Plant Numbering System
This page is updated December 29th 2017. It is only available in English.
Bøgebakken 3, Gjessø
Phone: (+45) 86 84 72 92
Welcome to the official home page for the Max-i fieldbus
Max-i is a new, very cheap, but extremely powerful fieldbus, which enables the lowest, total, automation and LED-lighting costs ever seen combined with maximum performance! It may be regarded as a combination between a highly improved CAN bus and a 20-V power supply and may be used for virtually all low to medium speed applications (up to 15,000 telegrams per second) like:
Max-i has six basic properties:
Highly Improved CAN
Max-i is very similar to CAN, which - as far as we know - is the only other event driven multi-master bus based on bit-wise bus arbitration except for the old, obsolete STL-Net,
but as can be seen from the table below, it is not just much cheaper, but also much more powerful, reliable and safe.
1) 1500 W requires 5 x 4 mm2 flat cables and two power supplies - one from each end. For the 384 W power level, CAN requires a very expensive thick DeviceNet cable (12.2 mm with 15 AWG / 1.65 mm2 conductors for DC).
2) CAN uses the publisher/subscriber model, but many protocols such as DeviceNet and CANopen need to establish a communication channel between devices before communication can take place and may even divide the network into masters and slaves.
3) Without this feature, it is not possible to make for example two-way/landing switches for LED lighting, and it is not possible to have more control buttons for the same process function or the same function in for example coupled trains, but most (all) CAN protocols such as DeviceNet and CANopen actually has a feature to prevent multiple use of the same identifier!
4) Most process values use 4, 20 or 36 bits, and it is possible to change a value temporary, which can save a lot of time during commissioning in case of sensor errors. It also makes it possible to run tests without material simply by simulating the presence of material.
5) Max-i can send individual 8-bit, 16-bit, 24-bit or 32-bit values to more devices in a common telegram with up to 1028 bytes and in this way ensure 100% data synchronization and a very high efficiency for example for motion control, positioning systems and for stage light control where Max-i with advantage can replace DMX512. CAN is only able to transmit 8 bytes in each telegram and is therefore not able to synchronize more than two servo axes with 32-bit precision.
6) In Max-i, the traditional termination resistors have been replaced by voltage clamps in each device. This gives a very high failure tolerance even without multiple communication lines as the bus may be cut in as many parts as there are power supplies, and each part will still work! The clamps also remove excess power during bus arbitration and therefore reduce the ringing, they reduce the power loss in the line termination to approximately the half compared to termination resistors and they utilize the reflections to improve the signal waveform and prevent bias-distortion due to noise rectification.
7) The CAN transceiver is usually connected to the negative supply line so a voltage drop on this line causes bias distortion. Max-i uses the midpoint between the power supply lines as 0-V reference, but must then require that the voltage drop in the two lines are approximately the same.
8) In case of a balanced 4-wire line, where the two communication conductors are connected together in all devices, Max-i will usually survive a failure on one of these conductors or connectors. If more power supplies are used, Max-i may also survive a failure on one of the supply lines so that Max-i is able to survive a failure on two neighbor conductors or connectors.
9) Usually, a fritting voltage of approximately 100 V/µm is required to burn through contact corrosion. Since the supply and communication voltage of Max-i is approximately 20 V, approximately 0.2 µm can be accepted. Below 3-5 V, no fritting can be expected. This makes CAN inexpedient for connections between for example tractors and trailers (trucks) and between train wagons.
10) When a transmitter is activated, two waves are generated with a typical power of 2.7 W in each direction. Because Max-i does not use any termination resistors, the current in each wave falls to zero after the time it takes for the wave to travel to the end of the line and back again to the transmitter. If for example a device is placed in the middle of the line, the two waves will arrive simultaneously, so the power will fall from a total of 5.4 W to zero after a time corresponding to the propagation delay of the line. If the device is placed at the end of the line, one wave arrives immediately, so the power falls from 2.7 W to zero after a time corresponding to two times the propagation delay. No matter where a device is located on the line, the energy (power multiplied by time) is the same, and if the line is shorter than the maximum length, the energy is reduced correspondingly. This reduces the emitted noise and enables battery operation and operation in explosive atmosphere. The power loss in the transmitter and the clamps depend on the supply voltage and the sum is maximum at maximum voltage.
