Control by Text
**** LATEST VERSION NOW WITH ANALOGUE INPUTS ****
If you can create a simple text file then you can control and automate
The world of control and automation using motors, solenoids, lamps and all sorts of other devices has long been restricted to those who can write computer programs. ConText opens up this world to non-programmers (and programmers who want it a bit easier). If you can create a simple text file on your computer then you can operate this world of devices and build your own automation system.
How does ConText perform "Control and
The ConText board has electronic components which provide for "reading" inputs and controlling outputs and a powerful microcontroller to carry out your desired automation requirements.
ConText has two types of input..
- Standard digital type; which means that it will recognise if an input is on or off. This can be from a simple switch or a more complex device which provides a voltage output corresponding to it being on or off.
- Analogue type: These offer the possibility of making measurements from sensors such as temperature, light, humidity, pressure etc.. Although the range of sensors is enormous, the most common type provide a voltage output proportional to the property they are measuring. ConText analogue inputs can convert this to a simple number using the built-in 10bit A/D convertor .
ConText outputs are divided into three main types...
- Control for DC motors providing speed and direction control for up to 4 such motors.
- Control for stepper motors, providing the more complex pattern of pulses that these motors require and leaving you to simply specify how many steps to take in a specific direction at a specific speed.
- Control for simple switching type outputs which offer a means of switching on and off external devices of all types. Although the switching outputs are limited to fairly low powered devices, they can be used to operate relays which in turn can then operate almost any power of device.
The power and simplicity of ConText really begins to show when it
comes to specifying the control requirements for the automation. As
previously mentioned, this is a simple text file. It can be created
using the "built-in" text editor which is part of the ConText software
or any other text editor which doesn't involve fancy formatting or font
and colour enhancements, i.e. simple , plain text. A good example is the
text editor which comes with all Windows systems called "Notepad".
Each separate line of this text file has a single instruction which will be used by the ConText board to perform the desired operation. For example....
- OUTPUT 2 ON will turn on switching output number 2.
- WAIT 10 SEC will wait for 10 seconds before moving on to the next line of text.
- DCMOTOR 2 FORWARD will start DC motor number 2 running in the forward direction.
As you can see the instructions are designed to be as close to plain English as possible. The software supplied with ConText provides facilities to transfer this "instructions text file" to the ConText board via a standard USB connection. Once transferred to the board it is stored in its memory ready to operate until you decide to change it. i.e. it is in "non-volatile" memory and will NOT be lost when the power is turned off to the board. This also means that the board can then...
Operate entirely independently of the PC computer !!!
Just disconnect it from the USB port and give it a power
supply (eg battery pack or similar) and press its "Reset" button to
begin your automation instructions.
You can also run it while still connected to the PC if you want to. The software provided has that feature. It also has additional facilities to allow you to edit and verify your text file.
There is no complicated "Windows Driver" to be installed
All Windows operating systems since XP already have the appropriate driver installed, so there is nothing more to do. As soon as you connect the board to a USB port, Windows will recognise the board and configure it automatically, ready to use. This applies to Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7,8 and 10.
The software supplied with ConText makes the job of building your control and automation system as easy as 1,2,3,4.
1. Create and edit your text
2. Check/Verify your Text
3. Send your Text to the board
4. Give it a Try !!!
Why not give it a try. The software can be downloaded from the link below. Just unzip the zip file and run the "setup" program to install ConText on your PC. It even contains specific help on how to connect your devices (motors, etc...) and sample text to get you started. Obviously it wont actually control anything until a board is attached but it will let you see how simple it is.
Download ConText (3MB standard zip file)
|Compatible with Windows XP,
Vista, Windows 7, 8 and 10 (32 and 64bit)
| To download a copy of the user
guide for this board, right click on the link on the
right and choose "save target as". This will allow you to
download a PDF copy of the manual
You will need Adobe Reader installed on your PC to read this document. Adobe reader is available for free download from Adobe using the link to the right..