Arduino Targets Industrial Automation Education with Its New Opta-Based PLC Starter Kit

Everything you need to simulate a PLC-controlled industrial automation system, including 20 hours of courseware to get you on track.

Gareth Halfacree
2 months agoInternet of Things / HW101

Arduino has announced its intention to get a new generation involved in industrial automation, with the release of the Arduino Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) Starter Kit — built around the company's Opta micro PLC.

"In a world where industrial automation is rapidly advancing, education often struggles to keep pace. This disconnect leaves a big gap in practical, industry-relevant skills among graduates," the Arduino Team claims of the problem its new kit aims to fix. "Addressing this critical need, we’re excited to introduce the Arduino PLC Starter Kit. Powered by the robust Arduino Opta mini PLC and backed by the intuitive Arduino PLC IDE, this kit is set to revolutionize programmable logic control education."

The Arduino Opta was announced back in November 2022 as an STMicroelectronics STM32H747XI-based DIN-rail-mountable all-in-one programmable logic controller. In addition to supporting development using the familiar Arduino IDE, the Opta comes with a new PLC IDE which provides IEC 61131-3-standard programming environments including ladder logic and function block diagrams.

The Arduino PLC Starter Kit combines an Opta WiFi, the range-topping model in the Opta family, with the Arduino DIN Simulat8 and DIN Celsius add-ons — the former providing eight toggle switches and signal lines to simulate external hardware and the latter offering a Texas Instruments TMP236A2DBZR temperature sensor.

The bundle's hardware is supported by new courseware, dubbed "Explore PLC," with 20 hours of lessons covering everything from the history of programmable logic controllers and their integration with industrial simulation systems to the use of Modbus RS-485 communication. "It's a great way to promote a deeper understanding of industrial automation and system behavior, while giving students the hands-on experience and critical thinking skills they'll need to tackle real-world challenges in their professional careers," the Arduino team claims.

The Arduino PLC Starter Kit is now available to order on the Arduino Store at $385.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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