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easy stepper control?
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Smitty
science forum addict


Joined: 21 Apr 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 3:49 am    Post subject: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

Can anyone recommend *the* easiest way to control stepper motors, using
a computer through an RS-232 port? I've got the motors and the driver.
Is there some simple-to-learn software available? I don't need to do
anything much fancier than making them go forward and backwards.

The telescoping mechanism that they'll be driving won't even have closed
loop feedback for positioning, because the positions will just be
controlled by eye. Essentially a signal from a foot pedal is all I'm
looking at.
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Brian Whatcott
science forum Guru Wannabe


Joined: 09 May 2005
Posts: 267

PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:38 am    Post subject: Re: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

On Tue, 11 Apr 2006 20:49:15 -0700, Smitty Two
<prestwhich@earthlink.net> wrote:

Quote:
Can anyone recommend *the* easiest way to control stepper motors, using
a computer through an RS-232 port? I've got the motors and the driver.
Is there some simple-to-learn software available? I don't need to do
anything much fancier than making them go forward and backwards.

The telescoping mechanism that they'll be driving won't even have closed
loop feedback for positioning, because the positions will just be
controlled by eye. Essentially a signal from a foot pedal is all I'm
looking at.

Ocean Controls, Victoria, Australia. I have used their stuff before.
It was a great value. This site quotes AUS dollar prices.
Ask for a US quote.


<http://www.oceancontrols.com.au/motor_controller/stepper_motor_controllers.htm>

Brian Whatcott Altus OK
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Smitty
science forum addict


Joined: 21 Apr 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 5:06 pm    Post subject: Re: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

In article <ripp325jarbjkmi8vjp87etss536h56h24@4ax.com>,
Brian Whatcott <betwys1@sbcglobal.net> wrote:

Quote:
On Tue, 11 Apr 2006 20:49:15 -0700, Smitty Two
prestwhich@earthlink.net> wrote:

Can anyone recommend *the* easiest way to control stepper motors, using
a computer through an RS-232 port? I've got the motors and the driver.
Is there some simple-to-learn software available? I don't need to do
anything much fancier than making them go forward and backwards.

The telescoping mechanism that they'll be driving won't even have closed
loop feedback for positioning, because the positions will just be
controlled by eye. Essentially a signal from a foot pedal is all I'm
looking at.

Ocean Controls, Victoria, Australia. I have used their stuff before.
It was a great value. This site quotes AUS dollar prices.
Ask for a US quote.


http://www.oceancontrols.com.au/motor_controller/stepper_motor_controllers.ht
m

Brian Whatcott Altus OK

Thanks for the suggestion, Brian. I've actually already purchased the
motors and the driver.

The only other time I used steppers in a design, I used a PLC to control
them, and I had to farm out the PLC programming. My real question is,
isn't there some easy-to-use software to control the driver? Ladder
logic is insanely illogical. I don't want to have to study the manual
for three months just to figure out how to make the damn motor go around!

Jon
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N:dlzc D:aol T:com (dlzc)
science forum Guru


Joined: 25 Mar 2005
Posts: 2835

PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 8:46 pm    Post subject: Re: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

Dear Smitty Two:

"Smitty Two" <prestwhich@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:prestwhich-1D88F0.10065616042006@news.west.cox.net...
Quote:
In article <ripp325jarbjkmi8vjp87etss536h56h24@4ax.com>,
Brian Whatcott <betwys1@sbcglobal.net> wrote:

On Tue, 11 Apr 2006 20:49:15 -0700, Smitty Two
prestwhich@earthlink.net> wrote:

The telescoping mechanism that they'll be driving
won't even have closed loop feedback for
positioning, because the positions will just be
controlled by eye. Essentially a signal from a
foot pedal is all I'm looking at.

Ocean Controls, Victoria, Australia. I have used
their stuff before. It was a great value. This site
quotes AUS dollar prices. Ask for a US quote.

http://www.oceancontrols.com.au/motor_controller/stepper_motor_controllers.htm

Thanks for the suggestion, Brian. I've actually
already purchased the motors and the driver.

The only other time I used steppers in a design,
I used a PLC to control them, and I had to farm
out the PLC programming. My real question is,
isn't there some easy-to-use software to control
the driver?

You don't like "visual assembly language"? You don't like having
to spend hours on administrivia, trying to remember what register
you put that little bit of information in?

Quote:
Ladder logic is insanely illogical.

No, just obtuse. Allen-Bradley's "ControLogix" processor series
is a big improvement, if still obtuse. At least it uses regular
variable naming, and structures. And only requires and arm and a
leg to purchase.

Quote:
I don't want to have to study the manual
for three months just to figure out how to make
the damn motor go around!

If you have an RS-232 communications, you might try LabView.
What langauge are you familiar with? Almost all of them will
output serial data. And your foot pads could be left and right
mouse buttons...

