… a step change in the future of digital panel meters

PanelPilotPRImageRS Components (RS) launches the PanelPilot series from Lascar Electronics. It represents the evolution of digital panel meters from simple LED displays, via LCD, to fully software configurable touchscreen TFT displays.

The PanelPilot offers designers in machine building and electronic design companies the ability to configure the panel meter to display the reading in a format and style that matches their application and product design. It adds the benefits of visual impact, innovation and flexibility to their design and the opportunity to be ‘faster-to-market’, without adding complexity. The meter employs open-bus architecture, giving designers the option to directly interface via an I2C or SPI bus.

Available in both 2.4” (product code 704-8138) and 2.8” (product code 704-8131) screen sizes, they combine the clarity of a 16-bit colour TFT display with the simplicity of USB programmability in a single compact unit. PanelPilots have an attractive starting price of under £60 and are available from stock now.

Mark James, Product Manager, RS Components commented, “RS is one of the first companies to bring this innovative product to market because of its significant experience of the panel-building sector and its long-running relationship with panel metering specialists Lascar Electronics”.

The PanelPilot colour TFT graphics meter allows users to program and display meter styles previously provided by traditional panel meters. The meter is programmable via USB interface with free Windows® based configuration software downloadable from the web – compatible with Windows XP, 2000, Vista and Windows 7 (32 bit).

Users can select the type of meter style they want from an initial choice of six (including 3.5 digit, 4 digit voltmeter, bar-graph, and analogue style options) then personalise the display by selecting preferences including colour, labels, text, voltage input scaling and power-up ‘splashscreen’. A large and increasing library of standard meter configurations is available. These can be customised in minutes to the designer’s precise requirements.

Once programming is complete, the user can save all selections to the meter and computer, detach the unit and mount it in their panel as they would any standard display.

The PanelPilots have a wide operating voltage of 4 to 30Vdc and feature 2 voltage inputs (max 40Vdc) that are fitted with a programmable gain amplifier (PGA), which automatically selects the best input voltage range to give the highest resolution. The voltage range is extrapolated from the values entered in the PanelPilot software.
The TFT display has a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels and a 16-bit colour depth. Any graphics that are uploaded to the meter are automatically converted to this specification.

Three user interfaces are available:

Basic User – with power and signal input only. If the meter is pre-configured then this is all that is required for connection.

Intermediate User – enables USB to configure and customise the meter as required for connection to the application using power and signal inputs.

Advanced User – advanced configurations will be made available using I2C and SPI bus. Configuration is by USB for connection to the application using the dual-in-line IDC connector.

A 16-way pin header is fitted to the rear of the unit for expansion and advanced interface options. These include alarm outputs and I2C & SPI inputs that will be implemented in future applications.

Panel or enclosure installation of the display is simple using 4-screw terminals and a panel fixing clip. The integrated bezel fits snuggly into a panel up to 3mm deep (cut-out size 74 x 46mm) with a splash-proof seal on one side and a metal clip on the other to hold the meter firmly in place.

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