Motion Building Blocks

November 5, 2007

3 Min Read
Motion Building Blocks

Microprocessor-based motion modules have always been the building blocks of intelligent motion control. But these embedded controllers are continuing to pick up even heavier workloads and are providing expanded functionality beyond intensive control algorithms, including flexible options for I/O and communications needs.

Real-time motion control performance has always been important, but the newest products continue to push the envelope both in terms of sheer bandwidth and sophisticated, high-level programming techniques. Flexibility has also become increasingly important, as modules look to provide low cost options for stepper motor control, digital I/O and communication networks.

Powerful microcontrollers (MCUs) are extending the state-of-the-art in motion control by slashing the development costs associated with developing solutions for higher volume applications that require motion performance.


The M3-40A dual-axis servo control module from Control Technology Corp. is one of 40 specialized modules for I/O, motion control and communications for use in the company's Blue Fusion Model 5300 automation controller. Because a single Model 5300 can have up to 32 I/O modules, the new dual-axis servo module allows users to tackle applications with as many as 64 axes of servo motion control.

The M3-40A is a single slot (0.75 x 4 inch) module with on-board processors that handle all motion-related processing for 2 axes. To provide advanced motion performance, each dual-axis module has a powerful RISC processor and Motion Accelerator Chip (MAC). This gives the ability to run 64-bit floating point motion loops and handle local high-speed I/O events. Each axis has a precision 16-bit analog output that can command both torque and velocity mode drives, giving the designer flexibility in motor and drive selection.


The ClipperTM multi-axis controller from Delta Tau offers Ethernet and RS232 communication ports plus built-in I/O. A single board (4.25 x 8.5 inch) provides 4 axis of servo or stepper motor control with 32-digital I/O points and communication options. A piggyback board permits easy expansion to 8 axes if needed.

The Clipper can be used completely stand-alone, with occasional commands from a host computer or PLC, or with real-time high-speed streaming of data over the Ethernet link. The Clipper can support the most demanding applications at a fraction of the cost previously possible.

Base specifications include 4 or 8 axes of simultaneous control (&0.5 ms update time). All axes can be operated independently or coordinated in any combination. Multitasking capabilities allow up to 16 motion and 64 asynchronous PLC programs. High-level programming provides solutions for linear, circular, rapid, B-spline and Hermite-spline interpolation modes. Dynamic multi-move lookahead provides advanced acceleration control.


Luminary Micro has announced two new Reference Design Kits (RDKs) utilizing the company's Stellaris® microcontrollers (MCUs) designed specifically for motion control applications such as those found in HVAC systems, industrial conveyer systems, liquid pumps, printers, robots and CNC and other milling machines.

The two kits demonstrate variable speed ac induction motor control and stepper motor control and complement the recent launch of five new MCUs featuring motion control functionality. These new parts represent the first time real-time motion control has been integrated into an ARM-based MCU. Together with the new reference design kits, the new MCUs ease the complexity of motion control designs for OEMs and slash the associated time-to-market and software development costs.

Both kits feature everything needed to evaluate and develop motor control designs. This includes the main control circuit board, graphical control program for Windows, power and USB cables, software source code, schematics and Gerber files.

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