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Embedded controller adds CAN and serial hooks to Pi 2

Aug 21, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 2,740 views

Janztec has launched an embedded controller based on the Raspberry Pi 2, adding a 24-pin expansion connector with CAN, RS232/485, and industrial I/O.

The emPC-A/RPI follows in a long line of emPC-branded industrial computers dating back to the Xenomai Linux supported emPC-M from 2008 when Germany-based Janztec went by the name Janz Automationssysteme AG. Janztec continues to sell products in the U.S. via Saelig, which is shipping the emPC-A/RPI for $309. The price goes to $364 if you add a microSD card loaded with Raspbian Linux for the computer’s quad-core, 900MHz Raspberry Pi 2 Model B mainboard.

(click image to enlarge)

This is not the first Raspberry Pi 2 based mini-PC — others include the Zymbit Orange — but it’s the first we’ve seen that’s billed as an industrial embedded controller, and the first to offer a CANbus interface. The CAN link is available via the emPC-A/RPI’s hard-to-miss, orange and green colored, 24-pin multi-connector on the side of the box. The expansion connector also offers SPI, I2C, DIO, USB, and RS232/485.

Janztec supplies drivers for the CAN and RS232/485 interfaces, as well as the computer’s battery-backed real-time clock. These features are also supported by the CODESYS soft-PLC runtime control system software.

The emPC-A/RPI provides the Pi 2’s 1GB of RAM and microSD slot, as well as an exposed HDMI port, a Fast Ethernet port, and four USB 2.0 ports. A serial debug console port is also available.

The 4.0 x 3.8 x 1.2-inch embedded controller is wall- or DIN-rail mountable, and supports 0 to 45°C temperatures. The system runs on a wide-range 9-32 VDC power supply.

Specifications listed for the emPC-A/RPI include:

  • Processor (RPi 2) — Broadcom BCM2836 (4x Cortex-A7 cores @ 900MHz)
  • Memory — 1GB SDRAM; microSD slot (externally accessible) with optional 16GB Raspbian card
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • HDMI port
    • 4x USB 2.0 ports
    • Serial debug console port
    • 24-pin expansion connector:
      • RS232/485 port (SC16IS740 UART)
      • CAN interface (ISO/DIS 11898-2 opto-isolated, termination settings via jumper) via MCP2515 controller chip
      • DIO (4x in, 4x out) with isolation
      • SPI, I2C, USB, etc.
  • Other features — Battery backed RTC; wall or DIN-rail mountable
  • Power — 9-32 VDC
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 45°C
  • Dimensions — 99.8 x 96.7 x 30mm
  • Weight — about 0.4 k
  • Operating system — Raspbian and other RPi compatible Linux distros; Janztec emPC-A/RPI driver package for 24-pin connector and RTC; supports CODESYS soft-PLC runtime control software

Further information

The Janztec emPC-A/RPI is available now in the U.S. via Saelig for $309, or $364 with a 16GB microSD card with preloaded Raspbian. More information may be found at the Saelig and Janztec emPC-A/RPI product pages.

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