If you cannot do without a PLC, I do coding. I only have
software for an older Mitsubishi series right now... and
"AutomationDirect" (aka Koyo).

David A. Smith
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Smitty
science forum addict


Joined: 21 Apr 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 5:14 am    Post subject: Re: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

In article <i2y0g.1050$AB3.729@fed1read02>,
"N:dlzc D:aol T:com \(dlzc\)" <N: dlzc1 D:cox T:net@nospam.com> wrote:

Quote:
Dear Smitty Two:

"Smitty Two" <prestwhich@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:prestwhich-1D88F0.10065616042006@news.west.cox.net...
In article <ripp325jarbjkmi8vjp87etss536h56h24@4ax.com>,
Brian Whatcott <betwys1@sbcglobal.net> wrote:

On Tue, 11 Apr 2006 20:49:15 -0700, Smitty Two
prestwhich@earthlink.net> wrote:

The telescoping mechanism that they'll be driving
won't even have closed loop feedback for
positioning, because the positions will just be
controlled by eye. Essentially a signal from a
foot pedal is all I'm looking at.

Ocean Controls, Victoria, Australia. I have used
their stuff before. It was a great value. This site
quotes AUS dollar prices. Ask for a US quote.

http://www.oceancontrols.com.au/motor_controller/stepper_motor_controllers.
htm

Thanks for the suggestion, Brian. I've actually
already purchased the motors and the driver.

The only other time I used steppers in a design,
I used a PLC to control them, and I had to farm
out the PLC programming. My real question is,
isn't there some easy-to-use software to control
the driver?

You don't like "visual assembly language"? You don't like having
to spend hours on administrivia, trying to remember what register
you put that little bit of information in?

Ladder logic is insanely illogical.

No, just obtuse. Allen-Bradley's "ControLogix" processor series
is a big improvement, if still obtuse. At least it uses regular
variable naming, and structures. And only requires and arm and a
leg to purchase.

I don't want to have to study the manual
for three months just to figure out how to make
the damn motor go around!

If you have an RS-232 communications, you might try LabView.
What langauge are you familiar with? Almost all of them will
output serial data. And your foot pads could be left and right
mouse buttons...

If you cannot do without a PLC, I do coding. I only have
software for an older Mitsubishi series right now... and
"AutomationDirect" (aka Koyo).

David A. Smith

Thanks David,

Yes, RS-232. I've been meaning to look into Lab View -- the man upstairs
has used it on occasion. If you think it's the easiest thing for simple
stepper control, I'll give it a look.

Jon
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N:dlzc D:aol T:com (dlzc)
science forum Guru


Joined: 25 Mar 2005
Posts: 2835

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 6:50 am    Post subject: Re: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

Dear Smitty Two:

"Smitty Two" <prestwhich@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:prestwhich-694992.22144916042006@news.west.cox.net...
Quote:
In article <i2y0g.1050$AB3.729@fed1read02>,
"N:dlzc D:aol T:com \(dlzc\)" <N: dlzc1 D:cox T:net@nospam.com
wrote:
....
If you have an RS-232 communications, you might
try LabView. What langauge are you familiar with?
Almost all of them will output serial data. And
your foot pads could be left and right mouse
buttons...

If you cannot do without a PLC, I do coding. I only
have software for an older Mitsubishi series right
now... and "AutomationDirect" (aka Koyo).

Yes, RS-232. I've been meaning to look into Lab View
-- the man upstairs has used it on occasion.

"man upstairs" = God?
;>)

Quote:
If you think it's the easiest thing for simple
stepper control, I'll give it a look.

Not "easiest" for me. Only "possible".

What languages do you do, if any? I've done simple serial I/O
with QBasic, with Clipper, but not with any of the current
high-level languages under Windoze.

Are you sure you can dedicate a PC to operating this stepper?
Will it ever be used "in the field" away from AC power?

David A. Smith
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operator jay
science forum Guru Wannabe


Joined: 29 Apr 2005
Posts: 142

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 1:16 pm    Post subject: Re: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

"N:dlzc D:aol T:com (dlzc)" <N: dlzc1 D:cox T:net@nospam.com> wrote in
message news:eVG0g.1058$AB3.72@fed1read02...
Quote:
Dear Smitty Two:

"Smitty Two" <prestwhich@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:prestwhich-694992.22144916042006@news.west.cox.net...
In article <i2y0g.1050$AB3.729@fed1read02>,
"N:dlzc D:aol T:com \(dlzc\)" <N: dlzc1 D:cox T:net@nospam.com> wrote:
...
If you have an RS-232 communications, you might
try LabView. What langauge are you familiar with?
Almost all of them will output serial data. And
your foot pads could be left and right mouse
buttons...

