The Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) is a concrete opportunity of innovation for small and large enterprises. In particular, the digitalization of industrial processes (Industry 4.0) is a trending topic that includes the IoT as a core capability. However, the digitization of industrial environments is often limited by practical obstacles like the inaccessibility of PLC code, the spread of low capability IoT gateways and the compliance with technical and industrial regulations.
4zerobox is an easy to configure and easy to program modular hardware electronic unit: it is perfectly suited for data acquisition and processing from existing systems and is fully compatible with hundreds of standard sensors. You can digitalize existing industrial assets without installing a PLC! It allows:
- IoT enabling an existing machine to have a distributed sensors network into the plant operations and acquire valuable information, thus bypassing an obsolete PLC;
- Seamless Integration with enterprise software infrastructures further extending the value of a ready to deploy toolkit.
4zerobox is ideal for applications in Manufacturing, Smart Retail, Logistics, Home Automation, Smart Cities and all market sectors where IoT is a core capability.
WHO SHOULD CHOOSE 4ZEROBOX?
IoT Solution Providers and Enterprises’ Innovation Departments to innovate industrial environment and retrofit existing machines.
Facility services to remotely monitor the performance and possible failures of the managed assets.
Manufacturers of Industrial Plants and Machines to innovate the marketed products with on-board data analysis and remote maintenance features.
If you are a cloud and web programmer new to IoT, then 4zerobox provides the opportunity to use your Python programming skills to code hardware devices and sensor networks with the same ease of development.
Data Gathering: Acquire digital data from RS232, RS485, Ethernet, CAN and other digital ports of the PLC. On-board filtering of data and extraction of Key Performance Indicators optimize the network bandwidth and cloud resources keeping the processing at the edge node devices.
Retrofitting: Acquire data in parallel to the PLC using the available sensors or installing new probes. A solution tailored for data acquisition from old machines where PLCs are obsolete or where application code and specifications are not accessible.
Hybrid: Merge the two paradigms to take the best from your machines. Extract digital data from the PLC and merge it with data acquired from already available sensors or new ones. Use on-board data analysis and filtering algorithms for the extraction of powerful KPIs.
- DIN-rail mountable (9 slots)
- 5V Supply voltage
- Connectivity: WiFi (Station and AP mode supported); Bluetooth Low Energy; Ethernet (Based on Microchip LAN8710A transceiver); RS-485 and RS-232; CAN (based on Microchip MCP2515T controller integrated with transceiver)
- 4 analog input channels configurable as: 4-20mA single-ended; 4-20mA differential; 0-10V
- 3 non-invasive current sensor channels
- 4 analog channels configurable for RTD or contact/proximity sensors
- 2 opto-isolated digital inputs with configurable input voltage (24V to 5V)
- 2 sink digital output (60A @ 30V)
- 1 Digital I/O + 2 Digital Input (3.3V)
- 2 NO/NC Relay (10A @ 250V AC)
- 2 on-board mikroBUS sockets (more than 300 MikroElektronika click boards* add-on available!)
- MicroSD card slot
- LiPo battery support with on board charging unit
- JTAG support
- RGB status led
- Power led
ESP32 32bit Microcontroller (240MHz clock, 4Mb of Flash, 312Kb SRAM)
*see dedicated FAQ.
4zerobox is based on ESP32, a system-on-a-chip by Espressif Systems that features two 240MHz cores, 4Mb Flash and 312KB RAM. It can be programmed either in Pythonor C language.
To enable an easy and yet professional development of industrial applications, 4zerobox will officially support Python programmability via Zerynth®. We will develop a dedicated 4zerobox Python SDK for Zerynth accompanied by all the libraries required for interfacing with the 4zerobox integrated components and the MikroElektronika clicks included in the kits. We will also release an open-source set of firmware templates for the different use cases and industrial applications.
