This week’s EYE ON NPI (video) is like a Vulcan: no, it doesn’t have pointy ears, but it is totally logical! It’s the Crouzet Millenium Slim Ultra-Small Logic Controller. It’s the darn-cutest looking logic controller we’ve seen, with wireless BLE programming support for 4 inputs and 4 outputs.
Each controller is very small compared to large PLCs, with 4 inputs and 4 outputs. There’s a version with 500mA transistor sourcing outputs which can do PWM output, and two relay versions – one AC powered and one DC powered. Each input can also be PWM input and some can be tachometer or analog inputs.
There’s no LCD or TFT display – instead you can use a phone with iOS or Android to connect to the BLE interface to analyze/debug the output, and provide buttons for input if a UI is desired.
The nicest part of this product is the programming interface software. The software only runs on Windows that we could tell, but it’s a simple drag-n-drop flow-based programming kit that lets the operator come up with simple logical operations that can be combined to create advanced control flows.
This is a bit different than microcontroller programming: all the logic executes at the same time, so perhaps it’s a little like a cross between block-based coding and FPGA/CPLD coding. There are some simple commands like Boolean logic, or simple counters – to more advanced ones like PID controllers, timers, or Schmidt triggers. Even though this is like a ‘baby’ PLC, it seems like the programs can be simulated/shared from smaller to larger controllers.
The BLE connectivity is handled with a BlueGiga dongle – this is a device that presents itself as a serial COM port and then takes commands over UART data to connect and transfer BLE data. This might seem a bit odd given that Win 10 has native wireless support – but probably a good idea since native BLE connectivity is really tough on desktop. There’s also a better chance that the programmer could run in an emulator because the driver is generic.
We think the Millenium Slim Ultra-Small Logic Controller could be an excellent first-time-PLC for someone starting out with PLC, or anyone with a small automation project where a big controller is overkill. Best of all, both the BLE dongle and PLC are in stock right at Digi-Key for immediate purchase. So whether you are an expert automator, or a beginner mechatronist – purchase today and you can get it in your hands tomorrow morning!
See on Digi-Key at https://www.digikey.com/short/2jfv2p4d