype based on off the shelf components in a matter of days. The local interpreted code makes it easy for engineers on site to modify and change the program logic and inspect the logged data. Nothing more to do as plugin you USB cable in the IRC module and the SD storage is mounted towards the laptop.
It seems that the G120 module has quite a large responsibility. What were some of the other potential platforms that you investigated for this project?
We investigated everything from the bare pic controllers to the full blown industrial computers, including things like the raspberry pi.
With so many options available, why did you decide to base your designs around NETMF/Gadgeteer versus the other platforms?
Premium lib’s and portable and manageable code base between custom boards and Gadgeteer components for rapid prototyping.
What are some of the technologies you are utilizing in this setup?
On our custom board and interpreter we support:
-a event based interpreter
-USB client or debug based on a IO
-Serial debug via an FTDI chip
-SD memory storage
-USB memory storage
-flash memory storage
-WiFi(optional as component on the pcb)
-Bluetooth (optional as component on the pcb)
-expansion slot on SPI
-2 thermocouples (20ma loop)
-backup battery and charger
How are you utilizing WiFi and Bluetooth technologies in this project? Will it be another link to the command processor or serve a different function?
Wi-Fi and Ethernet is used to send out logged data over FTP / update configuration and firmware / remote control to IRC.
Ethernet can also be used for communication over TCPIP (simple client and server and a webserver)
Bluetooth will be used for communication to smartphone / tablet app.
Serial communication is used for communication with devices.
CAN is used for communication with devices.
Is Gadgeteer in use in this project or is it plain NETMF?
This is a very impressive project and we have to give you guys some serious credit. Thank you very much for sharing the extra details.
There you have it. This is exactly what happens when you give a group of geeks a pile of electronics and a vehicle. Be sure to check out the original post to get more details like the charging cycles the system is responsible for: https://www.ghielectronics.com/community/forum/topic?id=14820
Again, we would like to thank David and his company for sharing the details of the project for this purpose. I hope we were able to excite you with what can be accomplished with a little determination, hard work and a little help from a microprocessor.