FAQ: Technical update for EtherCAT on Alicat

What is EtherCAT?

EtherCAT is a high performance Industrial Ethernet technology with a flexible topology. It was introduced in 2003 by Beckhoff Automation.

How is EtherCAT different from other industrial protocols?

EtherCAT’s key functional principle lies in how its nodes process Ethernet frames: each node reads data addressed to it and writes its data back to the frame all while the frame is moving downstream. This leads to improved bandwidth utilization while also eliminating need for switches and hubs.

Which products can have EtherCAT installed?

EtherCAT is available on most of Alicat Scientific mass flow and pressure devices:

  • Mass flow controllers and meters (MC and M series)
  • Pressure controllers and gages (PC and P series)
  • Whisper low drop products
  • Liquid meters and controllers

Which products do not include EtherCAT as an option?

  • BASIS and EPC OEM instruments
  • Class 1 Div. 2 area instruments
  • Portable instruments
Communications and power Mass flow meter or mass flow controller with EtherCAT
Digital Outputs EtherCAT (sent to EtherCAT master)
Analog Outputs None
Electrical Connections Barrel jack for power + Dual RJ-45 to allow EtherCAT Cable redundancy  + ERR and RUN LEDs
Supply Voltage 7 to 30 Vdc
Supply Current Adds up to 60 mA current at 24 V to standard specification, which is about 40 mA on mass flow meters. Mass flow controllers draw more current to drive the valves and this will vary based on configuration.

Do I still have a choice of gases and gas mixed on EtherCAT equipped devices?

Alicat gas instruments with EtherCAT possess our full Gas Select™ list of gas calibrations, as well as the COMPOSER™ firmware for creating custom high-precision gas mixes of 2-5 gases and storing up to 20 customized gas mix compositions.

How fast are communications with an Alicat instrument equipped with EtherCAT?

Alicat devices supports data transmission rates up to 100 mbps.

What are the ERR and RUN LEDs and how do I interpret them?

The ERR and RUN LEDs come handy when debugging/ troubleshooting your EtherCAT network.

EtherCAT Communications

EtherCAT Communications LED panel


Can I update my existing instruments to possess EtherCAT?

The electronic hardware and firmware requirements needed to install EtherCAT mean that it must be ordered on new instruments and cannot be retrofitted to existing Alicat products.