Trio motion controllers keep Daleks in step

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Trio Motion Technology has supplied its MC206X motion controller to Windmill Studios for use in Daleks performing in the 'Dr Who Up-Close' exhibitions.

Windmill Studios provides audio-visual services for the conference, live events and attractions industry. When Trio Motion launched its recent special offer for evaluation kits, Windmill Studios saw this as a good opportunity to try the MC206X motion controller for a special effects project that involved animating Daleks in a visual panorama of synchronised graphics and motion for the popular Dr Who Up-Close exhibitions.

Organised by Martin Wilkie of Experience Design and Management of Shepperton Film Studios, with the close co-operation of the BBC, these exhibitions showcase props, costumes, monsters and creatures from the BBC TV show in animated and interactive standalone displays that feature TV episode sets with life-sized models of the Tardis and other gadgets, plus monsters and villains such as the Daleks, Cybermen and the Slitheen. Windmill Studios is a sub-contractor for all the audio-visual content and special effects for the exhibitions, which are currently showing across the UK in London, Cardiff, Liverpool, Blackpool and Land's End (

The MC206X Starter Kit includes the motion controller configured to suit the axis count and drive technology required, along with all the cables, SD card memory, software and manuals required for the job in hand. Currently priced with an average saving of up to 38 per cent off recommended list prices, the kit is aimed at all new customers, on a one-per-customer basis.

Dalek controls

For Windmill Studios, the MC206X controlled each Dalek's floor movement via a two-axis servo motor driven carriage and with its own on-board digital I/O and an additional 16-channel CANbus I/O module, also sequenced the start-stop positioning of several brushed DC motor-driven axes for the rotating and vertically actuated head, the Dalek's famous 'gunstick' and manipulator arms, as well as handling a variety of synchronised lighting and mechatronic effects.

Trio's independent policy towards its customer's choice of drives, motors and communications allowed Windmill Studios to select SEM AC servo motors and IRT servo drives, which are widely specified and often preferred within the stage, theatre and audio-visual automation arena.

Dave Black, a Project Manager with Windmill Studios, who has over 20 years' experience in the industry, has used a variety of competitive motion control systems and was struck by how straightforward and fast it was to install and program the MC206X: "I found the Trio MotionPerfect2 development software easy to use for configuration and programming. The project-based approach, along with the axis and I/O monitoring, and the simplicity of the Trio Basic language, allowed for really fast application development. I was particularly impressed with the plug-and-play CANbus I/O module, which really was up and running in seconds – that is something we have rarely experienced with other motion controllers".

The Din-rail mounted MC206X uses Trio's high-performance 32-bit floating-point DSP technology to provide high speed, flexibility and connectivity for up to four axes of stepper or servo motor control, plus a master encoder input and two virtual axes. An expansion connector is also included for an optional fifth motion axis module or a daughter board to enable digital drive networks such as Sercos, Control Techniques' SLM or CAN to be used to add additional axes, increase I/O or provide an interface for factory communications.

Motion Coordinator family

The controller is part of the Motion Coordinator family that offer from one to 64 axes of motion and machine control in modular designs that allow machine builders and OEMs to select their preferred drive, feedback and motor technologies in combination with a wide choice of factory and drive communication networks. Benefiting from the scaleable MotionPerfect2 application development language with its easy-to-use yet powerful multitasking TrioBASIC software or a choice of G-code or IEC 61131 programming options, a wide range of progressive features are included for reduced development times, increased production throughput, improved accuracy and higher levels of security for automation systems of all sizes.

With a complement of 16 opto-isolated I/O (eight in, eight bi-directional), high-speed registration inputs for each axis and an adaptor for a fibre-optic network for adding Trio HMIs, the versatile MC206X is aimed at small to medium-sized control applications in manufacture and test, process control, and research – not just alien life-form simulation!

Find out more about Trio Motion's full range of motion controllers. The MC206X is now a legacy product.

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