Phenix MORE Control – Made Simple

Phenix - MORE Control is an open source control system:

The basic proposal is to create a very powerful and sophisticated control system, utilizing readily available “garden variety” components and open software that can be edited on the machine, either locally or remotely, without having to compile the code, transfer files, etc.

HMI (human machine interface):

Android is the preferred operating system as it has no licencing restrictions and Android devices are ubiquitous. A freshly unpacked Android device can be ready to run a machine in less than 15 mins. Whilst the preferred device is a ruggedised tablet, other options include industrial panel PCs (15”, 17”, 21”) and, in an emergency, a mobile phone is entirely useable.

The link to the Main Controller is via Bluetooth SPP; in other words, a wireless RS232. The HMI code is interpreted, open source BASIC and the performance is more than adequate for this purpose. Even on a modest Android device, code instructions execute @ a rate of >50,000/sec. Editing and debugging happens in real-time, without having to first compile the code. TeamViewer works extremely well on the HMI and remote assistance can even be provided by a field-engineer using only his mobile phone.

Main Controller:

This is a Microchip microcontroller that has an on-board BASIC interpreter and flash storage. The microcontroller is the PIC32MX470F512L-120 and is a general-purpose device. The MS-compatible BASIC is a free product and is loaded onto the microcontroller via USB. This is a modern, structured dialect of BASIC, similar to MS-QuickBASIC and is very powerful, whilst easy to program. The controller PCB is completely open-source and documentation is provided and is easy to understand by any PCB house.

Axis control:

Each axis has a dedicated motion control processor. Again, this is a general-purpose Microchip product that is programmed to become a motion-controller. All axes reside on a serial communication bus, known as RS422/485. Electrically, this bus can handle up to 32 axes and with a repeater, up to 255 axes. The number of axes that can be tightly coordinated, at any one time is “limited” to 16 axes @ a BAUD of 115.2K. The max BAUD is 230K, but lower rates are preferred in an industrial environment. I/O is provided via generic Solid-State Relays and opto-isolators. There are many suppliers to choose from.

The 21st Century overall package is very simple because it is dedicated to one application, CNC Tube Bending Machines. There aren’t endless parameters to be set, unlike most general-purpose controllers.    

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