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Linux based touch-panel DAQ system includes GUI software

Oct 8, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 2,167 views

Lascar launched a Linux-based DAQ system with a 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen, an ARM9-based Freescale i.MX283 SoC, and a free GUI program.

Salisbury, UK based Lascar Electronics sells seven Windows-based “PanelPilotM” panel computers of various sizes, and it has now launched its first Linux-based line called the “PanelPilotACE.” The PanelPilotACE is “more of a blank canvas” than the M series, offering a far greater capability for configuring “behavior and function,” but also at a higher price, says the company. Still, prices are a reasonable $248 to $275, depending on quantity.

PanelPilotACE SGD 43-A
(click image to enlarge)

The first PanelPilotACE entry is the SGD 43-A, a 4.3-inch touch-panel data acquisition and control (DAQ) system designed for the “rapid development of fully customized industrial and commercial user interfaces and panel meters,” says Lascar. The SGD 43-A can be panel mounted, “making it easy to integrate into a range of industrial and manufacturing applications and processes.” However, it can also be easily adapted for commercial applications including medical devices, monitoring systems in scientific research, or as information displays in museums or other public buildings, says the company.

The PanelPilotACE SGD 43-A runs embedded Linux on a 454MHz Freescale i.MX283, one of the lower-end , industrial versions of the five i.MX28x models announced in 2010. (The product page and datasheet refer to this as a Cortex-A9 processor, but it’s actually ARM9, which is much slower, but also much more power efficient.) Other touch-panel related hardware based on the processor, which runs on only half a Watt, include Techsol’s circa-2011 TSCM-283 computer-on-module designed for panel PCs.

The PanelPilotACE SGD 43-A ships with 1GB of RAM and a 2GB SD card, and offers a 4.3-inch, 480 x 272-pixel capacitive touchscreen. The system provides a USB port, as well as four 16-bit bi-polar analog inputs, eight digital input/output pins, two alarm outputs, and four PWM outputs.

SGD 43-A I/O with analog inputs (left) and digital I/O and alarms (right) highlighted
(click image to enlarge)

The SGD 43-A also supplies several interfaces not yet supported in software, including Ethernet, RS232, RS485, and I2C. The 119.3 x 79.8 x 20mm SGD 43-A supports 0 to 40°C temperatures, and can be powered either from USB or a 5V to 30V DC supply.

The freely downloadable PanelPilotACE Design Studio software runs on Windows computers. It offers drag-and-drop GUI development that “removes the need for any coding, cutting development time for even the most advanced displays by months,” says Lascar.

PanelPilotACE Design Studio
(click image to enlarge)

The software provides building blocks for adding predefined elements including text, analog and digital style meters, navigation elements, and “even complex logic statements,” says the company. Users can also create or import their own elements. Finished designs can be tested on an emulator before being uploaded via USB to the SGD 43-A. (See video demo farther below.)

Specifications listed for the PanelPilotACE SGD 43-A include:

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX283 (1x ARM9 core @ 454MHz)
  • Memory — 1GB DDR2 SDRAM; SD slot with 2GB card
  • Display — 4.3-inch, 480 x 272 capacitive touchscreen (262k colors)
  • I/O supported at launch:
    • USB port (for data transfer and power)
    • 4x analog,16-bit bi-polar inputs (max. ±40V DC)
    • 8x digital I/O pins
    • 2x alarm outputs (max. current sink 10mA)
    • 4x 8-bit PWM outputs
  • Other I/O not yet supported by software:
    • Ethernet
    • RS232
    • RS485
    • I2C
  • Other features — panel-mount module
  • Power — 5 to 30V DC (300mA typical at 5V DC); also supports USB power
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 40°C (32 to 104°F)
  • Dimensions — 119.3 x 79.8 x 20mm (4.7 x 3.1 x 0.8 in.)
  • Operating system — Linux with free, Windows-based PanelPilotACE Design Studio software

A video demonstration of the PanelPilotACE Design Studio software appears below.

PanelPilotACE Design Studio tutorial

Further information

The PanelPilotACE SGD 43-A is available now starting at about $248 in volumes of 25 units or more, ranging up to $275 for less than five pieces. More information may be found on the Lascar Electronics SGD 43-A product page, as well as its PanelPilot overview page.

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