Harmonic Bionics, Inc.
Industrial Automation


Connect Arduino boards, Arduino-like boards, and Arduino shields with EASE

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Industrial fieldbus for high-performance robotics

EtherCAT Arduino Shield by Esmacat (EASE) is an UNO Shield that stacks onto Arduino boards (or Arduino-like boards such as Mbed) and provides an SPI interface to data packets that are sent or received using the EtherCAT protocol. Those data packets can also be read or written by an EtherCAT master device. We offer two different versions of the Esmacat Master, or you can assemble your own using our open source software. Standard Ethernet cables can be used to connect multiple EASE boards, in a daisy-chain topology, and to provide power.

The high-speed communication of EtherCAT, which is 200 times faster than CAN-bus and 1,000 times faster than traditional RS232 communication, allows for the seamless integration and centralized control of multiple baseboards. For more information about EtherCAT, please have a look at our FAQ.

Expand Your Project by Syncing Multiple Boards

One major problem encountered by Arduino users – whether they are students building a school project or engineers prototyping industrial machines – is the lack of a common solution for expanding their projects to incorporate multiple Arduino boards and gain access to additional I/O pins. Arduino peripherals, including Arduino shields, sometimes take up multiple I/O pins and leave little room to create a project that requires multiple Arduino peripherals. This limits designers’ creativity. And even if they are* able to employ multiple Arduino boards to expand their project, users have no standard way of syncing those boards to produce a single connected project. This is now a problem of the past!

Flexible & Cross Platform

The EtherCAT master device described above is merely a portal capable of initializing different EtherCAT slaves, including EASE. Once initialized, any EtherCAT slave can send data to the master, which can either use those data – printing values to a GUI, for example – or send them on to other EtherCAT slaves. In other words, flipping a switch on one slave could activate an LED on another slave.

EASE specifically has eight data registers that can be read from or written to using functions that are available both to the EtherCAT master and through the Arduino IDE. Data packets are exchanged via SPI, which is universal across many MCU boards. This architecture is far more versatile than one in which the Arduino MCU implements the ability to connect, say, an Arduino Uno to a Nucleo 64.

Hassle-Free Power & Efficient Resource Utilization

A 24 V PoE injector is inserted between the EtherCAT master and the neighboring EASE board. It not only transmits data between the master and all connected EtherCAT slaves, it also provides power to all slaves, so there is no need to externally power each subsystem.

Important: EASE is rated for a 24 VDC PoE injector. Do not attempt to use it with a higher-voltage injector.

In addition, EASE runs the EtherCAT software on the shield itself rather than on the Arduino. This allows for high-performance applications to be developed on the EASE-Arduino subsystem, as the Arduino board is not busy trying to run the user’s application as well as the EtherCAT software.


Comparison Table

Speed/Cable Length200 Mbps at 100 m between two nodes for full speed 1 Mbps at 40 m from the start to end nodes 19,200 bps at 15 m from the start to end nodes 1 Mbps at 120 m from the start to end nodes
Cable TopologyDaisy Chain, Point-to-Point, Combination of the above Daisy Chain Point-to-Point Daisy Chain, Point-to-Point
Max Number of Nodes65535 128 1 32
Open Source SoftwareYes Most of CANOpen is proprietary No predetermined protocol No predetermined protocol
Required Hardware at masterRegular Ethernet adapter PCI, USB, IC-type interface PCI, USB, IC-type interface PCI, USB, IC-type interface

Support & Documentation

You can find all of our documentation, including tutorials, datasheets, and schematics on our website, which also hosts the Esmacat Master code. Finally, check out our Hackster.io page, where we plan to post EASE tutorials moving forward.

Manufacturing Plan

We have worked successfully with PCBWay on previous prototypes, and we plan to contract them for EASE fabrication and assembly. Once we receive the manufactured EASE boards, we will add various finishing touches ourselves. This includes soldering pin headers, uploading firmware, and carrying out a rigorous QC testing process to ensure that only high quality products are shipped to backers.

Fulfillment & Logistics

Each EASE board will be put into a small Esmacat box with foam to protect it. This box will then go into a larger box with more protection. The size of the larger box will depend on the number of products in the package. It will then be shipped to Crowd Supply for fulfillment. Please see theCrowd Supply Guide for information about shipping logistics.

Risks & Challenges

We are prepared to handle any challenge that may come our way! Our current prototype has been tested thoroughly, so there shouldn’t be any hardware problems with EASE. EASE goes through a quality control process, and we will ensure that we never send out a damaged product. We have experience working with PCBWay and are familiar with their manufacturing process. If we encounter unforeseen shipping mishaps – damage, loss, etc. – we will find the source of the problem as quickly as possible and send an immediate replacement if there is no easy fix.

In the Press

Open Electronics

"In this tutorial, you will learn how to set up a Raspberry Pi with Codesys to act as both a PLC and an EtherCAT master. It will be used to control the on-board LED found on the...EASE...device that is attached to an Arduino Uno."

Hackster News

"EASE offers the same Arduino Uno form factor, and stacks like any other shield. However, this one features the EtherCAT...protocol, which is an industrial Fieldbus designed for automation applications."

Geeky Gadgets

"An UNO Shield that stacks onto Arduino boards (or Arduino-like boards such as Mbed) and provides an SPI interface to data packets that are sent or received using the EtherCAT protocol."


"Con la posibilidad de convertirlo en apilable, este shield Arduino con...EtherCAT ofrece una velocidad de comunicación de datos que multiplica en varios órdenes la que pueden llegar a conseguir los buses de datos tradicionalmente utilizados..."


"Ejecutando todo el software en el propio escudo, este fieldbus industrial para robótica de alto rendimiento para placas Arduino permite el desarrollo de aplicaciones de alto rendimiento."

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Produced by Harmonic Bionics, Inc. in Austin, TX.

Sold and shipped by Crowd Supply.

EASE Board

One Arduino shield, in Uno form factor, with EtherCAT capabilities for use when connecting multiple Arduino boards

$109 $8 US Shipping / $18 Worldwide

PoE Injector & Esmacat Master Transmission hub

A 24 VDC PoE Injector to power all EtherCAT slaves and to transmit data from the Esmacat Master. A single PoE Injector is necessary for most EASE configurations.

$50 $8 US Shipping / $18 Worldwide

About the Team

Harmonic Bionics, Inc.

Austin, TX  ·   harmonicbionics.com

The mission of Harmonic Bionics is to innovate the rehabilitation process with robotic technology. The company was founded in 2016 as a spin-off of ReNeu Robotics Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. We are actively developing a robotic platform for introduction into the clinical market, and we aim to revolutionize the fields of therapy for stroke and spinal cord injury. Our exoskeletons are already being tested in pilot clinical trials and are well known in the rehabilitation robotics research community.

Matthew Gutierrez
Youngmok Yun
Kalavati Bhashyam

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