Combitronic™: The Practical Solution for Complex Motion Control

April 30, 2019

Getting smart, distributed motion control just got easier. See why Combitronic™ technology commands the future of motion control.

Developed in 2011 by Moog Animatics, Combitronic™ technology provides the foundation for easy yet powerful multi-axis system design, representing a major step in simplifying multi-axis motion control and motor-to-motor communications. As machine builders are increasingly pressured to reduce time to market, minimize machine footprint and improve machine reliability, Combitronic™ technology will play a progressively critical role in machine design.

Learn how this tool helps improve efficiency, turnaround time and savings to keep you ahead of the competition.

What is Combitronic™?

Watch this video for an introduction to Combitronic™ technology.

Combitronic™ is an innovative, proprietary communication protocol that allows up to 120 Moog Animatics SmartMotor™ servos to communicate on equal footing without needing a dedicated “master” to operate. With Combitronic™ technology, SmartMotor™ servos become one giant parallel-processing system that shares all information and processing resources with motors across the network.

Why it's Unique

The ease of use and features provided by Combitronic™ are not available from any other motor manufacturer in the industry. Combitronic™ technology delivers customizable performance at your fingertips, without writing a single line of communications code or requiring detailed knowledge of the Controller Area Network (CAN) protocol. In a traditional network, all commands local to a SmartMotor™ onboard controller are for that motor only. However, with Combitronic™ technology, those same commands can be applied to and reference other motors on the same network, as if all motors were being controlled by a central, multi-axis controller. This interface operates over a standard CAN bus and may coexist with either CANopen or DeviceNet protocols at the same time.

To simplify CAN bus network setup, Moog Animatics also developed the CDS7 Power and Communication Cable, which works with Combitronic™ to provide single cable, point-to-point connection. With the CDS7, Combitronic™ technology can connect to RS-232 to auto-detect and connect to motors in minutes through a daisy chain network, instead of manually entering individual motor addresses through CANopen.

The diagram above illustrates how the CDS7 cable works with Class 5 SmartMotor™ servos to simplify network setup.

 Benefits of using Combitronic™ technology:

  • Eliminates PLCs from machine designs
  • If PLCs are used, enhances performance by unburdening them from tasks
  • No bus master required (but may be used if desired)
  • No scan list or node list setup required
  • 1 MHz network bandwidth

How it Works

Combitronic™ technology uses the typical local commands, amended with a colon and target node address, to allow any motor’s program to read from, write to or control any other motor simply by tagging a local variable or command with the other motor’s CAN address. When paired with any Moog Animatics SmartMotor™ servo, Combitronic™ technology enables fully functional, bi-directional communications between each servo. Consequently, all SmartMotor™ units become one multi-tasking, data-sharing system. Moreover, each SmartMotor™ is capable of being a “master” to multiple other servos on the network. The only prerequisite is to have matched baud rates and unique addresses.

See Combitronic™ technology in action!

Highlighting the versatility of Combitronic™, this video features robotic artwork that utilizes 65 motors and Combitronic™ technology to execute complex and precise choreographed patterns of movement. A collaboration by artists Banny Banerjee, Matt Gorbet, Susan LK Gorbet and Maggie Orth, this motorized sculpture was located at San Jose International airport, Terminal B Gate 19.

Combitronic™ technology can solve diverse applications by supporting an array of operations that range from simple to complex, such as:

  • Trajectory commands, moving from point “A” to point “B”
  • Receiving data from other nodes works with local and remote motors
  • I/O commands across network
    • No network configuration or host network manager required
    • Can freely access and control data
    • Data passes freely with full deterministic arbitration of all data packets
  • Multi-axis linear interpolated and synchronized motion from any given axis
    • Uses simple format, similar to single-axis profiles
    • PTS command and Combitronic™ manage communications to associated motor addresses
    • Synchronized motion with math calculations — achieves complex, synchronized motion with math function
  • Multi-axis gantry
    • Allows multiple pairs of motors to operate on same axis of motion
    • Simply identify the address of the paired motors — no additional code required
  • High axis count coordinated motion
    • Motion control of large numbers of SmartMotor™-driven axes is easily coordinated through Combitronic™ technology
    • Applications in aerospace, entertainment and more

Additional Benefits

Combitronic™ communications technology combined with the SmartMotor™ integrated servo provides simple, powerful and robust multi-axis system design:

Additionally, by integrating controls onto the motor, the Moog Animatics SmartMotor™ reduces the size of the control cabinet and, in some cases, may even eliminate the need for one. When combined with our exclusive Combitronic™ technology, these improvements result in the following design and implementation advantages:

  • Reduced machine size
  • Improved savings with machine cost
  • Less development time
    • Quicker development cycles
    • Get to market faster
    • Increased competitive advantage
  • Reduced down-time & field service
  • Increased reliability
  • Increased versatility
    • Add more SmartMotor™ servos with minimal cabling and no additional cabinet space
    • Access more I/O points and processing power — automatically provided by the additional axes

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