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A dedicated Mini-EtherCAT master for machine motion control

02 January 2014

Trio Motion’s MC4N-Mini EtherCAT master is a new concept for its high performance Motion Coordinator series motion and machine controllers.

The EtherCAT dedicated controller can handle up to 32 axes of servo or stepper drives and 1024 machine I/O points. The MC4N-ECAT’s built-in expandable library of the market leading EtherCAT digital drives and I/O modules allow systems to be automatically detected and configured in a plug and play way that is not usually available for this open and increasingly popular protocol.

Featuring an updated configuration of the 532MHz ARM 11 processor, the ultra-fast MC4N-ECAT includes 64-bit integer position registers for extremely high resolution and precision accuracy - making it ideal for high axis count tightly coordinated machines or robotic applications.

Like all Trio Motion Coordinators, the new MC4N-ECAT supports multi-axis motion control through linear, circular, helical or spherical interpolation in addition to electronic cams, linked axes, line shaft, gearing functions and more.  EtherCAT slave drives and I/O can be connected and run in cyclic synchronous position, speed or torque modes provided these are supported by the drive.

Furthermore, optional software modules allow the powerful motion engine to control multiple robotic and kinematic transformations to run simultaneously, enabling the simplified programming of otherwise complex robotic motion systems including Parallel 2-Arm, Delta 3-Arm, Wire Positioning, 6 Axis Anthropomorphic and SCARA geometries.

Programming the MC4N-ECAT is straightforward and in essence identical to using traditional analogue axes with the additional benefits of being able to set up drives and process alarms over the EtherCAT bus.

The built-in Ethernet port allows programming and connection of common PLC and HMI protocols, including the new Trio Uniplay HMI, directly to the MC4N-ECAT.  Programs can be written in Trio’s multi-tasking TrioBASIC language using the powerful Motion Perfect v3 application development software, or users may choose the optional industry standard IEC 61131-3 languages to allow a fully functional PLC programming system.  With everything programmed from one place, machine control has never been so simple.

Versions of the MC4N-ECAT are available for 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32 motor axes.  All versions feature 32 software axes which may be used as virtual axes to simplify machine programming and synchronisation.

The controller has a built-in “Flexible Axis Port” for direct connection of absolute or incremental encoders, stepper motors and laser controls; also built-in is a CAN port, RS232, RS485 and 16 channels of 24v I/O.

In addition to the EtherCAT bus the MC4N-ECAT has a factory communication Ethernet port with built-in support for Ethernet-IP, Modbus TCP, Trio Active-X, UDP and TCP-IP.  A full size SD card slot provides a high capacity storage location for machine data and auxiliary files whilst an easy to read backlit display gives information about the I/O status, IP address and EtherCAT bus status.

The MC4N-ECAT has been designed to be mounted alongside compact EtherCAT servo drives.  The case features a cast metal backplate for effective earthing and to ensure high noise rejection in the industrial environment.

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