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Simulink TCP/IP client.


Simulink can communicate with remote applications using developed Simulink block. This block enables sending live data from Simulink model to an application, devices using TCP/IP. It is possible to send data to the TCP/IP Server block. The base element of the block is S-function block, which use C MEX file (***, 2008 c). The first, Simulink model stages and callback methods are described, then Windows Socket API implementation is briefly presented and finaly the procedure how to create communication block is described.


S-functions (system-functions) provide a powerful mechanism for extending the capabilities of the Simulink environment. An S-function is a computer language description of a Simulink block written in MATLAB, C, C++, Ada, or Fortran. S-functions are dynamically linked subroutines that the MATLAB interpreter can automatically load and execute. S-functions use a special calling syntax called the S-function API that enables to interact with the Simulink engine. By following a set of simple rules, it can be implemented an algorithm in an S-function and used the S-Function block to add it to a Simulink model.

2.1 S-function Simulation Stages

Execution of a Simulink model proceeds in stages. First comes the initialization phase. In this phase, the Simulink engine incorporates library blocks into the model, propagates signal widths, data types, and sample times, evaluates block parameters, determines block execution order, and allocates memory. The engine then enters a simulation loop, where each pass through the loop is referred to as a simulation step. During each simulation step, the engine executes each block in the model in the order determined during initialization. For each block, the engine invokes functions that compute the block states, derivatives, and outputs for the current sample time. The entire simulation loop then continues until the simulation is complete.

A MEX S-function consists of a set of callback methods that the Simulink engine invokes to perform various block related tasks during a simulation. Because the engine invokes the functions directly, MEX S-functions must follow standard naming conventions specified by the S-function API.

MEX S-functions provide many sample time options, which allow for a high degree of flexibility in specifying when an S-function executes. If the behavior of S-function is a function of discrete time intervals, it can be defined a sample time to control when the Simulink engine calls the S-function mdlOutput and mdlUpdate.


Traditional network programming implemented in Windows environment uses Windows Sockets API (Winsock API--WSA). WSA is similar to Linux Sockets programming with a few exception such as header files, that provided to suit Windows environment and enhances the functionalities. Windows Sockets 2 (Winsock) enables programmers to create advanced Internet, intranet, and other network capable applications to transmit application data across the wire, independent of the network protocol being used. With Winsock, programmers are provided access to advanced Microsoft Windows networking capabilities. Winsock programming previously centered around TCP/IP. (***, 2009).

There are two distinct types of socket network applications: Server and Client. Servers and Clients have different behaviors; therefore, the process of creating them is different. The developed Simulink block is a client.


This chapter contains simplified description of the source code of the developed Simulink block. The base element of the block is S-function block, which use C MEX file. Finally, it is necessary compile source code. Compiling the MEX-Files is similar to compiling with gcc or any other command line compiler. Following MATLAB command links the object code together with the library WS2_32.lib (or it is possible to use older library wsock32.lib). Win32 architecture is supposed. (***, 2008 a, b).

>> mex -O client.cpp WS2_32.lib -DWIN32

4.1 Defines and Includes

The S-function code starts with the define and include statements. It is necessary to define statement which specifies the name of the S-function.

After defining these two items, the code includes simstruc.h, which is a header file that gives access to the SimStruct data structure and the MATLAB Application Program Interface (API) functions. The simstruc.h file defines a data structure, called the SimStruct, which the Simulink engine uses to maintain information about the S-function. The simstruc.h file also defines macros that enable MEX-file to set values in and get values (such as the input and output signal to the block) from the SimStruct. The winsock2.h and ws2tcpip.h should be added to access sockets under Microsoft Windows. Next parts describe callback method implementations.

4.2 mdlInitialize Sizes

The Simulink engine calls mdlInitializeSizes to inquire about the number of input and output ports, sizes of the ports, and any other information (such as the number of states) needed by the S-function.

The client implementation of mdlInitializeSizes specifies the following size information:

ssSetNumSFcnParams(S, 3);

It defines three input parameters:

* Address--(String input parameter) Name address of the server (IP address)--An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a numerical identification that is assigned to devices participating in a computer network.

* Port--(Integer input parameter)--In computer networking, a port is an application-specific or process-specific software construct serving as a communications endpoint used by Transport Layer protocols of the Internet Protocol Suite such as Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) or User Datagram Protocol (UDP). A specific port is identified by its number associated with the IP and the protocol used for communication.

* Sample time period--Sampling period of the signal output.

if (!ssSetNumInputPorts(S, 1)) return; ssSetInputPortWidth(S,0,DYNAMICALLY_SIZED);

It defines one dynamically sized input port, that's why TCP output is in the special format which is easy modifiable.





Specifying these options together with exception-free code speeds up execution of S-function.

4.3 mdlInitializeSizes

The Simulink engine calls mdlInitializeSampleTimes to set the sample times of the S-function. A client block executes in specified period (the third input parameter).

ssSetSampleTime(S,0, mxGetScalar(ssGetSFcnParam(S, 2)));

4.4 mdlStart

Simulink invokes this optional method at the beginning of a simulation. It should initialize and connect the windows socket. Input parameters Address and Port are used, TCP communication is used here.
WSAStartup(MAKEWORD(2,2), &wsaData);
ConnectSocket = socket(AF_INET, SOCK_STREAM,
getaddrinfo(myHost, port, &hints, &result);
connect(ConnectSocket, result->ai_addr, (int)result>ai_addrlen);

4.5 mdlOutputs

The engine calls mdlOutputs at each time step to calculate the block outputs. The client implementation of mdlOutputs takes the input signal and writes the data to the created output socket.

send(mySocket, data, strlen(data), 0);

4.6 mdlTerminate

The engine calls mdlTerminate to provide the S function with an opportunity to perform tasks at the end of the simulation. This is a mandatory S function routine. The client S-function terminate created socket.
shutdown(ConnectSocket, SD_SEND);

4.7 Client Block

The TCP/IP client block sends out data from model using the TCP/IP protocol. This data is sent at fixed intervals during a simulation. The TCP/IP client block has one input port. The size of the input port is dynamic, and is inherited from the driving block. This block has no output ports. The developed TCP/IP output block is shown in the figure 1.


The Sink Block Parameters dialog box can be used for selecting communication parameters (Figure 2).


It is possible to specify a remote server address, port and sample time period. The sample time period is the rate at which the block send the data to specified port on the server during the simulation.


The TCP/IP output block has been developed. This client block enables Simulink models to communicate with remote applications and devices over TCP/IP network. This paper describes this block and simplified instructions for building this block. Final code is open source. The block is possible use for Simulink output to the web browser.


This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Czech Republic under grant No. MSM 7088352101.


*** (2008). Writing S-Functions. The Mathworks Inc., Natick, USA

*** (2008). MATLAB C and Fortran API reference. The Mathworks Inc., Natick, USA

*** (2008). Instrument Control Toolbox 2.7. The Mathworks Inc., Natick, USA

***(2009). Windows Sockets 2. Available from: aspx. Accessed: 2009-03-15
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Author:Sysel, Martin
Publication:Annals of DAAAM & Proceedings
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EUAU
Date:Jan 1, 2009
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