In addition to Ethernet TCP/IP, serial protocols and OPC UA, the Beckhoff control platform supports all protocols relevant to media technology such as Open Control Architecture (AES 70 Standard), PJLink, SMPTE-Timecode, Crestron, Bang & Olufsen, Art-Net™ and Streaming ACN (sACN). This allows the most diverse media devices to be controlled independently of the manufacturer: audio and video systems, screens, multimedia servers and streaming services are easily operated on one network and on the same platform. The advantage is free selection of media devices and components and not having to take into account vendor-specific protocols. Here, the Beckhoff platform virtually functions as a multi-gateway of language diversity and ensures smooth communication between the devices as well as optimal usability.
The scalability and modularity of the Beckhoff software and hardware components allow the user to adjust the controller exactly to the scope of the control task in terms of performance and cost, but also with regard to the available mounting space. In the CX2000 Embedded PC, for example, an extremely powerful and modular controller based on Intel® multi-core processors is available that offers the possibility to combine audio, PoE, DisplayPort and DVI on one platform.
Beckhoff technology highlights for AV and media technology
The PC-based control principle
The PC-based control technology from Beckhoff has proven itself worldwide since 1980 in the widest variety of industries and applications, from machine control and the automation of wind turbines to the entertainment industry. What was regarded 40 years ago as an outsider position has developed very quickly into a standard in the automation industry. Innovative product developments that underscored Beckhoff's PC-based control philosophy followed continuously and are regarded today as milestones in automation technology, such as the modular Bus Terminal system, the high-speed fieldbus EtherCAT or the Embedded PC. The basis for the universal usability of the Beckhoff control solution is its modularity, its scalability in terms of power and its openness toward other systems and tools.
PC-based control from Beckhoff represents a modularly constructed control solution that is fully scalable in all components and maps all automation functions in software: Safety technology, measurement technology, Condition Monitoring and robotics are also integrated into the control platform along with sequential control, motion control and visualization. The basic principle of PC-based control is very simple: it is based on a powerful Industrial PC, a high-performance fieldbus connection with the connected peripheral devices for sensors and actuators as well as TwinCAT, the real-time capable automation software for motion control and logic. The consistent use of mainstream technologies from the world of IT and their convergence to principles of automation technology have led to a continuous increase in performance and function as well as a considerable reduction in costs. The Beckhoff control platform is supplemented by an extensive portfolio of drive components.
With PC-based control, an extensive component construction kit is available to the system integrator for the automation of the various technical systems in the entertainment industry, such as moving objects, lighting technology, AV and media technology and building automation. Worldwide references from mobile and stationary stage and show technology, from unique applications and entertainment technology prove that PC-based control technology is ideally suited to the implementation of technically sophisticated stage and media shows.
Your advantage with PC-based control:
- High performance for the high-precision control of processes and applications:
- Industrial PCs with powerful processors of the latest generation
- TwinCAT, the software for engineering and real-time control
- EtherCAT, the high-speed fieldbus
- Consistency: one controller for all technical systems of an entertainment application
- Openness: simple use of third-party software (audio players, C#, C++, graphic tools, etc.)
- Use of standard components, programming standards and networks
- Modularity: enables the extension and modification of controller functions at any time
- Scalability: components in all performance categories and designs
- Extensive connectivity: from the horizontal communication of the devices with one another to the cloud connection
- High availability: due to advanced diagnostics and predictive maintenance functions
- Beckhoff is a full system supplier with a deep understanding of technology
High-speed communication with EtherCAT
EtherCAT was launched by Beckhoff in 2003 and made available as an open automation technology standard. With cycle times well below 1 ms, outstanding synchronization accuracy, flexible topology selection, extensive diagnostics and simple configuration, EtherCAT is also ideal for use in the entertainment industry. More than 6,000 companies worldwide have joined forces in the (ETG), the world's largest industrial fieldbus user organization. More than twenty of the most renowned companies in the field of entertainment are also members of the ETG.
Beckhoff supplies the largest number of EtherCAT-compatible automation modules for both I/Os and drive technology. Due to worldwide support for EtherCAT, a large number of EtherCAT-compatible sensors and actuators are also available on the market, ensuring a high level of investment security. The performance of EtherCAT also supports creative people and engineers in the field of entertainment technology in the realization of unique applications. For example, a customer application such as , which features 1,216 precisely synchronized axes, can only be realized on the basis of EtherCAT. With EtherCAT, almost any event in a show, theater or amusement park can be synchronized, which is usually not possible with “black box” hardware in the way they are normally used. The development of the , which requires 512 bytes of process data, is also based on EtherCAT; as of today, this is not possible with any other fieldbus system.
