Teknic, a US-based manufacturer of servo motion control components, has designed ClearCore, a Microchip SAME53 Arm Cortex-M4 based industrial I/O and motion controller that can be programmed with the Arduino IDE for quick prototyping, or Atmel Studio 7 with a more advanced C++ API for more complex projects.
ClearCore offers four motion axes, 24-volt compatible analog and digital I/O, support for I/O expansion modules, as well as serial and/or Ethernet connectivity via RJ45 ports. Multiple ClearCore can also be daisy-chained for larger applications.
ClearCore key features and specifications:
- MCU – Microchip SAME53 Arm Cortex-M4F microcontroller clocked at up to 120 MHz, with 512 KB flash, 192 KB of SRAM
- Storage – MicroSD card slot
- 1x 10/100M Fast Ethernet RJ45 port
- Support for Xbee modules for wireless communication (WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, DigiMesh, 802.15.4, etc.)
- 2x RJ45 serial ports for SPI or UART devices (5V output)
- 3-pin terminal blocks with software configurable I/O, power, and ground
- Digital outputs can drive resistive or inductive loads up to 9 watts such as contactors, pneumatic or liquid valves, guard locks, brakes, LED lamps, etc… without the need for relays
- 2x H-bridge outputs for DC motors, speaker, etc…
- Up to 4 axes of stepper and/or servo motors (M-x connectors).
- All I/O points are also available on a header connector
- Programming – USB 2.0 device port
- Misc – LEDs for I/O state and exception status for each terminal
- Power Supply
- 12-24V DC via 3-pin terminal block
- Protected against overloads (voltage, current and thermal), ESD, inductive flyback, reversed power polarity, and most wiring errors.
- Dimensions – 12.7 x 8.9 x 2.54 cm (polycarbonate and aluminum case)
The diagram above shows a simple system with Ethernet being used for monitoring and control on one or more PC (or an SBC like Raspberry Pi) on the office network, an SPI display and UART barcode scanner connected through the serial RJ45 port, and various sensors and actuators connected to the I/O terminals.
More complex systems are possible with the addition of up to 64 more digital I/O points in 8-point increments by daisy-chaining CCIO-8 expansion modules, and it’s also possible to daisy-chain multiple ClearCore controllers for even larger systems.
The company provides a C++ Motion and I/O Library that does not require the understanding of the intricate details of the Cortex-M4 processor, and allows “intuitive access to ClearCore’s diverse hardware functions” through objects for motor control and status, I/O configuration, speaker sound generation, signal filtering, and more… The source code is available for free under an OEM-friendly license and 40 example projects are also provided. Alternatively, it’s possible to use the company’s Arduino wrapper together with the ClearCore library for rapid prototyping and demos.
The documentation, schematics, and source code are available online after registering a free account on the company’s website.
The video below gives an overview of what is possible with ClearCore using a robotic bartender as an example.
ClearCore industrial I/O and motion controller is currently sold for $99 per unit, and discounts are offered for higher quantities of 200 or greater units. You’ll find more information on the product page.