FlashDrop AC Drives

DN Staff

April 24, 2006

3 Min Read
FlashDrop AC Drives

ABB's patented FlashDrop technology makes it possible to change ac drive parameters in seconds, without power, while the drive is still in the box. For OEM and end-user engineers, the technology offers a fast and intuitive way to replicate exact parameter sets across machines and speed up the process of changing drive parameters and replacing drives in the field.

The FlashDrop unit stores multiple parameter sets and each can be named for specific applications. Parameters can be changed without a power connection to the drive, and it's not even necessary to unpack the drive. The FlashDrop probe is simply inserted into the receptacle on the face of the drive and parameters are updated in about two seconds.

How FlashDrop works

The FlashDrop unit contains the necessary hardware, power supply and firmware to download parameters to one of ABB's new ACS150 or ACS350 drives using a wand and Serial Protocol Interface directly into the drive's microprocessor memory. According to Mark Kenyon, product marketing manager for ABB, visibility of parameters or parameter groups, as well as factory default settings, can be modified prior to download to provide user flexibility for what groups/parameters are actually seen by the operator or how the user wants the drive to operate.

Parameter sets previously saved on a PC using ABB's Drive Windows Light software can be downloaded to the FlashDrop Base Unit for direct download, or modification and then download.

Individual parameter sets can be modified using the FlashDrop unit, and up to 20 parameter sets can be modified using the Drive Parameter Manager.

New drive platform

FlashDrop is an option on a new generation of low voltage ac drives from ABB, designed specifically to simplify machine configuration and assembly. The new drives also offer sequence programming, a flexible user interface and cabinet-compatible hardware to help minimize installation and start-up times. The drives offer power in the 0.5 to 10 horsepower range.

A drive for simplicity

FlashDrop represents the latest in a trend toward simplified methods for updating drive software. The most common method is to download parameters to ac drives using a PC, software from the drive vendor and a serial interface cable connected either through the drive's operator panel port or an RS232 interface. Some manufacturers are moving to a memory stick method where the drive reads the memory stick during the next power-up sequence or utilizes a special "Read Memory Stick" command while the drive is powered up.

Other new solutions include software solutions such as Rockwell's Pocket Drive Explorer which can use PDA technology to update parameters. The unique and valuable part of the FlashDrop approach, in addition to its use of Flash technology, is the convenience it provides to change parameters without adding power to the drive.

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