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I/O ‘brains’ support multi-drop networks on standard Ethernet

10 April, 2007

The Californian automation specialist Opto 22 has unveiled a new generation of controllers, I/O, motion control sub-systems, and software, said to make it easier to choose, install and apply industrial automation systems.

Opto 22 Snap pac

A key element of the new Snap Pac system are I/O "brains" – networked I/O processors that are claimed to make designing Ethernet-based, remote, distributed I/O systems easier and more cost-effective. The brains incorporate dual, switched 10/100Mb/s Ethernet interfaces that allow multi-drop I/O networks to be built using standard Ethernet cable. The brains can be daisy-chained in a similar way to multi-drop serial I/O networks. The built-in Ethernet switches reduce the need for external switches and for the long cable runs associated with traditional star-shaped Ethernet networks.

The brains contain processors that can offload time-critical tasks from host controllers or PCs. They provide functions such as counting, latching, PID loop control, scaling, engineering unit conversion and ramping. Each brain can address a mix of up to 512 points of analogue, digital, serial and special-purpose I/O in one rack.

The brains are designed to be used with Opto 22’s Snap Pac programmable automation controllers.

The motion control sub-system consists of a host module – in the same form factor as other Snap Pac I/O – which can communicate with up to 16 stepper axes via up to four breakout boards. The sub-system can act as a distributed, intelligent motion system claimed to deliver higher performance than traditional single-CPU motion controls. It supports commands that can define and acquire motion data such as position, velocity, and acceleration, as well as executing actions such as smooth or sudden stops, steps and position adjustments.

The Snap Pac system also include high-density I/O modules said to cut system costs by up to 400% compared to earlier Opto 22 I/O, while reducing panel space requirements.

Opto 22 snap pac simulator

Another key element is a software package called Snap Pac Sim (above) that provides the functions of a Snap Pac programmable automation controller on a Windows PC without needing an external hardware controller. A companion software suite called PAC Project, is claimed to make it easier to develop applications for automation, control, data acquisition and remote monitoring.

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