11) In CAN, two bit errors may on rare occasion remain undetected when the first generates a bit stuffing condition and the second then removes a stuff condition (or vice versa), shifting the position of the frame bits between the two bit errors. The shifted area may lead to a burst error that is too long for the CRC mechanism.
12) In Max-i, it does not take longer time to poll a value than to transmit it event driven as the first and last part of the telegram are just transmitted by two or more devices.
13) Because CAN does not have any "babbling idiot" protection, it is not possible to reach this number of telegrams in practice without a
completely unpredictable delay of low priority telegrams. Max-i may run even at 100% and is faster than CAN for safety telegrams where CAN needs an extra
layer and it is much faster if the possibility for different data to more devices in the same telegram is utilized as it is the case for stage light and
motion control systems.
Supplement to Ethernet
Ethernet is growing fast in industrial process control. This puts traditional 5-V based fieldbus systems under pressure. Because they need a power supply to convert the supply voltage to 5 V, a timing crystal and some microprocessor assistance to handle the communication stack, they are too big and expensive to be included in the smallest and most price sensitive devices like push buttons, lamps, micro switches, motor contactors etc. It is therefore only possible to use these bus systems for distributed I/O and for connection to more complicated devices, but Ethernet can do that too at very much the same price. There may even be Ethernet in the building already, which may save some money for cabling. Ethernet will however never get out to individual actuators and sensors - even if the price and size is not taken into consideration. Because Ethernet is today a point-to-point communication, the signals in a big plant would have to pass so many routers and with that so many cable connectors and so much electronics that the reliability would fall to a totally unacceptable level with maybe up to one failure per week.
In the future, there will therefore probably only be room for two types of bus systems - Ethernet with an added layer to make it deterministic like Ethernet PowerLink, EtherCAD, ProfiNet, Ethernet/IP or Sercos, and an ultra-low-cost, but still high performance and deterministic bus system for connection to individual actuators, sensors and lamps. This bus system must:
With its outstanding versatility, Max-i is so far the only fieldbus, which fulfills all these demands!
Internet of Things
Internet of Things (IoT) has become the new buzz-word, but there is really not much new in that. For years, thousands of industrial process signals have been available on the internet - simply because it is very practical and saves a lot of time and money to be able to perform remote service. There is also nothing new in controlling the various devices in an intelligent manner. In the industry, this has been done by means of for example programmable logic controllers for over 40 years.
In the home, you may for example connect the coffee maker and the refrigerator to the internet and control the light from an App on your smart phone, but although such technology has been available for years - I/O Consulting (now Prevas) connected a coffee maker back in 1998 - most people don't care about IoT except for a few geeks, who may use it to impress their friends. In daily life, it simply gives too less value for the extra money needed to put a device on the internet and it doesn't solve problems like the very fast growing chaos of charger and converter boxes with related cable spaghetti and the fairly high cost and size of today's LED lighting. It also doesn't give you any environmental improvements like the possibility to drive LED lighting, window openers, door locks, PC's and PC peripherals etc. from solar panels and in case of wireless systems, it may even open a wide backdoor into the system, which hackers may use to entirely overtake your computers in seconds.
The only area where IoT makes sense to most people is alarm systems, but this is an area where present IoT technology based on wireless communication and batteries is least suitable:
With Max-i, it is different. Since it is a combination between a low-voltage DC power supply and a communication network, it has all the power needed for even the most advanced alarm system, it can simultaneously control the lamps to make the home looks inhabited and/or destroy the night vision of a thief, and it can be used for many other purposes than just IoT and therefore offers much more value for money. It is very easy to build fail-safe networks up to very high safety standards, it is easy to log all communication so that you can be absolutely sure that no device transmits unwanted information behind your back and you can just disconnect the internet when you don't need it and in this way keep even the best hacker out. Unlike for example WiFi, there is also virtually no limitations on how many devices you can connect without any noticeable degrade of performance.
In practice, no wireless system is 100 % safe and the safety is not bigger than the most unsafe device on the network! Add a cheap sensor, and your system may be wide open for hacker attacks from the inside of your firewall where there may be almost free access to all your other devices and computers.
