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Proceedings Paper

Development of an EtherCAT enabled digital servo controller for the Green Bank Telescope
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Paper Abstract

EtherCAT (Ethernet for Control Automation Technology) is gaining wide spread popularity in the automation industry as a real time field bus based on low cost, Ethernet hardware. EtherCAT maximizes use of 100Mbps Ethernet hardware by using a collision free ring topology, efficient Ethernet frame utilization (> 95%), and data exchange "on the fly". These characteristics enable EtherCAT to achieve Master to Slave node data exchange rates of > 1000 Hz. The Green Bank Telescope, commissioned in 2000, utilizes an analog control system for motion control of 8 elevation and 16 azimuth motors. This architecture, while sufficient for observations at frequencies up to 50GHz, has significant limitations for the current scientific goals of observing at 115GHz. Accordingly, the Green Bank staff has embarked on a servo upgrade project to develop a digital servo system which accommodates development and implementation of advanced control algorithms. This paper describes how the new control system requirements, use of existing infrastructure and budget constraints led us to define a distributed motion control architecture where EtherCAT real-time Ethernet was selected as the communication bus. Finally, design details are provided that describe how NRAO developed a custom EtherCAT-enabled motor controller interface for the GBT's legacy motor drives in order to provide technical benefits and flexibility not available in commercial products.

Paper Details

Date Published: 17 September 2012
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 8444, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes IV, 84445N (17 September 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.925081
Show Author Affiliations
Peter G. Whiteis, National Radio Astronomy Observatory (United States)
Melinda J. Mello, National Radio Astronomy Observatory (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8444:
Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes IV
Larry M. Stepp; Roberto Gilmozzi; Helen J. Hall, Editor(s)

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