Stack Electronics Overview
Interstacks is a system of modular electronic blocks and the integrated MyStacks IoT cloud platform for rapidly deploying industrial IoT and remote monitoring solutions. Interstacks makes it easy to get machines, sensors, and things directly connected to dashboards with storage, visualization, analytics and text/email alerts. From any web browser on any desktop or mobile device, the real time data can be viewed. Sensors or machine data feeds are connected to a stack then the data is sent over ethernet, wifi, or cell network to the MyStacks IoT cloud platform and/or other servers using web standard REST APIs, Modus RTU, or Modbus TCP.
This document will give an overview of the stack electronics. “Stacks” are the modular electronics that capture data from sensors and machines. They are 2” x 2” snap-together blocks, with mating connectors on the top and bottom. Each block performs a unique function. Every stack requires one Base at its bottom. As few or as many blocks as you need, in whatever order you desire, are snapped together above the Base. All of the blocks in a stack communicate with each other over multiple serial data busses via the top/bottom mating connectors. A stack is powered via a coaxial connector on the Base (5V DC). The Base has a 1 GHz processor with 512MB Ram and 16GB flash that runs a Python programming language virtual machine. It does not use the Linux or any other conventional operating system. Python application software is developed and downloaded into a Base from a laptop using the Interstacks Stackbuilder development tool. Projects are typically assigned a support engineer who can pre-program your stack for your specific needs, set up initial cloud dashboards, and make sure the project is a success. Other electronic blocks use microcontrollers of various sizes. Firmware in those blocks implement the block’s functions and send and receive messages over the serial data busses in the stack. A typical stack has a Base at its bottom, plus some number of I/O blocks, then a network communication block on top (Ethernet, Wifi, Cell data). Multiple network communication blocks can be used.
Each electronic block has a LED light in its corner. That light can be green, red, or orange. Red indicates a fault condition. Green indicates normal operation. The light will flash orange as it sends or receives messages from other blocks. Network blocks will flash orange rapidly in an even pattern as they are looking for a network connection (this only indicates an IP address has been assigned, not that there is a connection to the internet or servers – network firewalls could still prevent that). The rapid orange flashing will stop once a network connection is established. The network block will still flash orange intermittently as it sends and receives messages.
There are many blocks available and new ones are being added on a regular basis. Blocks include: the Base, Analog input (8 channels individually configurable), I/O Expander (8 channels for switch inputs or 3.3v logic outputs), serial data UART, RS-232, RS-485, Barcode, USB keyboard, Bluetooth, Ethernet, Wifi, and Cell data network communications, plus many more. The cell data block incorporates a SIM that can be activated for any country (data plan required). See the Interstacks website for more information and to order.
There are many support documents online in the support area of our web site at https://www.interstacks.com/knowledge-base/