13 09, 2023

No RS485 in your display processor? Here’s a solution

2023-09-29T23:12:07+10:00Categories: Display Technologies|Tags: |

4D Systems’ MOTG-RS485 accessory module adds RS485 communication on your next display application.

RS485 holds significant importance in industrial applications due to its ability to facilitate long-distance communication. This serial communication method is designed to operate over extended cable distances. This makes it an ideal choice when devices are spread out over considerable distances within an industrial setting. RS485 communication is widely used in manufacturing, medical, retail, and commercial industries, even those involving high-quality display modules and processors.

When we say that the display processor does not support the RS485 serial communication method, it means that the system is limited from being used in scenarios where long-distance communication is required.

4D Systems has designed an accessory board for equipping various gen4-uLCD displays with an RS485 module. For example, the MOTG-AC1 can be used as an interface board to connect a MOTG module to Diablo16-based gen4 display modules easily. Similarly, we offer MOTG-AC2, MOTG-AC3, and MOTG-AC4 to feature single/dual MOTG slots depending on the module size and processor used.

In this article, we will discuss the fundamental aspects of RS485 and its relevance in industrial display applications. Furthermore, we will explore the innovative solution provided by 4D systems through their MOTG-RS485 accessory module in implementing RS485 serial communication support in all gen4 micro LCD displays.

Basics of RS485 serial communication protocol

As mentioned earlier, RS485 communication is a serial communication method used for point-to-point communication among electrical devices, similar to USB and Ethernet, and is widely adopted in industrial applications. The RS485 communication method facilitates communication between a master and multiple slave devices in the network, where several slaves can be connected to the bus. While RS485 can support point-to-point communication, it is typically used with multiple slave devices.

Within the OSI model (Open Systems Interconnection) which defines the different layers of a communication system from the application to the physical layer, RS485 operates at the physical layer. The physical layer of the OSI model is responsible for facilitating data transfer between a device and a physical transmission medium.

The RS485 serial communication is not only for its long-distance data transmission capabilities but also for its resilience in electrically noisy environments. In RS485 communications, two types of noise can occur– differential noise and common mode noise.

While common mode noise generally has minimal impact, it is essential to implement the right circuit design techniques to minimize differential noise. In commercial applications, a twisted pair cable is used for RS485 communications to mitigate electrical interference. Each differential RS485 signal transceiver should be connected to the corresponding wires of the twisted pair, reducing the effects of electrical interference.

In a standard RS485 communication system using a twisted pair cable, the master device, acting as the host computer , initiates communication by sending a signal through its TX wire to establish a connection with the slave devices on the network. Subsequently, the master device transmits commands to the end device, for example, a motor controller to control speed or direction, which, in turn, receives the signal through its RX wire connected to the same twisted pair cable.

The RS485 communication offers versatility in display applications due to its advantages over other serial communication methods. 4D Systems has provided support to its gen4 micro LCD displays through the integration of the MOTG-RS485 accessory module into the advanced display system.

The above image depicts how an RS485 signal is observed on an oscilloscope. RS485 uses a differential signaling technique, where the same data is transmitted on two wires (A+ and B-) but with opposite polarities. When logic 1 is present on one wire, the other wire carries a logic 0.

To enable high-speed data transmission over long distances, these two opposing signals are transmitted through a twisted pair of wires. The advantage of this arrangement is that any noise induced on these lines affects both signals equally but in opposite directions, effectively canceling out the noise.

Add-on module to support RS485 communications

We developed the MOTG-RS485 module to offer a high-speed and low-cost solution that plays an important role in facilitating the integration of RS485 serial communication protocol in almost any of your intelligent display applications.

The MOTG-RS485 add-on module integrates the STMicroelectronics’ ST1480ACDR differential line transceiver, which operates using a 3.3V power supply for RS485 and RS422 communications. This transceiver configuration consists of a single driver and receiver, supporting half-duplex functionality. As a result, the module can alternate between transmitting and receiving data as required. With its robust capabilities, the transceiver enables reliable data transmission over long distances, even in electrically noisy environments.

