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Using Click Boards to Access a Free-Topology Network

April 22, 2020
Adesto’s FT Click mikroBUS-compatible modules provide a path to its free-topology industrial-network technology.

Many industrial networks are available to designers, from the lowly RS-485 multidrop serial links to Ethernet. Ethernet provides high bandwidth, but wiring costs and other considerations can make it less than desirable for lower-speed control and sensor applications. Still, IP-based protocols provide flexible network communications and allow for easy bridging to Ethernet backbones.

Ethernet normally uses a hub-and-spoke or star network configuration that requires an Ethernet switch or hub at a central point. Many industrial applications don’t lend themselves to this configuration, especially given the run-length limitations of Ethernet.

A free-topology (FT) network technology allows different wiring approaches, including loops, bus, and star, or even a combination of these (Fig. 1). The advantage of an FT network is ease of design and installation.

Adesto Technologies’ FT 6050 Smart Transceiver chip supports FT networks that employ LON/IP or BACnet/FT (Fig. 2). The latter is compatible with other BACnet networks and both can be tied to IP networks like Ethernet. These work with standard LON network managers and BACnet workstations. Adesto’s SmartServer IoT Gateway supports these.

The FT 6050 is a four-core, asymmetric processor complex that distributes services like media access, network communication, and application support. It has a built-in ROM and can access serial flash memory. The system supports a dozen serial and GPIO pins in addition to the FT network interface.

The chip implements the complete ISO/IEC 14908-1 LON stack that’s backward-compatible with devices running the LON stack. This includes devices based on the Neuron 3120, Neuron 3150, and the earlier FT 3120, FT 3150, or FT 5000 Smart Transceivers. The system also works with BACnet/IP and BACnet MS/TP communications; the latter supports RS-485 using an external RS-485 transceiver. The system can handle multiple protocols at the same.

Furthermore, the FT 6050 is available on the FT Click module (Fig. 3). The module is compatible with the popular mikroBUS from MikroElektronika.

The FT 6050 is supported by the free IzoT ShortStack SDK. ShortStack works with any processor for the application with a simple serial interface to the FT 6050. The ShortStack SDK comes with royalty-free firmware for the FT 6050, enabling it to be used as a LON/IP and LON protocol processor and PHY chip for any FT channel.

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