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Industrial Controller Package

Posted by on Jan 16, 2014 in Development Progress | Comments Off on Industrial Controller Package

Industrial Controller Package

Industrial Controller Package One of the advantages of using Nanospark is the abundance of used, and hence inexpensive, Apple devices on the market. The iPod touch 4, iPhone 3 and 4 for instance have plenty of processing power and features to make the equipment you’ve attached to your Nanospark very smart.  Being older models they can be purchased from Amazon, eBay and many other sites at great prices.  We’ve made use of several of these devices for in house projects; sometimes purchasing for as low as $80. That said, maybe you don’t want to risk a used one, maybe you don’t want to use your iPod loaded with all your tunes to run an industrial control system, maybe you’re an Android guy.  Whatever the case may be, we’ve put together a kit so that out of the box you have the complete foundation of a great system. Our Nanospark Controller Kit comes with the controller and a refurbished iPod touch 4th Generation.  We’ve put a screen protector on the iPod touch 4 along with a hard plastic case.  On the iPod itself we’ve cleaned up the home screen by organizing the basic apps and installing both the Nanospark Controller and Colour Detector apps. You can find the kit in our store, we trust you’ll find it helpful! Learn more about the...

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Introducing Nanospark Controller – First Hundred Units

Posted by on Nov 18, 2013 in Development Progress | Comments Off on Introducing Nanospark Controller – First Hundred Units

Introducing Nanospark Controller – First Hundred Units

Purchase your Nanospark (Read why you should below)   As we introduce Nanospark, we are offering it at a reduced price of $79.99.  Take advantage of this offer, because it is only for the first one-hundred units! We believe the Nanospark controller has great potential for OEMs, facility managers, research and development, and yes- DIYers.  The beauty of this controller is not just the variety of projects you could take on or the equipment you could improve- but the clean, intuitive interface that comes through the iOS connection. Need some ideas of how you could use the Nanospark Controller?  See how we are making use of this ingenious device around our facility. Contact us (715-318-1059) or visit Our Store to begin your Nanospark...

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Nanospark – Using Iso-Tip

Posted by on Nov 18, 2013 in Projects | Comments Off on Nanospark – Using Iso-Tip

Nanospark – Using Iso-Tip

Nanospark – Using Iso-Tip I thought we’d tell you about tools from one our our sister companies that we’re using on our projects around here.  They’re the Iso-Tip cordless soldering irons; I have both a 7700 and a 7800 in my office . Recently I was making a demo for some of our Reps to use when presenting Nanospark to potential customers and, sure enough, made use of my cordless soldering iron.  Along with a laser diode (you can never go wrong with lasers), the demo has an alcohol sensor with a module.  The female wire connectors I had were the wrong size so I soldered wires with male ends to the module.  Of course, I need the demo to look professional so next I grabbed some shrink tube and my trusty Titan Smart Torch to cover the solder joints.  Voilà- looking good! We use Iso-Tip irons for projects and also for manufacturing.  On the assembly side of Nanospark we’re using the 7904 Power Pro with a Micro tip #7484 to solder the wires to the connector pin and to the circuit board.  The micro tip works well with the small gauge wires and gets between the wires without melting other joints. On a given day we will solder about 200-250 joints so a second 7904 is ready on the charger just in case. Check out Iso-Tip for your projects.  I’m sure you’ll find them quite handy! Learn more about Nanospark’s...

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Nanospark – A Greenhouse Sensor System

Posted by on Oct 28, 2013 in Projects | Comments Off on Nanospark – A Greenhouse Sensor System

