Single Board Computers

A single board computer (SBC) is a complete computer system built on a single circuit board. It typically includes a microprocessor, memory, input/output interfaces, and other components needed to run an operating system and software applications. They can run a variety of operating systems, including Linux, Android, and Windows, and can be programmed using popular programming languages such as Python and C++.

Some popular examples of SBCs include the Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, and Odroid, all of which have a large and active community of developers and enthusiasts creating and sharing projects and resources. SBCs have gained a lot of popularity in recent years due to their low cost, small size, and flexibility. They have become a popular choice for controlling automation equipment in a variety of applications, such as industrial control systems, home automation, and robotics. In this essay, we will discuss the benefits of using single board computers to control automation equipment.

Firstly, single board computers are significantly lower-cost compared to traditional automation controllers. This makes them an attractive option for small to medium-sized businesses who want to automate their processes but may not have the budget for expensive industrial automation equipment. The Raspberry Pi, for example, is an affordable option that can run a wide range of software packages and is suitable for basic automation tasks.

Secondly, SBCs offer flexibility in terms of software and programming languages. They can run a wide range of software packages and programming languages, including Python, C++, Java, and more. This makes it easier for developers and engineers to write custom software that meets the specific needs of their application. Additionally, many SBCs are compatible with popular automation software such as Node-RED, which makes it easier to develop and deploy automation applications.

Node-RED is a flow-based programming tool that is used to create and deploy applications for the Internet of Things (IoT). It was originally developed by IBM, and is now an open-source project with a large and active community of contributors.

Node-RED can be installed directly on the SBC and provides a web-based interface for visually wiring together different hardware devices, sensors, APIs, and online services. It uses a drag-and-drop interface to create "flows," which are visual representations of a sequence of steps or events. Each node in the flow performs a specific action, such as sending an email, retrieving data from a sensor, or storing data in a database.

in many cases, SBCs configured with Node-RED are easy to use and can be programmed by people with little to no experience in coding. This makes it easier for small businesses to support and maintain automation without having to invest in expensive industrial automation equipment and expertise. Additionally, many SBCs have a large online community, which makes it easy to find resources, tutorials, and support.

In conclusion, single board computers are an attractive option for controlling automation equipment due to their low cost, small size, flexibility, connectivity options, and ease of use. They offer a viable alternative to expensive industrial automation equipment, particularly for small to medium-sized businesses. While SBCs may not be suitable for every automation application, they offer a versatile and affordable option for many use cases.