OptoPartner Corso Systems shares how they collaborated with another OptoPartner, Inframark A&I, to build an EPIC addition to the Opto 22 Booth at #ICCElevate.
Inspired by the ENTELEC Conference & Expo's Innovations Lab, Inductive Automation introduced an event called the Data Dash at this year's Ignition Community Conference (ICC). Corso Systems CEO Alex Marcy gives us some insight and background on how this project led to another fun application using an IP camera at Opto 22's conference booth.
OptoPartner Inframark A&I has a customer project in the works: build a monitoring system at a water reservoir. The system integrates an IP camera into the overall controls infrastructure and captures images based on water level and current demand.
Inframark A&I’s solution is built on a groov EPIC controller. Onboard, Node-RED handles the interactions between the I/O points, triggers image capture, and accesses the camera's URL for capturing and returning the current image as a JPEG. The image is then stored in the groov EPIC's built-in file management system. The groov EPIC is also running an Ignition Edge Gateway with Cirrus Link Solutions' MQTT Transmission Module, which sends the file out to a user-configurable MQTT broker. In today’s example, the broker is an Ignition Cloud Edition instance that Opto 22 is using for their ICC booth and demos.
Community and Collaboration
Jason Hamlin is the Cloud Services Manager at Inframark A&I, and a former Corso Systems employee. He reached out to Alex Marcy, CEO of Corso Systems after seeing Corso Systems in the ICC Data Dash MQTT broker namespace. Jason shared with Alex how his team built an IP camera integration and that he was excited to show it off. Since Jason also wanted to present something unique for the Data Dash, he had Drew Stocker (also on the Inframark A&I team) flesh out a Data Dash version of the application. Soon the project went from idea to here’s something we can submit to the Data Dash!
Between the time Jason shared the resource and Alex received the camera, Opto 22's Benson Hougland was in the mix. Benson and Jason decided the camera application would be a great addition to the Opto 22 booth on the ICC floor.
As one of the longest running partners with Inductive Automation and a Diamond Exhibitor at 2023's ICC, Opto 22's booth was first in line at the event, and the ideal place for a camera project.
The camera integration was a great demonstration of many technologies at once:
- Ignition Edge was running on a groov EPIC.
- The IP camera was connected to the EPIC via an Ethernet switch.
- A laptop in the booth itself was running an Ignition Cloud Edition Perspective session.
- Cirrus Link Solutions' MQTT Modules provided the pipeline for the image data to travel from the camera, through the groov EPIC, and up to the Ignition Cloud Edition gateway.
Showing off this project at ICC was a fun and interesting booth demo. It gave visitors a way to interact with the system in a novel way all while featuring many technologies highlighted at ICC.
The original Data Dash version of the application displayed the last saved image in a Perspective View. It had the option to trigger image captures based on a timer, or to manually trigger a capture through the Perspective View. While this version worked to demonstrate the overall functionality, for the ICC, it meant that the images were fleeting. A booth visitor could take a picture of the screen with their phone or save a screenshot of the Perspective Mobile App, but once the timer triggered another image capture, the previous displayed image would be lost forever. Note: the updated real-world application and subsequent Ignition Exchange releases will have a lot more functionality, building on our ICC collaboration.
Taking full advantage of the collaborative nature of the Ignition Exchange—and because Alex wanted to see Jason get even more excited—Alex leaned into a hunch that Benson would be onboard with all of the shenanigans. So Alex decided it was time to take advantage of Ignition's Database Integration features and make the images retrievable.
Having Fun While Building on the Shoulders of Giants
It took just a little extra work to add the image storage and retrieval functionality. On the Friday before the ICC, Alex set up a database table on a Corso Systems' cloud-based server. He also set up the Corso lab's groov EPIC to send images to the server and store them to the database. Finally, he even set up a QR code so that anyone at the booth could scan it and retrieve their image.
