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Remote monitoring device offers 3G modem

May 18, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 9 views

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications vendor Sixnet is shipping a cellular-enabled remote monitoring and control device that runs Linux. The PowerPC-based R.A.M. (Remote Access and Monitoring) device enables remote monitoring of data logging and SCADA operations via secure cellular networks, says the company.

(Click for larger view of the R.A.M.)

Combining a secure, 3G-ready cellular modem with a programmable Remote Terminal Unit (RTU), the R.A.M. is designed for remote control, monitoring, and data logging applications, including SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition). Typical deployments include oil and gas discovery, water and waste-water management, chemical plants, power utilities, and energy companies, says Sixnet. The device can save customers up to 80 percent of the cost of a truck roll to a remote site, or 60 percent of the cost of a traditional phone landline, claims the company.

The R.A.M. is based on an undisclosed PowerPC processor with up to 32MB RAM and up to 64MB flash memory, says Sixnet. I/O is said to include five Ethernet ports, two RS232 ports, and one RS485 ports. The device also provides up to 26 I/O analog and digital points, as detailed in the spec list below. The company offers a variety of optional 2G and 3G cellular modems for all major cellular technologies including EDGE, HSPA, and EVDO, on a variety of carriers.

The ruggedized 12 x 10-inch wall-mount box is said to be designed for the NEMA 4X enclosure standard. The R.A.M. is also claimed to support industrial standards including UL (1604), Class I, Div 2, and to be able to tolerate -40 to 149 deg. F temperatures.

The R.A.M. unit ships with a variety of Linux-based application tools for alarming, data logging, and programmable control, and open source code is available for developing new applications and I/O drivers, says Sixnet. The device's RTU is also said to be open for customization via high level C++ and ISaGRAF IEC 61131 programming.

Specifications listed for the R.A.M. include:

  • Processor — PowerPC based 32-bit processor
  • Memory — up to 32MB; 512KB retained, battery-packed memory
  • Flash — up to 64MB
  • Cellular modem — options supporting cellular technologies including EDGE, HSPA, and EVDO; 8-inch antenna
  • Networking — 5 x 10/100 Ethernet (RJ45)
  • Networking protocols — TCP/IP, ARP, UDP, ICNP, DHCP, Modbus/TCP, SIXNET, etc.
  • Serial — 2 x RS232 ports; 1 x RS485 port
  • Other I/O:
    • Discrete inputs — 8 or 12 channels (sinking or sourcing)
    • Discrete outputs — 4 or 8 channels (10-30 VDC)
    • Analog inputs — 6 or 8 channels (4-20 mA)
    • Analog outputs — up to 2 channels (4-20 mA)
  • Data logging features — Log data with time stamping, trending, and alarm logging
  • Alarm features — Alarm configuration wizard
  • Security features — VPN tunneling and authentication
  • Power — 10-30 VDC input; 100 mA @ 24 VDC current (typical)
  • Dimensions — 12 x 10 inches (NEMA 4x enclosure)
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 149 deg. F (-40 to 65 deg. C)
  • Operating system — Linux

Open DCS Controller

(Click for details)

Sixnet has long provided Linux-based distributed control devices supporting SCADA and “distributed control system” (DCS) applications. These include the SixTRAK IPm Open DCS Controller (pictured), which shipped back in 2003, and was supported with an open source Linux IPm Application Development Kit. The SixTRAK device was said to support Ethernet, telephone-line or “wireless telemetry,” but did not support standard cellular networks.

Stated Peggy Smedley, editorial director, M2M Magazine, “When SCADA first appeared on the scene cellular technology was still in its infancy. Thus, there were little, if any, communication options apart from radio networks. Today, the use of cellular technology has blossomed and there is an important distinction between SCADA and M2M. With the advancement of R.A.M., customers can experience reduced costs and enjoy the flexibility they have needed in a host of industries.”


The R.A.M. device is available now, at an undisclosed price. More information may be found here.

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