EtherCAT and EtherLab

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Why EtherCAT in Symbitron?

For Symbitron a solution was sought that would enable [real-time] control, using small and modular components. Use of industry-standard protocols was considered beneficial to be able to use OEM components. A major requirement was to minimize the amount of cabling through our exoskeleton. Due to the positive experience with EtherCAT in the [Mindwalker project], EtherCAT was chosen as communication standard in our setups.

Why EtherLab in Symbitron?

To control EtherCAT slaves, an EtherCAT master is needed. This is a piece of software that runs on a PC, and controls all the EtherCAT slaves. We had the following requirements:

  • Should run on a real-time OS
  • Have good support
  • Interface to Simulink
  • Easy to port to all partners within the project

[EtherLab] described by its maintainers: "Basically EtherLab® works as a Real Time kernel module attached to the open source operating system Linux® communicating with peripherals devices by a special Ethernet technology, known as EtherCAT®."

Way of Work

This Wiki documents how EtherLab is used in the Symbitron project.