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‘First’ NFC encoder avoids the need for set-up cables

12 June, 2023

The German encoder-maker Wachnendorff has developed what it claims is the world’s first incremental encoder that can be configured wirelessly from a smartphone using NFC (Near-Field Communications). It does away with the usual need for adapter cables and parameterisation boxes when setting pulses counts to customise an encoder for an application. The encoders will also be easier to modify at a later date.

NFC is a unpowered, wireless transmission technology. Wachnendorff has equipped its WDGN magnetic encoders with the chips needed to communicate with NFC-equipped devices such as smartphones. The encoder’s characteristics can be saved to an app on the phone and uploaded to the sensor via NFC.

Compared to Bluetooth and WLAN (both of which need power), NFC operates over a shorter range. It is thus less susceptible to interference and potential cyber-attacks. With NFC, parameter configuration can be performed at the machine.

Data transmission security is also guaranteed. Configuration of an encoder is only possible using a password. The communications with the encoder are encrypted, and different levels of access rights are protected by PINs.

There are several types of memory in the encoder. The device’s configuration details are stored in a microcontroller memory, as well as in the NFC memory. Using the NFC memory, configuration data can be read and transmitted even when the device is switched off. There is enough memory to allow for future expansion.

The technology can be used to set pulse rates down to one pulse per revolution. The 36mm- or 58mm-diameter encoders are based on a magnetic sensing technology and offer high accuracies and resolutions of up to 16,384 pulses per revolution.

Wachendorff’s incremental encoders are set up wirelessly set via NFC, instead of relying on adapter cables and parameterisation boxes

As well as avoiding the need for cables, the NFC technology has other potential benefits, such as reducing encoder stock levels and avoiding the risk of incorrect ordering. Configurations for different encoders can be stored in the app, which is available for Apple or Android devices. The software could also be used for other types of sensor and actuator.

The WDGN encoders offer a simple alternative for applications where IO-Link communications are not suitable. They are available in two versions. The Basic version has the standard incremental encoder channels (A, B, N) and inverted channels. The Advanced version allows four channels to be configured independently.

The encoders, available with solid or hollow shafts, handle loads of up to 300N. They can be supplied with M12 connectors or cable outlets, in radial or axial versions. Reverse polarity and short-circuit protection are provided for the full operating voltage range from 4.75–32V DC.


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