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2022 review: another challenging year with a focus on supply chain management

January 3rd, 2023 No comments

Another year has passed that proved to be challenging for everyone in the position of buying semiconductor components or products based on them. Many of our customers and partners have their own stories to share about “creative solutions” to dealing with supply chain issues. Here is an example from one of our customers:

He approached us over a broken CANopen joystick – used in a very expensive machinery – and the machine could no longer be used. The joystick supplier was not able to deliver the joystick, but he could deliver a generic version without the CANopen interface, using digital and analog outputs instead. The question was, how fast could we modify the firmware of our CANopen generic I/O module so that it could be used with the generic joystick and then integrated into the machine.

Custom firmware requests are quite common, however usually combined with some volume purchase of the modules involved. Here, the required quantity was ‘one’.

Luckily the required changes were minimal and most settings could be made via the CANopen configuration (Node ID and bitrate settings, PDO communication and mapping settings). Within a few consulting hours, we were able to deliver a prototype based on our CANopenIA-M0 starter kit. After just one more minor re-configuration the system worked again. The starter kit was embedded in an industrial rugged housing and mounted into the machine near the operator – and it was back to work.

The CANopenIA-M0 starter kit used as a CANopen joystick interface

To ensure continuous availability of the CANopenIA modules we, like so many others in the industry, were forced to do a re-design – not necessarily to add new functionality, but just to have multiple sourcing options for the modules.

The new CANopenIA pin-compatible system on modules

As a result, within 2023 we expect that our proven and popular CANopenIA-M0 system- on-module will be available in a total of three hardware versions. The two new modules will offer 100% pin-by-pin backward compatibility. In addition, the latest version will not only support classical CANopen but also CANopen FD and provide direct access to faster and higher resolution analog inputs.

We wish our clients and partners a quiet and relaxing transition to 2023 and may the supply chain issues be less challenging this year.

Andy, Chris and Olaf

Instant Access to CANopen with CANopen IA modules

October 11th, 2021 No comments

Earlier this year, EmSA inherited the CANopen IA product line from ESSolutions. The product line goes back about 20 years and at the time the products were based on the Philip’s XA architecture. The current products are using the NXP LPC11Cxx microcontrollers (ARM Cortex M0). Right from the beginning, EmSA provided the firmware and support software for these products making EmSA a natural candidate to continue this product line after ESSolutions discontinued their operation.

The base product is a small (31.5 x 20mm) 48pin module offering 7 configurable ports with 4 connectors each. Depending on the port number, a port can be configured to be:

  • Digital input or output (4 signals)
  • Remote access (serial UART, TTL)
  • Internal analog input (4 times 8 or 10bit resolution)
  • External analog input (4 times 12bit, I2C connected external)
  • External analog output (4 times 12bit, I2C connected external)
New CANopen IA M0 Starter Kit

At EmSA, we now continuously enhance the features of this product line. The latest firmware release V2.2 added remote access support to a host system via a serial TTL channel. This allows the module to be used as a CANopen communication processor in systems that can use a regular serial channel to communicate with the communication processor. A further enhancement added 8bit resolution access to the analog inputs (default use is 10bit resolution) now supporting a variety of CANopen joystick implementations.

An easy entry starter kit is now available, offering basic access to the functionality provided by the CANopen IA M0 module. All 48 pins of the module are made available on standard header rows, all marked with the matching pin names. For quick tests, switches and LEDs can be connected to any of those pins using jumper cables provided.

A CANopen FD version of the module is currently under development and scheduled for release early 2022.

For more information, see:
www.canopenia.com
www.canopenstore.eu

From Embedded World: most “fun” evaluation board

March 5th, 2010 No comments

Whenever a new microcontroller generation comes out, developers and engineers look out for evaluation boards. In order to be able to test the microcontroller, it needs to be mounted on a PCB that has the required glue logic, power circuitry and connectors. For generations, these test boards were mostly “bare-naked” – without housing and only featuring components needed to test the microcontroller in certain types of applications. Over the last years more “attractive” variations of such boards have come to market, for example some looking like a custom USB stick.

Last year, Raisonance released products following a slightly different concept they named Primers, and the Primer2 won an EETimes product of the year 2009 award. These boards feature a complete housing, making them more attractive for various prototype developments. Through staging several design contests, many applications have been implemented and are now shared on the product’s web page. Applications include an alcohol meter, a CAN monitor, a GPS displaying OpenStreetMap data, various games and many more. Read more…