The general advantages of EtherCAT are:
- high speed
- simple diagnostics
- control of up to 65,535 devices
- EtherCAT allows the transmission of up to 64 kbit per slave
- perfect synchronization
High-performance for the entertainment technology supports SMPTE-Timecode
The eXtreme Fast Control (XFC) technology enables leading-edge, high-speed automation based on an optimized control and communication architecture. It consists of a modern Industrial PC, ultra-fast I/O terminals with advanced real-time features, the EtherCAT high-speed Ethernet system and the TwinCAT automation software. With XFC it is possible to realize I/O response times < 100 µs. Due to its speed, XFC technology is used by almost all Beckhoff customers in the entertainment industry.
The development of this fast control technology was also a prerequisite for the support of the SMPTE-Timecode standard by the Beckhoff controller. The SMPTE-Timecode is a standard defined by the SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) for absolute time data that are transmitted with media metadata. The SMPTE-Timecode is mainly used to synchronize the various tracks (sound/noise, language, special effects, texts, etc.) in a media production.
EtherCAT I/O Terminals automate any functionality in the entertainment industry
In 1995, Beckhoff launched the Bus Terminal, which has since become one of the most important technology standards in automation technology. That was followed in 2003 by the development of the fast EtherCAT communication system. Launched by Beckhoff as an open system, it became a global standard in automation within a few years. With around 100 signal types, an extensive EtherCAT I/O Terminal portfolio is available to users that is extremely well suited for automating every functionality in stage and show technology in terms of both its performance and variance. The Bus Terminals allow a variety of simple building bus systems to be integrated into the controller.
In contrast to the Bus Terminals, in which the fieldbus signal is converted in the Bus Coupler to the internal, fieldbus-neutral terminal bus, the EtherCAT protocol is completely preserved up to the individual terminal with EtherCAT Terminals. The EtherCAT I/Os enable DMX to be integrated into the controller. EtherCAT Terminals are used in almost every entertainment application.
Control cabinet-free automation with the MX-System
For the first time, the MX-System enables completely control cabinet-free automation solutions in machine and system engineering. The combination of baseplate and function modules resulting from the modular system combines all the tasks and features of a control cabinet: power supply, fuse protection and distribution, generation and monitoring of auxiliary voltages, sequence control with inputs and outputs, control of motors and actuators, and the connection level for the field devices. The full system integration of all machine functionalities is achieved via freely selectable IPC, coupler, I/O, drive, relay, and system modules, which can be configured and combined according to the specific application.
The consistently systemic approach of comprehensively coordinated assemblies, certified to international standards, enormously reduces the effort required for planning, assembly, machine installation, and maintenance. Since considerably fewer components are required than in traditional control cabinet design to implement the same requirements, the entire MX-System is significantly more compact than previous solutions. The system footprint is reduced, and system availability and flexibility are also increased. In each life cycle phase of a control system, the MX-System offers significant advantages over the classic control cabinet.
The advantages of the MX-System for the entertainment industry at a glance:
- Savings in installation space
- Control of many axes
- EtherCAT as a fast and accurate fieldbus system
- Reusability of existing software or TwinCAT codes, since Beckhoff control technology that is already familiar is used with TwinCAT
Beckhoff product highlights for AV and media technology
AES70 OCA: the control protocol for professional audio devices
The AES70 standard was published by the Audio Engineering Society, which is based in New York. It defines a scalable control protocol for professional audio devices and describes monitoring and control of such devices, but not the transfer of media data.
The function blocks of the TwinCAT 3 AES70 (OCA) Communication PLC library () can be used to establish data exchange between a TwinCAT PLC and a device that supports the AES70 (OCA) standard. The user can query or set properties of different objects in a device (OCA device). Various function blocks such as FB_OcaGain, FB_OcaMute or FB_OcaSwitch are available for this purpose. The user can thus integrate OCA-compatible audio systems into Beckhoff's PC-based control technology platform and select from a wide range of control panels and various I/Os.
TwinCAT TCP/IP is used to implement and realize one or more TCP/IP servers and/or TCP/IP clients in the TwinCAT 3 PLC. Corresponding function blocks exist for the establishment/disconnection of communication as well as for the pure exchange of data (send and receive). The function blocks also support the use of multicast addresses here.
PJLInk enables the configuration of video projectors via a network interface
PJLink is a standard that is not limited to one projector manufacturer or to one specific projector model. PJLink thus enables central control of projectors from different manufacturers. It contains basic commands and status queries that are important for control and monitoring.
QRC protocol for the system integration of audio and video devices
QSC is a professional provider of audio/video system solutions. Its software-based platform is called Q-SYS. Q-SYS is designed to enable third-party systems to control and/or monitor various aspects of the system by writing their own code using different communication protocols.
