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  Designing own NPIX extension modules
Posted by: Armin@netPI - September-12th-2019, 11:54 AM - Forum: Hardware - No Replies

This post is an extend to the posts:

a. Custom NPIX modules: https://forum.hilscher.com/Thread-Custom-NPIX-modules
b. NPIX Board-outline: https://forum.hilscher.com/Thread-NPIX-board-outline

What HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) modules are for the Raspberry Pi the NPIX modules are for netPI. They are add-on boards extending basic devices with physical hardware to add more connectivity to them.

HAT modules are attached onto RPi3B 40W GPIO headers whereas NPIX module are shifted into a slot at netPI's bottom. The good thing is that NPIXs' connecting host signals (not all supported) are the same as those known from HAT. So in the end only the modules' form factor is different. This means that the official HAT introduction on Raspberry HATs applies for NPIX as well.

There is a set of Hilscher netPI NPIX extension modules already released. The manual for those can be obtained from the download section here.

But how about designing own NPIX modules?

For designing own NPIX modules you should consider the following questions:

  1. Will I be using the standard netPI with preinstalled software or do I use a netPI version without SD card for using my own system software?

    Reason for this question: An NPIX respectively HAT module has an EEPROM needed for automatic Linux onboarding using overlay/device-tree techniques. The content of the EEPROM must match to the used OS. If you are using the original Raspbian system software the HAT's git hub project applies to compile your own EEPROM file. If you are using the standard netPI only Hilscher is able to provide you an EEPROM file based on the settings you need to tell us.

  2. Is it possible for me to design an NPIX module that reuses one of the existing mounting brackets or do I need a new bracket with a new front?

    Reason for this question: NPIX modules need brackets for proper mounting. For Hilscher's NPIX we have a set of brackets already in stock ready to be offered to you for sale at a price of 7EUR/piece at 100pcs. The following brackets are available through us

    .pdf   NPIX-RCAN-bracket.pdf (Size: 212.47 KB / Downloads: 7)

    .pdf   NPIX-AIDIO-bracket.pdf (Size: 214.69 KB / Downloads: 8)

    .pdf   NPIX-IOL-bracket.pdf (Size: 23.11 KB / Downloads: 6)

    .pdf   NPIX-RJ45-bracket.pdf (Size: 104.29 KB / Downloads: 4)

    In any case it is possible to receive our brackets directly from our manufacturer in Taiwan. This will lower the price for you. In such case we would inform the manufacturer for your subscription of an order permission for those.

    For new brackets it is possible to deal with the manufacturer directly. In this case Hilscher is in the loop no more and delivers best price ratio. The manufacturer just needs a drawing of the new bracket's front and he will provide you an offer. Usually he will not charge you with an initial tooling fee until it is only the
    bracket's front that is different to existing brackets.

  3. Will all signals provided by the NPIX mPCIe connector cover my NPIX hardware setup in mind?

    Reason for this question: The standard 40W PIN header of RPi3B provides a lot of signals and features the design of full featured HAT module. On the NPIX connector a subset of all those singals is available. On netPI some are already in use like the SPI0 for the netX industrial network controller so it doesn't make sense to offer them in NPIX. So study the NPIX documentation and the connector's pinout well before starting a design.

  4. Have I evaluated my design in mind with a mock-up using an NPIX-EVA evaluation board before?

    Reason for this question: We offer a board that routes the inner NPIX mPCIe connector signals on a pin header. This allows you to make a design study with ease and avoids unwanted surprises if you have started directly with the PCBA design and are recognizing them with the first prototypes.

Thx Armin

  USB camera issues
Posted by: dcatteeu - September-12th-2019, 08:27 AM - Forum: Software - Replies (9)


I have a docker container with a Python application that connects to a USB (infrared) camera. 

The docker container runs fine on the Raspberry Pi 3 B, but not on the netPI. 

On the netPI, additionally to running in privileged mode, I have added following devices: 
/dev/gpiomem (for digital IO), 
/dev/bus (for usb; I also tried with just /dev/bus/usb), 
/dev/video0, and

The camera library complains about data corruption and "select error". Since, the problem does not appear on the Raspberry Pi and happens inside code I do not own, I see no way how to debug this.

Any idea what other docker container configuration could be missing? Or any ideas on how to investigate this?

Some extra details, just in case:
- The RaspberryPi is connected to the intranet via Wifi, the netPi via Ethernet.
- Infrared Camera: Optris Xi400, https://www.optris.global/optris-xi-400
- Camera SDK for Linux: http://documentation.evocortex.com/libir...index.htmlhttps://evocortex.org/downloads/
- The container is based on the image https://hub.docker.com/r/balenalib/raspberry-pi (balenalib/raspberry-pi-debian-python:3.7.4).
- The Python app also reads and write some GPIOs.
- There's a second container running Redis.


  error when using GPIO from Python
Posted by: dcatteeu - September-9th-2019, 12:24 PM - Forum: Software - Replies (4)


I have a docker that runs a Python application which uses GPIOs (via the Python RPi.GPIO library).

This docker runs fine on the Raspberry Pi 3B, but not on the netPI. I get:

RuntimeError: No access to /dev/mem.  Try running as root!

Further information:
- I do start the docker container with the `--priviliged` option.
- I have not yet attached a DI DO extension the netPI. I assume the module is "just" extending the GPIOs to the outside.
- On the Raspberry Pi, I don't use portainer.
- I've upgraded the firmware of the netPI to the latest version on September 5.

Are there any differences between the netPI and Raspberry Pi concerning the GPIOs or am I doing something wrong?


