Introducing ™ Communications

High Speed Transparent Communications over CAN bus

Animatics Corporation has introduced a significant advancement in Integrated Motor Technology. Combitronic™ is a protocol that operates over a standard “CAN” (Controller Area Network) interface. It may coexist with either CANopen or DeviceNet protocols at the same time. Unlike these common protocols however, Combitronic™ requires no single dedicated master to operate. Each Integrated Servo connected to the same network communicates on an equal footing, sharing all information, and therefore, sharing all processing resources. Combitronic communications operate over a standard “CAN” interface, the same basic hardware used in most automobiles as well as in familiar industrial networks such as CANopen and DeviceNet. Unlike these common control networks, however, Combitronic has no master or slave.

An array of Animatics SmartMotor servos become one giant parallel-processing system when equipped with the Combitronic™ interface. This powerful technological advancement provides the joint benefits of centralized and distributed control while eliminating their respective historical drawbacks, opening up the possibility to either:

  • Eliminate PLCs from machine designs
  • or
  • Enhancing the performance of existing PLCs by unburden­ing it from specific tasks


The optional Combitronic™ technology allows any motor’s program to read from, write to, or control any other motor simply by tagging a local variable or command with the other motor’s CAN address. All SmartMotor™ units become one multi-tasking, data-sharing system without writing a single line of communications code or requiring detailed knowledge of the CAN protocol. The only prerequisite is to have matched baud rates and unique addresses.

Up to 120 SmartMotor servos may be addressed on a single array using Combitronic technology.

Combitronic Protocol features:

  • 120 axis node count
  • 1MHz Bandwidth
  • No Master required
  • No scan list or node list set up required
  • All Nodes have full read/write access to all other nodes

For example, SmartMotor servos use a single letter command to start a motion profile, so a line of code to start a motion profile would look like this:

GIssue Go in local motor
G:2Issue Go to Motor 2
G:0Issue Global Go to all motors on the network
x=PA:5Assign Motor 5 Actual position to the variable “x”

Additionally, comparisons or live polling and value comparisons may be made across the bus:

IF PA:3>PA:5If motor 3 position exceeds motor 5 position
S:3Stop motor 3
WHILE IN (4) : 2==0 LOOP Wait for Input 4 of motor 2 to go high



Integrated Servo and network communication technologies are advancing quickly, primarily for the purpose of reducing the complexity of machinery. Fewer components operating more intelligently, and more automatically, deliver many benefits:

1) Reduced Size

Compressing the controls into the motors themselves reduces or eliminates the control cabinet, making the machine much smaller

2) Reduced Cost

Fewer components and no cabinet cut costs dramatically

3) Reduced Development Time

Fewer components to specify, purchase, learn and mount make for dramatically reduced development cycles, getting to market faster, generating revenue sooner and producing a compelling competitive advantage.

4) Reduced Field Service

Machine repair moves from debugging a cabinet full of wires and controls, to a simple component swap of motors and standard cables.

5) Reduced Down-Time

Keeping component spares on-hand can virtually eliminate down-time. A traditional control can only be debugged in the cabinet while the machine is down and the factory processes stopped. An Integrated Motor or simple “Y” cable can be swapped out immediately. The faulty component can be debugged, or simply sent back to the manufacturer for analysis and repair – while the machine continues to produce.

6) Increased Reliability

The fewer components a machine has, the more reliable it is. Also, an Integrated Servo based machine design has considerably less wiring, and wiring is the chief source of failure in most machines.

7) Increased Versatility

A cabinet-based, separate control approach makes machine design change or expansion extremely problematic. Adding additional axes of separate drives, for example, can be difficult where cabinet space is limited, whereas adding additional Integrated Servos is trivial, and with the additional axes, come additional I/O points and additional processing power, automatically.

Integrated Motors are available from Dozens of manufacturers, ranging from very low-cost open-loop step motors to very fast, high-performance closed-loop servos. Different manufacturers offer different slants on the solutions. The integrated motor market segment is growing faster than the general industry and the technology is transforming how equipment is designed, manufactured and supported in the field. The Combitronic function represents a leap as significant as the Integrated Motors themselves.

Linear Interpolation

Animatics has broken down the barrier between multiple integrated motors and introduced a simple command structure that allows any one SmartMotorto command linear Interpolated paths across multiple motors at once.