> ABOUT ZERYNTH
Zerynth allows programming IoT and embedded applications using Python & hybrid C/Python language on 32bit Microcontrollers. The Zerynth stack is composed of:
- ZERYNTH STUDIO: A powerful IDE and a Toolchain that provides a platform for developing Python or hybrid C/Python code and managing your boards.
- ZERYNTH VIRTUAL MACHINE: running on a multi-threading real-time OS (FreeRTOS), it allows real-time multithreading and Python programmability with a footprint of 60k-80k of flash and 3-5k RAM.
- ZERYNTH ADM: An Advanced Device Manager exposing an API-based interface to ease the cloud data forwarding, OTA Updates and Remote Procedure Calling.
- ZERYNTH APP: a mobile App for Android and iOS that can be used for prototyping dashboards and control interfaces.
4zerobox will embed a Zerynth Virtual Machine license allowing our backers to program an unlimited number of 4zerobox units within the Zerynth Studio IDE, for free. Also, all the 4zerobox rewards include a 3-months (or 12-months) license for Zerynth Studio PRO, to even enjoy unique programmability features like Firmware OTA updates and Power Saving.
Upgrading the Zerynth Studio license to PRO is not mandatory to use 4zerobox. When the 3-months (or 12-months) license expires, backers will be free to renew the Zerynth Studio PRO license or switch to the Zerynth Studio Free license, without losing any projects.
The Zerynth software architecture is tailored for a modular integration with sensors, actuators, cloud services, ERP-MES systems and dashboard development frameworks. Ready-to-use connectivity modules for IoT cloud services like Amazon Web Services and Google IoT Cloud are already available; Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix and Ubidots connection libraries will be developed as stretch goals.
> 4ZEROBOX PROGRAMMING FEATURES
Realtime OS (FreeRTOS)
Multithreaded programming natively supported
- Windows, Linux and Mac OS cross-platform IDE and Toolchain
Over The Air (OTA) firmware update and Remote procedure calling
- Secure firmware
Filesystem integration for SD cards
Exceptions tracking for improved debugging
- Low power modes supported and dedicated library available
- Real Time Clock support
- Hardware timer library
- Dedicated 4ZeroBox Python SDK for Zerynth
> CONNECTIVITY LIBRARIES
- Wifi in access point and station modes
- Bluetooth Low Energy
- SSL/TLS 1.2 with two way authentication support
- HTTP and HTTPS
- MQTT and MQTT over TLS
- Google IoT Core
- AWS IoT
THE 4ZEROBOX UNIQUENESS
A LITTLE TASTE OF 4ZEROBOX
Let's start having fun. Here you can find a list of examples and sneak peek of the features of 4zerobox. More details and examples will come during the campaign... stay tuned!
NOTE: these videos show the v0 prototype of 4zerobox. The final version will include all the hardware features listed above and the ESP32-wroom module on-board
How to power it and upload the first basic Python script using Zerynth. The first part of the video is related to the virtualization of the device required by Zerynth. For more info, please, read here.
WEB SERVER CONNECTION TEST
Connect 4zerobox to the internet via WiFi and query a remote service detecting the current UTC time.
MICROSD DATA STORAGE TEST
Connectivity is not always available in real-world industrial scenarios. In this example a simple datalogger is implemented thanks to the 4zerobox integrated microSD slot. Data are saved in the microSD as CSV files that can be opened in spreadsheet editors.
RS232 & RS485 TEST
Simple example of data exchange between two 4zerobox connected via RS232 and RS485.
LoRa CONNECTION TEST
How to connect and send data from 4zerobox to The Things Network console via the Microchip LoRa module.
4zerobox is offered as reward of the Kickstarter campaign in different ultra-affordable and cost-effective options:
4zerobox: one 4zerobox with all the on-board features. Early bird available.
Starter or Full Kit: one 4zerobox plus additional hardware features like current and NTC probes, MikroElektronika click boards for data security, GPS-GSM-LoRa connectivity, environmental data sensing.
