New poll: should we switch to PCI-e 8x connector on IONI?

I made a new poll to ask whether we should change IONI’s PCI-e 4x connector to PCI-e 8x type to favor higher currents. Please vote and/or leave comments!

4x connector vs 8x connector:

  • 4x is shorter and fits easier on custom motherboards (won’t affect IONICUBE as it has 8x already)
  • 8x has more pins (98 vs 64 pins) which might be necessary for maximum currents
  • 4x to 8x change adds 17 mm length on card edge connector
  • 8x card can’t be fitted on 4x socket but 4x socket fits on 8x socket

IONI plans

As we are expecting the release candidate prototypes of IONI arrive any moment now on the first week of December according to factory, it’s good to shed light to the plans regarding the drive.

Here is a draft of one option: we launch a standard model which has all the features we have implemented to the date (pretty much all the stuff that Argon has) and a Pro version where we add sophisticated features that may be useful for the most demanding applications.

The IONI and IONI Pro plan

One possible variation model for IONI and IONI Pro

One might wonder why not to put everything into the one model. The reasons for separating the models into different price versions traces back to the cost. There will be cost of development and support that affect the Pro version price. Support is the main factor here. More sophisticated features inevitably generate more support overhead and that costs our time. If a customer buys lots of drives, then price of the two will become nearly same as the difference in support becomes near equal.

And the good news for early birds: as the implementation of Pro features will begin after standard IONI model launch, and there is no much extra in Pro, the early bird users will be receiving the Pro version at the price of standard model :-)

Where our drives go?

That is the question that got me wondering yesterday. We have a good feeling where they go but I wanted to know the answer in detail and here it is:

Deliveries by country

Deliveries by country

In summary we have had deliveries to more than 40 countries, many of them are destinations I could not even dream of selling when we started the business. I see Internet is working very well spreading the word all over the world. Thank you everyone involved! This would not have been possible without word of mouth.

One interesting observation is that we see orders coming in waves from area by area, especially from the countries with less frequent sales. For example Switzerland was quiet for long time, then suddenly multiple orders started coming during relatively short time.

Something completely different – Laser diode driver!

Along motor controllers, we have been designing a laser diode driver. Laser diode driver, or LDD, is basically a current regulator that is used to drive constant or pulsed current to a semiconductor diode that emits laser light.

Intensify Nx50 laser diode driver delivers continuous current of 50 A at exceptional 95% efficiency.

Intensify Nx50 laser diode driver delivers continuous current of 50 A at exceptional 95% efficiency.

The story behind this is the fact that I have been working close to laser diode industry where I get understanding of how laser diodes are utilized and controlled, as well as expertise of precision current control from motor drives. Combining these two makes it almost trivial to make a new kind of LDD that has never seen before.

Intenisify Nx50 laser diode driver delivers up to 150 A continuous current when three boards are connected parallel by stacking

Three Nx50’s stacked forming a 0 – 150 A driver.

The product is now finished and it’s called Intensify Nx50. It has unique ability to be stacked to increase output rating. Single board outputs current between 0 – 50 A and voltage between 0.8 – 5.0 V. Two of them output 0 – 100 A / 0.8 – 5.0 V and three 0 -150 / A 0.8 – 5.0 V etc.

Funny observation from testing of 150 A driver in pulsed mode is that the thick cables tend to physically move due to magnetic force generated by flowing current. When current flows in parallel conductors in opposite directions, cables repel each other. It takes hefty amount of current to feel and see it :)

AC servo motor quick commissioning guide

I made an quick installation guide for the new AC servo motors to the Wiki. The site includes also pre-made drive configuration files so motors will operate straight out of the box once connections are made and file loaded to the drive. Remaining job for user is to adjust servo motor position or velocity control gain parameters because those depend on mechanical load properties and cannot be pre-configured without having the actual machine present.

All motor & power wires plugged to drive and ready to go. Installation is really fast and simple operation compared to the earlier VSD series drives.

All motor & power wires plugged to drive and ready to go. Installation is really fast and simple operation compared to the earlier VSD series drives.

 

New AC servo motors have arrived

The first batch of new servo motors are here! The stocked selection includes 400 W and 950 W rated of low inertia AC servo motors. Both models come with 2 500 PPR (10 000 counts/rev) encoders and pre-assembled 4 meter long cables that plug straight to the Argon drive saving from the hassle and chance of error.

New 400W and 950W motors. Motors come with pre-made 4 meter cables that plug straight to Argon servo drive.

New 400W and 950W motors. The new servos are notably lighter and smaller than equivalent motors from few years back. They weight approximately 1/3 less than equal power Sanyo P5’s.

Servos will will appear in the web shop during the next days. Detailed specifications of motors are already online at the Wiki. The specification PDF lists all available models from 30 W to 950 W which are available on order. All sizes are optionally available with a holding brake.

I’m excited to see the first machines running with these beasts :)

New poll – preferred motor cable lenght

As we want to offer motors with pre-made cables that plug directly to the drives eliminating soldering work and chance of wiring error, I made a new poll to ask how long motor cables our followers would prefer.

Cable lenght specification

Cable lenght specification

So please make your vote on the right side of this page or leave a comment to share your thoughts!

Servo motor driven laser projector

To demostrate the use of SimpleMotion V2 library with Argon drives, we created a laser projector demo where the angle of two surface mirrors are controlled by two brushless servo motors and Argons.

This was the demo presented also in our SPS IPC DRIVES visit few weeks ago.

Some random project facts:

  • Motor powers are 100W and 300W continuous. Maybe it’s the most overpowered laser projector made.
  • The surface mirrors are cut from hard disk drive platters.
  • The smaller motor doesn’t have full smoothless any more as it was partially burned by accidentally swapping the motor cables causing too much current to it.

SPS IPC DRIVES exhibition experienced

The visit in SPS IPC DRIVES 2013 exhibition at Nuremberg is over and we’re back home now! I believe the visit was well worth the effort. However, as we enrolled to the exhibition bit too late, we got a sub-optimal booth location but regardless of that we got plenty of good feedback and promising contacts.

Tero Kontkanen and Timo Piiroinen at the SPS IPC DRIVES 2013 exhibition

Tero Kontkanen and Timo Piiroinen at the SPS IPC DRIVES 2013 exhibition

We had small demonstration system on our desk to show some of the capabilities of Argon drive with SimpleMotion V2 bus. The demo is a laser projector where a green laser beam is steered by two mirrors rotated by very fast servo motors. More details, a video and making-of coverage will follow later!

Laser projector demo controlled by Argon drives and SimpleMotion library

Laser projector demo controlled by Argon drives and SimpleMotion library

Get a voucher and meet us at SPS IPC DRIVES 2013 exhibition

I and my colleague are going to exhibit at SPS IPC DRIVES on 26. – 28.11.2013 at Nuremberg, Germany. This is the very first time we go out for such event as exhibitor.

The Argon offer available from our booth!

The Argon offer available from our booth! The banner says Open Source firmware, which is planned to be release right after the exhibition.

I warmly welcome everyone to visit the greatest automation fair SPS IPC DRIVES with a free entry voucher. To register as visitor, use Granite Devices voucher code 130748463 at www.mesago.com/sps/tickets. Trust me, there’s tons of amazing stuff to see and one full day is hardly enough to walk trough it.