News Release from: Baldor UK
Edited by the Electronicstalk Editorial Team on 21 May 2001

PCI card provides motion control for x-ray checks

The ground-breaking mouse-controlled positioning delivered by Dage's new X-ray electronics inspection machines is handled by Baldor's NextMove PCIbus motion controller card.

Note: A free brochure or catalogue is available from Baldor UK on the products in this news release. Click here to request a copy.

The ground-breaking mouse-controlled positioning delivered by Dage's new x-ray electronics inspection machines is handled by Baldor's NextMove PCIbus motion controller card. In order to provide revealing views of hidden solder joints on surface-mount printed-circuit boards (PCBs) - or internal views of the new generations of chip packages such as CSP and BGA - the card performs sophisticated correlations of up to five axes of movement in real-time. These allow the operator to orbit around an area of interest under the direction of simple hand movements.

The motion controller translates these to three sets of synchronised motion that site the PCB or chip area of interest in the right position, while keeping it close against the X-ray source on one side and moving the imaging system as needed on the other.

Hardware costs were a major issue in the selection process, which the NextMove PCIbus card satisfied with its four axes of servomotor control, plus an addon expansion module for the fifth axis.

The onboard analog and digital I/O contributed further economy, providing enough inputs and outputs to handle all the associated machine control tasks - avoiding the need for any further modules in the form of PC cards or a PLC.

However, the determining factor in the choice of the motion controller was undoubtedly the capability of the associated Mint motion language, which Dage views as critical in delivering a predictable development cycle.

"Fast time to market is vital for a complex machine project like this", says Steve Ainsworth, Dage's Engineering Manager, "and we look to the quality of the overall software development environment to minimise the risks involved.

The Mint language and toolset is the best we have found, in this instance allowing the movement element of the control system to be developed in just over three months".

Dage's XL series X-ray machines are controlled by PCs.

The NextMove motion controller card plugs into a PC's PCIbus expansion slot, and works as a semi-autonomous subsystem.

It receives double-click and click-and-drag requests to move to exact positions and/or perform controlled scans, and performs the real-time calculations and moves required to realise the positioning.

Programming these correlated and interpolated multi-axis movements was simplified by Mint's large library of specialist keywords which make complex movements available as high-level commands.

Dage utilise many of these in the new machine including SPLINE - which proved of particular value on this project as it effectively allowed the creation of custom movement profiles.

Dage had the option of using the Mint language in either its native interpreted form, or as a library of compatible C language routines.

It chose the latter for this particular machine project because of the computationally intensive nature of the movements required.

This approach allowed the final program to be made very compact and fast-executing, for use in the embedded system, providing the machine's operators with virtually immediate responses to positioning requests.

"The BASIC-style Mint language makes it very easy to get a prototype up and running quickly", adds Ainsworth.

"If you need higher execution speed, the software development environment then provides tools to transfer that code into C - providing OEMs with a valuable range of options over the way that the Mint subsystem can operate in a machine, and the motion control performance that it can deliver".

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