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Why the Holy Grail Is Different

Doug Johnson, WRD, 7/31/02

Most "embedded modules" that are currently available were designed with the intention that they be used in an end product as is... in other words, they were designed to be products onto themselves. The Holy Grail was conceived to facilitate the design of custom controls. This difference shows up easily in the end product.

If you use existing modules, such as PLC's, SBC's, PC/104, or any other "use as is" hardware, the module will be easily recognizable in the end product. If that same module is used in another application, it will remain identical regardless of the differences of the applications. The differences are resolved by using other "modules" such as solid state relays, temperature transmitters, analog to digital conversion modules, motor control/amplifier modules, etc.

The Holy Grail is NOT intended to be used "as is" in the end product. It is a reference design that includes the most common industrial control requirements (on/off power output, proportional power output, RTD/thermocouple/thermistor temperature input, motion control, user interface, and many others). The purpose of the reference design is to facilitate proof of concept work and provide a product development platform. It can also be used "as is" for pre-production performance testing. If all goes well, the next step may be to re-package the control to fit within size and shape constraints. The intention is to take the platform schematics, load them into a PC layout workstation, and layout new printed circuit boards.

The value of the Holy Grail comes from the ability to use a single hardware/firmware platform to cover product development needs from proof of concept, through pre-production testing, and then use the already tested schematics to re-package the control for the production requirement. The fact that it facilitates the design of a custom control in all phases of the development cycle is what makes the Holy Grail different.