Texas Instruments (TI) has released DesignDRIVE, a hardware and software platform for evaluating industrial drive and servo topologies. Targeting a role as part of the motion control developer's toolkit, the platform provides a flexible and expandable foundation for exploring alternatives in sensing technology, encoder standards, communications networks, and motor types. DesignDRIVE is based on the real-time control architecture of TI's C2000 microcontrollers.
In contrast to most development boards, TI's manager of marketing and system engineering, Brian Fortman, told EE Times, the DesignDRIVE Development Kit (IDDK) was created to serve experienced motion control developers by providing a flexible platform for evaluating a range of motor control architectures. “There are a lot of individual demo boards for different combinations,” Fortman said. “This gives more flexibility. Developers upgrading their designs to the new motor control technologies face a lot of questions not related to motor control: how to connect to current sensors, how to connect to encoders, and the like. These are like curveballs; they become a distraction to the motion control design and require a lot of experimentation and effort. This kit saves them design time.”
The IDDK's hardware offers interfaces for a diverse range of feedback sensing and control topologies through a plug-in MCU module. Eight delta-sigma sinc filters, four high-performance 16-bit ADCs, and eight windowed comparators provide simultaneous support for shunt, fluxgate / Hall, and delta-sigma current sensing as well as interfaces to resolvers and incremental encoders. Configuration options allow the MCU to be placed on either side of the high-voltage isolation barrier. A built-in, mains-connected power supply delivers up to 8A and is able to drive motors up to one horsepower.
The board is not meant for prototyping, Fortman said, but for experimentation and evaluation of motor control alternatives. “We've given customers a sandbox that allows comparisons, cost and performance tradeoffs, and the like.” There is also the opportunity for expansion. The IDDK has an MCU slot that provides flexibility in MCU choice, although it comes equipped with a C2000 Delfino controlCARD. “It's an 800 MIPS machine,” Fortman said, “so it offers a lot of performance, more than most development boards have today.” A connectivity slot provides the opportunity to connect the kit with a range of field bus and network types while a functional safety slot provides user expansion capability.