Hardware and software automation platform Tibbo


Good day, dear Khabrovites!
This is my first post at Scancode, in which I will tell you about a new product presented on the Russian market. I want to warn in advance that the description will not have a comparative analysis with competitors and deep technical details - all this is a topic for a separate article. Here I will try to describe the basic functional principles of this system, how and with what to eat it should be used.
Note: most of the pictures below are clickable.

Taiwanese company Tibbo Technology Inc. has announced a new product line called the Tibbo Project System (TPS). TPS - it is a modular hardware platform for creating your own automation devices . It is devices, not individual elements. By a platform we mean a combination of the following elements: a motherboard with an installed microcontroller, input / output boards, the case of the future device, and software that allows you to write firmware for the created device. Moreover, at the stage of ordering, the client himself chooses which elements he will need and what will be in the delivery. But first things first.



Idea.


The key idea of ​​the Tibbo Project System has been around for several years. It was observed that most automation devices can be divided into two broad categories: fixed devices that cannot be “changed” by the user and modular devices that can be assembled from “pieces” - I / O modules that are installed next to each other on the rail.


The problem of the first category is that it is rarely possible to find a device with the right specification. Sellers understand this and try to cover all the basic specifications, offering a dizzying number of models (configurations). For example, you open a nomenclature, and there is a table with 20 lines. Eight relays and four inputs. Four relays and eight inputs. Four relays, four inputs and a serial port and so on. But what if you need six relays, two isolated inputs, four open collector outputs, a serial port, temperature and humidity sensors, and a high voltage solid state relay? Nope. There is no such configuration.

The problem with “composite” systems is that their cost is usually too high. A representative of any major industrial automation supplier, with a serious expression on his face, will tell you, and quite justifiably, that the device will cost "several thousand euros"! Good automation is expensive, and the client must be prepared to pay a lot of money for using their device. Right?

In fairness, I must say that there are affordable systems with customizable, expandable I / O, but they usually look "unfinished" - just a board, no normal housing, unsightly wiring, etc.

But good automation should be flexible, pleasing to the eye and affordable. When creating the Tibbo Project System, Tibbo Technology engineers tried to bring it all to life. For clarity, we write a simple formula and analyze its components:
TPS = PCB + Tibbits (input / output) + boxes

Boards (PCB).



We start by choosing a printed circuit board on which the entire logic of the device will work in the future. At the moment, there are two base boards, the differences between which are only in the number of seats for I / O modules (in one case there are 6 sites, in the other - 14). A chip with a frequency of 88 MHz (with PLL enabled) has already been installed on the board, a full-featured Ethernet interface has been implemented, connectors for connecting a Wi-Fi expansion module, an external display and keyboard have been prepared, a hardware reset button and a programmable button (MD) have been installed, installed a capacitor for backup power, a power circuit is soldered, LEDs and an audio indicator are placed. A web server has already been implemented on the chip. In fact, these boards are built-in ( embedded ) EM1000 modules that Tibbo has been manufacturing for quite some time. This time, the modules were turned inside out and now this is a printed circuit board with contact pads. Looking ahead, I’ll say that debugging programs is carried out directly through the Ethernet interface. Thus, having a “bare” board you can already connect to it and try your hand at programming, though this is not so interesting so far.

Tibbits



Tibbo bits are small I / O cards placed in a chassis. Tibbits can be used both independently (work with most well-known microcontrollers), and as part of the Tibbo Project System. The pitch between the pins is 2.54 mm., Which makes them easy to install on breadboard and test.
Tibbits are divided into two subtypes: actually functional boards and Tibbits connectors. Currently, over 40 different Tibbits have been implemented. These are ADC, DAC, PoE, backup power, RS232 / 485, various relays, isolated input, IR transceiver, Tibbits sensors (temperature, humidity, shock sensor) and many others. The list will be constantly expanding. In the near future it is planned to release GSM, stepper motor control, etc.
Depending on the functions, Tibbits can occupy one contact pad or a full section (two pads) on the board. Installation on the board is elementary. As a pleasant plus, the manufacturer provided for the installation of a vibration protection plate - the plate “presses” the tibbits to the board, preventing them from popping out during transportation or use in conditions of increased vibration.
Thus, we have almost prepared the hardware of our device. Now you can safely run the programming environment and create your own firmware.