LoRa Network Kit: a complete out-of-the-box kit to create a private LoRa network for industrial environments, with 2 4zerobox, MikroElektronika LoRa click and a LoRa Gateway by AAEON®, ready for the connection to The Things Network.
Solution Provider Kit: a complete toolbox for the provider of Industrial IoT solutions ready to become a 4zerobox authorized partner thanks to a dedicated training session to arrange via Web with the 4zerobox team.
4zerobox comes ready to be programmable with Zerynth Studio Free. Also, all the rewards include a 3 or 12 months license for Zerynth Studio PRO, to even enjoy unique programmability features like Firmware OTA updates and Power Saving.
WHY PLEDGING 4ZEROBOX
4zerobox has been designed after listening the needs and the suggestions of specialists from different business domains and it has been prototyped for almost an year. Now we need the help of the IoT community to complete the final field testing (3000$ minimum cost), certificate the hardware (2000$ minimum cost) and to produce the first industrial batch (5000$ minimum cost).
4ZEROBOX JOURNEY AND RELEASE PLAN
Industrial IoT has the potential to revolutionize the way we live, and we're excited to be a part of this revolution with 4zerobox. Our aim is to create a 4zerobox community of professionals and have them help nurture this unique technology with us. There are many ways to be part of the community:
- Visit our website www.4zerobox.com and subscribe to our newsletter
- If you have any question, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or ask to enter our Facebook Group “4zerobox Insiders”
- Follow us on Twitter @4zerobox and Facebook @4zerobox
- Our preferred hashtags are #4zerobox - #IIoT #IoT #Industry40
- The Zerynth team will help us opening a dedicated section for the 4zerobox software related discussions on their community forum
- 4zerobox libraries will be published on a dedicated section of the Zerynth Github
4zerobox is a project by TOI - Things On Internet, a tech startup based in Pisa (Italy) that focuses on the design and development of smart products and interconnected devices. In 2015 TOI supported the Zerynth team designing the TOI shield and so contributing to its successful Kickstarter campaign. The 4zerobox team includes:
Daniele Mazzei (4zerobox Project Leader, co-founder of TOI and senior expert in Internet of Things applications)
Matteo Cipriani (Electronics Engineering)
Andrea Baù (System Engineering)
Simona Pira (Business Development and Marketing)
Luca Diamanti (Communication and Visual Design).
Microsoft® is a registered trademark or trademark of Microsoft® Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Amazon Web Services® is a registered trademark or trademark of Amazon.com, inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Google IOT® is a registered trademark or trademark of Google inc. in the United States and/or other countries. IBM Bluemix® is a registered trademark or trademark of IBM corporation in the United States and/or other countries. MikroBUS and “click boards” are registered trademark or trademark of MikroElektronika in the United States and/or other countries. Zerynth ® is a registered trademark of Kinzica Ventures, LLC in the United States and/or other countries. Python is a trademark of the Python Software Foundation.
Risks and challenges
We have already developed two internal version of the 4ZeroBox successfully tested in 4 different industrial scenarios. Thanks to our previous kickstarter campaign we created a strong team and a network of trusted professional partners, demonstrating to be able to produce and deliver electronic and software projects in the right time and quality.
The 4ZeroBox version we are proposing in this campaign has been fully prototyped and produced in a small internal test version. All the gerber, BOM and enclosures have been already identified. We have already contacted the partner for the certification of the product and we have already obtained a preliminary cost analysis and an examination of the required time and test list.
On the software and firmware side, thanks to the strong collaboration we have with the Zerynth team, we are confident to be able to deliver all the required libraries and modules that in most of the cases are already available as alpha versions.
For the above reasons, we don’t foresee any problems with the design, manufacturing, coding and shipping of the 4ZeroBox within the expected deadline. However, progress updates will be notified to all our backers, including any possible obstacles on the planned timeline.
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