If you cannot do without a PLC, I do coding. I only
have software for an older Mitsubishi series right
now... and "AutomationDirect" (aka Koyo).

Yes, RS-232. I've been meaning to look into Lab View
-- the man upstairs has used it on occasion.

"man upstairs" = God?
;>)

If you think it's the easiest thing for simple
stepper control, I'll give it a look.

Not "easiest" for me. Only "possible".

What languages do you do, if any? I've done simple serial I/O with
QBasic, with Clipper, but not with any of the current high-level languages
under Windoze.

Are you sure you can dedicate a PC to operating this stepper? Will it ever
be used "in the field" away from AC power?

David A. Smith

I'm late joining this conversation, but what about one of the little stepper

controller boards you see advertised? I'm thinking of one like this:
www.allmotion.com

I think you can connect this to RS-232 (either pc or microcontroller) and
send commands to run the stepper. Also, I've use one from Haydon Switch
that was standalone.
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Smitty
science forum addict


Joined: 21 Apr 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 4:20 pm    Post subject: Re: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

In article <XZudnf3YB9ndCN7ZnZ2dnUVZ_sKdnZ2d@comcast.com>,
"ms" <none@none.none> wrote:

Quote:
I'm late joining this conversation, but what about one of the little stepper
controller boards you see advertised? I'm thinking of one like this:
www.allmotion.com

I think you can connect this to RS-232 (either pc or microcontroller) and
send commands to run the stepper. Also, I've use one from Haydon Switch
that was standalone.

It's the "sending of the commands" that is in question. I've got the
control board, just don't know the easiest way to talk to it. You've
used one what from Haydon that was a standalone? Stepper motor, or
control board?
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Smitty
science forum addict


Joined: 21 Apr 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 4:35 pm    Post subject: Re: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

In article <eVG0g.1058$AB3.72@fed1read02>,
"N:dlzc D:aol T:com \(dlzc\)" <N: dlzc1 D:cox T:net@nospam.com> wrote:


Quote:

"man upstairs" = God?
;>)

close. wears many hats: company owner, chief engineer, project manager,
head nitwit. literally works upstairs, sequestered, mad scientist style.

Quote:

If you think it's the easiest thing for simple
stepper control, I'll give it a look.

Not "easiest" for me. Only "possible".

What languages do you do, if any? I've done simple serial I/O
with QBasic, with Clipper, but not with any of the current
high-level languages under Windoze.

Are you sure you can dedicate a PC to operating this stepper?
Will it ever be used "in the field" away from AC power?

David A. Smith

Languages? Well, I do tolerably well with English, but I don't think
computers speak that one yet. The Fortran, Basic, Cobol, and Assembly I
worked with was back in the punch-card days of the mid-seventies.

Yes, the PC will be used for other system requirements besides driving
the steppers. Think medical lab environment. Our current operator
interface "mental model" is a jog-knob style cycle switch that will
cycle the foot switch input to control four axes of motion.
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Ned Simmons
science forum beginner


Joined: 28 Jun 2005
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 5:22 pm    Post subject: Re: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

In article <prestwhich-77751E.09355917042006@news.west.cox.net>,
prestwhich@earthlink.net says...
Quote:
In article <eVG0g.1058$AB3.72@fed1read02>,
"N:dlzc D:aol T:com \(dlzc\)" <N: dlzc1 D:cox T:net@nospam.com> wrote:



"man upstairs" = God?
;>)

close. wears many hats: company owner, chief engineer, project manager,
head nitwit. literally works upstairs, sequestered, mad scientist style.


If you think it's the easiest thing for simple
stepper control, I'll give it a look.

Not "easiest" for me. Only "possible".

What languages do you do, if any? I've done simple serial I/O
with QBasic, with Clipper, but not with any of the current
high-level languages under Windoze.

Are you sure you can dedicate a PC to operating this stepper?
Will it ever be used "in the field" away from AC power?

David A. Smith

Languages? Well, I do tolerably well with English, but I don't think
computers speak that one yet. The Fortran, Basic, Cobol, and Assembly I
worked with was back in the punch-card days of the mid-seventies.

Yes, the PC will be used for other system requirements besides driving
the steppers. Think medical lab environment. Our current operator
interface "mental model" is a jog-knob style cycle switch that will
cycle the foot switch input to control four axes of motion.


Take a look at a motion controller card for your PC's PCI bus. For
example:
http://www.galilmc.com/products/econo/dmc18x2.html

There are plenty of other mfrs of this sort of thing, Galil just happens
to be the one I'm most familiar and comfortable with. Programming is
straightforward and Basic-like. Auxiliary I/O is also provided.

But I'm curious why you're using steppers - I didn't see anything in
previous posts that would rule out simple DC motors, or most any open
loop variable speed drive.

