Hi, I'm completely new to the world of micro-controllers. I've always been old school up until now and, when I needed to automate something, I would just build it out of a mess of 12 volt relays and timer kits. I have a project right now where I have to automate a machine that's pneumatically driven (it's a machine that fills boxes of wine) and I need to control 9 different pressurized air valves per station and there's 10 stations, so I'm looking at around 90 electrically controlled air valves. Each batch of 9 valves basically does stuff based on timed events. The operator hits the "Start" button, at which point that stations control panel LED changes from green to red, and an electric actuator opens a fill valve and the bag starts to fill. The bag is sitting on a scale so once the scale gets to 30lbs, a circuit on the scale is closed and the fill actuator turns off. After 5 seconds, the next valve opens, which pressurizes a pneumatic piston that pushes the wine box pour spout closed (the bags get filled through the pour spout head) and then while the piston is holding the pour spout closed, another valve opens, blasting the inside of the spout with pressurized water to wash out the residue. It then closes 4 seconds later and another valve opens which blasts 300PSI pressurized air in to the valve to dry it. At that point, the pneumatic piston valve closes and an air relief valve opens to retract the piston and then closes. At that point, the control panel LED for that station goes from red back to green to tell the operator to pull the release handle to drop the bag in to the box, attach the new bag to the fill head, hit "START" and move on to the next station (the operator just keeps walking in a constant loop around the stations which are arranged in a circle).
Whoa there, if you want others to be able/want to help, don't brick us by such a block of easy to misinterpret info. Try again in a more digestible form like:
1) Start button pressed
2) fill valve opens
3) wait for weight to signal an adequate fill
4) close fill valve
5) wait 5 seconds (why?)
6) open valve B
7) wait nn seconds
open valve C
9) close valve B
And describe just what is needed from a controlling units perspective, not things that may be implemented already/in other ways, or whatever happens but is unrelated to the controller.
Things like "the bags get filled through the pour spout head" isn't relevant for this, but each delay and such is
Whatever you add to further the explanation should be separate from the "timing sheet".
This not to bash you, just to make it easy to get a simple and precise understanding of what it needs to do.
Essentially, this machine only needs a sensor input for three commands (the command to "START", "EMERGENCY STOP" and the circuit that closes when the scale hits the right weight. Everything else is just a series of timed events.
It would be best to have the emergency stop separate from all other stuff, in a sort of higher priority position, to make sure that a glitch doesn't activate valves while cutting out the functionality of the emergency stop.
Besides the timed events, you'd need outputs to control the valves as well.
I'm admittedly a total noob, but what would be the simplest, and still most cost-efficient way to build a controller for this laundry list of timed events for so many stations? As I said, I'm new to micro controllers so I'd really value anyone's suggestions.
Well, we're still waiting for the mentioned "laundry list
There's basically two (sensible) ways to shave that goat: A series of monostable circuits put together to take the inputs into consideration and a microcontroller.
Monostables will require a larger bord, but the upside is that each stage will wait for the previous and each time can be adjusted while it's running.
A microcontroller will make for a small circuit, a module can be reprogrammed for other tasks/times or a completely different functionality (meaning that you can have boards in stock and just program them for the job at hand), they'er cheap, but the downside is that you need to learn how to program and you need the equipment for doing this.
Only you can decide what'll work for you, but if you're planning on making industrial automation projects, microcontrollers really is the way to go.
Just to recap... You need 9 outputs, 2 inputs (plus the emergency switch, which should not be part of the microcontroller)?
And you have what voltage available?
Select the relays/valves that's best suited to the process and give us their drive data (or a link to their datasheets), then the electronics can be made for those (rather than the other way around).