By Joana Bernardo on Tue 29 May 2018
Alicat flow meters or pressure controllers output a large amount of data that can be useful in multiple ways. Learn how you can benefit from choosing the right communication protocol for your application.
Alicat flow meters or pressure controllers output a large amount of data that can be useful in multiple ways. The most elementary way of communication would be through the LCD panel on the front of the device. Here you can choose to display different scientific parameters like: unit ID, absolute pressure, temperature, volumetric flow, mass flow, set point and gas type.
However more advanced communication features are also available like internet protocols, ethernet-based protocols, RS232, RS45, Modbus RTU, Modbus TCP/IP, DeviceNet, Profibus, EtherCAT, and analog signals like 4-20mA, 0-10 volt, or 0-5 volt.
Depending on your application it is important to choose the ideal form of communication and interaction with the instrument. According to Alicat, before deciding on which protocol to use, the customer needs to be mindful of the existing set up.
“For example, a small laboratory starting from scratch interested in getting the experiment up and running quickly would be best served using RS232 connected to a computer. Even more simply, they could use the six buttons on the front panel, right out of the box. However, if a large factory is integrating an Alicat into a system with potentially hundreds of other existing devices on a common network, we can usually accommodate the protocol that allows the device to integrate into the factory’s system.”
- RS232 is the most feature-rich way to digitally communicate with your Alicat devices, (through a standard DB9 cable);
- RS485 if you need to run a line for thousands of feet.
- Internet protocols, ethernet-based protocols, Modbus RTU, Modbus TCP/IP, DeviceNet, Profibus, EtherCAT (to communicate with other equipment and/or networks);
- Analog signals like 4-20mA, 0-10 volt or 0-5 volt (to accommodate legacy systems);
Alicat has engineered a multi-drop version of their communication language that allows up to 26 devices to talk on the same RS232 network in parallel. “By assigning each with a letter of the alphabet, the named instruments will only respond when they are addressed by their corresponding letter.”
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