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19" Rack-Mounted Brushless DC Controller
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RBD201 Front and Rear Panels
The RBD201 Brushless DC Motor Controller is ideal for motion control applications demanding high-speed (hundreds of mm/s) and high-encoder-resolution (<100 nm) operation. This 1U-high, single-channel controller is designed to fit in a standard 19" rack and delivers the same functionality as our BBD201 benchtop controller. It offers high-precision motion control in a wide range of applications, especially when used with our DDS220 or DDS600 linear motor translation stages, where speeds of up to 400 mm/s can be achieved. With the latest digital and analog techniques and high-bandwidth, high-power servo control circuitry, these controllers have been designed to drive Thorlabs' range of 3-phase, brushless DC servo motor products with peak coil currents up to 2.5 A.
Integrated into the APT™ family of products, the RBD201 controller offers Thorlabs' standard control and programming interface, allowing for easy integration into automated motion control applications. The unit is capable of being reprogrammed in-field, allowing the option to upgrade with future firmware releases as soon as new programming interfaces (such as microscopy standard command sets) are added.
USB connectivity provides easy plug-and-play PC operation. Multiple units can be connected to a single PC via standard USB hub technology for multi-axis motion control applications (such as our MLS203 series of dual-axis stages). Coupling this with the user friendly APT™ software allows the user to get reasonably complex move sequences up and running in a short space of time. For example, all relevant operating parameters are set automatically for Thorlabs' stage and actuator products. Advanced custom motion control applications and sequences are also possible using the extensive ActiveX® programming environment described in more detail on the Motion Control Software tab.
We have ensured that the software interfaces to the RBD201 controller is highly integrated with all other APT™ family controllers, providing easy system integration and reduced learning curve. As one of the newest members of the APT™ family of controllers, this unit is backed up by the full-featured APT™ suite of PC software tools for immediate, easy out-of-the-box configuration and usage.
Note: The RBD201 controller is specifically designed for use in a 19" rack. For benchtop applications, please see our BBD20x series controllers.
Optional Joystick Console
Mini DIN Female
A wide range of brushless DC servo motors and associated actuators are available, each with their own operational specifications. For this reason, the apt™ DC Servo controllers are fully configurable (parameterized) to support different motor/actuator combinations. Key settings such as PID control loop values, min and max stage position, leadscrew pitch, and limit switch configuration are exposed through the supplied apt™ software. Moreover, relative and absolute motion can be initiated with move profiles set using velocity profile parameters. Homing sequences for establishing a zero datum are also fully configurable for a particular stage or actuator. For simplicity of operation, the apt™ software incorporates pre-configured settings for each Thorlabs' stage and actuator including the MLS203 stage.
All key parameters can be adjusted through direct interaction with the graphical software panels supplied. However, for custom motion control applications, all controller settings and commands are also accessible through the ActiveX® programming libraries. These programming libraries are very comprehensive, providing hundreds of functions and parameters that can be accessed from user-written programs.
They are language independent in nature and consequently are supported by a large variety of programming environments that are ActiveX ® compliant. These include LabVIEW, Visual Basic, C++, Matlab, and HPVEE.
Note that all such settings and parameters are also accessible through the ActiveX® programmable interfaces for automated alignment sequences. Refer to the Motion Control Software tab for further information on the apt™ software support for the RBD201.
Full Software GUI Conrol Suite & ActiveX® Controls Included
A full and sophisticated software support suite is supplied with the BBD controllers. The suite includes a number of 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 can be 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 RBD201 refer to the Motion Control Software tab. Demonstration videos illustrating how to program the apt™ software are also available for viewing from the APT Tutorials tab.
The ActiveX® apt™ system software shipped with these units is also compatible with other apt™ family controllers including our multi-channel rack-based system and smaller optical table mountable T-Cube™ Controllers. This single unified software offering allows seamless mixing of any apt™ benchtop, table top and rack based units in any single positioning application.
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 commerical 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.
Thorlabs offers two platforms to drive our wide range of motion controllers: our Kinesis® software package or the legacy APT™ (Advanced Positioning Technology) software package. Either package can be used to control devices in the Kinesis family, which covers a wide range of motion controllers ranging from small, low-powered, single-channel drivers (such as the K-Cubes™ and T-Cubes™) to high-power, multi-channel, modular 19" rack nanopositioning systems (the APT Rack System).
The Kinesis Software features .NET controls which can be used by 3rd party developers working in the latest C#, Visual Basic, LabVIEW™, or any .NET compatible languages to create custom applications. Low-level DLL libraries are included for applications not expected to use the .NET framework. A Central Sequence Manager supports integration and synchronization of all Thorlabs motion control hardware.
Kinesis GUI Screen
APT GUI Screen
Our legacy APT System Software platform offers ActiveX-based controls which can be used by 3rd party developers working on C#, Visual Basic, LabVIEW™, or any Active-X compatible languages to create custom applications and includes a simulator mode to assist in developing custom applications without requiring hardware.
By providing these common software platforms, Thorlabs has ensured that users can easily mix and match any of the Kinesis and APT controllers in a single application, while only having to learn a single set of software tools. In this way, it is perfectly feasible to combine any of the controllers from single-axis to multi-axis systems and control all from a single, PC-based unified software interface.
The software packages allow two methods of usage: graphical user interface (GUI) utilities for direct interaction with and control of the controllers 'out of the box', and a set of programming interfaces that allow custom-integrated positioning and alignment solutions to be easily programmed in the development language of choice.
A range of video tutorials is available to help explain our APT system software. These tutorials provide an overview of the software and the APT Config utility. Additionally, a tutorial video is available to explain how to select simulator mode within the software, which allows the user to experiment with the software without a controller connected. Please select the APT Tutorials tab above to view these videos.
These videos illustrate some of the basics of using the APT System Software from both a non-programming and a programming point of view. There are videos that illustrate usage of the supplied APT utilities that allow immediate control of the APT controllers out of the box. There are also a number of videos that explain the basics of programming custom software applications using Visual Basic, LabView and Visual C++. Watch the videos now to see what we mean.
To further assist programmers, a guide to programming the APT software in LabView is also available.