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Ethernet cable links IPCs to HMIs up to 100m away

12 April, 2013

At the recent Hannover Fair, Beckhoff announced a technology that allows an operator panel to be located up to 100m away from an industrial PC (IPC) and linked to it via standard Ethernet Cat 7 cable, thus cutting cabling and installation costs. The single-cable CP-Link 4 technology can carry DVI video signals, USB 2.0 serial communications and a 24V power supply, allowing the remote displays to be passive.

Beckhoff has integrated the technology into a new generation of multi-touch panels, available in built-in or mounting-arm versions. At the PC end of the cable, the connection is made either via a PCIe module slot or via transmitter boxes. CP-Link 4 needs no special software or drivers.

The use of Cat 7 cables has several advantages. They are low-cost, easy-to-install and are available in drag-chain versions. The field-configurable cables use standard plug connectors. Alternatively, pre-assembled cables are available as accessories.

The new connection technology is available in single- or dual cable versions. In the single-cable version, a transmitter box provides the power supply for the control panel. The box can be connected to any PC via a DVI and USB cable and needs a 24V supply.

In the dual-cable version, the power supply is separate and is switchable, and can be used for emergency stops with parallel wiring. In this version, the connection to the PC is made either via a PCIe module in the PC, or via a different transmitter box which is linked to the PC using DVI and USB.

Beckhoff launched its first version of CP-Link in 1998. This allowed operating panels to be located away from the PC for the first time. It used a pair of coaxial cables to bridge a distance of up to 100m between the PC and operator interface.

In 2006, the company announced a second generation of its display connection technology which broke the 5m limit on DVI/USB connections, allowing transmission distances of up to 50m between IPCs and operating panels. A third generation used software to allow up to 255 Ethernet panels to be connected using standard cables.

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