Geckodrive Changes and New Products for 2011


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    Default Geckodrive Changes and New Products for 2011

    Beginning in the first quarter of 2011, Geckodrive will be rolling out some fairly substantial changes. We have put these below so you know what to expect in the coming months:

    1.) New Website

    We have launched a completely new Geckodrive in the New Year with a focus on being user friendly. We have re-designed our technical support and application note section to be more accessible to all users. There will now be a text version of every single application note on the website with no need to download a PDF version. Our FAQ section has also gotten this treatment and we will be interlinking all relevant technical documents to each product.

    The new website will also feature a user forum where we will post news regarding upcoming projects and will provide technical support from Geckodrive staff.

    We have also added a language translation feature so customers can translate all pages of the website into their native language. This can be done by choosing the language from the drop-down menu at the top of the Geckodrive website.

    2.) International Distributors

    In the last few months of 2010 we began to seek out international distributors in countries with a large Geckodrive user base. We feature a section on our new website to show each distributor organized by country with a link to their website. Because all products are kept in the distributor's country all duties and import fees have been paid, making the price they charge the actual cost. This way, customers will not have to pay additional tariffs and international shipping in locations where an international distributor is available.

    As always with Geckodrive, international customers will still be able to order directly from Geckodrive if they prefer. Distributors are there for your convenience; however, they will not be the only option our customers have.

    You can see our distributors by clicking International Distributors on the drop down from "Products/Order".

    3.) Price Changes

    Because of components moving to obsolescence, notably the 4000 series of integrated circuits that are used by the original G200 and G300 family of products, we will be changing our prices. The single unit prices of the G203V, G250, G251, and G540 will remain the same. The G201X and the G320X will see a 6% price increase due to rising component costs from most manufacturers; the G201, G202, G210, G212, G320 and G340 will have price increases to reflect the increasing cost to manufacture them.

    Price increases are not something we take lightly and are an unfortunately necessary evil. Geckodrive has not raised prices on our products in ten years, in spite of ever increasing component costs. Because this is something we have not done before it is also something we do not plan on doing again for quite some time. The new price schedules are in the attached document and are currently live on the website.

    4.) Motors

    Manufacturing all motor controls in-house from start to finish has been our main priority since Geckodrive's inception and will remain its primary function in the coming years. We have partnered with Lin Engineering to offer quality, American made, custom motors specifically manufactured to match our motor controls. Lin Engineering manufactures all of their motors in Morgan Hill, CA and they are the perfect balance of linearity and holding torque. We currently offer one NEMA 23 motor meant for use with the G250, G251 and G540, but will be offering high torque NEMA 34 motors for use with our higher power drives in the first quarter of 2011 with further expansion as the year progresses.

    5.) New Products

    Major Projects:

    GeckoMotion:

    The major new development effort is designing an embedded motion controller. This is a 4-chip controller using a PIC24F MCU, an ACTEL ProASIC3 FPGA, a 32Mb Flash EEPROM and an RS-485 interface transceiver IC. The motion controller firmware and hardware project working name is GeckMotion and motor drives using this embedded controller use a 'GM' prefix for their project names.

    The embedded controller will use ASCII text commands using simple 1 and 2 character mnemonics. The motion control algorithm is an “on-the-fly” type; the rate of acceleration, velocity and destination are all changeable even while the motor is in motion. The motor position is a 32-bit resolution value and velocity and acceleration are 16-bit values. The velocities are 65,536 evenly spaced frequencies (1Hz resolution from zero to 65,535 Hz). The motor phase current, standby current and standby delay time is set via the controller. The controller also includes buffered general purpose digital I/O as well as analog inputs.

    The PIC24F executes the motion control firmware, communications interface and bulk axis coordinate storage in the serial flash EEPROM (about 200,000 x,y,z coordinate locations). Constant velocity 3D vector motion is built into the design. The design allows for stand-alone or autonomous operation without a PC being present.

    The FPGA is the pulse engine which generates the evenly spaced step frequencies. It also performs the motor drive logic necessary to run a motor, a task presently done by much less powerful CPLDs in our newer existing drives. This serves to eliminate the CPLD and much of the external analog circuitry.
    A unique feature of the FPGA pulse engine is it renders microstep resolution meaningless. Motor motion remains monotonic (non-incremental) no matter how slowly the motor moves. The effective 'microstep resolution' of the drive becomes the inverse of motor speed; at very low speeds the apparent resolution measures in thousands of microsteps per step. At high speeds (thousands of RPM), the apparent resolution drops to 4 microsteps per step which keeps the required step pulse frequency very modest (40kHz gets 3,000 RPM). Statically (zero RPM), the resolution is essentially unlimited and measures out as tens of thousands microsteps per step.

    The small package sizes for these ICs results in the motion controller occupying only 0.7 square inches of board area. This is small enough to allow the controller to fit on our standard size motor drive printed circuit board. The true CMOS design of the MCU and the FPGA results in a controller drawing a 15mA supply current, well within the thermal design limits of our standard drive's voltage regulators.

