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Raspberry Pi CM4 based controller offers isolated serial and DIO

Jun 17, 2021 — by Eric Brown 1,400 views

OpenEmbed’s $159-and-up “EdgeBox-RPI4” industrial controller builds on the Raspberry Pi CM4 with GbE, optional WiFi/BT, HDMI 2.0, 2x USB, isolated RS485 and DIO and M.2 and mini-PCIe for NVMe and 4G.

OpenEmbed, which has introduced products such as the RK3399-based em3399 module and emPAC-RK3399-EVB eval board, has launched a compact, semi-rugged edge controller and IoT gateway based on the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 (CM4). The EdgeBox-RPI4 is on pre-order at Seeed with July 7 shipment.

EdgeBox-RPI4 and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Two configurations are available for single-unit buyers. The $159 model offers the 1.5GHz, quad-core, Cortex-A72 CM4 with 1GB RAM and 8GB eMMC. The $209 SKU gives you the CM4 with 4GB and 32GB and adds dual-band 802.11ac with Bluetooth 5.0 BLE. The RAM can be expanded by the user to 8GB.

The EdgeBox-RPI4 is designed for industrial applications, such as status monitoring, facility management, digital signage, remote control of public utilities, IoT gateways, 4G/LTE routers, in-vehicle systems, and programmable logic controllers. No OS support was listed, but you should be able to run any Pi-friendly Linux distro. Other Raspberry Pi CM4 based industrial controllers include Techbase’s ModBerry 500 CM4.

EdgeBox-RPI4 side (left) and rear view with external antenna
(click images to enlarge)

The 124 x 76 x 35mm system is equipped with GbE, HDMI 2.0a for up to 4kp60, USB Type-C serial debug, and 2x USB 2.0 ports. A Phoenix connector supplies RS232, isolated RS485, and isolated DIO configured as 2x DI and 2x DO.


Expansion features include a USB 2.0 driven mini-PCIe slot with SIM card slot and a PCIe 2.0 x1 based M.2 M-key 2242 socket for NVMe storage up to 2TB. Dual SMA antenna connectors are also available, and the image above shows a possibly optional external antenna.

EdgeBox-RPI4 mainboard, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Seeed page, but not the OpenEmbed specs or block diagram, indicate additional peripherals such as audio line-out, dual-channel DMIC, and mono AMIC. There are also various numbers of UART, I2C, I2S, SPI, PWM, and GPIOs. It is unclear how these interfaces are expressed. There is also mention of an SDIO interface, and the rear view of the PCB image appears to show a microSD slot.

The EdgeBox-RPI4, which we saw on CNXSoft, ships with 35mm DIN-rail and wall-mounts. The controller offers a 10.8-36V DC input with optional supercap UPS for safe shutdown. There is also an RTC, watchdog, 2x LEDs, and an optional crypto chip.

The aluminum enclosure includes a heatsink and offers a -20 to 60°C operating range. The system provides 4kV/8kV ESD protection compliant with IEC 61000-6-2 and IEC61000-4-4 and EMI protection per IEC 61000-6-2.

Further information

The EdgeBox-RPI4 is on pre-order starting at $159 at Seeed, with shipments scheduled for July 7. More information may be found on the Seeed shopping page and OpenEmbed product page.

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