Designing a sensor network with GUI

Hello

Not exactly sure where to post this, so I will try here.

I work in a workshop where we have several pieces of equipment that have various sensors on them... flow, temperature, logic etc. Production line kind of stuff.

Most of it 24v DC

Nothing super complicated, but usually running on an antiquated PLC, or a whole pile of relays.
I understand the relay hardwired stuff, but I find the PLC equipment harder to get my head around.

I was thinking of making some kind of tablet that i could monitor all the equipment at once with.
Therefore, this would need some kind of GUI and a wireless network to interconnect all the equipment.

The warehouse doesn't have wifi, so I was think maybe more along the lines of a telemetry module RF Solutions, such as:

https://www.rfsolutions.co.uk/radio-modules-c10/zulu-c85

Had a tinker with QTdesigner and some Python code. Maybe that as the front end, running on an Android tablet?

Open to suggestions. Traffic and data speed is not critical, and i would think we have about a dozen machines to monitor.
Mostly received data, but two way comms would be useful for maybe emergency stop actions.

phoneystark2020:
I was thinking of making some kind of tablet ... some kind of GUI and a wireless network to interconnect all the equipment. ... The warehouse doesn't have wifi, so I was think maybe more along the lines of a telemetry module RF Solutions

If you want to connect to a tablet you need a standard interface like WiFi or Bluetooth.

phoneystark2020:
but two way comms would be useful for maybe emergency stop actions.

Two way is no issue. Emergency stop is. There are regulations for emergency stops. You should get a couple of big red emergency stop buttons installed by a professional.

Regarding the sensor network.

  • If your sensors are connected to AC power you could use WiFi. WiFi is not suitable for battery powered devices except for very short connections or daily recharge devices like your phone. But WiFi is widely available and supported by almost everything that can connect wireless. Have a look at the Arduino Nano 33 IoT.

https://store.arduino.cc/arduino-nano-33-iot

  • If your sensors are on battery powered devices you need something lower power like BLE and a gateway to collect the data and then process it.

  • You could use a Raspberry Pi as a WiFi access point and to provide a central device for data collection and processing.

  • You could use MQTT as data protocol. It is well supported and widely used from Arduino, to Raspberry Pi, PC/MAC up to cloud solutions.

  • On the Raspberry Pi you could run the MQTT broker, store your data in a database like influxdb and process and display the data using Node-RED. The whole system can be extended very easily. There are plenty of Youtube videos and tutorials available.

Thanks. This would never be used for influencing the working of the machinery. That is all in place.

Talking to equipment would purely be for non-critical switching, such as maybe lighting.

I am thinking more for indicating the current state of the machinery.

Not used Raspberry Pi's much. Got a whole pile of them here, but never opened them. Maybe now is the time.

I was thinking of a Win 10 laptop (maybe one of the armoured types of laptop).
RF solutions make a 868/915MHz serial transceiver that plugs into a laptop USB port.

Seeing as wifi is a dark art to me, I would probably struggle with the MQTT angle

I can't see how Arduinos have any relevance for this.

Is there a role for an Arduino?

...R

Yes. The RF modules that match the USB transceiver are UNO based shields

You should be updating the PLC.
With it will come modern interfaces.

.

ieee488:
You should be updating the PLC.
With it will come modern interfaces.

I agree.

A DIY system is not a good idea for a commercial workplace - who will maintain it if you are not available?

...R

Me. It's my workshop.

The Mitsubishi PLC's are all discontinued items. Thousands to replace them all, and in this current climate.... that ain't happening.

phoneystark2020:
Me. It's my workshop.

In that case my reservations don't apply. We have had several proposals for automation where the proposer was not not the boss - hence my earlier comment.

Be prepared, however, for this project taking 2 or 3 times longer than you expect - they always do :slight_smile:

...R

If you already have a PI its probably a good option to do as the first commenter suggested rather than using a laptop. The PI will take a lot less power and can be mounted statically where it can receive from all of the sensors. Theres nothing then stopping you using your laptop/tablet to connect and access the UI.