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Automation controller debuts Linux-based PLCnext software

Feb 8, 2018 — by Eric Brown
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Phoenix Contact’s rugged, dual Cortex-A9 based “PLCnext AXC F 2152” controller for its Axioline F I/O field bus is the first field controller designed to run Phoenix’s Linux-based PLCnext control stack, which enables PLC control using high-level languages.

Today’s embedded engineers have a wider breadth of tech knowledge than their parents’ generation, but they are less likely to know the intricacies of the old-school Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and field bus technologies that still drive much of the industrial automation world. As reported in Design & Control, Phoenix Contacts decided to reach out to younger engineers by providing a Real-Time Linux-based PLCnext Technology field controller stack, which supports multiple high-end programming languages in addition to traditional IEC 61131 PLC programming. A year after announcing PLCnext, Phoenix has launched the first controller based on the technology.



PLCnext AXC F 2152 (left) and Axioline F
(click images to enlarge)

The PLCnext AXC F 2152, which will be followed by higher-end PLCnext driven controllers, is designed for use with Phoenix Contact’s block-based Axioline F I/O field buses. The 127 x 75 x 45mm device runs the PLCnext Linux software on an unnamed dual-core, 800MHz Cortex-A9 SoC. (This is possibly a hybrid ARM/FPGA SoC such as the Zynq-7000, which matches these specs, and which has appeared in other data acquisition and field bus related products such as the Ixxat Econ 100.)


PLCnext AXC F 2152

The device’s IEC 61131 runtime system provides an Eclipse based (C++) PC Worx Engineer application compatible with PCLnext running on 4MB RAM and 8MB storage. An SD card is available with an optional 2GB card with the PLCnext program.

The PLCnext AXC F 2152 is further equipped with an Axioline F local bus and dual 10/100 Ethernet ports. The controller supports up to 63 devices per station and processes up to 8192 bits per station, split between input and output. The system supports PROFINET controller and device functions with a minimum update rate of 1ms (4x devices) or 16ms (64 devices).

The IP20-protected controller supports -25 to 60°C temperatures (below 2000 meters) or -25 to 55°C (2000 to 3000 meters). It offers 5g vibration resistance, as well as shock resistance rated as 30g, 11ms half-sine shock pulse (IEC 60068-2-27). There’s also a 24VDC input with 19-30V range, as well as EMC resistance.

A starter kit version designed to showcase PLCnext adds a voltage switch, digital input and output module, analog input and output module, potentiometers, and switch module. You also get a power supply unit, patch cable, and mains plug. The software kit includes a free one-year subscription to PROFICLOUD.

 
PLCnext

The PLCnext software offers engineers a customized real-time version of Linux that can match the determinism of traditional proprietary OSes. Additionally, its Linux foundation and modular architecture enable high-level programming support and the addition of open source software.

PLCnext supports protocols including HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, SNTP, SNMP, SMTP, SQL, MySQL, and DCP. The stack includes an OPC UA server, diagnostic loggers, and trace controllers, as well as system, user, and fieldbus managers.

The modular PLCnext software enables PLC programmers to specify the sequential control of a system or machine in IEC 61131, while others using higher-level languages such as C++ can work in parallel on more advanced processes, such as optical pattern recognition. ”The various program sequences do not need to be integrated into an IEC 61131 task for them to run deterministically,” says Drives & Controls.

 
Further information

The PLCnext AXC F 2152 is available now at an undisclosed price. More information may be found on the Phoenix Contacts PLCnext AXC F 2152 product page.
 

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