How To Learn DeviceNet…

I hear from lots of people that don’t really know anything about DeviceNet. They usually have some sort of automation product and a number of reasons why they need to add DeviceNet Networking. One of there first questions is “How do I learn this technology?”

Well there’s a number of ways. This is my short list:

1. View my video on the 6.5 most important things to know about DeviceNet. Yes it’s 6 and 1/2. You’ll know why when you watch the video.  Learn DeviceNet

2. Go to the ODVA web site and checkout their introduction to DeviceNet: This isn’t bad but it is more sales-y than I would like.

3. You could also visit my DeviceNet site and read my paper on DeviceNet. This paper gives you all the important information you need to know about DeviceNet.

4. There’s a lot of short intros to DeviceNet on the internet. Some of them are pretty good. Most of them focus on their product and not the technology. You’ll have to sort through a bunch of junk to get the information you need.

5. You could do a web meeting with me. I have a 30 minute introduction to the technology, the RTA solution and the API. It’s really for people that are going to buy a stack to incorporate with their application.

6. You could hire RTA to do training at your facility. Teaching is something I really enjoy doing. We have sections for engineers, for sales people or for technicians. I’ve done this overseas quite a bit.

7. You could also read the specification. When you join the ODVA they’ll give you the spec (on CD). It’s pretty dry and boring and seemingly contradictory.

8. The ODVA does four trainings in different parts of the country. You can get the current schedule from

When you are working with these resources, there are a couple of real important things that you need to understand:

  1. DeviceNet is a protocol that runs on a CAN physical network.
  2. DeviceNet organizes data in Objects. The individual data items are called attributes.
  3. DeviceNet has two types of messages: Explicit and Implicit. Explicit is the one-time read and writes of specific data items. Implicit is the I/O messaging that happens continuously.
  4. This object oriented data representation and the messaging are called CIP, the Common Industrial Protocol. CIP is also the guts of Componet, EtherNet/IP and ControlNet.
  5. DeviceNet hardware is NOT cookie cutter. There are very real gotchas that will bite you in the butt if you don’t pay attention to the detail and talk to people who’ve done it before.

Learning DeviceNet is not hard if you concentrate on these key features while you sort through all the available resources. And call me if you have any specific questions. I’ll be glad to talk to you.