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Intelligent seven axis motion controller

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article image Australian Baldor’s all-in-one motion automation solution.

AUSTRALIAN Baldor has launched an all-in-one motion automation solution offering control for three servo and four stepper motor axes, together with onboard I/O and fieldbus connectivity.

Packaged in a ready to use panel-mounting box, the rugged module can provide an economic standalone solution for many machine building applications, or a motion control sub-system for use in conjunction with a PC host by employing the controller's USB interface.

The controller's combination of servo and stepper control capability make it suitable for implementation as a standalone X-Y-Z axis positioning solution supported by four stepper axes and I/O for material handling and machine control. If the module is used with Baldor drives, it is capable of controlling up to seven precision servo motor axes.

Known as NextMove ESB, the motion controller is programmable using the Mint motion language or C. Among the target applications are high speed printing, packaging, labelling and machine tools, and common process automation needs including positioning stages, robotics and rotary knives.

Based on a Texas Instruments DSP core, NextMove ESB supports servo loop closure times of 100μs on three axes, with six-term closed loop control for accurate positioning (PID, velocity, acceleration feed forward, and velocity feedback). The four stepper axes provide pulse and direction outputs at up to 500kHz.

Onboard I/O allows users to employ the module for machine control as well as motion, potentially eliminating the need for a separate controller such as a PLC.

The I/O comprises 20 digital inputs, 11 digital outputs, two 12 bit differential analogue inputs and a precision 12 bit output, a CANopen-compatible fieldbus port, and two serial ports including a 12 Mb/s USB interface.

The high speed USB interface provides opportunities for automation OEMs who build machines with PC hosts or user interfaces to make equipment more durable and to simplify manufacture by allowing the motion control subsystem to be panel mounted in the optimal location inside the machine instead of in a PC expansion slot.

NextMove ESB uses Mint language which provides flexible Basic-style programming that allows quick development of application software. Mint provides ready-to-use keywords for many common motion tasks from simple profiles to advanced movements such as software cams and flying shears. The pre-written functions can reduce time to market.

The latest MintMT version of the language supplied with NextMove ESB additionally includes a multi-tasking kernel. This simplifies development, allowing complex machine control requirements to be divided into smaller tasks such as motion, man-machine interfacing, and I/O handling.

The software is royalty free, helping OEMs to reduce costs for equipment designs.

Users seeking rapid execution speeds may alternatively program the card using Texas Instruments' C compiler and Baldor's free library of C-compatible Mint functions for motion, I/O, communications, networking, operator interfaces. Firmware may then be embedded in the controller, or called as required from a host such as a PC.

Motion interfaces may also be created in any host environment supporting ActiveX controls, providing support for a wide range of popular applications including Visual Basic with the possibility of running MintMT/ActiveX or C/ActiveX in parallel.

“Open architecture” facilities built into Mint, together with the use of field programmable FPGA logic, add another dimension to performance, as they allow move types to be adapted to suit individual applications. This provides flexibility, allowing users to configure a custom multi-axis motion controller for the price of a standard product.

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