Ned Simmons
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N:dlzc D:aol T:com (dlzc)
science forum Guru


Joined: 25 Mar 2005
Posts: 2835

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 12:08 am    Post subject: Re: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

Dear "ms" and Ned Simmons:

"Ned Simmons" <news@nedsim.com> wrote in message
news:MPG.1ead98d3a20d53ad989c01@news.suscom-maine.net...
....
Quote:
Take a look at a motion controller card for your
PC's PCI bus. For example:

"Smitty Two" said he already had the hardware.

David A. Smith
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N:dlzc D:aol T:com (dlzc)
science forum Guru


Joined: 25 Mar 2005
Posts: 2835

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 12:18 am    Post subject: Re: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

Dear Smitty Two:

"Smitty Two" <prestwhich@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:prestwhich-77751E.09355917042006@news.west.cox.net...
Quote:
In article <eVG0g.1058$AB3.72@fed1read02>,
"N:dlzc D:aol T:com \(dlzc\)" <N: dlzc1 D:cox T:net@nospam.com
wrote:
....
What languages do you do, if any? I've done simple
serial I/O with QBasic, with Clipper, but not with any
of the current high-level languages under Windoze.

Are you sure you can dedicate a PC to operating
this stepper? Will it ever be used "in the field" away
from AC power?

Languages? Well, I do tolerably well with English,
but I don't think computers speak that one yet.

A whole lot of people don't either. :>(

Quote:
The Fortran, Basic, Cobol, and Assembly I
worked with was back in the punch-card days of the
mid-seventies.

OK. LabView might be just the trick then.

Quote:
Yes, the PC will be used for other system
requirements besides driving the steppers. Think
medical lab environment. Our current operator
interface "mental model" is a jog-knob style cycle
switch that will cycle the foot switch input to
control four axes of motion.

You have to get digital (on/off) switch information *into* the PC
also then. How will you do this?

David A. Smith
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operator jay
science forum Guru Wannabe


Joined: 29 Apr 2005
Posts: 142

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 12:33 am    Post subject: Re: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

"Smitty Two" <prestwhich@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:prestwhich-B3A509.09202417042006@news.west.cox.net...
Quote:
In article <XZudnf3YB9ndCN7ZnZ2dnUVZ_sKdnZ2d@comcast.com>,
"ms" <none@none.none> wrote:

I'm late joining this conversation, but what about one of the little
stepper
controller boards you see advertised? I'm thinking of one like this:
www.allmotion.com

I think you can connect this to RS-232 (either pc or microcontroller) and
send commands to run the stepper. Also, I've use one from Haydon Switch
that was standalone.

It's the "sending of the commands" that is in question. I've got the
control board, just don't know the easiest way to talk to it. You've
used one what from Haydon that was a standalone? Stepper motor, or
control board?

It was the control board that was standalone.
http://www.hsimotors.com/drives/Chopper-drives.htm
board p/n 40105.
I think it was about $150
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Liam
science forum beginner


Joined: 12 Apr 2006
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:51 am    Post subject: Re: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

Most computers today have USB ports. You could try something like this:

http://www.ar.com.au/~softmark/page44.html

Apologies if it has already been suggested. I didn't read the full thread.
Liam
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Smitty
science forum addict


Joined: 21 Apr 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 6:10 am    Post subject: Re: easy stepper control? Reply with quote

In article <MPG.1ead98d3a20d53ad989c01@news.suscom-maine.net>,
Ned Simmons <news@nedsim.com> wrote:


Quote:


Take a look at a motion controller card for your PC's PCI bus. For
example:
http://www.galilmc.com/products/econo/dmc18x2.html

There are plenty of other mfrs of this sort of thing, Galil just happens
to be the one I'm most familiar and comfortable with. Programming is
straightforward and Basic-like. Auxiliary I/O is also provided.

Thanks, Ned.

Quote:

But I'm curious why you're using steppers - I didn't see anything in
previous posts that would rule out simple DC motors, or most any open
loop variable speed drive.

Ned Simmons

Your question is spot on. I posed the same question to the boss a month
ago. The response was that the customer didn't want the thing crashing
in the event of a control failure. The gearbox built into the stepper
package would prevent the load from driving the motor.

More recently, I was asked to design/spec/source additional, external
drive gearing. Somewhere in that process, I began to ask myself the
stepper necessity question again. The external gear train will hold the
thing just as well as the stepper box. If the failure mode is broken
gear teeth, neither will help much.

So, I posed the question again to the boss, and got a non-definitive
answer. It's possible that the steppers will be grandfathered in, even
as their original purpose has been superseded. And, it's possible that
they'll be scrapped, as you suggest.

I haven't worked closely with the chief long enough to know how he takes
these things. Sometimes egos prevail over common sense. (The boss may
not always be right, but he's always the boss.)

For this week, anyway, we're focusing our efforts on one of the other
aspects of the design.

Jon
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