The T-Cube Piezo Driver (TPZ001) is a new, very compact, single channel controller for use in alignment applications where manual or automated nanometer level motion control is required. It has been designed to operate with all open loop piezo-actuated nanopositioning actuators & stages in the Thorlabs range. Furthermore, when the unit is operated together with the new T-Cube Strain Gauge Reader unit (TSG001) on the T-Cube Controller Hub (TCH002), high precision closed loop operation is possible using our complete range of feedback equipped piezo actuators.
Although compact in footprint, this unit offers fully featured piezo control capability. To support a wide variety of piezo devices, the output range can be user selected to 75V, 100V or 150V. The resolution of the digitally encoded adjustment pot is easily altered to provide very accurate positioning control. Direct hardware control of the high voltage output can be facilitated using the low voltage input connector. A low voltage output connector allows for easy monitoring of the HV output (using a scope for example). Open or closed loop* operation is a simple button click. As a useful feature, a programmable waveform generation capability makes this unit particularly well suited for use in piezo scanning applications.
*Closed loop operation requires TSG001 and TCH002.
TPZ001 Piezo Driver T-Cube
As an open loop piezo controller the TPZ001 Piezo Driver T-Cube is compatible with our complete range of non-feedback piezo actuators and stages including the PAS series actuators, the PE4 actuator and the complete AE0XXXXXX range of bare piezo stacks. Furthermore, many of our flexure based, high precision positioning stages can be equipped with open loop piezo control, including the 1 axis NanoFlex stages, 3 axis NanoMax 300 and 6 axis NanoMax 600.
When used in combination with the TSG001 Strain Gauge Reader T-Cube (and T-Cube Controller Hub), full and precise closed loop piezo positioning control is possible. This T-Cube controller combination is then compatible with all of our closed loop piezo solutions including the PAZ series actuators, the DRV120 actuator, and other actuators such as the DRV517. Closed loop control on many of our flexure based products is also possible, including the 1 axis NanoFlex stages, 3 axis NanoMax 300 and 6 axis NanoMax 600.
See the 'Related Items' for links to a range of piezo equipped products that can be operated using the Piezo T-Cube Driver.
A Range of Piezo Actuated Products
Joining the apt™ Family
The T-Cube drivers are members of the apt™ family of controllers. The apt™ family includes a range of high specification motor and piezo controllers (both in benchtop 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 TPZ001 T-Cube 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.
TPZ001 Rear Panel
Designed as a low power, yet fully featured equivalent to the BPC301/3 benchtop controller series (see Related Items tab), the TPZ001 Piezo 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 controls for manual piezo 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 piezo actuated apparatus being driven. A base plate option allows easy mounting to optical tables in a stacked side by side configuration for control of multiple piezo 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.
Note that the TPZ001 unit is equipped with SMA connectors for LV input and output and an SMC connector for the high voltage output. For convenience, Thorlabs supplies a range of SMC to BNC and SMA to BNC converters (see Accessories tab) for those applications where BNC connections are required.
SMC to BNC and SMA to BNC Converters
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. 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 (375 mm x 86 mm x 21.5 mm, 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. For example, the TPZ001 Piezo Driver can pick up (via the Hub) an analogue feedback voltage generated from a neighboring TSG001 Strain Gauge Reader to facilitate closed loop piezo control.
Vertical and Horizontal Mounting Options for the TCH002
Note: When operating the TPZ001 T-Cube standalone (in absence of the TCH002 Hub) a separate power supply is required. A compact multi-way power supply unit (TPS002) is available from Thorlabs, allowing up to 2 individual TPZ001 Drivers to be powered from a single mains outlet (see picture below).
TPS002 Power Supply
For quick “out of the box” manual operation, the TPZ001 Piezo controller can simply be connected to one of the range of Thorlabs piezo equipped, nano-positioning actuators, stages or bare piezo stacks and then powered-up by connecting to the individual Thorlabs power supply option (TPS002) or by using the T-Cube Controller Hub (TCH002). Piezo positioning control is then facilitated using the digital potentiometer located on the top face of the unit; the resolution of the potentiometer can be altered with a single button press. A clear, easy to read, 5 digit readout displays the output voltage being generated by the driver. To cover the wide range of piezo equipped products offered by Thorlabs, the maximum output voltage can be set to 75V, 100V or 150V using the 'Mode' button also located on the top face. The 'Mode' button, and theassociated menu displayed on the readout, can also be used to select open or closed loop - note that closed loop operation is only possible when the Piezo Drive T-Cube is used in conjunction with the Strain Gauge Reader T-Cube (TSG001) and T-Cube Controller Hub (TCH002). It is also possible to use the potentiometer to adjust display brightness as required. For full flexibility, the supplied PC software can be used to alter all default parameters - saving any changes to the memory within the driver unit,such that they are applied whenever the unit is powered up.
Automated (PC) Control
For automated remote operation, the TPZ001 is fitted with a USB port 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 motion control software 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 piezo control capabilities of the TPZ001 are exposed through very intuitive graphical user control panels, allowing piezo position to be set and monitored very easily. All operating parameters can be easily accessed and changed 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.
As a very useful feature it is possible to upload a Voltage Look Up Table (LUT) into the unit and then activate the output of this voltage sequence at different rates. In this way, high voltage output waveforms can be programmed to facilitate piezo scanning experiments, for example.
TPZ001 Software GUI
Full Software GUI Control Suite & ActiveX® Controls Included
A full and sophisticated software suite is supplied with the TPZ001. 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
The ActiveX® apt™ system software shipped with the TPZ001 is also compatible with other apt™ family controllers including our multi-channel rack-based system and the higher power benchtop controllers. This single unified software offering allows seamless mixing of any apt™ benchtop, table top and/or 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.