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Q.series X: EtherCat INTERFACE


What is EtherCAT?

EtherCAT (Ethernet for Control Automation Technology) is a real-time Ethernet-based communication protocol developed specifically with industrial automation in mind and a disclosed protocol in the IEC standard IEC61158. Short cycle times (≤ 100 μs), low jitter (≤ 1 μs), and mainstream technology characterize EtherCAT. It suits hard and soft real-time environments within the measurement and automation technology industry.

Due to its high speed, efficient data exchange, and low implementation costs, EtherCAT has become one of the most popular networks for seamless integration between data acquisition and control systems from different manufacturers for ground vehicles, aerospace, and industrial testing applications.

The Q.series X product line is compatible with various Fieldbus standards and communication protocols. The Q.series X range of I/O modules that operate as individual EtherCAT slave devices is called Q.series XE.

What is Q.series XE?

Gantner Instruments’ range of I/O modules that operate as individual EtherCAT slave devices is called Q.series XE. The Q.series XE modules take the precision and high performance of Gantner’s renowned Q.series X modules and make them available to EtherCAT-based applications.

Similar to regular Q.series X modules, each Q.series XE module is available in different packing options; DIN rail mount (Q.bloxx XE), 19” rack mount (Q.raxx XE) or portable housing (Q.brixx XE). All I/O types are fully supported over EtherCAT, ranging from conventional inputs such as voltage, current, resistance, potentiometer, RTD, thermocouple, and strain gage to more advanced inputs like LVDT, IEPE, piezoelectric, optical fiber, and frequency counters. Also, the full range of I/O modules with 1500 VDC galvanic isolation is available with EtherCAT.

The Q.series XE range of modules comes with sample rates of up to 100 kS/s per input. For high-speed measurement applications over EtherCAT, the modules can be configured for oversampling following the EtherCAT XFC standard.

Q.series XE for EtherCAT
  • Full-range of Q.series X I/O modules available in XE version
  • Available in Q.bloxx, Q.brixx, and Q.raxx form factors
  • Pre-engineered onboard signal condition
  • ET1100 EtherCAT slave controller that is fully compliant with the EtherCAT slave implementation standard ETG.2200
  • Distributed Clock for precise data synchronization
  • XFC oversampling for data rates up to 100 kS/s
  • One bus coupler connects up to 10 I/O modules to the network
  • Drop-in replacement for Beckhoff industrial I/O

Why use Q.series XE?

Q.series XE addresses the three distinctive trends in data acquisition that bring unique challenges to efficient data acquisition via EtherCAT:

  1. Modularity for flexibility and easy scalability to reduce capital investment
  2. High-speed measurement for better data resolution
  3. Faster and more efficient handling of large data streams

All Q.series XE modules come with the ET1100 EtherCAT slave controller that fully complies with the EtherCAT slave implementation and distributed clock technology. The modules have an LVDS physical layer interface that connects via a Q.series XE Bus Coupler to the Ethernet network. One Bus Coupler can address up to 10 I/O modules.

EtherCat_Real-Time Ethernet_darft_new

All Q.series XE modules are flexible real-time measuring systems that can be configured:

  • Read / Write Configuration via SDO
  • Full access to object dictionary via SDOs
  • Object dictionary structure per “Modular Device Profile” spec
  • Device description via ESI file
  • CoE per “Modular Device Profile” (ETG.5001.1)
  • Flexible PDO mapping over CoE
  • File and firmware transfer with File Access over EtherCAT (FoE) (ETG.1000.5)
  • Configurable PDO mapping for optimized data throughput
  • Distributed Clock (DC) support for precise time synchronization (ETG.1020.0)
  • eXtreme Fast Control (XFC) oversampling technology for high-speed measurement (oscilloscope function)
  • Configuration software with full access to the module’s object dictionary, including design rule checks to prevent faulty module configuration

Also, Gantner offers the possibility to connect a dual-mode Q.series X DAQ system to the EtherCAT network as a single EtherCAT slave node. Check out the Q.station X EC. 

