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Automation controller upgraded with new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

Jun 12, 2018 — by Eric Brown 2,785 views

Techbase has upgraded its Linux-powered ModBerry M500 controller with the RPi 3 Model B+ SBC, advancing to a 1.4GHz SoC, GbE, and dual-band WiFi-ac. The launch follows several new NanoPi and Orange Pi based ModBerry M300 models.

Techbase announced the availability of a new version of its ModBerry M500 industrial control computer (also called the ModBerry NPE M500), which advances from the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B to the new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ SBC. The updated ModBerry M500 offers a more powerful, feature-rich alternative to the ModBerry 500, which is based on the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 (CM3), as well as the ModBerry 500 M3, which combines the RPi 3-like CM3 with an ESP32 module.

Original ModBerry M500 (left) and partial view of render of the new RPi 3 Model B+ based controller
(click images to enlarge)

The new model taps RPi 3 Model B+ enhancements including a faster 1.4GHz quad-core, Cortex-A53 SoC in the form of the Broadcom BCM2837B0, and a USB 2.0-based Gigabit Ethernet port with up to 300Mbps throughput instead of the earlier 10/100 port. The GbE port supports an upcoming Power-over-Ethernet add-on.

The wireless module has been upgraded to pre-certified model with a faster 802.11ac WiFi radio with dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz operation. Bluetooth has advanced from 4.1 to 4.2, once again with BLE support. The new SBC also provides improved heat dissipation.

Updated comparison chart of ModBerry models with new Model B+ based M500
(click image to enlarge)

Techbase notes the new availability of H.264 decoding at the usual 1080p@30 rate, as well as new OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0 support that was not available on the earlier M500 device. Since the last time we checked in on Techbase at the end of 2017, the company updated the ModBerry 500 devices with support for the Codesys automation development platform, which complies with the IEC 61131-3 standard for PLC software programming. Codesys support is also available on the new ModBerry M500.


Recent NanoPi and Orange Pi based ModBerry additions

In February, we missed Techbase’s announcement of two new versions of its ModBerry M300, which runs on a NanoPi Neo hacker SBC. The new models include a ModBerry M300 N2 that advances to the NanoPi Neo 2 SBC. The Neo2 matches the 40 x 40mm footprint of the Neo but moves up to a quad -A53 Allwinner H5 SoC and a GbE port. There’s also a new ModBerry M300 N2+ model based on the NanoPi Neo Plus2, which offers the Allwinner H5 with a wireless module plus 1GB RAM and 8GB eMMC.

Updated comparison chart of ModBerry M300 models
(click image to enlarge)

Last summer, NanoPi introduced a ModBerry M700 model that taps the NanoPi M1 Plus. The SBC was announced along with an UP board based M1000 model.

The M300 family was also expanded earlier this year with ModBerry M300 O1 and O2 models based on the Orange Pi Zero Plus and more feature-rich Orange Pi Zero Plus2, respectively. Both run on an Allwinner H5. For more on all these open-spec SBCs, check out our newly updated catalog of 116 hacker SBCs, and click over to the brief reader survey, which lets you vote for your favorite boards in exchange for a shot at receiving one of 15 free boards.

All the ModBerry models run on embedded Linux and are designed to work with Modbus RTU and TCP/MQTT/SNMP networks. You can add Modbus serial slave devices to an existing Modbus TCP network and make Modbus TCP slaves accessible to serial masters. A remote web access panel enables group management.

The ModBerry computers are supported with the company’s cloud-based iMod, iModCloud, and iModWizard Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. The controllers can serve as protocol converters, data loggers, telemetry modules, servers, PLC devices, ModBus routers, SNMP agents, and M-Bus devices. Other common features include DIN rail mounting, wide-range (9-30V DC) input, and 0 to 60°C and optional -40 to 70°C support.

Further information

Samples of the updated, Model B+ based ModBerry M500 are available on demand at an undisclosed price. More information may be found in Techbase’s M500 update announcement (PDF) and on the ModBerry website.

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