17 Jul 2019

INTEGRATION OF ECHORING: INTRODUCTION

Tech

 

Authors
Matthias Blankenburg

Xavier Bush
Jesper Lindstrom

 

This blog post is the start of our second series of Blog Posts about EchoRing. While the first series talked about the EchoRing technology itself, this second series of posts is about applications and use cases to which EchoRing brings enormous value. But before we dive deep into these use cases, we want to give you a brief overview of the different ways EchoRing integrates into your application.

 

 

How does EchoRing integrate into your application?

As a thorough reader of our tech blog, you already know that industrial automation demands both low-latency and highly reliable transmissions, all with reasonable data rates. And as you well know, EchoRing is a deterministic, wireless technology which incorporates massive cooperation to achieve similar performance to that of current wired solutions in the market. What might be new for you, is that EchoRing is a software-only solution that supports a variety of well-established industrial communications protocols, e.g., PROFINET, PROFIsafe, EtherNet/IP, SafetyNet and even more. All of this in nearly arbitrary environments. But the question is: How does EchoRing integrate into your application?

You have basically three options: integrate our customised driver into the operating system of your own already existing devices to improve your current WiFi’s reliability; use one of our platforms coming with our high-performance firmware with a specific wireless chipset from our Partner Texas Instruments; or if you are bold enough to take it to the extremes, we offer a deep integration of our firmware into your product.

 

 

Grades of EchoRing Integration into your products/applications 

 

EchoRing Driver

You are a well-established automation solution provider and offer your platform. In this case, we can help you integrate the EchoRing technology into your operating system via customer-specific drivers. Currently, we have drivers available for Linux Kernel 4.9 and FreeRTOS available. Any other OS could be supported with reasonable time efforts. This solution is as reliable as our hardware platforms. Regarding the latency performance, it will definitely improve your current solution yet it will not be as good as in our hardware platforms (that have a full firmware integration). The reason for this is that a driver installation cannot overrule certain behaviours of the wireless chipset. For instance, in the case of WiFi, the listen-before-talk mechanism will still be in place.

 

EchoRing Hardware Platforms

For the most advanced solution with the best performance, we are developing our hardware platforms, which comprise a commercially available off-the-shelf device and two modules for integration into your devices. Mix and match them as you need it.

 

EchoRing Wireless Bridge

You already have your own setup comprising PLCs and IO-Modules ready but want to get rid of the cables? Then our EchoRing Wireless Bridge is made for you since it is the best choice for industrial automation. It comes in a handy IP65 enclosure with two M12 Connectors for Ethernet and Power, respectively. You can also power it over Ethernet if you would like to. Its external Antenna gives you the freedom to place it anywhere you need it. Accessories for rail – wall-, and even pipe-mounting are available.

 

EchoRing™ Wireless Bridge connected to PLC

 

EchoRing M.2 Module

Are you using industrial PCs for your automation? Then take a look at whether it has a free M.2 interface available. In that case plug in our M.2 module, which is equipped with a Texas Instruments WiLink™ 8 Chip, and load the EchoRing firmware via SDIO. It already has an integrated antenna, but you could always connect an external antenna if you wanted. You have the option of taking our Linux driver or let us help you with driver development for your OS.

 

Left: EchoRing™ M.2 Module  –  Right: EchoRing™ M.2 Module Integrated in an IPC

 

EchoRing Radio Board Mini

You don’t have standard interfaces, nor much space available, because you are building, e.g. HMIs, and at the same time, you might be sceptical of a deep hardware integration? We have heard you. Our EchoRing Radio Board Mini with its 32mm x 30mm dimensions is the most compact, all-inclusive EchoRing module available and therefore might suit you best. Suitable for integration via miniature board to board connector into a variety of different devices, it comes with an STM microcontroller and a Texas Instruments WiLink™ 8 Chip with the EchoRing firmware. Plug an external antenna via a U.FL connector for the best signal strength. We will assist you with the integration process, the driver development and the conformance establishment.

 

Top: EchoRing™ Radio Board Mini (ERB Mini)  –  Bottom Left: ERB Mini in HMI  –  Bottom Right: ERB in AGV

 

Deep Hardware Integration

Firmware Update for COTS products: e.g. Liebherr Telematics Unit featuring EchoRing

Another way to use EchoRing straight away is by a complete firmware update of your wireless chipset. Currently, this option only works with devices that already use the WiLink™ 8 WiFi chipset of Texas Instruments. In this way, if you happen to have a device with that chipset, we could load the EchoRing firmware on your device.

An excellent example of this solution is the ruggedised case manufactured by our partner from the Liebherr-Electronics Telematics Business Unit. If you come from the construction or agriculture industries, this is your solution. As it comes with an NXP Freescale processor and as it has the Texas Instruments WiLink™ 8 Chip, the integration of EchoRing is as simple as a firmware update, as we said. With this telematic unit, you can use EchoRing under rough conditions and surprise us with your use case.

This platform can be directly acquired on the Liebherr website.

 

Liebherr Telematics Unit featuring EchoRing

 

Develop your own device with EchoRing in mind

You think the above mentioned doesn’t scale with your application, or you have even more revolutionary ideas than us? Consider an even deeper integration. But be aware that this will take considerably more time and effort. If there is a need for extensive hardware integration, we could always help with our reference PCB designs, which are the basis of our EchoRing Radio Board Mini and EchoRing Wireless Bridge. Here you have the unique opportunity to use our experience with Texas Instruments industrial-grade wireless chipset in combination with our high-performance EchoRing firmware for creating a totally individual product. Deeper integration is nearly impossible unless you have your wireless chip at hand. In this case, give us a shot; we are always ready when it comes to spreading the EchoRing technology and stir up the wireless revolution.

 

like it, want it… but can I test it before?

We are aware that EchoRing is new technology and sounds to be too good to be true. But everything starts with getting in touch and you can do this with the EchoRing Evaluation Kit. Take a look at the EchoRing Evaluation Kit product page and get in touch with us in case you want to receive more information about it.