ICOP’s “QEC” EtherCAT Solution, Combined with Virtual Programming and Database Libraries, Accelerates Your Industry 4.0 Process

December 01, 2022

Smart manufacturing has become a global trend, and labor shortages have become the norm. Due to the lack of engineers, the urgent need for non-traditional engineers to write simple automation programs to upgrade to Industry 4.0 has become more popular.

To address these needs, ICOP has developed a complete EtherCAT solution that allows for a quick promotion to real-time Industry 4.0 with "Industrial Arduino-based graphical software tools and SQL libraries".


EtherCAT is a real-time Industrial Ethernet technology originally developed by Beckhoff Automation and maintained by the ETG (EtherCAT Technology Group). The EtherCAT protocol disclosed in the IEC standard IEC61158 is suitable for hard and soft real-time requirements in automation technology, test and measurement, and many other applications.

The main focus during the development of EtherCAT was on short cycle times (≤ 100 µs), low jitter for accurate synchronization (≤ 1 µs), and low hardware costs.

EtherCAT has the following features:

  • Flexible Topology
  • High Speed Performance
  • Distributed Clocks for High-Precision Synchronization

Through addressing mode of EtherCAT and the memory control technology “Fieldbus Memory Management unit (FMMU)” performed by EC-Slaves hardware, we can exchange all data synchronically from all ECAT-Slaves on bus by just passing one single internet packet.

The EtherCAT slaves are usually equipped with EtherCAT Slave IC (so-called ESC). With the FMMU technology, the exchange of 1000 unit I/O data can be finished within only 30us. Data for 100 axis servo motor can be exchanged only within 100 us. Please refer to the table below. (According to ETG data, EtherCAT Performance overview. Source of information:

Process Data Update Time
256 distributed digital I/O 11μs
1000 distributed digital I/O 30μs
200 channels analog I/O (16 Bits) 50μs ( =20kHz )
100 servo axis (8 Bytes Input and output per axis) 100μs
1 Fieldbus Master-Gateway (1486 Bytes Input and 1486 Bytes output data) 150μs

Read More: The Benefits of Using the EtherCAT Transmission Standard

QEC Provides a Full Solution for EtherCAT and Monitors Carbon Footprint (Output) in Real-Time IIOT Systems.

QEC offers a complete solution for EtherCAT, including EtherCAT Master and common EtherCAT Slave modules (e.g., Digital I/O, Analog I/O, RS232/485, converters, motion controller/drivers, etc.); highly integrated hardware and software for a wide range of industrial automation applications, creating a more economical industrial IoT smart technology

QEC Products:

QEC Hardware Features:

  1. All QEC series adopt recyclable metal cases.
  2. Supports two mutually isolated power inputs, Vs and Vp (5V-56Vdc).
  3. RJ-45 network supports 24V/3A power supplies and automatically switches ORing power supply systems.
  4. Hardware internal status voltage, current, and internal working temperature monitoring, provide carbon emissions calculations for industrial manufacturing products, further assisting product carbon footprint tracking.
  5. Supports EtherCAT Cable Redundancy so the system would not crash even when one network fails.
  6. When the EtherCAT network is disconnected, or an error occurs, the LED will flash or stay on, and an error code will be displayed on the programming layer.
  7. Multi-colored terminal blocks use color-coded distinguishing methods, making them easy to identify and saving time during installation while significantly reducing the chance of human error. Further saves labor and time costs of deploying EtherCAT devices for businesses.

Read More: The Advantages of using the QEC family of EtherCAT products

QEC supports Real-time Operations:

The QEC-M series is an EtherCAT master that uses a dual-core, independently operating DM&P Vortex86EX2 processor for real-time, reliable synchronous EtherCAT control. The master core of the processor serves as the Arduino development environment; the slave core of the processor serves as the Real-time EtherCAT master. The two cores exchange data via Inter-Processors Communications (IPC).

  • CPU Master:
    The master core serves as the development environment for 86Duino (Arduino) applications; all development programs in the IDE will be processed in the master core. The master core will collect/exchange data of the slave core, like connecting to an external network via Ethernet and uploading the data collected by the slaves to a remote server or database (e.g., Apache, MySQL, MariaDB).
  • CPU Slave:
    The slave core is the EtherCAT Master driver core of the QEC-M, with real-time and precise synchronization features; it can collect/exchange real-time data from EtherCAT Slaves, and the data will be exchanged with the master core of the processor via IPC.

