#### xtal_01

Joined May 1, 2016
118
I was not sure where to put this post so I put in the general area.

I am building a control panel ... PLC ... touch screen HMI ... Cellular modem.

I have built industrial control panels for 30 years but this is the first one I have built for a remote location.

Got everything working ... I can monitor the HMI remotely ... turn on an off pumps .... send alert e-mails.

The problem is, I can't access the programing of the PLC or HMI.

Here I use a USB cable ... run the programing software ... upload a program ....

Then I realized I had used my computer in remote desktop mode to test the cellular modem.

My first thought is I am go to give the user a cheap laptop ... when they need me to do maintenance on the system, I will have them plug the laptop into a spare Ethernet port, connect up two USB cables (one to the PLC and one to the HMI) and I will take control of the laptop from the office. I can fire up the PLC and HMI programs ... make changes and monitor them.

Then I thought, wouldn't it be slick if I could put in a one board windows 10 computer. I could leave it on all the time, still leave it hooked up to the Ethernet (I have an open jack on the switch), PLC and HMI (using two USB cables). I would not need a key board or screen ... just remote desktop in when I need to use it.

So, since I have never touched a single board computer, I needed some advice ....

1) is this a practical or good idea?

2) what single board computer would you recommend?

3) am I correct I would not have to have a local keyboard or monitor ... just have it boot up on power up ... no login ...?

4) will I have enough memory (or how do you expand the memory) to run the to two "relatively" small programs? Also, how to I load the progams. Right now I download them from the web so I guess I would need a browser or put them onto a usb or ?

5) is there anything I am missing here?

I am not an expert at PC's ... much more of an end user but I think this could solve my problems of having to connect with an external computer to do maintenance (even simple things like changing a timer setting or an e-mail address).

Thanks .... Mike

#### eetech00

Joined Jun 8, 2013
1,866
Hi

We do something similar for third party's that need remote access to "on premise" HVAC systems, etc.

Look at "small form factor" or "mini" PC's. There are many to choose from.
Just make sure they support the peripherals you need to access (like USB devices).
Once installed and (SECURELY) configured, you should be able to remote desktop to it and do what you want.

eT

#### MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
20,875
I second the SFF PC.
The nice thing is that backups and replacements are readily available.

Joined Jul 18, 2013
20,410
What I use for PLC HMI and control panel is one of the Maple Systems units, they go from simple two line display with a few keys, to full blown PC based systems.
And they all come in panel mount kiosk style.
BTW, they cater for quite a few PLC makes and models.
Max.

#### xtal_01

Joined May 1, 2016
118
OK .... that was easy, I am convinced ... a sff pc it is!

Now, any advice as to which one?

I just did a quick search on Amazon ..

I didn't even think about it till I read a the description of one .."auto power on" ... wow, super important to me as there can be power failure and this is a remote site!

I also need (want) to have this boot up without a monitor or keyboard (I know on some PC's I get an error message if I don't put one on).

I see some take an internal SSD .. good ... I see Kingston has one a 250G for $30 Just need two USB ports and an Ethernet. Again, this will be on all the time but only used a couple times a year ... no streaming video or such ... just two programming programs and a browser (to download the programs ... or update them). Here is one I found ... only downside I see is that it runs hot and even hotter with an SSD (one person said his failed) ... not sure if a fan would help or is there a better unit you guys could recommend? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GBM4JFN/ref=psdc_13896591011_t3_B07F15PBDY You don't know how very much I appreciate the advice! As I said, this is new territory for me ... PLC programming is the easy part ... cell modem, networks, IP's (static and internal), ports and port forwarding, time servers, DNS, .... wow ...I have been at it almost a month but everything is finally working the way it should. Thanks again .... Mike #### eetech00 Joined Jun 8, 2013 1,866 That mini pc looks fine to me... You need enough USB ports to initially configure...including mouse and keyboard. I don’t think you need an SSD drive. I’d be more comfortable with at least 128G of HD storage. You might want to increase ram to 8GB. 4GB is pretty thin. Be sure it comes with a power supply. Or plan to get one. You’ll need win 10 and antivirus software. (Don’t get the free antivirus crap) Usually the setting for booting without keyboard is in bios. But it’s s good question...ask the vendor. eT Thread Starter #### xtal_01 Joined May 1, 2016 118 I have never had a SSD ... why would a hard drive be better the a solid state drive? Would the SSD not be more reliable? Kingston has a SSD ... 250G for$30 .... what would you use instead?