If devices only did what they are expected to do like the majority of Max-i devices, which are entirely hardware based and therefore cannot do anything else, and the receiver only allowed data corresponding to the added sensors, the problem would not be so big, but virtually all wireless devices contain a microprocessor, which can easily be reprogrammed by hackers, and the receivers are often general purpose devices, which may allow many other functions than expected. If you have a wireless keyboard or mouse, just try to search the internet for "mousejack". A $15 dongle and 15 lines of Python code may be enough to entirely overtake your computer in seconds from over 100 m away!
With Max-i, it is possible to bring decades of industrial experience into the home without any compromise on security.
For developers or just people, who wants to play with home automation, the extreme simplicity of Max-i and the easy connection to most small computer systems will be a
completely new feeling compared to any other IoT and home automation technologies. There is no need to download and maybe pay for very big design suites, study
specifications, new operative systems and user manuals with way over 1000 pages for months and finaly go through an expensive and time consuming conformance test before
your product is ready for sale. In the future, you just buy a Max-i chip, put it into your device and program a few registers over the bus (no special programming
tools needed). For the majority of devices, where the function is supported by the chip such as most buttons, lamps, actuators and sensors, you can have a prototype ready
in a few hours - even if you have not used Max-i before. This also makes it possible to use Max-i technology for companies without programmers. If you for example want to
make a multi-color lamp, you just need a Max-i chip and four capacitors plus a current generator with 4 - 5 LED's for each color
(up to RGBWaA or RGBAaC). Home automation and IoT has never been, and will never be simpler and cheaper than that.
No Charger or
Today, most homes have a very fast growing chaos of clumsy charger and converter boxes with related cable spaghetti and outlet distribution boxes for smartphones, tablets, laptop computers, computer peripherals, cameras, LED lamps and lighting, toys etc. This really does not look very nice, generates a lot of electrical noise, creates an increasing fire risk due to the often very doubtful quality and cooling and destroys the smartness of the new, compact technology. It does not make much sense to buy for example an expensive only 17 mm thick laptop PC, and then bring a heavy and big brick of a charger with. Besides, due to the laws of nature, the efficiency of many small converters is way below what can be achieved with fewer devices with higher power - especially if 50 Hz transformers are used, so a lot of power may be wasted, and many of these small converters have been shown to be very noise sensitive and in many cases cut off for a short period of time in case of voltage transients or voltage drops.
Max-i offers the ideal solution to that. The high power and use of standard installation cables also makes Max-i extremely suited as a supplementary 20 Vdc power supply and control in the houses of the future where it may be used not only for intelligent LED lighting and all kinds of battery chargers including all levels of USB Power Delivery and Quick Charge, but also for window openers and energy management and alarm systems such as fire, smoke, burglary, water and power failure. Calculations done by the Danish engineering company Rambøll shows that such a network partly driven by solar cells can save the Danish households in the order of 1 billion Danish kroner per year corresponding to approximately $150,000,000.
Max-i has all the features needed for these kinds of applications. For example, it is very easy to make two-way/landing switches and light dimmers with the LED
controller and all Boolean outputs may be divided in up to 255 groups, which may be switched off in three steps for example during lunch breaks, when you leave a
building or in case of failing "green" energy supply or a heavily loaded power net.
Incandescent lamps are not considered environmental friendly due to the very low efficiency and high power loss, but in many cases, the generated
heat is not lost, but used as supplementary heating where it is mostly needed near people, and they do not require many resources for production or recycling.
LED's on the other hand have a very high efficiency and with that a low power consumption, but in case of lamps driven by the mains voltage (230 or 115 Vac), the
necessary converter requires many production and recycling resources. Therefore, these types of LED lighting are not as environmental friendly as it may look at a
first glance - especially because of the often very low life time of the converter. The life time of the LED's themselves are usually estimated to 50,000 hours
although it is highly temperature depending, but due to the high voltage levels and the use of cheap electrolytic capacitors, the life time of the converter is usually
way below this limit. However, with a 20-V DC net, a LED lamp only needs a simple series connection of 4 or 5 LED's and a current generator, which may be able to bypass one
LED in case of a low voltage – plus a Max-i controller if remote control is wanted. Such a solution can reach an efficiency of 75 - 80 %, and although this may be
slightly lower than possible with a state-of-the-art switch-mode supply, the total environmental account becomes better. Besides, such a solution is much cheaper
and smaller and can be contained in even the smallest and most architectural designed lamps, and because the full life time of the LED's can easily be utilized,
it may not be necessary to be able to replace the light source.