Read More: QEC — EtherCAT Master’s Benchmark

QEC Supports Complete Real-Time Industry 4.0 with Industrial Arduino

QEC uses the hardware foundation of the famous industrial Ethernet technology, EtherCAT. In addition to providing a complete solution for EtherCAT, and also supports the Industrial Arduino's development environment.

Users can go through the 86Duino IDE's rich built-in library of examples, functions, and graphical programming tools to reduce the development time and engineering staff threshold. Besides, users can also use MySQL libraries to build the Big-data database and quickly upgrade to real-time IIoT.

Easy to develop EtherCAT

Most industrial applications require high precision and synchronous operation speed, which is highly complex and has a long development cycle. However, by using the QEC-supported 86Duino IDE (Industrial-Arduino), a dedicated EtherCAT library will provide rich Arduino APIs for programming and EtherCAT system operation.

In addition to common basic functions, such as digital control, analog control, etc., there are also large numbers of open-source function libraries and examples for developers to use, such as Ethernet, SPI, Serial, or Modbus, including the LVGL Lightweight Graphics Library for creating user interfaces and MySQL functions.

Users can also develop their system via the graphical EtherCAT configuration tool, 86EVA (EtherCAT-Based Virtual Arduino), which can be used to configure EtherCAT Master and Slaves quickly.

Lastly, users will be able to develop a complete system by using the ideal QEC Low-Code development platform consisting of the GUI design aid, HMI Editor, and the drag-and-drop program builder, ArduBlock.


QEC Low-Code Development Kit User Operation Step-by-Step Video

QEC Online Resource

ICOP's QEC provides a complete set of open software resources for developers.

The 86Duino environment can be extended through the use of libraries, just like most programming platforms. Libraries provide extra functionality for use in sketches, e.g., working with hardware or manipulating data. A number of libraries come installed with the IDE, and 86Duino supports most of the Arduino Standard Libraries as well as provides dedicated libraries to utilize the 86Duino-specific hardware functions.

You can also download or create your own libraries. See these instructions for details on installing libraries. There’s also a tutorial on writing your own libraries; and further, you may refer to Arduino’s API Style Guide for some guidelines on making a good Arduino-style API for your library.

Supported Arduino Standard Libraries

  • EEPROM – reading and writing to “permanent” storage
  • Ethernet – for connecting to the internet using the on-board LAN connector
  • Firmata – for communicating with applications on the computer using a standard serial protocol
  • LiquidCrystal – for controlling liquid crystal displays (LCDs)
  • SD – for reading and writing SD cards
  • Servo – for controlling servo motors
  • SPI – for communicating with devices using the Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) Bus
  • SoftwareSerial – for software-implemented serial communication on digital pins
  • Stepper – for controlling stepper motors
  • Wire – Two Wire Interface (TWI/I2C) for sending and receiving data over a net of devices or sensors

86Duino Only Libraries

  • Motion86 – making 86Duino as a multi-axis motion controller
  • Modbus – for communicating with various Modbus ASCII/RTU/TCP devices
  • CANBus – for communicating with devices that use the Controller Area Network (CAN Bus)
  • FirmataPlus86 – connecting 86Duino with Scratch
  • Servo86 – an extended servo-motor library for controlling robot motion
  • AIServo86 – a serial-servo-motor library for controlling robot motion

EtherCAT Libraries

Supported (Non-standard) Arduino Libraries

  • Audio – access the onboard HD Audio interface by the API of Arduino Due’s Audio library
  • TimerOne – access 86Duino’s 32-bit hardware timer by the API of the Arduino TimerOne library
  • MsTimer2 – access 86Duino’s second hardware timer by the API of the Arduino MsTimer2 library
  • Time86 – read the on-board RTC timer by the API of the Arduino Time library

See also the list of other Arduino third-party libraries that are compatible with 86Duino.

Read More: QEC 86Duino Libraries Reference

For more info and sample request, please write to, call your nearest ICOP Branch, or contact our Worldwide Official Distributor.