    GM540:

    The G540 has been a run-away success for us. It is a 4-axis microstepping drive designed to interface with a PC parallel port interface CNC program such as Mach3 and EMC2. It is intended to drive NEMA-23 size step motors up to 3.5 Amps and 50VDC.

    The first new product will be the GM540. This product will have the current G540 parallel port interface replaced with a GeckoMotion controller. The controller firmware has 1, 2, 3 and 4 axis variants; the GM540 will use the 4-axis firmware with no motor control logic because the GM540 will continue to use our G250 microstep drives internally. The DB-25 connector will be re-tasked to serve as a general purpose I/O connector for axis home and limit switches (SPST switch to GND), 0.5A open drain outputs (IN POSITION output, GO input handshake). The GM540 will be the same physical size as the G540 and will be targeted for industrial applications.

    GM201:

    The GM201 will be a 7A per phase, 80VDC class step motor drive incorporating an embedded GeckoMotion controller. It will have nothing in common with the existing G201 10-microstep drive except the package size and a similar model name. It will not be a drop-in replacement for the G201 because of its RS-485 interface. Its features are outlined in the GeckoMotion controller description.
    Another unique design feature of the GeckoMotion controller will be its ability to synchronize itself with other single axis GM201 drives daisy-chained on the same RS-485 communications link. This synchronization will phase-lock all the drives’ crystal oscillators to allow coordinated motion (multiple axis vector motion) as if the drives were being commanded from a single multi-axis motion controller. A single drive will be set as the RS-485 master and the other drives and the PC (if used) are set as slaves. This synchronization scheme works on paper but is yet to be tested.

    GM401 and GM801:

    The GM801 will be a brushless DC motor (PMSM motor) servodrive. It will use Field Oriented Control algorithm based on the Clarke-Park transforms and their inverses. The Clarke transforms convert a rotating 3-phase vector into a 2-phase vector while the Park transform converts a rotating 2-phase vector into a stationary reference. The stationary reference is modulated by a PID feedback loop to complete a servodrive signal path. The inverse transforms restore this stationary reference back to a rotating 3-phase vector again. This vector modulates the motor currents via a Space Vector Modulation. The power rating of the GM801 will be similar to our G320 drive, 20A and 80VDC.

    The GM401 will be a Field Oriented Control step motor servodrive. It will be a derivative of the GM801; a step motor is natively a rotating 2-phase vector so only the Park transforms and their inverses need to be used. Field-weakening will allow the step servo to achieve reasonable speeds in the 3,000 to 6,000 RPM range.

    A step motor has a very useful speed-torque curve in that torque is the inverse of speed. This means the motor can be caused to back up its torque curve when the motor is slowed down. The controller automatically provides a “percentage of available torque being used” signal. An exterior feedback loop can then utilize this signal to intentionally slow the step servo should this signal indicate the torque load is approaching 100% of available torque. In effect the GM401 becomes an unstallable servo; a torque overload results in the motor slowing down and the motor is restored to full speed once the overload disappears. The 'on-the-fly' design of the GeckoMotion controller easily permits this feature.

    Minor Projects:

    G205X:

    The G201X drive has had a redesign which added short-circuit protection, an opto-isolated DISABLE input, an opto-isolated FAULT output (open collector), a red LED indicator for FAULT, a green LED for POWER and a self-test DIP switch setting which moves the motor CW/CCW at 1 rps at a 1Hz rate. The current set resistor option is removed and motor phase current set is via DIP switch only now. Because of the considerable terminal pin reassignments the drive is now called a G205X. Prototypes will be available for in-house testing in 2 weeks.

    G901X:

    The G901X is a redesigned G901 pulse multiplier with improved performance that is compatible with the G201X, G202X and G203V drives. These drives couldn't use the G901 because of voltage incompatibilities (12V logic on the G901 versus 3.3V logic levels on the aforementioned drives). Prototypes will be tested next week.

    We thank you for your loyalty and patience through this transition and look forward to doing business with you in 2011.

    Marcus Freimanis
    Geckodrive, Inc.

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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Geckodrive Changes and New Products for 2011-geckodrive-changes-2011-pdf  


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    Are the GM401 and GM801 only available with GeckoMotion?

    Gerry

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    Is the GeckoMotion controller a break out box used to interface with the drive?

    Perhaps you could describe what a hobby 3 axes milling machine setup might look like.

    Thanks
    Dave



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    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    Are the GM401 and GM801 only available with GeckoMotion?
    I am pretty sure the "M" in GM is for motion....

    Garry



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    That's why I asked if they'll be available without it.

    Gerry

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    Gerry,

    The GM401 and GM801 will only be available with GeckoMotion as of right now because they will not be using step and direction. I went to meet with one of our OEM customers last week and among the things discussed were the limitations of step and direction; the writing is on the wall for it and we are trying to come up with a more efficient communication method. RS485 is that way, but it requires a dedicated motion controller on each drive.

