Arduino Unveils Opta Digital, Analog Expansion Modules for Bigger PLC Projects

Adding more pins and, for the analog variant, true analog outputs to any Opta PLC, the new Expansion Modules offer more flexibility.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month ago β€’ Internet of Things / HW101

Arduino has announced two new entries in its Opta programmable logic controller (PLC) family, designed for those projects that are a little too complex for a single controller: the Opta Digital and Opta Analog Expansion Modules.

"Enhance your Arduino Opta's real-time control, monitor, and predictive maintenance applications thanks to the Arduino Pro Opta Expansions," the Arduino team writes of its latest launch. "Quickly put them to work, managing the new I/Os [Inputs/Outputs] from the Opta base unit seamlessly, taking advantage of the open and widely known Arduino ecosystem or PLC IDE IEC 61131-3 programming environment."

Arduino has announced new Expansion Modules for its Opta micro PLC range, aimed at more complex industrial automation projects. (πŸ“Ή: Arduino)

Arduino launched the Opta micro PLC family back in November 2022 as it looked to branch out into the industrial programmable logic controller market β€” complete with a whole new development environment with support for IEC 61131-3-standard PLC languages including ladder logic and function block diagrams. Earlier this month the company launched the PLC Starter Kit, which offers an Opta WiFi along with Simulat8 and DIN Celsius add-ons and a 20-hour course aimed at offering an introduction to PLCs in general and the Opta and its development environment specifically.

The new expansion modules target applications where the base Opta PLCs lack enough connectivity, and deliver a cheaper and more easily-managed alternative to simply adding additional PLCs into the mix.

Mimicking the form factor of the Optas themselves, the expansion modules connect at the side and deliver either additional digital or analog connectivity β€” all managed from the base Opta using a simple library. Up to five modules can be connected to a single Opta, Arduino has confirmed, connecting side-by-side through their expansion ports.

The Arduino Opta Digital Expansion Modules come in two varieties: the D1608E offers 16 programmable inputs, which can be used as 0-24V digital or 0-10V analog inputs, and eight electromechanical relays supporting 240V AC at up to 6A; the D1608S has the same 16 voltage inputs but swaps the electromechanical relays for solid-state versions supporting 24V DC at up to 2A.

The Arduino Opta Analog Expansion Module, code A0602, meanwhile, adds six analog inputs that can be configured to read voltages from 0-10V, current up to 20mA, and two of which can read temperatures from optional RTD PT100 sensors, four digital outputs with pulse-width modulation (PWM) support, and two true analog outputs supporting 0-10V or up to 20mA programmable output β€” a feature missing from the unexpanded Opta PLCs.

The Arduino Opta Digital Expansion Modules are the first available, with the Analog Expansion Modules to follow; the D1608E is priced at $136.80 and the D1608S at $146.40, both on the Arduino Store.

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