But the next day Alex realized he couldn’t to tie into the MQTT Broker for the Data Dash because the Access Control List wasn't set up to allow it on his Data Dash account. Having exhausted his weekend free time, he set the system up to trigger a tag change script in Ignition while he was flying across the country to ICC on Monday. Thankfully he did have time to set up the page to display an image once it was retrieved from the database. Benson was kind enough to give a shout out during his session at the ICC by sharing a LinkedIn post featuring Alex working on a plane getting the last little bits done!
After arriving at the ICC, Alex deployed his code to the booth around lunchtime on Tuesday. Based on the tag structure from the Data Dash versus the Corso Systems’ lab setup, a couple more changes needed to be made, but they were successfully pushed out Wednesday morning. On Tuesday you could only access the current image via QR Code. But after Wednesday morning’s deployment, the demo took the most recent image, sent it up to the cloud, stored it in a database, and displayed a QR Code to retrieve it from the system. This allowed people to snag a copy of their image at any point—as long as they grabbed the QR code before it updated.
Everyone was able to share in a fun virtual laugh when Phil Seboa of Australian Opto 22 Distributor iControls posted his picture on LinkedIn and told people to find him digitally at the event. A random picture from the EPIC Cam made a great canvas on which to superimpose Phil's image and share in the fun!
After letting the demo run for a day and doing spot checks with various ID values for the images in the database, we noticed an obvious opportunity to create a time-lapse video of the entire event. On the first day, an image capture was happening every 20 seconds, then at some point on the second day, we changed it to every 30 seconds. Since the camera on the Opto 22 booth was located at the entrance to the event, you can see everyone who came in or out—along with all of the discussions happening at the booth, and tons of group pictures!
This was a fun project, and it showed off a lot of cool technology integrated into a booth demo that was interesting and novel for everyone who interacted with it!
The innovative groov EPIC camera project demonstrated the Art of the Possible by tying together software and hardware from more than a handful of companies. It also showed how a team of just a few people from different companies—sometimes even competitors—can come together to accomplish a common goal. We were able to build something really cool, very quickly, and it was better than the sum of its parts through our collaboration.
Lastly, the project demonstrated the overall theme of ICC 2023: Elevate. This project started with humble beginnings to solve a problem for a customer, combined with Alex’s idea to get it into the Ignition Exchange so the Corso Systems team could use a camera to take a picture of the audience while on stage. Which, while the last idea didn’t pan out, would have been very cool.
To lose the third-person formality for a moment, I had no idea that when Jason and I first spoke about the project or when I plugged in my own camera on my desk I'd end up a couple weeks later writing this post. I wish I had thought to get a group picture at the booth with Benson and Jason. It would have been a great image to end the post!
Working with folks like Jason Hamlin from Inframark A&I, Benson Hougland, Arun Sinha, Dan White, Rene Gamero, Bob Sheffres, Garrick Reichert, Terry Orchard, and all the other folks at Opto 22 always improves my day.
Collaborating on a project like this without any ego about who built what, and focusing instead on what could I bring to the mix that would make Jason exclaim, "DUDE, that is SO COOL!!!" or make Benson's patented ear-to-ear grin just a little bit brighter makes it more satisfying than anything we could have made individually.
Other highlights of this project were getting to see Arun excited to wear the shirt I had made for the Build-a-Thon, complete with a groov EPIC Dragon, and getting Phil involved from halfway around the world.
These experiences make this the best industry in the world. Working together elevates what any of us can do on our own, and I am thankful to work with all the great folks mentioned above who are all part of the Venn Diagram we all share with Opto 22 in the center.
The Art of the Possible is only limited by your imagination, and everyone I worked with on this project can dream up some incredible things!
— Alex Marcy
CEO, Corso Systems
Alex Marcy is the founder and CEO of Corso Systems, a system integrator specializing in Ignition, Opto 22, and Manufacturing Execution Systems. He prioritizes building a diverse team prepared to solve any problem the manufacturing world can throw their way.