The Synchronized Motion command set opens the door to direct control without the need for any centralized processor.

The user may command Path Velocity, Acceleration, Deceleration and Target points in 3 Cartesian dimensions.

Dual Axis Example: (Absolute Move)

a=1 b=2 'Motor addresses, x and y
x=123000 'X Axis Target Position
y=20000 'Y Axis Target Position
VTS=100000 'set path velocity
ATS=1000 'set path acceleration
DTS=100 'set path deceleration
PTS(x;a,y;b) 'set 2-axis synchronized target position
GS 'Go, 2-axis linear interpolation
TSWAIT 'Wait until 2 axis move is complete

Dual Axis Example: (Relative Move Syntax)

PTRS(x;a,y;b) 'set 2-axis synchronized Relative Target position

Three Axis XYZ Example

a=1 b=2 c=3 'Motor addresses, x, y and z
x=123000 'X Axis Target Position
y=20000 'Y Axis Target Position
z=8000 'Z Axis Target Position
PTS(x;a,y;b, z;c) 'set 3-axis synchronized target position
GS 'Go, 3-axis linear interpolation
TSWAIT 'Wait until 3 axis move is complete


Four Axis X1, X2, Y, Z Example

a=1 b=2 c=3 'Motor addresses, x, y and z
u=4 'Motor address, x slave (parallel X axis)
x=123000 'X Axis Target Position
y=20000 'Y Axis Target Position
z=8000 'Z Axis Target Position
PTS(x;a;u,y;b,z;c) 'set 4-axis including x slave
GS 'Go, 3-axis +slave X axis
TSWAIT 'Wait until all axis move is complete

Synchronized commands allow up to 3 pairs of motors for X, Y and Z for large parallel axis gantry systems with 2 motors per axis:

PTS(x;a;u,y;b;v,z;c;z) 'set 6-axis including x slave, y slave, z slave
GS 'Go, 3-axis primaries x, y, z, + slaves: u, v, and w
TSWAIT 'Wait until all axis move is complete

Supplemental Axis syntax allows for additional motors above and beyond that will start and stop and the exact same time as the main motors: These motors could be rotary axis, pumps, etc….

PTS(x;a,y;b,z;c) 'set 3-axis X, Y, Z
PTSS(j,q) 'set supplemental axis q to j absolute position
PRTSS(k,r) 'set supplemental axis r, k relative distance
GS 'Go, all 5 motors
TSWAIT 'Wait until all moves are complete


In the event that a PC or HMI is desired to control a large number of SmartMotor servos, but RS232 is desired to save the cost of direct CANbus interfacing to the newtork, any SmartMotor may be used as master access via RS232 to all Combitronic motors on its network. The following demostrat 12 motors in a network where 4 SmartMotors are in a serial daisy chain over RS232. Each of those 4 may have up to 119 motors on its Combitronic network.

The Controlling PC may freely access and control all motors via a single standard RS232 serial port.

Video Demo

Sinusoidal Oscillation Mode

This is a free running cam mode off of an internal virtual axis control. The motors move sequentially, with the farthest left motor as the master, to create a wave motion.

Application: Pressing out large sheets of metal as you move toward the edge or pressing out bubbles in sheet vacuum forming processes.

Short, quick moves in Sinusoidal Oscillation Mode

Showing that a single SmartMotor can control all other SmartMotors separately, sequentially, or globally at the same time.

Application: Mechanical distribution for parts selection, parts transfer and stop gate motion on a conveyor belt or sequential valve control.

Global Addressing with Synch Commands

The master SmartMotor is moving the other five motors together, all starting and stopping at the same time. Synch commands allow for the same start and stop time. The distance they all moved in this example determined ahead of time.

Application: Capping applications or fillings applications

Group Addressing with Synch Commands & Random Number Generator

The SmartMotors have been split of into two groups of three. Each of the two groups has coordinated start and stop times with the Synch commands, but one group moves up while the other group moves down. The distance that the carriage moves along the screw was produced by a random number generator in the SMI program.

Application: Random thread defects in blue jean manufacturing, quality inspection of random pieces traveling down a conveyor belt, or positioning inspection cameras over carpet to check for thread defects.


Combitronic Technology Documents

Understanding Combitronic Technology Presentation:

Understanding Combitronic Technology Technical Paper:

Understanding Combitronic Motor Addressing KB Article:

Related Manuals