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Ethernet-based I/O expansion devices

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NATIONAL Instruments has announced two new Ethernet- and serial-based NI Compact FieldPoint network interfaces that engineers and scientists can use to expand the I/O in any PC or programmable automation controller (PAC).

The new National Instruments cFP-1804 four-slot and the cFP-1808 eight-slot interfaces offer five standard protocols for open connectivity with industrial platforms and make it even easier for engineers to integrate more than 30 Compact FieldPoint industrial I/O modules into their systems with industry standards including TCP/IP, Modbus and Optomux.

The NI cFP-1804 and cFP-1808 natively communicate with a variety of protocols running on RS232 serial or Ethernet, including Modbus RTU, Modbus TCP, Modbus ASCII, Optomux and National Instruments event-driven protocol.

Engineers and scientists can easily add expansion I/O to most software packages including National Instruments LabVIEW by selecting the correct Modbus register address and then accessing the I/O from the Compact FieldPoint bank.

The Compact FieldPoint product line also includes a free OPC server that makes it simple to add I/O to any OPC-compliant software package.

Engineers can choose from a wide range of Compact FieldPoint modules including analogue input and output, thermocouple, RTD, strain, high current relay and digital I/O.

The Compact FieldPoint platform provides extended operating temperatures - from -40° to 70°C - and Class I, Division 2 industrial ratings. The system contains built-in diagnostics for network failures and provides a network watchdog to set values to a safe state and power-up states.

In addition, it is now even easier to add Ethernet-based communication to PAC systems by using the new NI LabVIEW 8 graphical programming environment. Engineers can add I/O - including Compact FieldPoint, NI CompactRIO and NI CompactVision System modules - with the LabVIEW Project, a new project-based environment for managing large applications in LabVIEW 8.

By using the simple drag-and-drop FieldPoint API, engineers select the appropriate I/O channel from the cFP-1804 or cFP-1808 and then instantly add it to the LabVIEW block diagram targeted to a PC or Compact FieldPoint real-time controller.

Engineers also can easily add expansion I/O from distributed NI PAC systems, including CompactRIO, with the LabVIEW shared variable.

The Compact FieldPoint platform is ideal for high-vibration applications, withstanding 50g of shock and 5g of rms vibration, even when mounted on heavy machinery or in vehicles.

Compact FieldPoint operates in temperatures ranging from -40°C to 70°C, so users can run embedded LabVIEW applications in extreme environments where many industrial PCs fail.

Compact FieldPoint and FieldPoint modules are categorised in a new programmable controller option called a PAC, an embedded industrial platform that combines the best features of the PC - such as the processor, RAM and powerful software - with the reliability, ruggedness and distributed nature of the PLC.

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