Nanospark – A Greenhouse Sensor System

The greenhouse scenario illustrates well how Nanospark with a custom app can be turned into a very user-friendly sensor system. Could you use Nanospark to run a greenhouse?  Why not.  We made a very small one- just two tomato plants.  The greenhouse has fans, a soil moisture sensor, a thermometer, and an automatic watering line.  We wrote a small app to manage things; we called it VeggieFarmer. The app listens to the soil moisture and temperature sensors and reports real-time status.  When the soil becomes dry the app will trigger a solenoid to open,  letting water trickle down the tube from the bucket to the base of the tomato plant.  When it returns to wet, the app closes the solenoid.  Of course, it’s also monitoring the level of water in the bucket.  In our scenario by a flow rate formula, in other setups it could be done with a scale, water level sensor, or even an ultrasonic sensor. The temperature sensor monitors the temperature inside the greenhouse.  When the temperature is 80°F or more the fans are turned on.  (Yes we know the fans could be located more effectively in the mini-greenhouse.)  When it’s cool the fans are turned off. We hard-coded the above parameters into the demo app we built.  However, it would be a simple matter to program an app with selection settings so that gardeners could run several zones from one controller.  Or so they could customize the app settings to accommodate a variety of plant types in their garden. If you are a hobbyist gardener, greenhouse owner or farmer, we’d be happy to help you use Nanospark to manage various functions of your...

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Industrial Timer for an Antiquated Machine | Nanospark

Posted by on Oct 14, 2013 in Projects, Scheduling and Timing | Comments Off on Industrial Timer for an Antiquated Machine | Nanospark

Industrial Timer for an Antiquated Machine | Nanospark

Industrial Timer for an Antiquated Machine We use Nanospark around our facility, as an industrial timer to do many things, such as to save electricity and wear-and-tear on one of our machines. In the tool and die part of our shop we have an old swiss machine (or screw machine).  The swiss machine is programmed with gears rather than electronics.  Whether there is bar stock in the machine or not, it’ll continue to spin and cycle through the tools. A typical bar will last anywhere from 7 to 9 hours in the swiss machine.  So at the very beginning of the shift a bar is loaded and the machine cuts all day. Then, just before leaving, we load another bar and walk away- knowing that by about 1am it’ll be spinning and flipping between tools- just cutting the air. Prior to Nanospark this would mean each night wasting about 6 hours of electricity and needless thousands of rotations for the machine and it’s tools.  Through a 5V relay, we wired Nanospark’s digitalOutput1 to the power supply creating a digital timer.  The screw machine is turned on from the digital tab of the app. Then we setup an event in the Scheduling tab to shut off the machine at 2:01 am.  In the morning when we walk in it’s quietly at rest, waiting for a new bar. This has been going so well that we’re expanding the operation.  Recently we ordered the wires and relay’s to add three temperature baths, a compressor, and a water valve to this one Nanospark’s scheduling profile. Learn more about this digital timer. ** Update on this project ** Last week one of the technicians in our shop asked if we could also regulate the air line that comes to this screw machine.  We had some 120V solenoids on hand; so, sure!  He took care of the piping, adding some adapters to the solenoid, while I grabbed a couple wires- and we were off. As you can see in the picture, the relay board that we used has 4 relays on it.  So I wired a wall plug into the second relay’s power slot and the power leg of the solenoid into the NO slot.  The grounds were tied together to complete the circuit.  Next I connected Nanospark’s digitalOutput4 to IN2 on the relay.  Now the On/Off slider on the digital screen of the app relates directly to the air at the solenoid. Of course, we needed to put the solenoid on a schedule to mirror the machine’s operation.  The cool thing is we didn’t even have to configure a new event, just opened the screw machine’s schedule and added digitalOutput4 to it. There are still plenty of inputs and outputs available on this Nanospark- I wonder what they’ll need to have it do...

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Meet Nanospark – Interface Controller Extraordinaire

Posted by on Oct 10, 2013 in Development Progress | Comments Off on Meet Nanospark – Interface Controller Extraordinaire

Meet Nanospark – Interface Controller Extraordinaire

The new Nanospark controller brings the power of the Apple mobile devices to the physical world. It will help developers and users of sensors, machines and other devices to convert them to smart devices, integrate them into the web and leverage the computing power of the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices to monitor and control their equipment.

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Digital Timer Switch | Universal Equipment Timer

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 in Features, Home, Scheduling and Timing | Comments Off on Digital Timer Switch | Universal Equipment Timer

Digital Timer Switch | Universal Equipment Timer

How can you use the scheduling feature of the Nanospark Controller app to manage the equipment in your facility?

