As demand for motion control in automation systems become more complex, administrators of these systems are looking for ways to make the task of implementing them simpler. A new DC motion controller from Specialty Motors Inc. (SMI) is aimed at helping in this task, providing a way to create single, multi-axes, or synchronous automated systems without complex programming or purchasing specialty motors or equipment, says the company.
The new D-Con DC Motion Controller from SMI comes in 12V and 24V versions, and offers the type of motion control typically implemented using stepper or servo motors with a DC motor. Typically, the latter -- which are less expensive and considered “dumb” motors because they don’t have the built-in intelligence of the former -- aren’t used for applications that need sophisticated control, performance, and positional feedback.
The new D-Con DC Motion Controller from Specialty Motors Inc. comes in 12V and 24V versions and allows for the creation of single, multi-axes, or synchronous automated systems without complex programming or purchasing specialty motors or equipment. (Source: Specialty Motors Inc.)
However, the new controller from SMI can be used to build single, multi-axes, or synchronous automated systems complete with variable speed control, direction control, oscillating, or jog-able motion at an affordable price point and without unnecessary complexity, says the company.
The controller is compact in design and works with nearly any 12V or 24V brushed DC motor or with any linear motion stage or slide as long as the motor fits the application, the company said in a press release.
The D-Con uses what’s called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) to provide power, controlling voltage output to the motor so speed can be varied without affecting motor torque. Users can access and adjust this modulation accordingly, the company said.
Other features of the new controller include:
Oscillation mode with instantaneously switchable 2-Stage PWM variable speed control;
External push button jog mode w/ PWM variable speed control;
External potentiometer jog mode with PWM variable speed control;
External buttons/speed control connected via a standard RJ45 connector;
Sensor inputs for 12V DC to 24V DC inductive proximity sensors or contact closure switches;
Dual motor outputs (for two motors to be run in parallel);
Regulated 5V DC output and non-regulated input voltage throughput;
Voltage output protected by 500mA self-resetting fuse;
Six LEDs providing visual feedback for power, fault, oscillate / jog, speed 1 / speed 2.
More technical specifications about the product can be found on the SMI website.
Good point, Chuck. Just yesterday, I spent some time on the phone with the GM of automatioin software at GE Intelligent Platforms. He described new tools for lean manufacturing that all have software as the backbone. The health of the plant is now read via a smartphone or tablet. No more walking around the plant to listen for bad sounds. The baby boomers don't trust the software, but the new engineers trust it more than they trust sounds. For one thing, the software will indicate that something is out of its normal range long before it starts making a bad sound.
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We seem to be going in that direction, Chuck. Howvever, when I ask vendors and factory operators whether the smart machines, components, and systems havew relieved the need for integrators, I'm hearing that hasn't been the case yet. They do say, however, that day is apporoaching.
There is a broad group of motion controller products that are "configurable" vs. "programmable" to solve simpler motion applications without requiring programming. In most multi-axis applications, software usage is much more advanced and the focus among suppliers is on software development tools that make it easier to develop and deploy software solutions. Motion control is a very broad product category with a huge number of product offerings targeted at specific needs.
This post is interesting in that the title implies some degree of computational capabilities within the controller, but then the description does not address that assertion at all. The controlling schemes, with the PWM operation, are a good choice and will indeed allow independant control of both speed and torque, at least it seems like they would. But for truely coordinated motor operation, such as driving an X-Y table, for instance, it should then be possible to have the motors work togather and draw a circle, as an example. Working in unison to produce a curve is one of those benchmark tasks that can define how well a multimotor package can link motors.
But while these controllers may be very useful it does not appear that they have this capability.
I totally see your point, ttemple. I don't think that these products mean necessarily that "anyone" can do it, but I think they are taking some of the common complications out of some of these processes. There still needs to be some level of expertise involved.
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For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.