Moog Animatics Combitronic

Introducing Combitronic™ 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:

G              Issue Go in local motor
G:2           Issue Go to Motor 2
G:0           Issue Global Go to all motors on the network
x=PA:5     Assign 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:5        If motor 3 position exceeds motor 5 position
            S:3             Stop 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.