The Q-SYS software supports the following types of external controllers:
- Named Controls - controls that have been stored in the Named Controls area. The names of the controllers must be different. [This is part of the control level of Q-SYS].
- Component Control - control of all controllers within a component by adapting the component's name so that it is unique. [This is part of the component level of Q-SYS].
- Mixer Control - specialized control of mixers with the help of mixer concepts. [This is part of the component level of Q-SYS].
- Basically, there are two different protocols provided by QSC for accessing the three external controllers for Q-SYS mentioned above. These are called "Q-SYS External Control Protocol" and "Q-SYS Remote Control" (referred to below as QRC).
- Q-SYS External Control Protocol is based on ASCII and uses a TCP/IP connection on port 1702. It requires the use of Named Controls for each controller that is to be controlled externally. This means that it only supports the functions of the control level of Q-SYS.
- QRC is the latest and most advanced protocol from QSC that allows an external control system (e.g., TwinCAT) to control various functions in Q-SYS. The QRC protocol is based on JSON-RPC version 2.0 and uses a TCP/IP connection on port 1710. QRC supports the use of all three of the controllers mentioned above: Named Controls, Component Control and Mixer Control. On this basis, it allows external access at the control level and component level.
Open Sound Control (OSC) for real-time processing of sound
MIDI applications can communicate with Ethernet over TCP/IP using Open Sound Control (OSC). The basis of the integration of MIDI into the Beckhoff controller is the TF6310 TwinCAT TCP/IP server module, which allows the implementation of one or more TCP/IP servers or clients.
sACN for network transmission of DMX data
DMX is a standard that is widely used for controlling lighting elements in stage equipment and building services applications. Beckhoff offers the DMX master terminal and the EL6851-0010 DMX slave terminal for this purpose.
To take advantage of Ethernet for DMX, the Entertainment Services and Technology Association (ESTA) has developed the Streaming Architecture for Control Networks (sACN). This transmits the data of the DMX universe via UDP/IP. The DMX data is embedded as a complete universe in the sACN frame and thus tunneled through UDP/IP. sACN is defined by the ANSI standard E1.31-2009 (sACN-2009 for short) and represents a subset of the ACN standard (ANSI standard E1.17).
In 2016, the ESTA introduced the new edition of the sACN standard E1.31-2016 (sACN-2016 for short), which added two new frame types, the "Synchronization Frame" and the "Universe Discovery Frame". The Synchronization Frame is a packet that contains only synchronization information from the universe and is used to trigger the synchronization. The Universe Discovery Frame is a packet that contains a packed list of the universe in which a source is active. This frame allows other devices interested in network traffic to monitor which universes are currently active without joining any multicast group.
Art-Net™ for the transfer of DMX universes
Art-Net™ is a protocol specification, developed by Artistic License Holdings Ltd, to utilize the benefits of Ethernet for transferring DMX universes. DMX is a standard that is widely used for controlling lighting elements in stage equipment and building services applications. Among other things, Beckhoff offers the DMX master terminal and the EL6851-0010 DMX slave terminal. Art-Net™ transfers DMX universes via UDP/IP, whereby DMX data are embedded in an Art-Net™ frame as a complete universe and thus tunneled through UDP/IP using another layer. From Art-Net™ II, telegrams can also be sent in 'unicast' mode, as well as 'directed broadcast.'
PosiStageNet for the transmission of position data
PosiStageNet (PSN) is a protocol specification for the transmission of position data and was developed in collaboration between VYV and MA Lighting. PSN is mainly used in stage and entertainment technology. The data are transmitted by UDP/IP. In general PSN is used to transmit the position data of objects, these objects being called "trackers." The method of determining the position data is not specified and is left up to the user. For example, position data from a position measuring system (encoder) can be used; these are then sent to a lighting controller for the automatic "tracking" of this object.
SMPTE-Timecode synchronizes video and audio devices
The SMPTE-Timecode is a standard defined by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) for absolute time data that are transmitted with media metadata. The SMPTE-Timecode is mainly used to synchronize the various tracks (sound/noise, language, special effects, texts, etc.) in a media production. A frame consists of 80 bits and is broadcast from the master to the slaves. With the help of the EtherCAT oversampling terminal, the analog signal sent from the master to the slaves can be "intercepted" and used via TwinCAT for the synchronization of different subsections and systems.
Extremely space-saving, flexibly expandable and sturdy: the new generation of ultra-compact Industrial PCs
Launched with the C6015, the series of ultra-compact Industrial PCs has positioned itself extremely successfully on the market due to its flexible application possibilities. As a sturdy control cabinet Industrial PC with an Intel® Atom™ CPU with up to four cores and a clock speed of 1.91 GHz, the is suitable for automation, visualization and communication tasks. The small dimensions of 82 x 82 x 40 mm and the flexible mounting options make the fanless multi-core PC the ideal controller for applications with high performance requirements and minimal mounting space in almost all areas of the entertainment industry. The interfaces for transferring electrical signals, IP, image and audio signals, which are available by default, make the C6015 suitable for cost-effective control of media walls, for example.
