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Use a PC as an NI EtherCAT master

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Use a PC as an NI EtherCAT master



I have a PC that I would like to make an NI EtherCAT master so that I can program and communicate with an NI 9144. I would like the PC itself to be the master, I do not want to use anther chassis (cRIO, PXI, etc.).


I see hints that I should be able to do this with LV 2010 RT and NI-Industrial Communications for EtherCAT 2.1 installed, which I have. But I cannot find any documentation on how to get the master set up on my PC.


Are there any tutorials or instructions on how to do this?

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Message 1 of 14
Accepted by topic author Smrgol
08-27-2015 04:09 PM

Re: Use a PC as an NI EtherCAT master



To use a Desktop PC as EtherCAT master, we would need to set up the PC as RT target at first. The following two links should be able to provide more detailed information about the system requirements and the setup steps:


  • Requirements for Desktop PCs as LabVIEW Real-Time Targets


  • Using Desktop PCs as RT Targets with Real-Time Module



Now with a Desktop PC running LabVIEW Real-Time OS, we need a second Ethernet adapter to work as EtherCAT master. Please refer to the Supported Hardware section in the link below for our recommended adapter list for real-time desktop target:


The Desktop PC now can work as any other RT controller (cRIO, PXI, etc.) that supported by NI-IndComm EtherCAT driver. You can discover this target in MAX, install the real-time software to it, set the 2nd Ethernet adapter to EtherCAT mode, and use this target in LabVIEW.


Hope it help!


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Message 2 of 14

Re: Use a PC as an NI EtherCAT master

Sweet! Thank you for those documents they are exactly what I was looking for. It's clear that I wasn't thinking about this problem correctly.


Thanks again.



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Message 3 of 14

Re: Use a PC as an NI EtherCAT master

We offer a EtherCAT Master Library for LabVIEW, that allows to control a NI-9144 directly from a Windows PC via EtherCAT on a normal Ethernet port. The library can be used to:
- Read and write cyclic process data with a deterministic bus rate
- Read and write configurations (SDO) by CoE
- Download firmware and fpga projects
- Change EtherCAT Bus state

More information can be found here:

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Message 4 of 14

Re: Use a PC as an NI EtherCAT master

I would like to have PC as EtherCAT Master and Development Software is CVI. Can someone give me some guidence.

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Message 5 of 14

Re: Use a PC as an NI EtherCAT master

What NI Software I need to be able to use your VIs. I am able to talk Beckhoff Ethercat slaves using their TwinCat Software and a third party network card. Do I need any hardware to use your programs? 

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Message 6 of 14

Re: Use a PC as an NI EtherCAT master

Hello, We have just started working on the EtherCAT protocol communication. And We want our PC to be a real time LabVIEW Master which will communicate to any slave. so is there any kind of solution to this ? any solutions appreciated. thanks.
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Message 7 of 14

Re: Use a PC as an NI EtherCAT master

Your question should be answered by what JZhou wrote earlier in this thread. The LabVIEW EtherCAT master driver requires an RT OS running on a PC, PXI or cRIO target. CVI is not supported. Only certain ethernet chipsets are supported for PC ETS Rt targets:


  • Intel 82540EM
  • Intel 82572EI
  • Intel 82572


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Message 8 of 14

Re: Use a PC as an NI EtherCAT master


Thanks for your valuable reply!!.


I m planning to develop a custom application in LabVIEW RT with EtherCAT library on my PC.

So is it possible to communicate to any slave hardware irrespective of the manufacturer from my Master application. ?   or is it restricted to only specific slave hardware. ?


Because I want to develop a generic Master application which should communicate to different slaves of different manufacturer.




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Message 9 of 14

Re: Use a PC as an NI EtherCAT master

EtherCAT is an open standard and therefore you can use it with all slaves out there if they are compliant.



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Message 10 of 14