    Dave,

    The motion controller will be embedded into each motor control. They can be daisy chained together with one individual drive acting as the "master" axis that all coordinating signals are sent through. If a hobby machine is using the G540 it will look almost the exact same way it does now, but instead of using the parallel port it would go through a serial cable.

    Marcus



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    and among the things discussed were the limitations of step and direction; the writing is on the wall for it and we are trying to come up with a more efficient communication method.
    For hobby use, I would think step/direction is the only real option, for the foreseeable future. Mach3 is the main control option, and I don't see it changing from step/dir for many years, if at all.

    Gerry

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    I am glad to see the RS485 Geckos coming out. It is going to be alot easier to setup. Also they should work with Linux CNC software.

    The Gecko web site is looking great and is still the best source for information there is.

    With the following Gecko has,(well deserved) I bet it wont be long and there will be alot of new software out there.

    Mike



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    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    For hobby use, I would think step/direction is the only real option, for the foreseeable future. Mach3 is the main control option, and I don't see it changing from step/dir for many years, if at all.
    Never say never--smoothstepper isn't step/dir going into smoothstepper, it generates the step/dir going out. A driver for Mach3 could be built that sends GeckoMotion commands as easily as smoothstepper.

    It's only a question of whether Bryan sees that as a priority, which is likely a question of what his customers want and perhaps as importantly, will pay for. It'd be nicer for the Mach crowd to have USB rather than RS-485 though.

    Cheers,

    BW

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    With a rs232 to 485 converter you can use the usb
    Mike



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    Without software, you can't use anything. Bob, do you honestly think you'd see Mach support for this in less than 3 years?

    Gerry

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    If not Mach 3 then what control software would be used?
    Let me see....
    Buy new drives, install the cables, boot the computer, Dance on one foot and wish you had a compatible controller program?

    I would guess that Marcus has a plan.



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    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    For hobby use, I would think step/direction is the only real option, for the foreseeable future. Mach3 is the main control option, and I don't see it changing from step/dir for many years, if at all.
    We agree on this and follow the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" train of thought. We will still manufacture the G201X, G203V and G205X for step and direction applications; the older drives (G320, G201, G202) will go the way of the dinosaur because of the 4000 series logic ICs no longer being produced. We will still manufacture our newer drives that use step and direction as long as people still want to buy it.

    GeckoMotion will be the software we are developing and will be the one that the GM drives are tested with. If Mach3 issues an update that goes through RS485 that would be great, but it is not something we are actively pursuing at the moment.

    USB is great just because of how common it is, but there are a whole slew of problems that go along with it when it comes to making motion control work. We did it with the G100, but it is not the most efficient way of doing things. The maximum cable length before signals begin to be affected by noise on USB is 16 feet; I never knew what a pain cable lengths were until we set up our test bed CNC machine with a 6 foot parallel cable. RS485 can be extremely long and brings along the option to daisy chain, which is a great addition in the practicality department.

    Marcus



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    i ve never seen a serious application using the usb interface.
    the only thing i ve seen is us it for monitor/none critical stuff
    i guess because it is so popular and the real serial interfaces are not common on laptops/pcs anymore.
    well done to gecko for doing such a step forward especially when this is a bit against the trends of the market.



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    "Gecko Motion will be the software we are developing and will be the one that the GM drives are tested with"

    So Gecko Motion is the software.

    What platform does it run on?

    Can you tell us any more about it?



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    Default Gecko's customer base ?

    My theory:

    Gecko's primary customer base is the industrial market. Hobby users are a welcome addition to the primary customers. We get great hardware. In return Gecko gets an active sounding board as well as the (obviously welcome) extra income. Gecko Motion was created for the industrial customers.

    True?
    Or am I off in the weeds ?

    Anyone who says "It only goes together one way" has no imagination.


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    I agree, when was the last time you saw a "standard PC" with RS485 on it!

    Art
    AKA Country Bubba (Older Than Dirt)


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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclestart View Post
    Gecko Motion was created for the industrial customers.

    True?
    Or am I off in the weeds ?
    Correct. Which means that 99% of hobbiests won't get to take advantage of these two new drives.

    I was really hoping for a quality, affordable step/direction brushless DC drive.

    Gerry

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    I have been following this thread and also the other thread regarding this new product line and wonder if this drawing is a fair representation of what's coming...

    See also: http://www.cnczone.com/forums/gecko_...uff_chute.html





    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Geckodrive Changes and New Products for 2011-geckomotion-jpg  
    Last edited by 762x51; 02-08-2011 at 04:05 PM.


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    Hello CoAMarcus,
    Good day, what about price of motor sold by Lin Engineering, can the price be the same as kelling's or not so much differ for the same specs. Thanks.



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