Max-i includes a very advanced LED controller with a lot of features:
The very advanced controller has previously unseen control possibilities. Without changing the settings, a lamp can simultaneously be controlled and dimmed by means of wall switches and automatic daylight control, be set to a specified color for example by means of a mobile phone or tablet and be controlled together with other lamps in a common group telegram with individual reception delay to set a scene or even control the lamps in real time from for example a TV set or a computer with the same speed and performance as professional stage light.
With the 5-color RGBWaA system, which can generate excellent pastel colors, and the possibility to address many light sources in the same telegram, the lamp controller
is perfect for illuminated ceiling panels with diffused light where it can create an illusion of being outside with drifting clouds and varying color temperature depending
on the time of the day. This may for example be used to create a pleasant feeling in stores, treatment rooms in hospitals and in rooms without daylight such as rooms in
The ceiling may simultaneously hide alarm sensors etc., which can just be connected to the same bus.
If 5 colors is not enough, any number of Max-i controllers can very easily collaborate by means of common telegrams. Just two controllers where the reception in one is delayed 4 bytes can create an absolute state-of-the-art 8-color system (plus 2 artificial colors) at a previously unseen low cost. With for example a royal-blue, artificial blue, cyan, green, lime, amber, orange, red and deep red system, any color and color temperature can be created with excellent accuracy for example for lighting in art museums etc. Because of the easy possibility for battery backup, the lamp units for such applications can also be used for emergency lighting, which can even show the way to the nearest exit by means of running light for example controlled by means of a common group telegram, and if the lamps are equipped with sensors, they can simultaneously be used for alarm systems for example for burglary and fire.
The lamp controller is also extremely suitable for smart high beam lamps in automobiles, which consist of a high mumber of LED's, which can be dimmed individually
to prevent dazzling of the drivers in oncomming cars and dazzling from reflections in signs and falling snow. Each Max-i controller can drive 4 LED's and all LED's
in both head lamps can be controlled in a single telegram.
The low beam is not enough for more than approximately 60 km/h, but most people drives much faster with low beam, so smart headlamps will in the future increase the safety considerably.
There are other chips, which are able to drive a chain of LED's, but they are usually based on a serial connection where each chip strips off the number of bytes it
needs and then transmit the remaining telegram to the next chip in the chain. However, with such techniques, it is not possible with any error detection, which for
example can switch to low beam, and a failure on one chip may disable the rest of the chain. Besides, these chips usually do not have advanced features such as gamma
correction, digital smoothing filter and dot correction (enables uniform lighting with cheap LED's).
Strong electromagnetic fields may be very destructive for most kinds of electronics. This is utilized in various kinds of electromagnetic weapons. One of the most
powerful discharges occurs when a nuclear weapon is detonated in the upper atmosphere. This creates an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) with field strength up to
approximately 50 kV/m, a rise time of 5 ns and a duration of approximately 1 µs. One way to survive such a pulse is to keep the system fully balanced - even in
case of very high voltage levels (good insulation) - and keep the physical dimensions very small and this is exactly what Max-i can offer. With a well insulated
4-wire cable and a very small (single chip) interface, there is a good chance that the system will survive. A field strength of 50 kV/m is only 50 V/mm, so a chip with
a size of 1 × 1 mm will be exposed to a maximum of 70 V (diagonally), which is in the same order of magnitude as the maximum working voltage and therefore
easy to limit.
Until the final IC solution is available, Innovatic can offer an evaluation board - EB1, which simulates a Max-i IC by means of an FPGA and other standard components.
This solution may be very interesting for vendors, who want to take the step into the future and have a
possibility to influence the standard before the IC is made. It may also be interesting for semiconductor companies, who may be looking for a new
product family and/or can see the enormous potential in one fieldbus for virtually all low to medium speed applications from the most price sensitive
ones to the most demanding. Because EB1 was designed for a previous version of the specification, it is not using 20 V, but only 12 V, and it has only 2 inputs and 3 outputs,
but a new 20-V board with 5 inputs and 6 outputs, which can also be used for products (not just evaluation) is under development.