Flexible EtherCAT Network Architecture

Depending on the complexity of the application, user needs, and total cost of ownership, two different architectures should be considered. Gantner Instruments’ Q.series XE range of I/O modules are EtherCAT slave devices for maximum flexibility and customization. Alternatively, the Q.series XL range of I/O modules can be used as a standalone DAQ System with a controller that provides parallel communication to the EtherCAT network while benefiting from pre-engineered data acquisition functionality.

  • The Q.station X EC and Q.series XE BC (bus coupler) head modules are interchangeable to easily reconfigure an XL system into an XE system and vice versa.
  • Require a different firmware loaded on the I/O modules to adjust bus communication
  • Can be done on-site and “In situ”; no need to return the system to Gantner Instruments
Flexible EtherCAT Network Architecture_draft

Contact your local Gantner Instruments office to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of each solution for your situation.

What does the Q.series XE do?

The Q.station X EC connects up to 64 I/O modules for reliable 24/7 operation on an EtherCAT network. Create up to 20 independent, PC-less multifrequency data loggers up to 100 kS/s while measuring up to 100 kHz per channel and utilizing powerful arithmetic functions. Fieldbus interfaces for CAN, Modbus TCP/IP, Modbus RTU, PROFIBUS, PROFINET, and support for publish/subscribe and messaging protocols, e.g., OPC UA, DDS, and MQTT and custom controller plugins for customer-specific communication protocols.

What does the Q.station X EC do
  • For computer-independent data logging
  • Up to 64 I/O modules connectable
  • Distribute and Daisy Chain I/O modules or connect directly
  • Multiple sampling rates
  • RT Linux operating system for reliable 24/7 operation
  • CAN bus port (CAN-FD with external adapter)
  • ModbusTCP, Modbus RTU with external adapter, e.g., RS485 to USB
  • 2 USB ports for, e.g., GPS mouse
  • Time synchronization with NTP, PTP, IRIG
  • test.con available (XT-version)
  • Multiple interface options, e.g., OPC UA, DDS, and MQTT

Mixed-Signal, Multi-Frequency Data Buffering

The Q.series X data acquisition system has four internal data buffers that collect, buffer, and distribute data from the I/O modules, Fieldbus, publish-subscribe protocols, and custom plugins. Each data buffer can be configured with a unique sample rate for optimal bandwidth usage to optimize data throughput on the internal bus and the Ethernet network. This avoids low-frequency measurements transmitting through the system at the same frequency as high-speed measurements for mixed-signal data acquisition. For example, the DAQ system can have one data buffer for 10 Hz temperature data, one for 5000 Hz strain data, and one for 50 kHz vibration data.

All Q.series XE measurement modules include an EtherCAT interface allowing for flexible real-time measurement systems. Depending on the connection method, a degree of protection up to IP65 may be achieved for the modules.

Efficient Data Stream Processing

  • Software application for real-time data stream processing
  • Collect, process, and safely log data to different destinations
  • Concept is based on shared memory with multiple access points and avoiding redundant data transfer to optimize performance
  • Process data streams with joins, aggregations, filters, arithmetic calculations, etc.
  • API to interface with third-party data streams from external measurement & control devices

Whitepaper EtherCAT

Dive deeper into EtherCAT with our knowledge base.

Form Factors for EtherCAT

Similar to regular Q.series XL modules, each Q.series XE module is available in different packing options; DIN rail mount (Q.bloxx XE), 19” rack mount (Q.raxx XE) or portable housing (Q.brixx XE).

Your state-of-the-art testing lab deserves the best of both worlds!

Download our free case study to read about the new large-bearing test rig at the Fraunhofer Institute of Wind Energy Systems (IWES) that was designed and installed by engineering consultancy firm IDOM using an EtherCAT-based data acquisition system from Gantner Instruments.

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