Updated 2018-09-22 09:18:42 by chw

topcua - a Tcl binding to OPC/UA

OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) is a machine to machine communication protocol for industrial automation developed by the OPC Foundation. Refer to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OPC_Unified_Architecture for a detailed overview.

A proof-of-concept extension called topcua provides a Tcl binding to a C based OPC UA implementation from https://open62541.org/ and can be found in https://www.androwish.org/index.html/dir?name=jni/topcua

The documentation can be found in https://www.androwish.org/index.html/wiki?name=topcua

The code is very portable and might run on all Tcl supported platforms provided that the platform's C compiler supports C99.

A short example script

The source tree contains an example script implementing a webcam in a few lines of code. The most interesting piece is how variables/data/things can be mapped between Tcl and OPC/UA domains as shown in the _lastimg and _setparm procedures and how the corresponding items in the OPC/UA address space are created in the opcua add ... invocations. This allows to connect from an OPC/UA client tool like UAExpert or OPC UA Client and to display the camera image.

But be aware that this is early alpha quality stuff and may contain memory leaks and all other kinds of serious bugs. Although it might seem to be some kind of Tcl dream in Industry 4.0 and to have the theoretical capability of controlling drilling rigs, nuclear power plants, low earth orbital stations, and so on it is far from being complete, tested, verified, and certified.
# A little OPC/UA webcam in about 100 LOC
# Requires Linux, MacOSX, or FreeBSD, due to tcluvc support,
# but can be easily modified for Windows to use tclwmf instead.

package require Tk
package require topcua
package require tcluvc

# hide Tk toplevel
wm withdraw .

# get first available camera
set cam [lindex [uvc devices] 0]
if {$cam eq {}} {
    puts stderr "no camera found"
    exit 1

# open camera
if {[catch {uvc open $cam capture} cam]} {
    puts stderr "open failed: $cam"
    exit 1

# set format to 320x240
foreach {i fmt} [uvc listformats $cam] {
    if {[dict get $fmt "frame-size"] eq "320x240"} {
        uvc format $cam $i 1

# photo image for capture
set img [image create photo]

# image capture callback
proc capture {cam} {
    # limit frame rate, otherwise it consumes too much CPU for
    # image processing and the OPC/UA server part starves
    lassign [uvc counters $cam] all done dropped
    if {$all % 20 == 0} {
        uvc image $cam $::img
        set ::png [$::img data -format png]

# create OPC/UA server
opcua new server 4840 S

# implementation of OPC/UA data sources
namespace eval ::opcua::S {
    # data source callback
    proc _lastimg {node op {value {}}} {
        if {$op eq "read"} {
            return [list ByteString $::png]
        # hey, this is a camera, not a screen
        return -code error "write shouldn't happen"
    # data source callback
    proc _setparm {name node op {value {}}} {
        if {$op eq "read"} {
            array set p [uvc parameter $::cam]
            set v 0
            if {[info exists p($name)]} {
                set v $p($name)
            return [list Int32 $v]
        set v [dict get $value "value"]
        catch {uvc parameter $::cam $name $v}
        return {}

# create our namespace in OPC/UA land
set ns [opcua add S Namespace LilWebCam]

# get Objects folder
set OF [lindex [opcua translate S [opcua root] / Objects] 0]

# create an object in our namespace in Objects folder
set obj [opcua add S Object "ns=$ns;s=LilWebCam" $OF Organizes "$ns:LilWebCam"]

# create some variables in our folder to deal with camera settings
set att [opcua attrs default VariableAttributes]
dict set att dataType [opcua types nodeid Int32]
dict set att accessLevel 3        ;# writable
foreach name {brightness contrast gain gamma hue saturation} {
    opcua add S Variable "ns=$ns;s=[string totitle $name]" $obj HasComponent "$ns:[string totitle $name]" {} $att [list ::opcua::S::_setparm $name]

# get node identifier of Image data type, a subtype of ByteString
set IT [lindex [opcua translate S [opcua root] / Types / DataTypes / BaseDataType / ByteString / Image] 0]

# create variable in our folder to return last photo image
set att [opcua attrs default VariableAttributes]
dict set att dataType $IT        ;# Image data type
dict set att valueRank -1        ;# 1-dimensional array
opcua add S Variable "ns=$ns;s=Image" $obj HasComponent "$ns:Image" {} $att ::opcua::S::_lastimg

# start server using Tk's event loop
opcua start S

# start camera
uvc start $cam 

The client for the short example script

For the above webcam (the server) a corresponding client can be found in the source tree, too.
# A little OPC/UA webcam client example
package require Tk
package require topcua

wm title . "Client of LilWebCam"
set img [image create photo]
label .label -image $img
pack .label

# create client
opcua new client C

# connect to server
opcua connect C opc.tcp://localhost:4840

# get the namespace
set ns [opcua namespace C LilWebCam]

# monitor callback proc
proc monitor {data} {
    $::img configure -format png -data [dict get $data value]

# make a subscription with 200 ms rate
set sub [opcua subscription C new 1 200.0]

# make a monitor to the camera image
set mon [opcua monitor C new $sub data monitor "ns=${ns};Image"]

# handle OPC/UA traffic (the subscription/monitor)
proc do_opcua_traffic {} {
    after cancel do_opcua_traffic
    if {[catch {opcua run C 20}]} {
        # this most likely is the server shutting down
    after 200 do_opcua_traffic


Exercises for the interested reader

  • make the camera using the tclwmf extension from http://www.androwish.org to run this on Windows
  • make the camera using the borg extension from http://www.androwish.org to run this on a tablet or smartphone
  • add more camera controls using appropriate mappings between tcluvc parameters and OPC/UA variables
  • use e.g. SQLite as persistent data store for variable values
  • create some methods to query e.g. an SQLite database (and avoid SQL insertion problems for the query's parameters)