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IoT dev kit includes Linux-based multiprotocol router

Mar 26, 2014 — by Eric Brown 3,426 views

Echelon announced an IoT development kit based on its “IzoT” platform, including a new Linux-based IzoT Router and dev boards incorporating its FT 6000 SoC.

Echelon introduced its IzoT Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) framework for peer-to-peer networking of embedded controllers last October. At that time, the building automation and smart grid networking vendor released the IzoT multi-protocol stack in an ARM-ready beta version and reference implementation optimized for the Linux-based Raspberry Pi SBC. Since then, support has extended to the BeagleBone Black.

FT 6000 EVK
(click image to enlarge)

Now, Echelon has launched the FT 6000 Evaluation and Development Kit (EVK) for IzoT, which it dubs “IzoT in a Box.” The FT 6000 EVK offers tools for developing wired devices using Echelon’s ISO 14908-compatible, twisted-pair Free Topology (FT) networking technology. The EVK is built around an FT-ready, multi-drop IP FT 6050 networking system-on-chip the company announced in January. According to Echelon, FT is a more robust alternative to Ethernet or RS-485 networking.

Based on a Neuron 6000 core, the FT 6050 transceiver SoC is said to enable simultaneous support for IP-enabled devices, BACnet-compatible building automation networks, and Echelon’s own “Free Topology” (FT) enabled LonWorks protocol. In fact, IzoT is billed as the next generation of the legacy LonWorks.

FT 6000 SoC block diagram (left) and architecture
(click images to enlarge)

When we think of IoT, we tend to imagine wireless endpoints, yet wired connections also play a big role, especially in embedded controllers used in industrial IoT settings. Wired networks “will continue to account for more than 50 percent of all IIoT connections,” says Echelon, citing IHS research. At the same time, the IzoT platform supports wireless technologies like WiFi and ZigBee.


The FT 6000 EVK includes a pair of evaluation boards based on the FT 6050, which doesn’t run Linux or any other OS. The kit also includes a new Ubuntu Linux-based, FT-compatible “IzoT Router,” which acts as intermediary between FT and Ethernet networks (see farther below). In addition, Echelon is releasing development tools for building devices and applications, as well as software to commission and manage IzoT device networks.

In broad strokes, the FT 6000 EVK includes:

  • 2x Evaluation Boards (EVBs) equipped with FT 6050 SoCs, various I/O including serial and USB ports, an LCD display, a 3.3V power source, and simple sensors and actuators for prototyping IIoT devices
  • 5x FT 6050 SoCs for building custom device hardware after completing the EVB-based prototypes
  • IzoT Router equipped with FT terminator and Ethernet, as well as an IzoT Server stack
  • IzoT NodeBuilder software, for developing and testing embedded device software on the EVBs or custom device
  • IzoT Commissioning Tool/EVK Edition, for installing and managing EVB-based or custom devices and device networks

Developers can continue to use Echelon’s IzoT device stack to prototype sensor-enabled IoT endpoints on Raspberry Pi SBCs that interconnect with the IzoT network. There’s also built-in support for the BeagleBone Black SBC, and the device stack can be easily ported to a wide variety of devices, says Echelon. There was no word about a second device stack reference platform the company mentioned in October to be based on Marvell’s 88MC200 WiFi SoC.
IzoT Router

At the center of the FT 6000 EVK and IzoT platform sits a new Linux based IzoT Router. The FT-to-Ethernet transceiver device will initially will be available only with the EVK, but will be also be offered separately starting in the third quarter. The design looks to be based on Echelon’s LonWorks-ready SmartServer routers, but is the first Echelon device to run embedded Linux. The router runs Ubuntu on a Texas Instruments Sitara AM3359, a 1GHz Cortex-A8 SoC that also drives the BeagleBone Black.

IzoT Router

The multifaceted IzoT Router offers up to two 10/100 Ethernet ports, as well as up to two FT or RS-485 ports supporting IzoT/IP, BACnet, and LonTalk. Up to four USB 2.0 host ports support connectivity to peripherals such as additional networking interfaces or an optional WiFi adapter.

IzoT Device Stack, which has been adapted to the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black (left) and the IzoT Router’s IzoT Server monitoring application
(click images to enlarge)

The router is further equipped with 512MB DDR3 RAM, 2GB of eMMC flash, and a 4GB microSD card that presumably holds the Ubuntu stack. A micro-USB port, and various buttons and LEDs are also available. The DIN-mountable device measures 5.5 x 3.5 x 2.6 inches, and supports temperatures ranging from -10 to 70°C.

The Ubuntu Linux based stack includes an IzoT Server stack that connects to the IzoT Device stack and monitors them using RESTful APIs. The stack includes the Django web application framework, Nginx web server and reverse proxy server, Gunicorn web server gateway, SQLite DBMS, and Supervisor process control system. Example web pages are provided, as well as a charting page for monitoring datapoints.

Specifications listed for the IzoT Router include:

  • Processor — TI Sitara AM335 (1x Cortex-A8 @ 1GHz); PowerVR SGX 530 GPU; PRU-ICSS
  • Memory:
    • 512MB DDR3 RAM
    • 2GB eMMC flash
    • MicroSD slot with 4GB flash card
  • Networking:
    • Up to 2x 10/100 Ethernet ports with auto-selecting and –polarity
    • Up to 2x FT or RS-485 ports supporting IzoT/IP, BACnet, and LonTalk
    • Optional USB-based WiFi adapter
  • Other I/O — Up to 4x USB 2.0 host ports; Mini-USB 2.0 client port
  • Other features — Connect/service and reset buttons; status LEDs
  • Power — 15-30V AC or DC
  • Operating temperature — -10 to 70°C
  • Dimensions — 138 x 89 x 66mm (5.5 x 3.5 x 2.6 inches); DIN 43880 8TE compliant enclosure
  • Operating system — Ubuntu Linux

“Echelon is driving the evolution of control networking for the IIoT, supporting multiple legacy protocols while enabling industrial businesses to move into the future world of IP-enabled devices,” stated Varun Nagaraj, senior VP and GM, Internet of Things, Echelon.

Further information

The FT 6000 EVK can be ordered starting Mar. 30 at the Echelon online store, and will begin shipping in the second quarter for $895. The IzoT Router will be separately available in the third quarter at an unstated price. More information on the EVK may be found on the IzoT product page, and more on the router may be found in this Izot Router datasheet (PDF).

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