What have I done?
I've created a prototype for a system that detects the presence of an item on a conveyor, scans a barcode to the side of it and sprays it with a mix of colors by activating one or more 24v solenoids associated with spray guns
The basic hardware is an app running on a raspberry pi, using a 24v power brick, a DC-DC converter to 5v for the Pi and a custom built light beam array (24v), the status of which is sensed through the GPIO of the pi, and the relays (24v) for which are driven (opto-isolated) through the same
What's the problem?
It's a prototype, and I'm looking to robust it up into an industrial grade system, that can withstand the punishment of production use by hamfisted operators. It also needs to be supported by a variety of people who are mostly Windows-only. Lesserly important but still a factor, it takes a relatively long time to build.
What do I need?
I've considered an industrial grade Pi like a Kunbus (not that I think that there's any real difference between the Pi Compute embedded in a Kunbus and a Pi Compute in a cardboard box from a local friendly electronics shop, but it's as much to do with optics/perception as anything else - user would rather pay 10x the price for a Kunbus just because it's marketed as an industry grade thing) but by the time I've finished adding the accessories and redesigning the software to use their IO the component cost is off the charts and I'm still left with the problem that none of the staff knows the OS (and I don't want to get into trying to get Windows 10 IoT onto it and then figuring out all the custom IO theyve built) and the build time isn't reduced any
Instead I'm looking for an industrial panel PC with a touch creen (resistive is fine), some flavor of Windows, and some built in GPIO (not too bothered how it's controlled) because it reduces my build time if the device, screen etc are already in a nice rugged case and all that is needed is to wire a set of 24v signals in/out up to a bank of pre-wired light beam sensors and relays.
I'd like to find something for less than $1000 a unit and available from some electronics supplier with a fairly global reach like DigiKey/Mouser/Farnell/RS..
I'm not averse to suggestions for alternatives, like "how about an Ethernet GPIO module and a controller somewhere else away from the hamfisted operators" - I can have any normal PC, sitting in an office, control a bank of relays and 24v on/off signals over ethernet if such a thing exists.. though there is some "because it looks the part" value in there being something visible/touchable/readable at the location the painting is done