Master and Slaves (RS485)

gen4 HMI 4.3″ Display Connected with the MOTG-AC4 Adaptor and MOTG-RS485 Module

What is 4D Systems’ MOTG approach?

4D Systems introduced the Modules-on-the-Go (MOTG) concept, enabling the seamless expansion of system capabilities for embedded designs involving display applications. This concept revolves around simple plug-and-play hardware modules that can be easily added or removed. This approach is aimed to eliminate the need for complex soldering, simplifying assembly and maintenance processes.

Conclusion

There you go. Now you can get your hands on the 4D Systems Modules-on-the-Go (MOTG) and add support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RS485, RS232, CANBUS, and MP3 audio sound to your next display application.

The 4Discovery Range is also available as an option that supports RS485.

Until next time.

13 09, 2023

[Webinar Recording]
Advancing Critical Care with Intelligent Displays

2023-10-04T19:55:37+11:00Categories: Display Technologies|Tags: |

Advancing Critical Care with Intelligent Display Next Phase 3D Printed Advanced Anatomical Medical Mask 

If you missed our recent webinar on the future of critical care technology, here’s a brief rundown of the game-changer that had everyone talking: The 3D-printed Advanced Anatomical Medical Mask, known as the ‘Amarysia Artemis’.

A Glimpse into the Amarysia Artemis

During the webinar, we were introduced to the cutting-edge Amarysia Artemis. Designed specifically for ICUs, this isn’t your typical medical mask. With its integrated bio-sensor capabilities and an innovative embedded display, it’s set to revolutionize the way healthcare professionals access vital medical information. Doctors, nurses, and surgical teams can now view real-time critical data directly on the mask during operations and clinical applications, minimizing distraction and streamlining the process.

Meet the Brain Behind the Breakthrough

A highlight of the webinar was hearing directly from Leonardo Bilalis, the PhD student at the University of Piraeus behind this groundbreaking project. His passion for improving healthcare processes and patient care was palpable. Bilalis envisions a world where immediate and accurate medical data is always at hand, drastically enhancing medical decision-making. His insights on the development process, challenges, and aspirations for the Amarysia Artemis were truly inspiring.

Missed the Webinar? Catch the Recording!

While this recap provides a brief overview, the depth and breadth of information covered in the webinar about the Amarysia Artemis and its implications in the medical field were extensive. If you’re an engineer or simply someone passionate about the intersection of tech and healthcare, you won’t want to miss out.

For a comprehensive understanding and to see the Amarysia Artemis in action, we invite you to watch the full recording.

Until next time.

3 09, 2023

Careful there! Your guide to touch screen care.

2023-09-30T02:03:32+10:00Categories: Display Technologies|Tags: |

As touch screens become more prevalent in our daily lives, it’s important to understand how to properly care for them to maximise their accuracy, performance and longevity.

Touch screens are essential components in many modern electronics, from smart home control to industrial equipment. However, these touch screens tend to be fragile and sensitive, making it crucial to handle them with care. Improper care can lead to scratches, diminished sensitivity, and compromised accuracy. Therefore, it is essential to maintain these advanced touch screens diligently to ensure they remain in their best condition, allowing us to experience smooth and uninterrupted operation.

This comprehensive guide aims to provide you with a thorough understanding of various methods for caring for touch screens. Within this article, we will explore practical tips on how to protect, clean, and maintain your touch screen devices. By implementing these strategies, you can ensure that the touch screens of your digital computing systems stay responsive and efficient, ultimately enhancing your productivity and overall user experience.

Clean Your Touch Screen Regularly

Your touch screen is the primary interface between you and the computing system. However, regular usage can cause it to accumulate dirt, and oils from your fingers that can affect its functionality.

