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Application Stories

Application #1 at a Glance
Industry: Machine Control
Application: Wood veneer grading and sorting system
Requirements: Multiprocessing, easily upgradable and reliability in a "dusty" environment.
Solution: STD 32 system with 586 CPU, I/O

The System

Ventek, Inc. manufactures industrial controllers for the plywood industry that automate veneer grading and sorting. Their systems incorporate a video camera and high speed computer processing to scan veneer for defects such as knots and ragged edges.

Doug Hickman, the head of R&D at Ventek says "the object is to identify defects in the veneer, clip the bad parts out, and group the cut sheets in a stacking machine." This all happens at a speed of up to 600 feet per minute!

Why VersaLogic?
Ventek's primary concerns in selecting an industrial computer were ruggedness, small size, and reliability. "You've got a lot of vibration going on in a mill, and the small size and thickness of the STD Bus circuit boards prevents flexing." Another reason Ventek likes the small size of the STD Bus form factor is that they can "pack a lot of punch" into such a small space.

Ventek has played a significant role in helping VersaLogic bring new products online. "I like the friendly attitude of the folks who work at VersaLogic, they're a great bunch of people." Hickman adds, "I'm very pleased with VersaLogic's ability to bend over backwards to meet my special needs. You guys even recommend competitors' products when you don't have what I need. I really like that."

Why the STD Bus
Richard Ven Eman, Director of Marketing says the multi-processor architecture of their $137,000 New Vision scanner gives it a distinct advantage over the competition who are using a single VME board computer. The parallel processing hardware allows the system to deal with massive amounts of video data, calculate clipping solutions, and control a hydraulic clipper all in real time.

The STD Bus is really the heart of the system. The only extras that are added are the camera, cabling, a keyboard/display, an Opto-22 I/O rack and a cabinet. The rest is firmware.

Ventek took a discrete wired system that had over 75 logic cards in it, and shrank it down into a three-card STD Bus product. The new system is faster, more accurate, and is much more reliable. It took years of experience to develop the proper technique of veneer cutting and sorting. Instead of throwing that knowledge away and trying to reinvent the wheel, Ventek simply moved it into present day technology.

For more information about the veneer cutter: Ventek, Inc. 4217 West Fifth Avenue Eugene, OR 97402 (541) 344-5578 http://www.ventek-inc.com

Application #2 at a Glance
Industry: Minesweeping
Application: Small, water-and EMC-tight embedded computer.
Requirements: Resistance to shock and vibration, EMC to MIL-STD 461/2/3 compliant.
Solution: 486-based STD 32 computer, a VGA flat panel display, PCMCIA slots, mouse and keyboard ports.

New Industrial PC Uses STD 32 to Minesweep
A Swedish manufacturer of DC/DC converters and degaussing systems for large minesweeping ships has chosen STD 32® as the hardware platform for a new, multi-purpose industrial PC called the POLYAMP PC 95.

Manufactured by POLYAMP AB of Sollentuna, Sweden, the POLYAMP PC 95 combines a 486-based STD 32 computer, a VGA flat panel display, PCMCIA slots, mouse and keyboard ports integrated into a small (330x340x 163mm), water- and EMC-tight enclosure that is certified for EMC compliance to MIL-STD 461/2/3, shock (33g) and vibration (6g).

Two are Better Than One
Two POLYAMP PC 95 systems are installed on the newest type of minesweeper, one controlling the ship's degaussing system, the other controlling the magnetic and acoustic sweep supply system.

During the development of the degaussing system and the sweep supply system, we found no PC system on the market which fulfilled all of the requirements of our demanding military customers, said POLYAMP spokesman Per Ennerfors. So, with the help of STD 32, we built our own.

Small Size Spells Success
POLYAMP needed a 486-based system that was rugged and easy to custom design for different applications. The STD 32 architecture, with its compact, industrial format, its PC software- compatibility and its wide array of processor, peripheral and I/O choices, met POLYAMP’s needs, according to spokesman Ennerfors.

The degaussing system uses stealth technology to help a ship reduce its magnetic signature, and therefore reduce the magnetic sea mine threat in mine-infested waters. The sweep supply system provides the mine sweeper with computer controllable electric sweep currents.

POLYAMP AB also supplies DC/DC converters that combine wide input voltage ranges with high industrial quality and reliability. POLYAMP customers are involved in energy, transportation, process control, and military applications.

For more information, contact POLYAMP AB, Box 925, S-191 29 Sollentuna, SWEDEN. Tel: +46 8 359 390, FAX: +46 8 961897.

