TCP/IP compatible drives simplify simulator development

A three axis motion platform is helping increase the realism of crane training, by physically moving a simulator system's replica operator cabin in synch with computer generated images.

Specialist machine manufacturer Electropneumatics & Hydraulics developed the motion platform for training solutions with services supplier Applied Research International (ARI). New Delhi based ARI produces a range of simulators for marine and allied applications designed to emulate the visual, behavioural and operational characteristics of the real world counterparts. A typical crane simulator comprises a modular pc based control system, a replica operator cabin and seat, a high fidelity audio visual system, and an instructor station equipped with cctv for monitoring the actions of the trainee. ARI added an optional motion platform to its line of crane simulators and approached Electropneumatics & Hydraulics – a specialist in the production of metalforming equipment. The company based the motion platform for the crane simulator on Baldor's Powerlink and Ethernet compatible drives and servomotors as they can be controlled via TCP/IP direct from the simulator's host pc, without the need for additional hardware. The three axis motion platform provides X, Y and Z movement of the replica operator cabin, synchronised to the computer generated images being presented to the trainee. Since it is designed to emulate the movement of a real life gantry crane, the platform's drive axes are only required to handle relatively simple motion control tasks such as point to point moves and homing sequences, and do not require interpolation. As a consequence, the MicroFlex e100 servo drives can be used in basic Ethernet mode, without any additional complexity of real time control. Each axis is driven by a Baldor BSM 3-phase servomotor equipped with an incremental encoder for position and velocity feedback, controlled by a dedicated MicroFlex e100 servo drive. All three drives are housed in a separate floor standing control cabinet, and are connected via a D-Link 10/100 Mbps Ethernet switch to the simulator's host pc. To date, Electropneumatics & Hydraulics has rolled out 15 motion platforms.