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EtherCat-based motion controller handles up to 32 axes

28 January, 2014

The UK-based controls manufacturer Trio Motion Technology has announced an EtherCat-based motion controller that can handle up to 32 axes of servo or stepper drives, and 1,024 I/O. The MC4N-ECAT Motion Coordinator supports an expandable library of EtherCat digital drives and I/O modules, and can be mounted alongside compact EtherCat servodrives. A plug-and-play design detects and configures systems automatically.

The controller supports multi-axis motion control through linear, circular, helical or spherical interpolation, as well as electronic cams, linked axes, line shafts, gearing and similar functions. EtherCat slave drives and I/O can be connected and run in cyclic synchronous position, speed or torque modes.

At the heart of the controller is a 532MHz ARM processor, while 64-bit integer position registers provide high resolution and precision, making the system ideal for controlling tightly coordinated machines or robots with high axis counts.

Optional software modules allow the motion engine to control several robotic and kinematic transformations simultaneously, simplifying the programming of complex robotic systems.

Programming is similar to using traditional analogue axes with the added benefit of being able to set up drives and process alarms via EtherCat. The built-in Ethernet port allows direct connection and programming of common PLC and HMI protocols – including the Trio’s new Uniplay HMI.

Trio's MC4N-ECAT motion system handles 32 axes

Programs can be written in the multitasking TrioBasic language. Alternatively, the IEC 61131-3 languages can be used to deliver PLC functions.

The MC4N-ECAT is available in versions that support from 2–32 axes. All have 32 software axes, which can be used as virtual axes to simplify machine programming and synchronisation. Absolute or incremental encoders, stepper motors and laser controls can be connected directly via a “flexible axis port”. The controllers also include CAN, RS-232 and RS-485 ports, and 16 channels of 24V I/O.

As well as the EtherCAT bus, the MC4N-ECAT also offers built-in support for Ethernet-IP, Modbus TCP, Trio Active-X, UDP and TCP-IP. An SD card slot can be used to store machine data and auxiliary files, while a backlit display gives information on the I/O status, IP address and EtherCat bus status.

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