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Is X-Sim right for me?

Discussion in 'New users start here - FAQ' started by ExMan, Sep 30, 2008.

  1. ExMan

    ExMan New Member

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    I am conducting a feasibility study for a 3dof similar to the FD301 for a racing cockpit. At this point I am working alone, but if I find that building it is feasible, regarding expertise, access to components and funding, more people may become involved in the project. At best, this sim will end up being a fun item to have at home, at worst, it becomes an attraction at trade shows to show off my companies linear actuators http://www.exlar.com and I never get to bring it home. I have no interest in marketing anything that is developed and will share all data regarding the system if the X-sim community has the right software to link it all together. I have servo controls that requires only a positioning analog signal from the PC for motion to occur at each cylinder, each cylinder has its own feedback and positioning. See the SV series drive manual here http://www.exlar.com/products_SV_pdfs/SVmanual.pdf for more info on the servo drive control. It has 12bit analog position command input, 17khz PWM, 0.626 millisecond update and sampling rate, the feedback resolution is 2048 counts/rev with a .5inch pitch on the screw.

    The position signal can be 0-10vdc +-10 or 4-20mA signal. I found this board http://www.vellemanusa.com/us/enu/product/view/?id=522974 which is similar to one I have seen on the site, but has more analog I/O and offers 0-5 or 0-10vdc output.

    Unfortunately, the Exlar products are not that price friendly for home users. These actuator/drive packages have a street price of close to $8k each. But being an employee, I am hoping to make a deal for 3 of them. We'll see how that goes after I do a little more research. I know I can get the drives, but not sure I can get the actuators yet.

    Does this seem like a fit for using X-sim?

    BTW, I have no background in embedded controls/firmware. I am more of an automation guy. PLC, motion control, etc. Simulators are not my forte. This is all new to me.
  2. Ads Master

    Ads Master

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  3. egoexpress

    egoexpress Active Member

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    Welcome Exlar!

    Well, you're right, those actuators are far too expensive for the common DIYer :)

    But nonetheless, we would like to help you with the controlling/interfacing part, as long as you will mention us (X-Sim software) concering the controlling/interfacing part on the trade shows.
    I want to see your beast following the X-Sim commands 8)

    X-Sim² is what you'll need for your project!

    The controlling part is not the issue. But do you have an exact idea how you want to design your simulator already?

    Any CAD drawings or sketches yet?

    Regards
    Christian
  4. ExMan

    ExMan New Member

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    No real design as of yet. My thought was that the data fondlers(that link the unlike software(s) and hardware(s)) are the most unknown to me and therefore the hole in my idea. I have downloaded X-Sim² and really am having a hard time understanding the basic progression of what it is trying to accomplish in the Motion-Profiler GUI. I am mostly in the investigation phase now, but it is good to hear that my suspicion that X-Sim² will work is confirmed. The basic design of the Force Dynamics 301 is what I am envisioning at this point. Or if the 401 is plausible, then that would be the ultimate in cool. There are many many hurdles to jump before I can even consider this as a real project.

    Does the USB DAC brand or type matter? I was guessing that the commands sent to the DAC are sent from the Motion-Profiler. If that is the case, a module(?) or rewrite of the profiler would need to be done for any DAC that might be used. Is this true? Is it a rewrite or a module that can be created for the hardware?
  5. egoexpress

    egoexpress Active Member

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    You will need a controller interface. I would recommend you TronicGr' AMC motion controller.
    I assume you arent familiar with soldering irons. I can offer you following. If you'll show me some pics of your assembled simulator, I will solder you such a controller board.
    This board is able to output PWM or servo signals to your motor drivers. Afair the speed resolution is 10bit.

    I know, for those who are not familiar with the X-Sim project, the controlling part seems the main issue. But it is not. The main problem are acutators, that are strong enough. Obviously you have access to such actuators, so there is no hurdle left over.

    Regards
    Christian
  6. ExMan

    ExMan New Member

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    Thanks Christian. With the expertise here and the willingness to help, I may have found the right place. I will see where this takes me. When I get to the point of creating a design, I will post a project log. Thanks for helping with some initial investigation.

