Elizabeth, EtherCAT is a good technology adaptation. It uses the lower levels of the OSI protocol model for Ethernet. Thus, it can use common Ethernet hardware. This brings down the cost dramatically. The upper levels are very different from what you have in your PC, but these are under program control, so the hardware is not affected.
The Aerotech offering, by smoothly integrating with development environments such as Visual Studio provides an easy path to integration.
Do you know of a way to attach to any of the industrial ethernet flavors without buying a 3rd party card (like the Hilscher card shown in the picture in this article)?
In theory, a "standard" ethernet port would suffice, but I don't know of any open source protocol stacks that implement the industrial ethernet protocols. It seems to be a cottage industry for people selling $500 to $700 PCI cards that implement the protocols.
If there is open source code available to allow communicating with Ethernet/IP or EtherCat, or any of the other industrial ethernet flavors, I would be interested in it.
I find it particularly frustrating that they sell Ethernet/IP as an "open" standard, yet you can't get the standard without paying for it, and/or becoming a member of the controlling organization. (OVDA)
I have used the Hilscher Cifx-50 series of cards for Ethernet/IP (and some other protocols). The slave card in low quantities is about $500, and the master is over $700. I'm pretty sure the physical port on the card is a standard Ethernet port. You are paying for the protocol stack.
naperlou, I agree. I recently read a paper regarding Germany's Research Center for Artificial Intelligence and the focus of their Smart Factory is to explore information and communication technologies. The tools of interest is smartphones and tablets and in the article it mentions using the ISO-OSI model. Although it wasn't discussed in the paper, the emphasis on the information and communications infrastructure for these mobile devices might be EtherCAT enabling the ISO-OSI model in their smart factory architecture.
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