  EIP Node Red configurator
Posted by: mnieuzyla - September-6th-2019, 01:44 PM - Forum: Software - Replies (4)


I'm trying to test a Ethernet IP communication with netPI on NodeRED.
I managed to deploy NodeRed on docker (it needed upgrade, so I have firmware version V1.2.0.0). However, when I try to configure the Fieldbus node, I can choose the EIP adapter, but I cannot enter the configurator. Web browser is trying to open new tab (https://DeviceIP:9000/webConfigurator/fieldbus?Config_Filename=Hil~cifX0~Ch_2~CC_5~PC_10.json) and then halts with ERR_CONNECTION_CLOSED (chrome).

Is there something missing in the nodeRED package?NIOT-E-NPI3-51-EN-RE | V1.2.0.0

  Connecting two LAN network segments
Posted by: Lingyue - September-5th-2019, 04:19 PM - Forum: Hardware - Replies (2)

Hello Armin,

Now we want to use netPI to connect MES system and the machine tool which on field at the same time. Both network are standard TCP/IP ethernet protocol, they are different network segment, but on our netPI just has one ethernet interface. We have considered the way to use WiFi. Do you have any other suggestions for this question? 

Looking forward your reply.


  NodeRed and EtherCAT
Posted by: Schranz - September-2nd-2019, 03:37 PM - Forum: Software - Replies (1)

Currently I use a netPI RTE 3 as a profinet client with a hilschernetpi/netpi-nodered-fieldbus container.
Now I need to do the same as an ethercat client. Possible with NodeRed (FIELD ecs)?

The sample container hilschernetpi/netpi-netx-programming-examples works.

  create container in Portainer v1.12.4
Posted by: dcatteeu - August-29th-2019, 09:59 AM - Forum: Software - Replies (2)


I have a NetPi with Portainer v1.12.4. 

I can't seem to figure out how to start a container from an image that is available on my local docker registry.

I can specify a docker registry, but the NetPi has no way of knowing where to find it. I think I need somehow to specify it's ip address (adding it to /etc/hosts) and its certificate (adding it to /etc/docker/certs.d/<myregistry>/ca.crt).

Am I missing something or is this not possible in this old version?


  NPIX-RS485 with auto direction control now available
Posted by: Armin@netPI - August-26th-2019, 07:18 AM - Forum: Hardware - No Replies

We changed the RS-485 transceiver used on module NIOT-E-NPIX-RS485 in REV#2.

The new part - MAX13488E - features auto direction control and is switching between TX (transmit) and RX (receive) mode automatically once you enabled it. The advantage is to be no longer compelled to handle switching in software causing unpredictable/prolonged switching times and loss of serial receive data if too long.

The MAX13488E is pin compatible to the previous used transceiver SN65ALS176 in #REV1. Instead of using the TX_EN pin to switch between TX/RX as done before on #REV1 you have now just to set the TX_EN pin to "high" state a single time and automatic direction control is enabled.

With Node-RED for example you could just inject a "true" to a rpi gpio node directed to GPIO17 (TX_EN) and you are done:

[{"id":"287692d1.c61e06","type":"inject","z":"d31910c1.fd0618","name":"","topic":"","payload":"true","payloadType":"bool","repeat":"","crontab":"","once":false,"onceDelay":0.1,"x":295.5,"y":599,"wires":[["6bbb3ed9.4bb6d8"]]},{"id":"6bbb3ed9.4bb6d8","type":"rpi-gpio out","z":"d31910c1.fd0618","name":"","pin":"11","set":"","level":"0","freq":"","out":"out","x":483.5,"y":599,"wires":[]}]

After pulling the TX_EN pin to high state the NPIX-RS485 module will get compatible with any serial communicating program or Node-RED node.

Download the latest NPIX modules documentation highlighting the modules' difference in the download section here .


  Exporting and importing container images
Posted by: Armin@netPI - August-23rd-2019, 10:39 AM - Forum: Software - No Replies

Sometimes it is necessary to move a ready evolved container from one netPI to another or to save its current state to an external location.

For this purpose the netPI Docker web GUI features the export and import function.

Here are the steps how to proceed

  1. Supposing you have a running container then click it in the Containers overview page and click Stop first of all to block its SD memory card activities.
  2. In the same window you have the option to create an image of exactly this container. Type in an Image name and press Create. This may take a while.
  3. On the Images overview page you can now recognize a new image named as provided representing a 1:1 copy of your container.
  4. Click its image id and you'll get the option Export this image. Click it and after some minutes (be patient) you'll get a file image.tar as output within your browser context. Save it to anywhere you want.
  5. The way back is to use the Import function within the Images overview page to load it back onto any device.
Make sure you have the netPI system software V1.2.0.0 running since this version uses a prolonged timeout value for the browser connection to successfully bridge the long response time of the image creating function.


  Accessing Siemens S7 PLCs over Node-RED
Posted by: Armin@netPI - August-23rd-2019, 08:01 AM - Forum: Projects - No Replies

Today I want to highlight a Node-RED node that is able to read/write data from/to a Siemens PLC (S7-1200 or S7-1500) over Ethernet(PROFINET) on netPI.

The node's home is here https://flows.nodered.org/node/node-red-contrib-s7comm and is maintained by Hilscher.

We have included this node in netPI's Node-RED Docker Container you can pull from repository "hilschernetpi/netpi-nodered" from Docker Hub on your netPI.

If you have an "old" type of PLC such as S7-300 or S7-400 having no Ethernet connectivity but MPI/PROFIBUS instead you can use this device https://www.hilscher.com/products/produc...nl-50-mpi/ in between netPI and PLC and your are able to use ths S7  node too.