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Standalone multi-axis drive and motion control system

16 September 2011

Aerotech's Ensemble range of advanced multi-axis motion controllers has been expanded with the newly launched Epaq MR series featuring a flexible choice of up to eight servo or micro-stepping drives housed in a 19in 3U rack and complete with power supplies and connectors for motor power, feedback and expandable machine I/O. Requiring only a 100 to 230Vac mains supply, the completely integrated unit includes hardware, software and interfacing options.

There is also provision to add up to two further external drives using the built-in high-speed AeroNet serial interface for a total of ten axes of coordinated motion.

The new Epaq MR provides multitasking programming for five independent tasks of synchronised multi-axis motion and I/O with linear and circular interpolation, contouring, velocity profiling and electronic gearbox functions. In addition I/O triggered 'on-the-fly' position registration and data capture functions are included as well as a single-axis implementation of Aerotech's unique Position Synchronised Output (PSO), where axis position and laser power control or other external events are tightly coordinated.

Supported drive technologies include PWM and linear stage servo amplifiers for brushed and brushless motors as well as micro-stepping drives. PWM servo drives are rated at 10A peak with a selectable range of output voltage to 80 VDC and 20 kHz switching frequency. All drive types may be freely mixed allowing the motion system to comprise any combination of high performance linear and rotary direct-drive motors, traditional brushed and brushless servo motors, micro-stepping motors in open loop or with encoder position maintenance, and even voice coil motors.

Servo feedback includes primary and secondary encoders for each axis and a choice of 4096 or 65536 multiplication factors to provide micron- to nano-level positioning resolution in the connected mechanical system. Each drive includes a complement of I/O with an expansion card option available for additional digital and analogue I/O.

The new Ensemble Epaq MR features Aerotech's Integrated Development Environment (IDE) software platform for Windows® that combines simplicity with the ability to adapt to the most complex tasks through optional software modules. Available for use throughout Aerotech's range of advanced motion controllers, the IDE includes the Motion Composer GUI which features a program editor with separate windows for compiler, task and variables status. Other tools include a digital 'scope to optimise tuning and performance, a configuration utility for parameter management, I/O and axis status utilities, and a firmware loader. The IDE also includes full help files and pre-coded programming examples which may be easily modified for import into the customers' application. Languages supported include AeroBASIC™, LabVIEW® with VIs, .NET tools for C#, VB.NET, managed C++, as well as a full C library.

The Optional provide advanced controls toolbox allows the user to modify and fine-tune control algorithms to reduce system harmonics, minimise settling time and perform many other functions that result in significant system performance benefits that help to increase production or research throughput, improve path accuracy, speed development timescales, reduce overall costs and much more.

Other important features for Ensemble range of motion controllers include a remote ASCII interface for Windows® or non-Windows® programs (including Linux), allowing external command through the standard Ethernet port. An optional EtherNet/IP™ interface is available which enables compatible controls to directly integrate with Aerotech’s motion engine. The Ensemble range is also fully compatible with the EPICS software tools and applications which is used in many synchrotron and general research laboratory facilities.

The Ensemble Epaq MR may be used with third-party mechanical positioning systems or can be supplied complete with Aerotech's wide range of high precision positioning mechanics,  with all cables and connectors as a fully tested motion sub-system.

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