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CANopen Industrial Communication Protocol

CANopen Industrial Communication Protocol


CANopen is a high-level communication protocol based on Controller Area Network (CAN), including communication sub-protocol and device sub-protocol. It is often used in embedded systems and is also a field bus commonly used in industrial control.



CANopen implements the protocols above the network layer in the OSI model.


The CANopen standard includes an addressing scheme, several small communication sub-protocols, and an application layer defined by the device sub-protocol.


CANopen supports network management, device monitoring and communication between nodes, including a simple transport layer that handles segmented transfers of data and their combinations. Generally speaking, the data link layer and physical layer will be implemented with CAN.


In addition to CANopen, there are other communication protocols (such as EtherCAT) that implement CANopen's device sub-protocol.

CANopen is drafted and reviewed by the non-profit organization CiA (CAN in Automation). The basic CANopen devices and communication sub-protocols are defined in CAN in Automation (CiA) draft standard 301.


The device-specific sub-protocols are based on the CiA 301 and are extended. Such as CiA401 for I/O modules and CiA402 for motion control.


The following are the features that all CANopen devices must have :


Communication unit Handles the communication protocol required to communicate with other modules on the network.


The startup and reset of the device is controlled by a state machine.


The state machine needs to include the following states: Initialization, Pre-operational, Operational and Stopped.


When a Network Management (NMT) communication object is received, the state machine transitions to the corresponding state. The Object Dictionary is a variable array with a 16-bit index (Index).


Each variable can (but is not required to) have an 8-bit subindex. Variables can be used to adjust the configuration of the device, and can also correspond to the data measured by the device or the output of the device.


When the state machine is set to operational, the application part of the device will implement the expected function of the device. This part can be adjusted by variables in the object dictionary, and the data is sent or received by the communication layer.


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