Boxes



Making enclosures in unit volumes is an unacceptable pleasure. Price is too high. Even if there is small-scale production of boards, the enclosures still remain a headache for device developers. But the use of an open board at the facility is not always convenient, not aesthetically pleasing and leads to the risk of equipment failure. Therefore, it would be nice to put our entire system in a case. No sooner said than done. The manufacturer has provided several types of universal Tibbo Project Box cases: TPB2 - a case designed for a small motherboard; TPB2L is the same, but an LCD display and touch keys are mounted in this case; TPB3 - housing for a large motherboard.
Cases consist of several components. The bottom cover on which the board is mounted, the side walls, the top cover of the device. Tibbits-connectors successfully "fit" into the side walls and the body of the device. A distinctive feature is that a transparent plastic telephone window (in the version without a display) is installed on the top cover , under which stickers with signatures can be placed. It is very convenient when in the enclosure you do not have to guess "what wire from where?"
So, the board is selected, the tibbits are placed, all this has successfully been placed in the case - the hardware of the device is ready.

IP68



One caveat. Everything looks beautiful, but what to do with protection? The facilities often present an aggressive external environment. TPB base cases are clearly not suitable for such conditions. In this case, we can use cases from the previous Tibbo Technology DS10xx product line . These cases are made of extruded aluminum and, when using an external protective cover, have a degree of protection IP68 (full dust and moisture protection). Special boards have been developed for connecting Tibbits and installing in the case data. And now a fly in the ointment. Not all Tibbits can be installed on these cards. It is logical that the light sensor or IR transceiver is unlikely to cope with their tasks under the protective cover of the device.

Online configurator.



For convenience and facilitation of the process of choosing the components of the device, the Tibbo Project System online configurator was developed. In the configurator, we work with our projects (which we can save on the local machine), where we select printed circuit boards, available tibbits, and make a convenient layout. The logic of the configurator will not allow you to make a mistake, place nearby the tibbits that should be spaced on the board and will monitor the current consumption of the entire device. Having created your project, you can directly order the components of the resulting system directly from the configurator, and if necessary, order an already assembled device. At the same time, the configurator does not oblige you to anything, you can always order any component from this system, regardless of whether it is a tibbit, a board, or just an element of the case.
Having saved the project on the local machine, you can open it in the programming shell and the environment will automatically load all the libraries necessary for working with your device to your software project.

Programming.



To program the devices, the TIDE proprietary environment is used (this is not detergent, TIDE is Tibbo Integrated Development Environment). As I said, programming and debugging is done directly through the local area network (Ethernet). The environment is loyal to the user, convenient, has all the necessary functions, including breakpoints and the ability to step through the program. The web interface can be programmed here.
The programming language is Tibbo Basic. Do not be afraid, this is not the classic BASIC that many saw at school. This is a typed object-oriented event programming language from the manufacturer. Those who are still used to the C language should not be disappointed. Compiler "C" is ready, the stage of writing documentation is nearing completion. In the near future we are waiting for the release of the compiler.
A little bit about how the firmware works.
An operating system (TiOS - Tibbo OS) is loaded on the chip, which allows network debugging and monitors critical parameters of the controller. The firmware works in interpretation mode (the compiler translates the program into a mnemonic code, which we fill in the crystal).
When a system event occurs (pressing a button, data is received on the serial port, the line status, system timer, etc. have changed), a handler for this event appears, where further logic is implemented.
The source site of some projects and libraries is published on the manufacturer’s website in the public domain, which will help the programmer quickly get used to and write his own application.

How to manage it from the outside?



Firstly, you can integrate the resulting device into any system by writing a data exchange protocol with your own hands. Also, the manufacturer can order the development of drivers for the device. You write TK, the manufacturer implements the software part. Strictly speaking, the manufacturer can give the development of the entire software part.
By connecting the AggreGate Agent library, which is distributed free of charge, you can connect the device to the AggreGate platform from Tibbo Technology - this is a software automation platform. AggreGate already has flexible SCADA / HMI configurations, access control, building automation, etc. I will not dwell on this in detail, this platform deserves a separate article.
And finally, an OPC server release is expected soon, which allows you to connect the device to any SCADA system installed on your site.

Summing up ...



We get a functional automation platform, made in a stylish design and at an affordable price. Tibbo Project System can be used as a simple designer to create your own devices, even if you do not have enough experience in this area. Given the flexibility, functionality, scalability, the system can be perceived as a professional solution for system integrators and the automation industry as a whole. Together with the AggreGate platform, we get all the necessary functionality for creating turnkey systems. Be it monitoring (for example, monitoring the readings of electric meters), remote control of objects or an independent automatic control system.
Among other things, the manufacturer and official distributors provide technical support services for the use of the platform, consultations from the vendor for design work, warranty, an authorized service center. You can simply write to us about your task, and we will help you solve it.

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Would you like to see an article comparing the capabilities of the Tibbo Project System and Arduino?

  • 88.2% Yes it would be interesting 180
  • 3.9% This is not necessary, I realized the whole difference between these systems 8
  • 7.8% No, I do not need it sixteen