Our company here in Bangladesh owns a quite old concrete
batch plant, which had only manual control requiring an operator to control about
14 switches while monitoring 3 mechanical scales (dial gauges). I was
successful in upgrading this plant to an automated unit requiring minimal
operator input. I did it using a custom-made Arduino Uno compatible board and
LIFA (later LINX). The wiring is still very messy and remains unfinished at the
time of this writing, which I shall take care of soon after all testing is
I am not an EE, but I have a passion for electronics and
automation. Most of my knowledge and electronic experience comes from working as
a student assistant. I also had tremendous help from Arduino/LabVIEW
communities, YouTube, and DIY electronics books.
I tried this as an experiment because without retrofitting the plant, we had no choice but to cut up the plant and sell it as scrap.
Software (Flickering Video from CRT)
5V DC Power, Yellow wires to PCF8574 as DI (0/5VDC).
Yellow wires to MCP23017 as DO (0/5VDC).
Green Wires to ATMEGA328P as AI thru a simple R-C filter (0-5VDC).
4 Wires to MAX232 connecting TX/RX/DTR/GND lines of PC serial port.
(Plant uses very similar 7 channel driver using ULN2003 and larger relays)
Left-White jacks: signals coming from MCP23017, Left-Green terminal: relay power (6VDC)
Right-Green terminals: power/signal (220VAC) for driving magnetic contractors by the relays.
My gratitude goes to my lovely wife for keeping me sane and my brother arranging for ICs not available locally. My sincerest thanks go to the Arduino community for helping me to remedy the EMI problem and the LIFA community for I2C communication troubleshooting. I must thank Arduino/LIFA/Fritzing developers for making electronics more accessible to the general masses. My electronics and Arduino knowledge was gathered from websites like tronixstuff.com / jeremyblum.com / Arduino.cc, thanks to excellent contributors to these sites. I had support personnel (a very patient electrician and a plant operator) who helped me with wiring high voltage lines and plant operational knowledge; thus, they also deserve thanks.