Through the scheduling tab of the Nanospark Controller app (free on iTunes), you’re able to control when outputs turn on and off. In the demo below we’ve scheduled events for a coffee maker, a hot plate, a motor to crack the egg and an actuator for the toaster. Perhaps it’s a bit whimsical to have breakfast prepared for you while on your way to work- but imagine the real possibilities as an equipment timer.

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Industrial Automation Processes – Ice Cream Cup Lids

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Home, Projects | Comments Off on Industrial Automation Processes – Ice Cream Cup Lids

Industrial Automation Processes – Ice Cream Cup Lids

There are three JMP contact switches wired to digital inputs to confirm equipment and cup location. Five digital outputs trigger solenoids (through an 8-channel, 5V relay board) to actuate cylinders and a vacuum pump which place the lid on the cup, and rotary valves which move the cup through the system.

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The Intuitive Digital Timer | Nanospark

Posted by on Aug 20, 2013 in Features, Home, Scheduling and Timing | Comments Off on The Intuitive Digital Timer | Nanospark

The Intuitive Digital Timer | Nanospark

There certainly are digital timers out there, so why use Nanospark in this way? Because it’s Versatile, Centralized, and Intuitive. Nanospark can act as a digital timer for up to ten different pieces of equipment; even if they run off varied voltages. And the interface to set and manage the scheduled events is simple and clear.

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Color Detection With Multiple Calculation Areas

Posted by on Aug 14, 2013 in Color Detection, Technical Info | Comments Off on Color Detection With Multiple Calculation Areas

Color Detection With Multiple Calculation Areas

We had a farmer from Australia contact us with a fascinating idea, color detection.  Could we put an iPod touch on the chemical tank of  his tractor and use the Colour Detector app to trigger the weed killer to spray only when it sees a weed?  We loved this idea not only in cost savings to the farmers, but also how good this must be for the environment. To make it happen though, we needed to tighten up Colour Detector’s gathering of RGB values.  So we separated the screen out into a grid, each looking for and reporting it’s own RGB value.  Here’s our proof of concept report. Attempt 1: The first attempt at color detection with multiple calculation areas I used six selection areas. Each area was a 160px by 160px square. Using three rows and two columns the screen was divided perfectly since the 3.5 inch retina displays measure 320 by 480 pixels. With six selection areas the results were less than favorable. When looking at solid colors or nearly homogeneous patterns the RGB reading would be pretty similar from one square to the next. The performance in this case is passable. When looking at areas that were not homogeneous though, the readings would fail to reflect the presence of an object such as a tuft of grass. I assume that the problem lay in the fact that each calculation area was too large. Each area was looking at 25600 pixels! Even if a pretty sizable object were to be inside a calculation area is would only be a portion of the total pixels. Further the other pixels are already a mix of red, green, and blue just simply in varying degrees. The colors from the object would likely fail to significantly influence the color average. Below are a few screen shots of the first attempt. Attempt 2: For the second attempt I decided to up the number of calculation areas. My hope was that the smaller calculation areas would lead to more “sensitive” averages since there would be fewer pixels involved. More sensitive calculation areas should improve performance both with homogeneous subjects and heterogeneous subjects. I split the screen into fifteen calculation areas with five rows and three columns. The 320px by 480px screen did not split up as nicely. In order to have equal calculation areas I chose to have small 1px columns and rows where there was no averaging taking place. The other alternative was to have a slight overlap in calculation areas. The increase in the number of calculation areas did as I had hoped. The RGB reading were now more sensitive. There are two situations that I will talk about with the color calculation. The first situation is a case in which the camera feed is more or less a constant color or homogeneous pattern. Any differences in color will most likely be due to differences in lighting. In this case the camera feed could be thought of as a gradient. With six calculation areas the color difference due to this gradient could be seen but the differences were slight. With fifteen calculation areas the RGB differences due to the gradient are more significant and are spread over more areas. The second situation is a case in which the camera subject is...

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