posted by charlestonchoo on 30th June 2008
It's been a month and we've made quite a bit of progress with our projects.
I. Instron Strength Tester
This was one of the first projects to be worked on this summer. For the past 25 years, the Instron 4201 in the Trinity Machine Shop was run by an IBM PC XT, which ran a $10,000 software package made by Instrong specifically for the 4201. Because of the high cost, it was never updated (nor did it need to be, since the only upgrade would be a prettier interface). Our aim is to replace the old system with a LabVIEW VI run on an Efika OpenClient/QNX package available from National Instruments. Most of the LabVIEW work was done this past spring semester by one of this years graduating seniors, Alexandra Miller. Now all of the kinks are worked out and a few more features--such as raw data formatting, plotting, and important material property calculations--have been added, so the VI is nearly ready for student use come August. However, progress has somewhat stalled with the OpenClient/QNX package, so the system is temporarily running on a Dell PC. Alot of the QNX work was done by an NI intern who we're trying to get in on the project.
II. Controls Projects
One of our other projects is to use a PCI-capable FPGA to interface with/control a set of "plants." However, the PCI-capable FPGAs are on backorder from Altera until August, so in the meantime, we will develop the control systems and interfacing with a standalone Altera development board. Two of the plants have been constructed. The V8 Model Engine was completed last week. Now it needs a DC motor mounted to it so that we can control speed via a MOSFET. The robot arm was finished a couple of weeks ago and we have made interfacing for it. We used an SN754410 Quadruple Half H-Bridge (it's a mouthful) as the motor driver and built a logic circuit that provides a layer of abstraction for the student. The system has three easy inputs: PWM, Brake, Direction, which can be easily controlled from an FPGA.
We also have a brand new Altera DE2-70 FPGA development board which will replace the old Altera UP2 development boards that we've used in the past. Most of this past week has been spent getting accustomed to the new board, since it is far more powerful and has many more features than the previous boards.
Pictues of everything will be up in a couple of days.