Application #3 at a Glance {Charlotte Logo}
Industry: Aerospace
Application: Small, mobile robot for conducting experiments on Space Shuttle Flights
Requirements: Resistance to shock and vibration, small footprint, DOS-based motion control and vision
Solution: DOS-based STD 32 System with 486 CPU, motion control

STD 32 ® Computer Helps Spider-Like Robot Perform Space Shuttle Chores
Move over R2D2, and make way for CHARLOTTE™, a spider-like robot named after the clever arachnid in the book “Charlotte’s Web,” and designed to help astronauts conduct experiments and do “chores” during Space Shuttle flights.

Controlled by an STD 32-based industrial computer, CHARLOTTE was a “passenger” on the February, 1995 Space Shuttle flight (STS 63), and will ride again on STS 77, tentatively scheduled for April 25, 1996.

Small Design Works Well in Environment
Designed and built by McDonnell Douglas Aerospace workers in Houston, CHARLOTTE is about the size of a small microwave oven, and is suspended on eight cables that enable it to move around the SPACEHAB module like a spider on a web, without consuming too much room or getting in the way of the astronauts.

Scientists on the ground use the robot’s dexterous manipulator (gripper) to operate their experiments or to perform routine procedures, and her built-in video camera to view the progress of their experiments. This frees the astronauts to perform other jobs on space shuttle missions, where often there is not enough time for astronauts to complete all of the scheduled tasks and experiments.

Campbell explains that the robot was intentionally designed to mimic human movements so that it could work with the space shuttle instrument panels designed for human manipulation. CHARLOTTE observes experiments and operates conventional knobs, switches and buttons. In the future, the robot will change out experimental samples and data cartridges, and perform many other inspection and manipulation tasks.

A traditional robot in the SPACEHAB environment would possibly require a cost-prohibitive redesign of the instrument panel, and force commercial experimenters to change the parameters of experiments designed for human implementation. CHARLOTTE also makes space shuttle flights more cost efficient by adding the capability to perform more experiments on a given mission.

STD 32 Provides Solution
CHARLOTTE spins her web with a compact, industrial STD 32 computer manufactured by Ziatech Corporation. Ziatech Corporation (San Luis Obispo, CA) The main processor is a 486-based single board computer, which controls several two-axis motion control cards made by Technology 80 (Minneapolis, MN), and an imaging board from ImageNation (Beaverton, OR). These are enclosed inside a 9-slot STD 32 card cage embedded inside the robot.

The STD 32 computer commands eight precision reels simultaneously. These servo-driven reels control the length of a cable extending from each corner of the robot to an attachment point at a corner of the robot’s workplace. CHARLOTTE’s position and orientation can be adjusted to change these cable lengths.

Application #4 at a Glance
Industry: Mining
Application: Automated mining vehicles and monitoring devices
Requirements: Rugged, resistance vibration, small footprint, DOS-based motion control
Solution: QNX-based STD 32 System, motion control and imaging interface, rugged flat panel display

A Canadian mining company is automating its mining vehicles with an STD 32 Rugged On-Board Computer and a Rugged Flat Panel Display from Kinetic Computer Corp. (Cambridge, MA).

The STD 32 computer and display serve as the hardware platform for the mining company’s monitoring platform. QNX Enables Multitasking and Networking
The QNX Real-Time Operating System joins the mining company’s proprietary software and a vehicular power supply to complete the system. QNX provides multitasking and networking capability for industrial computers such as STD 32. The on-board mining computer interfaces to a variety of sensors, actuators and peripherals such as data radios, GPS (Global Positioning Systems), receivers, and programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

Rugged Flat Panel Display Provides Solution
The monitoring platform is available in two versions, a Drill Monitor and a Shovel Monitor. The Drill Monitor provides a real-time, on-screen view of surface drilling variables such as depth, fracture locations, waste/ore, or hard/soft rock interfaces.

The Drill Monitor also controls the drill’s rotary speed and downward pressure, and can be programmed to drill a hole to a predefined depth without operator involvement. These holes are subsequently filled with explosives and the ore is blown into fragments. The fragments are gathered by large mining shovels and transported elsewhere for processing.

The Shovel Monitor controls and monitors surface mining shovel equipment, communicating key information to the operator, increasing overall productivity and safety.

Both the Drill and Shovel Monitors can interface to radio modems to communicate performance and production information to a central dispatch office.

The systems also interface to precise GPS receivers to provide real-time locating of mobile mining vehicles. This allows drills to be navigated over a blast pattern area without the use of surveyor stakes, and enhances the accuracy of target digging elevations without the use of traditional survey tools.

For more information on the rugged flat panel display, e-mail Kinetic Computer Corp. at sunand@kin.com or call 713-244-4111.

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