Drives and Controls Magazine
Motion controller marries Windows with multi-axis engine
Published:  18 November, 2023

The UK controls developer Trio Motion Technology used the recent SPS show to launch a new motion controller based on Intel multi-core processors, which can run Microsoft Windows alongside Trio’s own Motion-iX core, allowing-machine builders to integrate Windows applications with advanced motion functions.

The PC-MCAT-2 controller offers high-speed EtherCat coordination of up to 64 servo and robot axes. It runs Microsoft Windows 10 and provides a choice of Intel processors from Celeron to Core i7, as well as up to 256GB of solid-state drive memory. It can integrate with, and control, almost any peripheral device, including vision systems or sensors. Ports include HDMI, USB, serial and general-purpose digital I/O.

Three Ethernet ports allow the controller to deliver high-speed links from host machines to wider factory networks. To enhance network segmentation and bandwidth, each port has its own IP address.

A supplied API library can be used in Windows applications, communicating with Trio’s Motion-iX motion control functions via a shared memory interface. This provides a high-speed link to the motion engine and a flexible choice of programming languages, allowing third-party SDKs to be integrated to deliver advanced machine control from a single application.

The controller can co-ordinate up to 64 servo or robot axes with 64-bit maths precision, EtherCat cycle times down to 125μs, and motion command execution at speeds of up to 500 lines/ms.

Combining Windows-based machine control and motion coordination on the same device removes the lag created by Ethernet connections to a separate PC.

Trio says the PC-MCAT-2 can reduce machine footprints and hardware costs. OEMs can cut development times by removing the integration and debugging needed when using separate hardware.

Trio’s PC-MCAT-2 controller can run Windows alongside its own Motion-iX core

Applications can be written in Trio’s TrioBasic programming language, or in IEC 61131 languages with PLCopen. These languages execute on the Motion-iX core, independently of Windows.

The single controller can enhance reliability for end-users as well, avoiding communications challenges that may develop after commissioning. The controller is protected by a rugged metal case that improves heat dissipation, while a fanless design reduces noise and maintenance requirements.

“The PC-MCAT-2 motion controller is an advantage for machine-builders who need to deploy Windows-based machine control applications and establish IoT connectivity, alongside high-performance servo or robotic motion control,” says Trio Motion Technology’s president, Tom Alexander. “Combining PC-MCAT-2 with our portfolio of controllers, servodrives and motors, I/O, HMI, and Scara robots, we present machine-builders with an automation solution that offers the highest performance motion control, with support from a single vendor.”

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