Do most have a auto power on ... that is important to me.

Thanks so much again !

Mike

#### bertus

Joined Apr 5, 2008
20,449
Hello,

The use of an SSD can be usefull in an inviroment that has strong magnetic fields.
The SSD's are getting better looking at the lifetime.

Bertus

#### xtal_01

Joined May 1, 2016
118
OK ... you can tell I don't do this (honestly, I have never even owned a laptop ... other then a throw away given to me ... or a smart phone).

I had no idea I could buy a drive for $25! Soooo I am still just a bit confused ... how can mechanical device with a motor, arm, heads, .... remember I am old school where you do not even jump on the floor near a hard drive ... be more reliable then a solid state drive? Sorry for the questions ... just want to understand the "why" Thanks again .... Mike #### eetech00 Joined Jun 8, 2013 1,866 I have never had a SSD ... why would a hard drive be better the a solid state drive? Would the SSD not be more reliable? Kingston has a SSD ... 250G for$30 .... what would you use instead?

As for your application, I would get whatever cost less to do the job. But wouldn’t get less than 128 GB.

Do most have a auto power on ... that is important to me.

Thanks so much again !

Mike
Yes but it doesn’t mean that yours will. it’s best to ask the vendor.

eT

#### xtal_01

Joined May 1, 2016
118
Awesome ...

I just did some quick reading and will do a bunch more tonight (have to finish up a few chores first) ....

I see the pros and cons listed ... but nothing in the two articles I scanned over mentioned heat.

The reviewer of the SFF computer said it ran warm ... when the SSD was added it ran warm ... eventually the SSD failed.

So SSD's produce more heat then HDD .. I would not think so since there is no motor or ??? to create heat ... they use less power so in my mind power = heat ????

Also, would and SSD be more prone to fail in heat? The two articles both said the SSD was more reliable and rugged.

As I said, I will read more tonight but so far the only con for the SSD had been price ... and since I am buying a small one that is not an issue for me.

Thanks so very much again !!!!!!!!!!!!

Mike

#### MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
20,875
Depending on your software needs I would expect that 4GB would be enough. Many systems come with 8GB as a minimum.

Similarly, 64/128/256GB SSD should be enough for your applications. Personally, I would put more trust in a SSD than a HD. I would expect that a SSD should be consuming less power than a HD.

#### djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
6,335
Depending on your software needs I would expect that 4GB would be enough. Many systems come with 8GB as a minimum.
<omitted>
As a computer consultant, I can not recommend anything less than 8Gb for running Windows 10. Win 10 has many new processes running in the background, which can take up to 80% of the CPU and an abnormally high percent of disk activity, in memory configurations less than 8Gb.

Even if you do nothing more than use s browser, performance is poor with 4Gb. I just upgraded several system’s memory after an upgrade to Win 10 at a client site, as recent as three months ago.

#### narkeleptk

Joined Mar 11, 2019
438
Personally, I would put more trust in a SSD than a HD. I would expect that a SSD should be consuming less power than a HD.
I agree 100%, I love ssd's. Failure with my hdd was a common thing through out my life. Always just assumed it was normal.
I first switched to SSD's many years ago for some automotive diagnostic laptops since they are moved around a lot and not in the kindest of environments. Since then I have changed all my pc's to SSD and not had a single issue.

#### xtal_01

Joined May 1, 2016
118
You guys are awesome!

I will do my homework today and get one on order tonight.

With luck the last dumb question ... can I skip the login screen?

I did a quick search and found things like "you might be able to skip .." ... the word "might" scares me.

Just thinking not only do I need a computer that will come one automatically when power is applied but I also need it to start as I will be using the remote desktop to access it (or maybe you still can use remote desktop even if you are sitting at the login point)???

Thanks again ..... Mike

#### MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
20,875
To be honest, I have never done anything like this before. However, I do have a need for such a system (security and controlled access entry systems).

For auto startup, check out the BIOS Power-On option.
For auto run, check out Windows startup.

And finally, I wonder if Linux would be the preferred OS rather than Windows 10.
Hopefully we will hear from others with experience on this.

#### djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
6,335
Here is one article on setting up Windows 10 to automatically log on during startup.