Simulate DNP3 networks in real-time

Speedgoat, a company specializing in systems for real-time testing has introduced recently support for the DNP3 protocol to its offer. The use of the DNP3 library from JPEmbedded and the tools offered by that Swiss company allowed for the creation of an universal offline platform to verify the operation of a single IED and the whole systems in various configurations of the DNP3 networks.


 Every day, more and more intelligent electronic devices are being installed in power grids. For proper integration of dispersed infrastructure devices in the network, each charging station, point of energy generation, storage system, or monitoring element must communicate with other devices and SCADA supervision systems. 

Validation and testing of a new solution in a real energy distribution network carry a risk. Looking for an alternative, device manufacturers and utilities often use real-time hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) environments. HIL-based solutions provide valuable, effective, and, above all, safe methods of testing and verification environment. Moreover, HIL environments are realistic, repeatable, and fully configurable by the user.

DNP3 real-time testing solution by Speedgoat

With Speedgoat hardware, you perform simulation models designed in Simulink. You simulate the behavior of separate electric devices, subsystems, or plants in order to test the function of a specific piece of software or major control systems. The typical setups to test the outstation and master side of the communication are presented in the picture below.

Simulink blocks for DNP3 Master and Outstation (examples below) enable connection to devices on different levels of the grid, from the field level to the supervisory level. This allows testing of various applications such as power distribution, substation automation, or circuit breaking in the lab or on the desk.

In addition to DNP3, Speedgoat real-time target machines also support protocols like Modbus TCP and enable fast data exchange on the sensor level with Simulink-programmable FPGA modules.

The DNP3 software library

The communication protocol support is based on the DNP3 library provided by JPEmbedded. The library, implemented in C++ language, was delivered in the form of source code which is independent of the hardware platform and operating system. Like other libraries by JPEmbedded it interfaces the underlying platform via the abstraction layer, aka HAL. 

The project required integration of both the DNP3 Outstation (server) and DNP3 Master (client) side of the communication protocol. In order to realistically model the real-world scenario, in addition to reading static values of binary, counting, and analog points defined by the DNP3 standard, triggering of events, unsolicited messages, and control operations are used by the test environment. The above-listed features of the DNP3 library along with the assistance provided by JPEmbedded made it the right choice for the new Speedgoat product.

“The capabilities of the DNP3 library and the thorough support by the JPEmbedded team enabled us to extend our portfolio of industrial communication interfaces by DNP3. This allows our customers from the power systems industry to benefit from simulation and real-time testing with Speedgoat hardware“ said Alexander Beck, Embedded Software Engineer, Industrial Communication, at Speedgoat GmbH


Need more information?

If you are interested in using the DNP3 library in your product, please contact us by writing to

If you would like to learn more about the DNP3 simulation offered by Speedgoat, please visit Speedgoat’s DNP3 protocol for Simulink page.