    BTW, I am familiar with soldering irons and I think I could recreate TronicGr' AMC motion controller, but I don't understand why I would need it? Is it because the software is tightly integrated into the controller? From my perspective, the only things I would be using from the controller would be the analog outputs to command the actuator/drives. I would not need the motor control portion at all, or am I missing something? Seems like I would be building something with excessive functionality that I can buy for a couple hundred bucks complete(USB DAC).
  7. tronicgr

    tronicgr

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    Hi ExMan,

    Let me explain something about my AMC controller. It doesn't just output PWM signal (or analog voltages with a RC filter). It will read position feedback of the motor and adjust the PWM signal, converting it from simple speed control (that all USB DAC's are doing right now) to a true servo positioning device! This applies to simple DC motors but also to larger AC motors that are controlled by AC variable speed drivers (with direction control) with voltage signal 0 to 10 volts!! I'm not talking about true AC servo motors that are using their own controller for positioning with PID algorithms, they can be interfaced directly to the x-sim2 like we doing right now for the SCN5 motor!!!

    Another thing about my AMC is that the 1024 resolution positions may seem low for now, but I already started increasing the positioning resolution to 65535 positions, at least, by developing Quadrature Optical encoders support. See this link:
    post9780.html#p9780

    Regards Thanos
  8. ExMan

    ExMan New Member

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    Thanks for the explanation. You have confirmed what I had already thought. That I don't think that I would need your controller. What you are developing is partly what my SV drive already does. It feedsback a resolver signal from the motor itself so it is never lost. The drive takes the analog position command signal and responds very nicely, it has its own GUI to setup the system axis one time. From what I have read, this SCN5 plugin is a special setup page. I am guessing that a new plugin for something like the expanded velleman boardhttp://www.vellemanusa.com/us/enu/product/view/?id=522974 would need to be developed. Does this sound correct? Or am I still missing something?
  9. tronicgr

    tronicgr

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    Hey! You don't need the velleman board to control the SV series drives! You can control them by RS485 communication protocol like we do for SCN5 motor!!!!!!!! :D

    This is from the SVmanual.pdf link:


    I don't know how different can be the command protocol of the SV for controlling them through RS485, but I guess they must be similar... In SV series drives Modbus is used where in SCN5 Termi-BUS is used!

    After all, the SV series is a DIGITAL BRUSHLESS POSITIONER, stand alone controller that needs only digital data to work! The Analog 0-10v solution is not as elegant as the digital solution!

    Regards, Thanos
  10. ExMan

    ExMan New Member

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    I initially thought that the modbus solution would be the most elegant as well, however I am not sure my original question has been answered. Without adding any modules or changing the X-sim2 software, is it capable of communicating with a hardware device that can output an analog signal? If the answer is no, then modbus is the way to go, but if the functionality already exists, then I don't want to code more than is necessary to get the job done.

    Modbus is an industry standard in the automation world, so there are modbus plugins available for many software packages out there. That way no one would have to reinvent the basic modbus parameter data transfer protocols.

    What software are the modules for the motion profiler written in? I can likely find a free modbus plugin.
  11. ExMan

    ExMan New Member

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    Sounds good. Like I have said in previous posts, there is quite a bit of work, funding and approval from the company for me to get this project going, but the first person I have mentioned it to had a positive response, so that is a good thing.

    If you want to play with it too and/or write the plugin for me, I may be able to get a drive and actuator to you. It likely with be a much smaller unit not capable of the speed and stroke that I am planning, but would get you the setup you need to run it. I have most recently been building a web app with JavaEE and used to build machines based on Visual Basic software, but have never coded in C++, although I am sure i could learn most anything with enough time...

    The beauty of this SV positioner is that once the accel, stroke length, screw lead, speed and homing info is setup in the configuration software, you only need to write to one positioning register basically entering 0-100% for all your movement, so the plugin programming would mostly be just linking the movement with the profiler.

    As for speed...Is a 3G accel/decel rate with full 18inch stroke in 1 second fast enough response? ;D If so, our product should work ok. That is just with the products I have initially selected. We could produce 5 g accel/decel and 18inch stroke in .5 seconds if I size the motor big enough. :D I even sized out one of our actuators at 10G accel/decel and full 18 inch stroke in .25 second, but that is a $10k+ actuator without a motor or drive...and the motor would need to be capable of 800lbf-in peak torque @4000RPM, which is waaaay out of the range of this project. :eek: :eek: Speed and response are the least of my worries, just like the software portion seems to be the least worry of the x-sim community... Our products are already used in commercial 6dof simulators, for things like mining truck and commercial flight simulator driver training. See examples here http://www.exlar.com/Engineering St...file=Engineering Stuff/Test and Simulaton.pdf
  12. egoexpress

    egoexpress Active Member

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    Well, gentlemen, start you engines ;D

    Regards
    Christian
  13. ExMan

    ExMan New Member

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    I am sure it is. Software is always far more complex to design than a user of it understands. ;D

