FC510x - PCI cards for CANopen

CANopen Trouble Shooting


Error Frames

One sign of errors in the CAN wiring, the address assignment or the setting of the baud rate is an increased number of error frames: the diagnostic LEDs then show Warning Limit exceeded or Bus-off state entered.

Error Frames
Warning limit exceeded, passive error or bus-off state are indicated first of all at those nodes that have detected the most errors. These nodes are not necessarily the cause for the occurrence of error frames!
If, for instance, one node contributes unusually heavily to the bus traffic (e.g. because it is the only one with analog inputs, the data for which triggers event-driven PDOs at a high rate), then the probability of its telegrams being damaged increases. Its error counter will, correspondingly, be the first to reach a critical level.

Node ID / Setting the Baud Rate

Care must be taken to ensure that node addresses are not assigned twice: there may only be one sender for each CAN data telegram.


Test 1

Check node addresses. If the CAN communication functions at least some of the time, and if all the devices support the boot up message, then the address assignment can also be examined by recording the boot up messages after the devices are switched on. This will not, however, recognize node addresses that have been swapped.


Test 2

Check that the same baud rate has been set everywhere. For special devices, if the bit timing parameters are accessible, do they agree with the CANopen definitions (sampling time, SJW, oscillator).


Testing the CAN wiring

These tests should not be carried out if the network is active: No communication should take place during the tests. The following tests should be carried out in the stated sequence, because some of the tests assume that the previous test was successful. Not all the tests are generally necessary.


Network terminator and signal leads

The nodes should be switched off or the CAN cable unplugged for this test, because the results of the measurements can otherwise be distorted by the active CAN transceiver.

Wiring diagram for test setup

Test 3

Determine the resistance between CAN high and CAN low - at each device, if necessary.

If the measured value is greater than 65 Ohms, it indicates the absence of a terminating resistor or a break in a signal lead. If the measured value is less than 50 Ohms, look for a short circuit between the CAN lines, more than the correct number of terminating resistors, or faulty transceivers.


Test 4

Check for a short circuit between the CAN ground and the signal leads, or between the screen and signal leads.


Test 5

Remove the earth connection from the CAN ground and screen. Check for a short circuit between the CAN ground and screen.



The possible cable length in CAN networks depends heavily on the selected baud rate. CAN will tolerate short drop lines - although this again depends on the baud rate. The maximum permitted drop line length should not be exceeded. The length of cable that has been installed is often underestimated - estimates can even be a factor of 10 less than the actual length. The following test is therefore recommended:


Test 6

Measure the lengths of the drop lines and the total bus lengths (do not just make rough estimates!) and compare them with the topology rules for the relevant baud rate.


Screening and earthing

The power supply and the screen should be carefully earthed at the power supply unit, once only and with low resistance. At all connecting points, branches and so forth the screen of the CAN cable (and possibly the CAN GND) must also be connected, as well as the signal leads. In the Beckhoff IP20 Bus Couplers, the screen is grounded for high frequencies via an R/C element.


Test 7

Use a DC ammeter (16 amp max.) to measure the current between the power supply ground and the shield at the end of the network most remote from the power supply unit. An equalization current should be present. If there is no current, then either the screen is not connected all the way through, or the power supply unit is not properly earthed. If the power supply unit is somewhere in the middle of the network, the measurement should be performed at both ends. When appropriate, this test can also be carried out at the ends of the drop line.


Test 8

Interrupt the screen at a number of locations and measure the connection current. If current is flowing, the screen is earthed at more than one place, creating a ground loop.


Potential differences

The screen must be connected all the way through for this test, and must not be carrying any current - this has previously been tested.


Test 9

Measure and record the voltage between the screen and the power supply ground at each node. The maximum potential difference between any two devices should be less than 5 volts.


Detect and localize faults

The "low-tech approach" usually works best: disconnect parts of the network, and observe when the fault disappears.

However, this does not work well for problems such as excessive potential differences, ground loops, EMC or signal distortion, since the reduction in the size of the network often solves the problem without the "missing" piece being the cause. The bus load also changes as the network is reduced in size, which can mean that external interference "hits" CAN telegrams less often.

Diagnosis with an oscilloscope is not usually successful: even when they are in good condition, CAN signals can look really chaotic. It may be possible to trigger on error frames using a storage oscilloscope - this type of diagnosis, however, is only possible for expert technicians.


Protocol problems

In rare cases, protocol problems (e.g. faulty or incomplete CANopen implementation, unfavorable timing at boot up, etc.) can be the cause of faults. In this case it is necessary to trace the bus traffic for evaluation by a CANopen experts - the Beckhoff support team can help here.
A free channel on a Beckhoff FC5102 CANopen PCI card is appropriate for such a trace - Beckhoff make the necessary trace software available on the internet. Alternatively, it is of course possible to use a normal commercial CAN analysis tool.

Protocol problems can be avoided if devices that have not been conformance tested are not used. The official CANopen Conformance Test (and the appropriate certificate) can be obtained from the CAN in Automation Association (http://www.can-cia.de).