- The multi-core computer, which measures just 82 x 82 x 66 mm, adds a variant to the family with additional optional interfaces.
- Due to its high computing power and fanless design, the is particularly suitable for demanding control applications that also take into account the aspect of green IT. The basis for this is the Intel® Core™ i U processor, which consumes significantly less power.
- The offers advantages such as low space requirements, universal usability and flexible mounting, even for complex applications with the highest performance requirements.
- The has a further board level for modular interface and function extensions. The use of compact PCIe modules allows it to be perfectly adapted to the respective entertainment application and requirement profile.
Powerful, reliable and flexibly extendable: the Embedded PC series for control tasks in the entertainment industry
The compact DIN-rail-mounted PCs from the CX series with directly connectable I/O level offer a space-saving industrial controller in the control cabinet. Beckhoff's extensive range of embedded controllers includes a device tailored to the budget, performance class and complexity of the control task for each application. In addition to the CPU, the individual devices from the CX series differ by the available system interfaces and power supply variants and can be plugged together and extended as a modular control system depending on the task in the entertainment sector.
The CX family includes several basic CPU modules with different processors for adaption of the performance to suit the respective control task. As a result, different applications can be implemented on the same hardware, such as a PLC and Motion Control system with a DVI/USB interface or a multimedia system with an audio interface. The most powerful devices from the CX series are the , which are equipped with Intel® Xeon® processors and a separate graphic unit. They can be used to realize even sophisticated visualizations.
Optimized graphics functionality with the DisplayPort
The DisplayPort transfers image and audio signal at the same time and is therefore suitable for connecting panels or monitors to the Embedded PC. The CX5130, CX5140 and CX20x0 Embedded PC devices are available with a DisplayPort and allow the connection of a monitor with a resolution of up to 2560 x 1600 at 60 Hz. A second monitor can be controlled via the DVI interface. This enables use in a variety of media applications.
Maximum flexibility for proven and new operating concepts with multi-touch
The Beckhoff Panel generation with industry-standard multi-touch display offers the right solution for any application. For single-touch users, the new panel generation also offers excellent value for money and a smart alternative to other systems.
- display sizes from 7-inch to 24-inch (16:9, 5:4, 4:3)
- landscape and portrait mode
- multi-touch (PCT): e.g., for 5-finger or 2-hand touch operation
- high touch-point density for safe operation
- high-quality aluminum housing, milled from a solid block
- metal perimeter protection for the display front
- built-in or mounting arm models
- Control Panel with CP-Link 4 or DVI/USB-Extended technology
- Panel PCs with CPUs from Intel® Atom™ to Core™ i7
- optional electromechanical push-button extension
Open, PC-based control technology
Beckhoff created a global standard for automation with the launch of PC-based control technology in 1986. On the software side, the TwinCAT (The Windows Control and Automation Technology) automation suite forms the core of the control system. The TwinCAT software system turns almost any PC-based system into a real-time control with multiple PLC, NC, CNC and/or robotics runtime systems. TwinCAT 3 is the systematic further development of TwinCAT 2, with which the world of automation technology is being redefined.
TwinCAT 3 highlights:
- only one software for programming and configuration
- Visual Studio® integration
- more freedom in selecting programming languages
- support for the object-oriented extension of IEC 61131-3
- use of C/C++ as the programming language for real time applications
- link to MATLAB®/Simulink®
- open interfaces for expandability and adaptation to the tools landscape
- flexible runtime environment
- active support of multi-core and 64-bit systems
- migration of TwinCAT 2 projects
- automatic code generation and project implementation with the TwinCAT Automation Interface
The quicker way to an individual HMI
Instead of using proprietary systems, Beckhoff relies on IT standards:
- Visual Studio® for engineering
- HTML5 for design
- TLS for secure communications
- the user interface runs on any HTML5-enabled browser – regardless of operating system, resolution or display
The EL2622-0010 output terminal has two relays, which both have a single contact. The relay terminal switches at the zero voltage crossing to protect the contacts and is particularly suitable for capacitive loads such as LED lamps. A practical test was able to show that an EL2622-0010 remained fully functional at a capacitive continuous current load of 4 A after 200,000 switching cycles (for details see documentation).
PC-based control offers automation solutions for all stationary performances.
PC-based control integrates all technical systems for mobile performances.
PC-based control automates unique installations involving light, water and kinetics.
PC-based control supports entertainment technology – from amusement parks to TV studios.