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A Trio of CAN Interfaces

Ixxat, Acacetus, and Peak CAN Interfaces

Ixxat, Acacetus, and Peak CAN Interfaces

I now have three CAN interfaces.  I plan on doing tests on all three to measure their performance.

The Acacetus (also sold by Grid Connect as the CAN USB Light) is the least expensive ($100).  It communicates via a virtual COM port.  So far I’ve used HyperTerm to communicate with it, which doesn’t work well (binary data isn’t intelligible, etc).  Using a serial library should work better.

The CAN and virtual COM port settings are accessed by resetting the device, and then going through a series of menus.  The CAN baud rate isn’t set directly; instead you set the various detailed parameters; fortunately, I found a handy table, but I much prefer Ixxat’s approach (pick the baud rate, and then tweak if you want).

So far, it works, but doesn’t seem in the same class as the Peak or Ixxat – it doesn’t feel as well built, and is more limited (e.g. can’t set baud rate remotely).  It only comes with driver software.

The Peak is a parallel port dongle; I much prefer a USB connection, but I didn’t pay for the Peak.  It has a keyboard pass-through connector to provide enough power.  It is sold in the US by Grid Connect and Phytec for $249.  The Peak USB to CAN is $279, but is worth the extra money.

The Peak interfaces come with PCAN Light driver, and PCANView which is a simple program to send and receive CAN messages.  The extra cost, advanced driver has some nice features, such as sharing a CAN interface among multiple applications.

Right now, the Peak is handy because I have PCANOpen Magic Lite for it (it was included with the CANOpenIA-XA kit I have), which provides some basic CANOpen functionality.  It has many restrictions; for example, it only supports CANOpen address 0x40 to 0x4F, so I had to remap my Copley drives to this address range.

The Ixxat USB-to-CAN compact is the most expensive ($335 from CAN Connection).  It comes with drivers and some helper programs, including one similar to PCANView, but does not include any CANOpen specific software.  I talked about it in my previous post.

Comment 8/24/2011: I now have a lot more CAN interfaces, including models from Kvaser (PCI and USB), esd electronics (PCI), and Applicom (PCI).  I really like both the Ixxat USB to CAN compact and Kvaser Leaf Light. 

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