    Not sure where you saw 60mm/sec. The system I have initially sized so far is capable of 846mm/sec peak speed. But I was thinking that 460mm in 1 sec is a pretty good speed for the whole stroke, but again, I don't really know. Do you think the motors should be sized for 5G accel? The higher the accel rate, the slower the peak speed will get. Sizing out the actuators is a balance between screw pitch, stroke length(19mm lead is limited to 230mm stroke), gear reduction(if any to raise torque) and max motor speed as I am sure you understand. What do you consider the most important parameter?
    -Stroke length
    -Max Speed
    -Max Accel

    This is a good question. I have much to learn before I can give you an informed response to these questions.
  14. ExMan

    ExMan New Member

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    From my first post...0.626 millisecond update speed, so that means the system is updating approx 1597 times/sec. It is as smooth as the command signal at all speeds independent of the accel time. This drive was designed to follow an analog signal and has been designed for this purpose. Do you see this as a reasonable to create smooth commanding at all speeds?

    See this video for a demo of the actuators. This one is only rated for max speed of 5in/sec(127mm/sec), but gives you an idea of what it is doing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uhcY-qcRkI


    Edit, I added another video with a faster actuator. I could go in the lab and get 220vac to get this actuator to go 25in/sec(635mm/sec) which is my goal speed, but haven't found the time.

    Max speed is 12.5in/sec(320mm/sec) on this one. Getting closer to seeing that response time is as fast as a human can give it in this. Again smooth at all speeds.

    When I flip the switch at the end, that makes it go to full extension.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDOwA6J4uhk
  15. Tulu

    Tulu New Member

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    i got the same problem with Exman.I am building a 3 DOF.I am an automation guy who programs servo drives.I want to use my servo drives for this project so i need a communication between PC and Servo drive.I guess Modbus is the simplest one.The problem is i dont know how to read the effect and send with modbus .

    Which program reads the effect from the game ? Is this program open-source ?

    Thanks for your help...
  16. tronicgr

    tronicgr

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    Hi,

    I just noticed this...

    I suppose its fairly easy do design a variation of my AMC controller that will output true analog values using a simple DAC (resistor network) possible with 12bit resolution.

    The programming for such DAC controller can be easy if used only to output the voltage depending on the serial command it receives, but can also be programmed as true servo DAC controller with feedback from potentiometer or hall-effect ratiometric pot or even quadrature encoder (still experimenting on this one).

    The update rate for such controller can be very high (less that 1ms) in contrary to the PWM that needs more processing time to produce the pulses.

    Darn... so many projects so little time.. :lol:


    Thanos
  17. Tulu

    Tulu New Member

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    At last i have configured the force-sender and live for speed.Now at the outsim window i am seeing all the details about velocity and etc..

    my question is which program is calculating the movement of the servo regarding the data from outsim.?

    or can i directly read from outsim and calculate the position of the servo by myself.

    If i get the needed movement in any protocol i will turn it to modbus and send to my driver
  18. tronicgr

    tronicgr

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    Hi, Tulu

    You need to make a software interface between x-sim profiler and modbus devices. The modbus devices cannot just read the raw bytes position delivered from profiler.

    This software interface can be implemented as plugin for the profiler like Sirnoname did for driving the SCN5 motors. The software interface should include motion profiles for your modbus actuator, as well handling of the acceleration and/or tuning of the actuators PID positioning settings.


    In short, x-sim profiler USO can export simple motion data (8-bit or 16-bit values) for the axis but cannot interface directly to modbus complex command set that requires two way communication. That's way you need the intermediate software interface!


    Regards, Thanos
  19. Tulu

    Tulu New Member

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    Thank you for your opinions and help.

    I have tried to control my servo drive with Hex-codes coming from universial rs232.Also i am reading the values of profiler from universial output.

    I have written a small program which is converting the value of profiler to servo drive language.I will start with basic steps.Write now my friend is working on mechanical parts.We will use 3 servo+gearbox.After i finish the mechanic ,i will send you the pictures.

    About the kinetic ,i am not worried to much for now.My simple goal is to build a simple motion generator.After i get the success ,i will try to read the value directly from outsim and calculate the motion.

    Thanks again for your help.Keep in touch
  20. Tulu

    Tulu New Member

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    Hello Again;

    I have to send AA or 41:41 to device from the profile.

    In the output setup if i write to send AA it is going to device like 41:70 what is my fault :(?
  21. Fahim

    Fahim Member

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    sorry to revive the thread but has there been a way for modbus communicate work with xsim?

    I see many VFD's /servo drives use modbus.