Industrial embedded Linux systems

Matt at
Mon Jul 18 13:02:08 MDT 2016

​Hey everyone,

I'm beginning work on a new project which will potentially require hundreds
of remote units to collect and report data back to a central server.  By
remote, I mean these will be solar-powered standalone units, whose only
hope of reaching the internet is by satellite, are hours from civilization,
​and only accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles via dirt roads.

This is a scenario that I'm familiar with, as I do industrial automation
professionally, and a lot of my prior work has been in the oil and gas
industry with hundreds of remote well sites.  Typically, we would use
industrial PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) for this purpose, but
they're quite expensive, very limited in terms of functionality, and
designed to be general purpose automation controllers.  Most PLCs allow you
to program in the IEC 61131-3 languages (, which in themselves are clunky
and limited, with a lot of controllers only allowing ladder logic.  Most
use the industrial standard communication protocol MODBUS, which is a
simple 16-bit map of registers to values, and only supports basic data

Some examples of what I'm referring to:

Long story short, I want something that's more flexible and powerful to use
as a platform for this project.  I'm familiar with PLCs and hobbyist level
microcontrollers/embedded systems (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc.), but I'm
looking for the area in between, which I would dub an industrial embedded
Linux system.  In my research on this, I've found a couple of
promising-looking platforms, but I wanted to see if anybody had more
insight into this area before I commit to one.

Here's the controller I'm leaning toward at this point:

This one's in the ballpark, but not quite:

Some characteristics
​ that might define the type of platform I'm looking for:

   - Linux/*BSD
   - ​Temperature ratings suitable for an outdoor, enclosed, but
   non-temperature controlled environment​

   - Low power consumption
   - Relay digital IO
   - 4-20 mA analog IO
   - RS-232 port
   - RS-485 port
   - Ethernet
   - Wifi
   - Watchdog timer

Thanks for any feedback or insight.


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