Arduino – Time to Tinker

Arduino Mega2560

What does an Automation Engineer get up to when they aren’t at work? Well anything can happen when you get your hands on a nice little open-source electronics prototyping board like this ATMega2560 based Arduino.

Popular requests from friends include a CNC mill or lathe and also a Millenium Falcon. The Millenium Falcon seems to be pushing boundaries – but what about the guys at OpenPCR – They’re going to get us all into the age of biology before we know it!

So far I’ve re-purposed an old PS2 controller using Bill Porters PS2X arduino library. It will never control a Playstation again – instead I’ll use it as an HMI for any little projects I’m working on.

What will happen when the Raspberry PI arrives?

1 comment

    • Rasel on December 5, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Electrical Engineering is a very broad degree that doesn’t dceirtly relate to automation. They design anything electronic, from the circuits in children’s toys to cell phone towers all the way up to power plants.If you are interested in automation, you will probably need an engineering degree, but it can generally be Electrical or Mechanical and in some cases I have seen Computer Science majors as well (though real engineers tend to get hired much easier than a CS would). What is more important is that you need to take classes in Mechatronics (this may be called something else outside of the US). You will need to learn how to program in Ladder Logic, Structured Text, and ANCI C or their equivalents.I work for a company that does automation for machine builders (EOMs). For a typical project, I work with the EOM to get a detailed Specification together first, so I know how the machine is supposed to work and how it should react to different situations. That can take anywhere from a few days to weeks, depending on if the EOM knows what they want or just has a general idea (in many cases they haven’t finished designing the mechanics of the machine). Then I write the program at my office, using smaller motors to test what I can before going on site; this can take a week or 6 months, depending on the complexity. While I’m doing that, someone (sometimes me) wires up a panel which connects all the electronics together and will go in the machine’s electrical cabinet. The motors and panel are normally installed and wired up by the EOM and I spend a week or so on site testing and revising the program.Most of my time is spent thinking of ways for a machine operator to screw everything up or hurt themselves, then thinking of how to prevent them from being able to do that. I typically program in Structured Text, though some OEMs will insist on Ladder because it was the standard for so long and a few will request ANSI C for various reasons. I also end up going out to fix other people’s programs which could be written in any IEC standard language.

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