Austin-based Esmacat, a spinoff company from Harmonic Bionics, is set to release their EASE (EtherCAT Arduino Shield by Esmacat) shield capable of controlling an entire Arduino ecosystem. EASE offers the same Arduino Uno form factor, and stacks like any other shield. However, this one features the EtherCAT (Ethernet for Control Automation Technology) protocol, which is an industrial Fieldbus designed for automation applications.
Esmacat explains, “The base board can read and write a data packet from EASE via SPI, and the same data packet is also read and written by an EtherCAT Master via a standard EtherCAT protocol which is an industrial Fieldbus for high-performance robotics. Multiple EASE boards can be connected with Ethernet cables with a daisy-chain topology, and the power of the system is supplied over Ethernet cables with Power-over-EtherCAT technology.”
The EASE shield bridges the data packets between an EtherCAT-based host board and multiple Arduino (or similar) slave SBCs, which is significantly faster than CAN-bus (200 times faster) and the traditional RS232 serial gateway (1000 times faster).
AB&T Tecnologie Informatiche offers a similar board with the EasyCAT Arduino Shield, which looks nearly identical to the EASE board but offers a touch TFT display option, which could come in handy.
There’s no word yet on the price of shield, however those interested can sign up to receive updates and a notification of when it launches on Crowd Supply in early January.
UPDATE: Esmacat's EASE is now live on Crowd Supply with a price tag of $80.