Microcontroller to Opto22 project

I've been working on a microcontroller project and am planning to have some
boards made. I'm trying to find out if others are interested, if so I'll
order a bigger batch of boards and get a lower cost per board.
The idea is to make a microcontroller board that plugs into an Opto22 I/O
board (or compatible) so that the microcontroller has optically isolated
inputs and outputs, or to give a "brain" to an Opto22 board, depending on
how you look at it. I plan to send these boards out with a program in the
microcontroller to use the Opto22 board as a serial I/O board. This would
give Opto22 I/O to use with a PC, another microcontroller, or anything else
that can communicate RS-232 (or maybe 422, 485).
I thought the idea of serial I/O sounded pretty nice but I really like the
idea of being able to program the microcontroller using in circuit
programming. This allows the user to program applications using assembly
language or any compiled language the user desires. Free compilers are
available for many microcontrollers and with a bootloader these boards
should be able to be flash programmed from a PC. Without the bootloader it
can stil be programmed with an inexpensive in circuit programmer.
The board is to be compatible with 8, 16, or 24 I/O Opto22 boards. If you
use the 8 or 16 I/O boards then some analog inputs will be available. It
should also be possible that the original configuration for serial I/O could
be capable of being configured for analog inputs.
I'm hoping for a target price on these boards assembled and tested in the
$50-$70 range. I've started out working with PIC16F887 with 8K X 14 bit
program memory. I'm trying to get an idea how many others might be
interested in one of these boards, since higher quantity gets a better
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Great project for self-learning, but you probably should think a bit more about your business plan, if the idea is to make some dough from this. Remember that however great your project is, there'll be heaps better stuff around not too far into the future, probably before your system is ready. And there are *so* many microcontroller kits around that you're unlikely to present anything that makes your product stand out enough to grab a significant market.
Also, don't underestimate the issues you'll have with code management if you go to market. I did my own 68HC11 IDE/board 20 years ago, just for fun, and the IDE still throws up bugs.
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Bruce Varley
Your evaluation sounds right on to me. All I really want out of this is to be able to order a better volume and if I assemble and test, I want something for my time. Of course I'd also be willing to sell boards and parts kits. I plan to make the source code, schematic, and board files available if anyone wants them. I guess the idea is more like a group buy than a business plan. The appeal is easy interfacing to AC or DC inputs and outputs for a microcontroller or to use serial I/O with a PC or any other controller.
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