In this section, I will be covering the unboxing experience – in the case of the Harting MICA, it’s a delight of its own which is well worth looking at.
The kit from Harting comes sealed in shrink-wrap for freshness.
The design of the box art is very clean, featuring a mostly black, white and yellow scheme. The top of the box labels the unit is as the Harting MICA CISS Complete IIoT Starter Kit with an image of the unit and sensor. The bottom of the box is blank, with the exception of Harting Americas branch information.
Along one of the box sides is the label which includes information about the part number and serial number. The Harting logo, along with their “Pushing Performance” slogan is proudly shown on the flap of the box, which is actually a magnetically latched display box similar to what you might find high-end consumer electronics packed in.
The box opens to reveal a very neat layout which showcases all of the included items at a glance. The use of specially cut foam ensures all items are kept secure in transit.
One problem I found was that the foam was formed from multiple layers glued together. This adhesive seemed to get onto the included items including cables which made them slightly sticky.
Included documentation includes two copies of the Setup Guide, an Assembly Manual, a Quick-Start leaflet and a Bosch CISS Quick Start Guide. It’s a bit curious that there was a Setup Guide on the top of the package, and also one buried further below the first layer of foam with the remainder of the documentation.
The Harting MICA is an absolutely gorgeous, but also relatively compact unit. Its exterior is a metallic grey powder-coated die-cast aluminium enclosure that is as slick as it is functional. The top has their logo clearly cast into the case, whereas the underside features a label with all the pertinent information about this MICA unit including the default admin password (blanked out).
It’s not all looks, as the business ends of the MICA are all designed for some serious business. The front panel has two Harting USB Push-Pull connectors, with the I/O connector being a Harting A-coded M12 connector and the LAN with PoE provided over a Harting M12 X-coded Push-Pull connector. The use of push-pull connectors on the majority of connections simplifies deployment while retaining full IP-rated protection. The rear of the unit has some mounting holes which may be used with a DIN rail mounting kit (optional) as well as a flap secured by two Torx screws.
Behind this flap is the microSD slot on the mainboard, protected by a piece of rubber forming an environmental seal. Of course, in order to retain the industrial rating, the use of industrial microSD cards is highly recommended. Through the hole, we can get a peek into the board inside, which has quite a few SMD Tantalum capacitors along with an Eaton PowerStor supercapacitor visible from the rear. It seems like high quality components are used throughout. Attention to construction is also provided as it seems the front panel is covered by a metal plate for improved EMC shielding, but it is also adhered around the edges with a silicone substance to ensure water doesn’t get in. I guess this is what German-made quality looks like – quite refreshing.
The sides of the MICA don’t have any ports, but they do have a “channel” cast into it. It’s not a “boring” rectangle by any means.
The MICA’s quality is evident as soon as you pick it up. It wouldn’t be amiss to say that it is built solid “as a brick” – it feels weighty and substantial. Tapping it on the desk or palm of the hand, it feels like a solid mass, without any rattles or weakness. This is a good thing, as it is designed to be deployed in harsh environments such as vehicles where it could be exposed to heat, fluctuating power supply and severe vibration. It weighs 601 grams on its own!
Aside from the MICA, the other star is the Bosch Connected Industrial Sensor Solution (CISS) which is a USB or Bluetooth Low-Energy connected sensor unit consisting of six sensors (Accelerometer BMA280, Gyroscope BMG160, Magnetometer BMC150, Temperature sensor, Humidity sensor, Air pressure sensor BME280, Light sensor MAX44009, Microphone AKU340) housed in an IP54 rated enclosure. Of note is that while there is a microphone in the unit, it cannot be accessed via USB. The “puck-shaped” CISS is supplied pre-mated to a detachable USB cable. The cable can be detached by pushing down on the white latch plastic and pulling the connector.
The sensing is done on the underside where a beige/white plastic piece protects the onboard sensors. During operation, red and amber LEDs shine through this plastic as well. The CISS is provided with magnetic “clamps” which allow you to attach the unit to a piece of machinery without any tools, however, this is perhaps not as accurate as direct attachment and will preclude the use of the magnetometer sensor. The sensing elements actually sit “elevated” slightly from the mounting flange, with extra elevation in case of use of the magnetic clamps.
The cable comes with some protection at the device end and is terminated into a Harting USB Push-Pull connector. This connector has a standard USB A in the centre, so it is possible to plug it into a regular desktop PC, as long as you don’t mind the bulk of the connector.
The supplied grey cable connects to the I/O port to provide power to the unit. As configured, the cable accepts power through a female barrel jack, but does not break out the remainder of the connections. The heatshrinking on the connector makes me think that the lead may have been hand-made at one stage.
The supplied yellow cable is for Ethernet connection, including PoE. The cable is a thick and stiff yellow-jacketed shielded CAT7A cable from Harting terminated in their plugs on both ends – high quality stuff.
The power supply is a universal voltage unit with efficiency level VI from CUI Inc., model SWI10-12-N which provides 12V at 1A. The power supply has the US twin-blade configuration, thus some creative bending was used to make it fit Australian sockets (although use of a socket adapter is also appropriate).
Unfortunately, it seems that aside from the duplicate Setup Guide, my unit was missing the USB port cover for the second USB port. Without this port cover, the unit would not be able to meet its IP67 rating. It was fortunate that element14 were able to step in and provide the missing port covers, although this process did take about two weeks.
The cap itself is nothing more than a piece of solid plastic which pushes over the unused USB port on the MICA, but in doing so, ensures that a good waterproof seal is achieved. This is important as looking into the ports, there isn’t much to prevent liquid or dust ingress into an unprotected port which has full access to the interior of the enclosure.
The MICA came packaged in a shrink-wrapped elegant display box which looked more akin to what a high-end piece of consumer electronics would be packaged in, rather than an industrial piece of equipment. Unboxing the unit was a delight, as every item had its place, neatly packed into the customised foam inlay.
Removing the items, it was immediately apparent that the Harting MICA is not your average piece of equipment. It feels heavy, substantial, built-like-a-brick with absolutely no flimsiness at all. Its design is stylish with its powder-coated die-cast aluminium case, but functional, outfitted with convenient push-pull IP-rated connectors. A peek through the rear microSD slot also suggests the use of high-quality components and careful construction techniques. The supporting cables matched the unit for quality.
The Bosch CISS was also equally impressive, packing all of six sensors (Accelerometer BMA280, Gyroscope BMG160, Magnetometer BMC150, Temperature sensor, Humidity sensor, Air pressure sensor BME280, Light sensor MAX44009, Microphone AKU340) in an IP54 rated enclosure with a USB or Bluetooth Low-Energy interface. It is provided with a magnetic mount for quick or temporary mounting, with a detachable USB cable for convenience.
Looking at contents of the kit, I would have to say that it is quite comprehensive with everything needed in one box and is certainly aimed at getting someone up and running with the Harting MICA and Bosch CISS as quickly as possible. Aside from what appears to be a one-off omission of the USB port cover, the only other things lacking would be a cover for the I/O port in case the GPIO is unused and power is being provided through PoE. Something that would be nice to have is a break-out for the GPIO lines rather than just being wires tucked away behind heatshrink so that system integrators could more easily and rapidly evaluate the capabilities of the GPIO interface. Another thing to be aware of is that the MICA is capable of DIN rail mounting with an optional kit which is not included.
This post is a part of the Harting MICA CISS Complete IIoT Starter Kit RoadTest