Standalone Motion Controller Adds Functionality

Jan. 30, 2003
Motion Engineering's eXMP-SynqNet

Motion-intensive applications often have complex structures and demanding performance requirements. Many a failed solution has resulted from trying to perform control, particularly motion control, with a PC-based operating system. Alternatively, the use of distributed PC-card cages for motion controllers, I/O, and related tasks can be too costly to be an effective solution.

Motion Engineering Inc. (MEI) offers another possibility to consider. Its eXMP-SynqNet standalone PC-based motion controller uses a dual-processor architecture with a scalable Celeron processor running a choice of several real-time operating systems, along with the XMP family DSP motion co-processor.

"The eXMP-SynqNet is perfect for systems that would otherwise require expensive, distributed PC card cages to fulfill motion control, I/O, and other peripheral machine tasks," says Ross McMillan, Motion Engineering's eXMP project manager. "With eXMP-SynqNet, we can meet customer need for a cost-effective embedded solution that takes advantage of our SynqNet digital network communications interface."

The initiative targets customers looking for a machine platform solution that includes an intelligent, modular, distributed motion controller, and requires a number of tightly synchronized axes. SynqNet provides a choice of drives, reduced wiring, fault tolerance and recovery, as well as a means to configure or gather real-time data from every node on the motion network. The user can choose digital drives from AMC, Yaskawa, Panasonic, Kollmorgen, Tamagawa, Glentek, and Sanyo Denki.

The eXMP-SynqNet includes full PC functionality including 10/100 BaseT Ethernet, up to four COM ports, and on-board flash memory. In addition, the eXMP supports CAN networking for integrated I/O programming, using the company's Motion Programming Interface (MPI). "We're offering a solution that's compact and easily integrated," says McMillan. "It's Ethernet in, SynqNet out. SynqNet requires no additional network programming, is fault- tolerant, and hardware-redundant for safety."

The eXMP-SynqNet supports up to 32 axes of servo or stepper motors across a SynqNet network. "And like all XMP-Series motion controllers, eXMP-SynqNet takes advantage of the Motion Programming Interface, an object-oriented API that lets you create sophisticated, multithreaded applications in C or C++," says Dusty Schafer, MEI software manager. "You can access all XMP resources--hardware and firmware--through the MPI. The MPI's object-oriented architecture lets you build your motion code the same way you build your machine: by creating software objects that reflect the components and actions of the hardware."

With rules and methodology consistent with other object-oriented interfaces, the MPI aims to simplify integration of motion code with other software components in your machine. The MPI was designed for multithreaded environments and supports Windows 2000/NT/98 and real-time operating systems including VxWorks, VenturCom RTX, LynxOS, PharLap ETS, and QNX.

The eXMP-SynqNet can also be programmed with MEI's MPX software package to "speed and simplify the software design cycle with an ActiveX-compatible motion library that gives users an alternative way to program a variety of motion and I/O tasks," adds Schafer. "MPX has been developed in response to demand for an easy-to-use software layer to develop motion applications as quickly as possible. The MPX taps the power of MEI's Motion Programming Interface without the need for C/C++ programming."

Creation of custom motion interfaces is possible using LabView, Visual Basic, Excel, VBScript, and other environments that support ActiveX controls. Applications can be run inside native environments, across LANs and the Internet, and/or be compiled to .exe files to run independent of any specific software. MPX allows motion data to be retrieved real-time from other network computers, allowing for improved collaboration and reducing software development time.

In addition, Windows-based Motion Console and Motion Scope development utilities can be used to configure and debug all axes on the eXMP. "MotionScope is a real-time data collection and graphing toolkit available for machine optimization, while our Enhanced Controls Algorithm provides sophisticated, complex tuning parameters that use a MatLab and Simulink front end," says Schafer.

The eXMP-SynqNet includes all the XMP family's advanced capabilities, support for a variety of position feedback devices, and complex, multiaxis path motion.

SynqNet was introduced by Motion Engineering in 2001 as a high-performance network technology designed to simplify machine development and manufacture and lower the cost of in-field support and upgrade. The company says SynqNet replaces the noise-prone, analog drive/motion controller interface (±10V + encoder) with a real-time digital network that brings additional diagnostics, performance, and reliability to a machine.

For more information call 805/681-3300 or browse to

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