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All About CAN Bus Devices

August 15, 2023

Controller Area Network (CAN) refers to a high-integrity serial communications protocol that facilitates interactions between electronic controls, sensors, and electromechanical devices in a system. The network standard accommodates the need for real-time control and secure transmission. While it was originally designed for use in vehicles, its ruggedness and dependability have led to its increasing employment in mobile power equipment.

Below we provide an overview of CAN bus devices, including how they work, what advantages they offer, and what products are available at Trombetta.

What Are CAN Bus Devices?

CAN bus devices feature a multiplex wiring system that connects to each node (i.e., connected unit) in a network and allows them to communicate with each other. Compared to conventional wiring standards that require multiple point-to-point signal lines to send data to and from each node, this standard allows for quick and reliable transmission using two centralized wires.

One wire is referred to as CAN high and the other as CAN low. These two wires provide a link between the CAN controller unit and all of the nodes on the network. Since the controller and nodes are all connected in parallel, data can be transmitted or received by all the nodes in a system at all times. However, they are designed to respond to a signal only when they detect their unique identifier.

Advantages of CAN Bus Devices

When integrated into electronic networks, CAN bus devices offer the following advantages:

Lower Costs

CAN based systems cut down on the amount of wiring needed for reliable communication between electronic modules and other devices and gives localized control to reduce voltage losses due to long runs of higher current connections. A secondary benefit of reduced wiring is a decrease in vehicle weight.

Better Error-Detection Capabilities

CAN bus devices use a non-destructive bitwise arbitration technique to help prioritize which nodes should send and receive messages. Each node is also designed to check for errors in transmission and, if an error is detected, raise its error counter. In the event of an error, the offending node is blocked from participating in further network communications to prevent additional signal transmission errors.

Greater Robustness

In communication systems, durability and reliability are critical. CAN bus devices are a robust solution that offers superior error detection capabilities and resistance to electrical disturbances. They can operate reliably in rugged environments with little to no outside maintenance or intervention.

Faster Signal Transmission Speeds

CAN bus devices operate within several standardized protocols, each of which offers unique characteristics that make them suitable for different applications:

  • SAE J1939 is a standard in-vehicle network for light, medium, and heavy duty vehicles.
  • CANopen is a standard used widely in embedded control applications including industrial automation.
  • NMEA2000 is a standard designed for marine applications.
  • CAN FD is a standard that allows greater data bytes per frame for improved communication efficiency in more complex systems.

Higher Reliability & Flexibility

CAN is a message-based transmission protocol, which means nodes can be removed or added without updating the network’s hardware or software. This quality allows network engineers to freely and easily tailor the system to meet changing needs.

CAN Bus Devices From SMP Engineered Solutions

At SMP Engineered Solutions, we are a leading supplier of DC power switching and power management products for mobile equipment. Our offerings include reliable and rugged CAN devices suitable for use in some of the harshest environments. We offer J1939, CANopen, and NMEA2000 peripheral devices including input and output modules, keypads, sensors, and gateway modules. To learn more about CAN devices and how they can benefit your system, visit our product page or contact us today.

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