The first step in touch screen care is to clean it regularly. This is how we recommend cleaning your touch screen:

  1. Turn off the device: Before cleaning your touch screen display, turn off the device to avoid accidentally triggering any functions while cleaning.
  2. Choose the right material: Use a soft, lint-free cloth, such as a microfiber cloth, to clean the screen. Avoid using abrasive materials such as paper towels, tissue paper, or rough fabrics, as they can scratch the screen.
  3. Dampen the cloth: Dampen the cloth with water or a mild cleaning solution specifically designed for touch screens. Do not use harsh chemicals, such as ammonia-based cleaners, alcohol, or vinegar, as they can damage the protective layer of the screen.
  4. Clean the screen: Gently wipe the screen with the damp cloth in a circular motion, starting from the top of the screen and working your way down. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, as this can damage the screen.
  5. Dry the screen: After cleaning, use a dry, soft cloth to wipe the screen dry. Do not use a hairdryer or other heating device to dry the screen, as this can damage the display.

Handle with Care

Handling your touch screen devices with care is important to preserve their lifespan and performance. The touch screen is vulnerable to the following damage–

  1. Avoid excessive pressure: Touch screens function based on the slight electrical changes caused by your fingers. They are not designed to withstand high pressure or harsh impact. Consistently applying too much pressure or force can lead to cracks, dead pixels, or even total screen failure. Use only your fingers or a stylus designed specifically for touch screens.
  2. Prevent sharp objects: Sharp objects such as pens, pencils, keys, or any pointed items can easily scratch or pierce the screen. These damages are often irreversible and can significantly affect your device’s performance. Avoid the temptation to use these objects.
  3. Avoid extreme temperatures: Touch screen devices are sensitive to temperature extremes. High temperatures can cause your device to overheat, which can damage the screen and internal components. On the other hand, exposure to very cold conditions can cause the screen to become less responsive or even malfunction. Always try to keep your device in a moderate, room-temperature environment. Avoid leaving your device in hot cars, near heaters, or in direct sunlight for extended periods. Similarly, avoid using your device in freezing conditions.

Calibration

Calibration is important for Resistive touchscreen displays

Calibration becomes important, particularly in industrial applications, where accuracy and precision are essential. It ensures that the touch screen accurately detects touch and responds accordingly. When a touch screen loses its calibration, it can affect the accuracy of touch detection and result in incorrect input or unresponsive screens. 

In particular, resistive touch screens, when pressure is applied to the surface of the touchscreen through a finger, the two resistive layers come in contact at the point of the touch. This change in electrical current serves as a signal to prompt the device to carry out the required action. Consequently, calibration becomes crucial for resistive touch screens in order to ensure precise responsiveness to user input

On the contrary, capacitive touchscreen use electrodes that change the electrical capacitance when a conductive object touches the screen. In the manufacturing process, capacitive displays use glass material, which allow them to withstand more pressure impact. 4D Systems capacitive touchscreen panels cannot be calibrated because of this underlying technology and operation.

There is a need for direct human skin contact with capacitive touchscreens that restricts their ease of use, unlike resistive touchscreens. For instance, capacitive touchscreens do not support usage of external leather gloves, a limitation that is not applicable to any resistive touchscreens. 

Calibration aligns the touch screen coordinates with the system coordinates. Calibrating your touch screen periodically or as recommended, helps ensure that the touch screen accurately detects touch, responds promptly, and delivers precise results.  

Firmware Updates 

To keep your touch screen firmware updated, regularly check for updates through your device’s settings. Make sure that the device is always backed up with your data before initiating a firmware update, as an update process can sometimes lead to data loss if there’s an issue during installation. Additionally, ensure that your device is connected to a reliable power source before starting the update, as the process can consume a significant amount of power. 

Firmware updates addresses several of the following issues– 

  1. Bug fixes: Firmware updates often address known issues or bugs that could be affecting your touch screen’s performance. This could include fixes to unresponsive areas on the screen, issues with screen rotation, or problems with certain touch gestures. 
  2. Feature additions: Firmware updates may also introduce new features or improvements to existing features on your touch screen device.