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Dialtone

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I am currently designing and testing a product to expand a PC parallel port for medium speed data acquisition and control. As currently designed the system can be expanded from as few as 8 up to a max of 128-8 bit I/O ports.
Some applications I can envision range from general building/lighting automation, light industrial automation, sprinkler system control, burglar alarm....virtually any application that does not need critical/extremly fast read/write control, but does require a larger scale than can be provided by current PIC based PLC units on the general market.

Any comments you have would be appreciated. Especially in the areas of market viability and pricing.

Dialtone

ivancho

New Member
One draw back of the parallel port is if it used under Windows XP, 2000 and even NT. They don't allow direct access to the port, and therefore some unusual issues appear... make sure you are able to test on all the windows systems.

Ivancho

Dialtone

New Member
Thanks for the input. I am aware of the hardware access limitations imposed by these OS's. When I get past the hardware development stage, I know I will have to address the OS specific driver issues.
Dialtone

Optikon

New Member

Dialtone said:
I am currently designing and testing a product to expand a PC parallel port for medium speed data acquisition and control. As currently designed the system can be expanded from as few as 8 up to a max of 128-8 bit I/O ports.
Some applications I can envision range from general building/lighting automation, light industrial automation, sprinkler system control, burglar alarm....virtually any application that does not need critical/extremly fast read/write control, but does require a larger scale than can be provided by current PIC based PLC units on the general market.

Any comments you have would be appreciated. Especially in the areas of market viability and pricing.

Dialtone

As for the market viability here are some thoughts:

You know you are going to have to supply a driver for those stingy OS's so you have that development cost and support to deal with.

But I would be more concerned about the cost. For the markets you mentioned (Industrial, consumer control etc..) you are up against cheap cheap cheap. For both the light and heavy industrial control markets, there are IO cards that come in all kinds of interface flavors and they are dirt cheap. That market is saturated with them. Unless you can find a niche market for some technical advantage over the thousands of IO designs, you will only be able to compete based on cost. And to get really low cost, you need high volume. I can't speak for everyone of course, but I know I can go and buy a plug in solution for around $100 with minimal programming effort on my part. This is a real dog-eat-dog market. My advice, would be to not just stop at IO ports with digital IO essentially. You will need to pack as many features as humanly possible to capture the largest piece of a tough to penetrate market. And it has to cost next to nothing (relatively speaking of course) Dialtone New Member I understand where you are comming from on the price. I agree it will have to be relatively inexpensive to be competative. Where I see my niche is in between the small PIC controllers and the large scale industrial units. What got me started in all this was looking for a sprinkler system controller for my home that needed around 30 zones of control. I found nothing available that was either reasonable in price, or expandable beyond (what seems to be default) 8 circuits. To go beyond this required purchase of additional individual system controllers which drives the total system price up. The only other system I found was based on X-10 and came in at around US$200 per 8 zones. Again a steep price for an overall solution.

So far in development costs, my proto PCB boards are around $60 each, but keep in mind these are low volume. A production run of 1000 units goes down to$10 each and compomnents run no more than additional $10 per board. With a minimum system requiring 2 of the 3 boards you are looking at a sub US$100 easily (depending on desired application).

I think I have seen some of what you are referring to in some I/O boards but am not sure. Can you give me some examples I could research further?
Thanks
Dialtone

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