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Aeon Automation System Structure Overview

Aeon's Carbon Extraction & Graphitization System and related systems share a simple architecture with just a few fundamental elements: A DAQ to monitor Sensors, a set of Controllers to operate Devices, and a Host computer to manage everything and provide a user interface. Here are some brief notes about each element.

DAQ

The data acquisition hardware. Sensors are wired into the DAQ, which converts their voltages into digital form and transmits them to the host computer. The DAQ also provides a few general-purpose digital I/O (DIO) ports. DIO ports can be programmed for input or output, and each one carries a low-voltage, binary DC signal for detecting or controlling a connected device's state. There are lots of DAQs on the market at every price point and performance level imaginable. We very much like the ones from LabJack.

Controllers

A controller usually operates multiple devices of a single type. Unlike the DAQ, all of our controllers are designed and manufactured at Aeon. The controllers communicate with the host computer via TTL RS-232 over USB. Aeon's device controller firmware is open source (GPL3), and most often written in Zilog C. The actuator and switchbank controllers each plug into an expandable stack of 8-channel device multiplexers. A stack may contain up to eight multiplexers, so each controller can handle as many as 64 devices.

Host computer

The host computer is a typical Windows laptop. All of Aeon's host software is open source (GPL3), written in C#.

The main application program for an automation system includes three major parts:

Sensors

A sensor detects some variable condition within the system, such as a pressure or temperature. Most sensors connect to the DAQ, but some are integral to devices (like temperature sensors for heaters).

Devices

A device is a piece of hardware that does something physical. A simple example is a heater which changes a temperature, or an actuator that moves an armature. Devices are often complex and may contain integrated sensors and sub-devices to perform complicated actions.

 
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