TST001 Stepper Motor Driver T-Cube
TST001 Rear Panel>
The T-Cube Stepper Motor Controller (TST001) is a new, very compact, single channel USB controller/driver for easy manual and automated control of small, 2-phase, bi-polar stepper motors - it is ideally suited to driving the ZST stepper motor series offered by Thorlabs (see Related Items tab), although full flexibility allows it to operate with a variety of lower powered motors (up to 15V/5W operation) equipped with or without encoder feedback. Although compact in footprint, this T-Cube Stepper controller offers a fully featured motion control capability including velocity profile settings, limit switch handling and adjustment of settings such as lead screw pitch and gearbox ratio, allowing support for many different actuator configurations. When used with the extensive range of Thorlabs ZST motorized opto-mechanical products, many of these parameters are automatically set to allow immediate “out of the box” operation with no further tuning required.
Note that the TST001 unit is a functionally direct equivalent of the OST001 Cube controller featured in Volume 18 of the Thorlabs catalogue. The TST001 is a new variant Cube controller compatible with the T-Cube Controller Hub (TCH002) - see below. If it is planned to use the T-Cube Controller Hub in your application, then the TST001 Cube (and not OST001 Cube) should be purchased.
Joining the apt™ Family
The T-Cube controllers become members of the apt™ family of controllers. The apt™ family includes a range of high specification motor and piezo controllers (both in bench top and rack based formats) specifically aimed at high resolution positioning applications. By inheriting much of the functionality developed for these high end variants, the T-Cube drivers are built on a flexible and powerful motion control capability with full and complete software support. It is perfectly feasible to mix operation of the TST001 stepper unit with any other member of the apt™ controller family through the same unified software interfaces, both graphical and programmable. For the first time, positioning and motion control applications deploying any of the complete range of Thorlabs motorized/piezo actuated nano-positioning and opto-mechanical hardware is easily achieved in minimum time via a common PC software platform.
Designed as a low power, yet fully featured equivalent to the BSC201/2/3 benchtop controller series, the TST001 Stepper Driver T-Cube is contained in a very compact 60 x 60 x 47mm (2.4" x 2.4" x 1.8") housing incorporating easily accessible local motor move controls for manual motor control and positioning. We have taken care to keep the footprint to a minimum allowing the possibility, in many opto-mechanical applications, of locating this driver on the optical table in close proximity to the motorized apparatus being driven. A base plate option (included with the controller) allows easy mounting to optical tables in a stacked side by side configuration for control of multiple motor channels. Use of this driver solution within the photonics R&D environment is further considered by an overall black finish and by elimination of any stray light generation associated with the front panel LEDs which can be disabled by using a software command.
Vertical and Horizontal Mounting Options for the TCH0012
TPS008 Power Supply
T-Cube Controller Hub
As a further level of convenience when using the new T-Cube Controllers, Thorlabs also offers the new T-Cube Controller Hub (TCH002). This product has been designed specifically with multiple T-Cube operation in mind in order to simplify issues such as cable management, power supply routing, multiple USB device communications and different optical table mounting scenarios. The T-Cube Controller Hub comprises a slim base-plate type carrier (375mm x 86mm x 21.5mm, 14.75" x 3.4" x 0.85") with electrical connections located on the upper surface to accept up to six T-Cubes. Internally, the Controller Hub contains a fully compliant USB 2.0 hub circuit to provide communications for all six T-Cubes - a single USB connection to the Controller Hub is all that is required for PC control. The Controller Hub also provides power distribution for up to six T-Cubes. In addition the Hub routes digital and analogue signals between T-Cubes allowing deterministic inter-Cube operation in certain applications.
Note: when operating the TST001 T-Cube standalone (in absence of the TCH002 Hub) a separate power supply is required. A compact multi-way power supply unit (TPS008) is available from Thorlabs allowing up to 8 individual TST001 Drivers to be powered from a single mains outlet (see picture below). A single way wall plug supply (TPS001) is also available for powering a single Driver.
For quick “out of the box” manual operation, the TST001 Stepper controller can simply be connected to one of the range of Thorlabs ZST mini stepper motor actuators and powered up by connecting to one of the separate Thorlabs power supply options or by using the T-Cube Controller Hub. Motor operations are then controlled by the potentiometer slider and jog buttons located on the top face of the unit. Using the spring return slider, the motor can be driven at pre-defined speeds in either forward or reverse directions for full and easy velocity control. Similarly, the jog buttons can be used to make discrete position increments in either direction enabling precise and repeatable manual positioning. For full flexibility, the supplied PC software can be used to alter both the speed response of the slider and the jogging modes for the buttons - saving any changes to the memory within the driver unit allowing the PC to be disconnected once changes have been made.
Automated (PC) Control
For automated remote operation, the TST001 is fitted with USB interfacing for connection to a host control PC. One or more drivers can be connected together easily via standard USB hubs or the T-Cube Controller Hub (TCH002) for control from a single computer. To enable easy and flexible simultaneous control of multiple units, a full software control suite (the apt™ System Software) is supplied by Thorlabs. This software suite was originally developed to provide sophisticated PC control of the full range of apt™ bench top motion controllers and has now been fully updated to provide support for the T-Cube Drivers. Using this feature rich apt™ system software the full motion control capabilities of the TST001 controller are exposed through very intuitive graphical user control panels, allowing motor moves to be initiated and monitored very easily. All motor operating parameters can be easily accessed and changed in order to fine tune operation as required. Multiple graphical panels displayed within the software allow control of multiple T-Cube drivers simultaneously in an easy and intuitive way.
Full Software GUI Control Suite & ActiveX® Controls Included
A full and sophisticated software suite is supplied with the TST001 T-Cube. It comprises a number of 'out of the box' user utilities to allow immediate operation of the unit without any detailed pre-configuration. All operating modes can be accessed manually and all operating parameters changed and saved for next time use. For more advanced 'custom' motion control applications a fully featured ActiveX® programming environment is also included to facilitate custom application development in a wide range of programming environments. Note that all such settings and parameters described above are also accessible through these ActiveX® programmable interfaces. For further information on the apt™ software support for the T-Cube drivers, please refer to the Software tab. Demonstration videos illustrating how to program the apt™ software are also available for viewing from the Video Tutorial tab.
Typical ActiveX Control View
TST001 Software GUI
The ActiveX® apt™ system software shipped with the TST001 is also compatible with other apt™ family controllers including our multi-channel rack-based system, the higher power benchtop controllers and the equivalent compact DC Servo controller T-Cube (TDC001). This single unified software offering allows seamless mixing of any apt™ benchtop, table top and rack based units in any single positioning application.
The APT Family
The key innovation of the apt™ range of controllers and associated mechanical products is the ease and speed with which complete automated alignment/positioning systems can be engineered at both the hardware and software level. All controllers in the apt™ range are equipped with USB connectivity. The 'multi-drop' USB bus allows multiple apt™ units to be connected to a single controller PC using commercial USB hubs and cables. When planning a multi-channel application, simply add up the number and type of drive channels required and connect together the associated number of APT controllers.
Software Developers Support CD
A developers’ kit is shipped with all of our apt™ series controllers. This additional software support is intended for use by software developers working on large, system integration projects that incorporate apt™ products. The kit contains an extensive selection of useful code samples as well as a library of Video Tutorials.