Electronic Design: IoT Gas Analysis Telemetry

Background

DSL were approached by Brightwell Systems Ltd, one of the UK’s leading providers of monitoring solutions to the energy industry.

An integral part of their overall solution, monitoring information on utilities sites and relaying that information to a central control system, was an intelligent remote telemetry unit fitted with a range of both analogue and digital I/O interfaces to monitor sensor inputs.

Their existing solution was modular, constructed from off-the-shelf components; They were looking for a solution that would allow the same functionality from a single, simplified, bespoke component that gave them ownership, control of availability and reduced controllable costs..

Challenge

DSL’s brief was to reduce the overall unit cost, address obsolescence issues with the existing product and to achieve the input accuracy, wide I/O capability and performance at the price their market could encompass. Furthermore DSL needed to identify a solution to maintain firmware legibility to the client from the previous generation, with a familiar interface and manage the development and support of embedded operating system, Windows Embedded Compact 2013.

It needed to support various types of communication interfaces, such as radio, satellite, private wire and dial-up communications.

The product required CE certification and to pass EU EMC regulations. This process was entirely managed by DSL.

Solution

After a period of consultation DSL’s proposal was to control all aspects of design and manufacture to ensure future availability and longevity through stringent obsolescence management.

At hardware level, a clever combination of microprocessor and microcontroller was the most optimum methodology of achieving the desired UI with the high accuracy and low latency I/O requirements.

At firmware level Modbus was employed to provide the familiar programming interface for the client.

The final feature set as presented was:

  • – ARM A8 series 32-bit RISC processor
  • – ARM M4 series microcontroller
  • – 10-42VDC power input
  • – Internal eMMC flash support
  • – Onboard GSM/GPRS/3G/4G modem
  • – VGA output
  • – Dual Gigabit Ethernet
  • – Five serial ports, four EIA-232 compliant, one EIA-422/485 configurable.
  • – Relay and analogue outputs
  • – Digital and analogue inputs
  • – Two USB Ports
  • – EMC approvals

Full IP rights of the design were provided to the customer. DSL also ensured that it retained copies of all the detailed design information should the customer wish for us to revisit the design and implement changes.

Deliverables met included the design document, schematics, assembly notes, test specifications, EMC test specs, EMC certifications and 5 prototype units.

DSL went on to manage the production allowing the client to focus on its own core competency.