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What is CANopen?


CANopen is a higher-layer protocol based on the CAN (Control Area Network) serial bus system and the CAL (CAN Application Layer). CANopen assumes that the hardware of the connected device has a CAN transceiver and a CAN controller as specified in ISO 11898.


The CANopen Communication Profile, CiA DS-301, includes both cyclic and event-driven communication, which makes it possible to reduce the bus load to a minimum while still maintaining extremely short reaction times. High communication performance can be achieved at relatively low baud rates, thus reducing EMC problems and cable costs.


The physical medium of CANopen is a differentially-driven two-wire bus line with common return according to ISO 11898. The maximum length of the bus is limited by the communication speed as follows:


Baud Rate Max. Bus Length
1M bit/s 25 m
500k bit/s 100m
250k bit/s 250m
125k bit/s 500m
100k bit/s 600m
50k bit/s 1000m


The maximum theoretical number of nodes is 127. However, in practice, the maximum number depends on the capabilities of the CAN transceivers used.


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