What is Flowcode and E-blocks?Follow article
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Flowcode & E-blocks
Matrix Technology Solutions are a premier, global provider of high quality solutions for all types of engineer. They are the developers of E-blocks and Flowcode, which together, provide one of the most sophisticated development suites on the market.
The E-blocks range from Matrix TSL is now available through RS Components. Click here to view the full range.
Working hand in hand, they provide engineers with the ability to develop electronic systems with incomparable ease, rapid prototype real-life designs and test, debug and bring to market electronic, mechatronic and automated products and solutions. Whether working with PICmicro, dsPIC, AVR, Arduino or ARM – there is sure to be something to assist your projects.
E-blocks and Flowcode are superb development tools in their own right and available standalone, however, their compatibility when working together gives engineers a truly world class solution for, amongst other things; rapid prototyping, electronic system design and internet of things development.
What is E-blocks?
E-blocks allow engineers and learners to rapidly develop a wide variety of fully functioning electronics systems.
E-blocks are used by thousands of development engineers in industry, and by educators and students in universities, colleges and schools for learning and projects.
There are more than 50 separate boards in the range; from simple LED boards to more complex boards like device programmers, Bluetooth boards and TCP/IP boards. Whether you’re PIC programing, getting started with Arduino programming or working with other hardware platforms, there is sure to be something to suit your needs.
In addition to this, the boards and electronic kits are well supported with applications information, product datasheets, and a very active forum for support and advice.
A full user guide for the E-blocks range can be found here.
E-blocks can be snapped together to form a wide variety of fully functioning systems. The ease and speed of construction makes E-blocks ideal for the rapid prototyping of complex electronic systems in industry, and for use by teachers and learners in colleges and universities. Use of E-blocks is well supported with complementary ranges of software (including PIC, dsPIC, ARM and AVR Arduino IDE, Flowcode), and sensors.
Here are some examples of Rapid Prototyping using E-blocks and Flowcode:
- Solar panel light tracking system
- Custom USB Mouse
- Creating a 6 DoF Platform using Arduino Part 1
- Creating a 6 DoF Platform using Arduino Part 2
- Creating a 6 DoF Platform using Arduino Part 3
- USB Project Board
Internet of Things
The concept of The Internet of Things (IoT) is not new, and is already reality. We are already beginning to utilise connected devices to enhance our lives, by living and working smarter through being connected to the devices around us. The smart phones in our pockets are evolving into our own personal control centre for the devices that we with live and work with.
Flowcode and E-blocks are ideal for IoT development. Check out some of these examples:
- Internet of Things made simple; Simulated Web Server and TCP - The Flowcode Way
- Internet of Things made simple; Sensor monitoring - The Flowcode Way
- Internet of Things made simple; Web page controlled relay - The Flowcode Way
Ghost Technology: Using E-blocks with Flowcode
Ghost Technology is an advanced way of testing or debugging your electronic system. Using Matrix’s EB006v9 multiprogrammer you can monitor every pin on your PICmicro design and monitor and interpret serial data inputs and outputs. Find out more about Ghost Technology here.
Ghost technology hardware provides a real time log of the status of all the pins on the microcontroller whilst a Flowcode program is running on the device. Ghost data can be viewed on the Flowcode Softscope at the same time as the flow chart simulation (see image above). We call this ‘In-Circuit-Test’. You can run, pause, and step through, your program and view Ghost data at the same time and view variables, registers and other memory locations. We call this ‘In-Circuit-Debug’. When this data is combined with the PC-side processing capabilities of Flowcode it provides a very powerful debugging and learning tool.
This saves huge amounts of development time - whether you are working at a pin level and getting your first program to work, or whether you are an advanced user wanting to perform a sanity check to make sure communications baud rates are set at the correct speed. Both analogue and digital data is gathered through Ghost ICT and displayed on the Flowcode Softscope. For communications busses decoding overlays for UART, SPI, and I2C are available. Ghost data can also be passed to simulation/SCADA components in Flowcode to provide Human Machine Interface style debug features
MIAC gives you the ruggedness and power of a Programmable Logic Controller with the flexibility and ease of programming of a microcontroller.
Built using a PIC microcontroller, a MIAC (see image below) can be used as a standalone PLC or as part of a CAN bus driven MIAC System.
This industrial grade programmable electronic controller can be used to control a wide range of different electronic systems including sensing, monitoring and automotive applications. Internally, the MIAC is powered by a powerful 18 series PICmicro device which connects directly to the USB port. This makes the MIAC fast and easy to program with Flowcode, C or Assembly. MIAC is supplied with an industrial standard CAN bus interface. This allows you to develop systems incorporating a large number of MIACs up to 500 metres apart.
Each unit contains 8 digital or analogue inputs, four relay outputs, four motor outputs with speed control, four line LCD display and control keys.
What is Flowcode?
Flowcode software allows you to quickly and easily develop complex electronic and electromechanical systems. The graphical programming tool allows even those with little experience to develop complex electronic systems in minutes.
Flowcode is one of the world’s most advanced environments for electronic and electromechanical system development. Engineers use Flowcode to develop systems for control and measurement based on microcontrollers, on rugged industrial interfaces or on Windows compatible personal computers.
What’s more, Flowcode’s compatibility with DesignSpark Mechanical means you can integrate your DesignSpark designs easily into Flowcode.
Flowcode uses graphical icons to enable you to quickly develop electronic systems. The easy-to-use interface means those with little experience of programming are able to pick up the fundamentals quickly. The speed of development gives experienced users a fast and proven way to develop their projects.
Test & debug code
Once you have developed your program, the powerful environment gives you the ability to make use of the embedded in-circuit-test (ICT) and in-circuit-debug (ICD) features. These key features give you the confidence you need to ensure the programs you have produced will be effective when compiled to chosen devices.
Simulate your programs in 3D
A 3D simulation environment means if you’re working with mechanical designs, you can develop and test the electronic elements of your designs work effectively using Flowcode. Integration with third-party design packages including DesignSpark Mechanical, through support for various file formats, means you can directly import designs and bring them to life.
With hundreds of common component libraries already built in to Flowcode, the environment is already set up for integrated development. If you have further components which you require in order to develop your electronic systems, you can easily develop your own component libraries within Flowcode, reducing support and development costs across your projects.
Arduino, E-blocks & more
E-blocks gives you the ability to prototype your designs using hardware based on a range of PIC, dsPIC, ARM or AVR microcontrollers. E-blocks are a suite of upstream multiprogrammer, downstream peripheral boards and electronic kits which easily snap together to allow for rapid prototyping of electronic systems. Flowcode acts as an Arduino IDE through support for AVR microcontrollers. We also have two Arduino shields which allow you to develop using Arduino, Flowcode and E-blocks seamlessly.
Numerous devices supported
With the suite of microcontrollers supported within the software, we can confidently say there is most certainly a solution offering to meet your needs; whether you are PIC programming, getting started with Arduino, or working with powerful systems controlled using a dsPIC 16-bit microcontroller or ARM 32-bit microcontroller.
A range of support is available for all users and Matrix TSL even offer Professional Services to assist users with their developments. See these links.
Flowcode wiki: http://www.matrixtsl.com/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page
Professional Services: http://www.matrixtsl.com/professional-services/