Embedded Control Teaching Tool

Sept. 10, 2013
Leveraging technology used in the recently released CompactRIO 9068, National Instruments’ myRIO multi-concept tool is designed to help students understand control, mechatronics, robotics, and embedded concepts.

Following in the footsteps of myDAQ, a low-cost data acquisition device that gives students a tool with which to measure and analyze live signals, National Instruments has recently released myRIO— a multi-concept tool that features dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 real-time processing and Xilinx FPGA customizable I/O.

Designed to help engineering students better understand how to apply embedded concepts for a variety of control applications, myRIO encompasses many of the features included on National Instruments’ CompactRIO 9068 controller, including the new Xilinx Zynq chip and Linux OS.

To avoid complex address configuration issues that could hinder student use, myRIO uses USB and/or Wi-Fi to deploy applications. The USB port can also be used to plug in peripherals like cameras or extra storage. Onboard Wi-Fi also allows for data visualization on mobile devices.

The FPGA on myRIO comes preconfigured with I/O types typically seen in student applications. However, the I/O on myRIO is reconfigurable and features 10 analog inputs, 6 analog outputs, and 40 digital I/O points.

There is also a three-axis accelerometer onboard the unit.

Although myRIO is only now being officially released, National Instruments has been testing myRIO with students for some time. Several projects already completed can be accessed via http://ni.com/community/myrio.

One project that caught my attention was the myFridge, which uses myRIO to: control an automatic lock on the fridge; operate a touch sensor to detect whether the door is open or closed; keep stock of drinks in the fridge through the incorporation of an RFID scanner; and manage custom temperature control. In an added twist, using a Google Voice account, the students behind this project have designed a way to keep tabs on the stick in the fridge remotely via text messaging.

For a humorous look at myFridge, designed and powered by National Instruments’ myRIO, watch the video below.

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