We specialize in custom minature smart motors and sensors.

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Programmable Linear Solenoid

The Picard Programmable Solenoid (PPS-2) gave the motion capability of a sophisticated stepper motor system to a simple linear solenoid. This provided new levels of application to the user. Relatively smooth motions were now available without the need of an expensive motor control system. PPS-2 provided the linear motion of a linear solenoid without the nonlinear force and erratic (clunking) motion. Additionally, users had the ability to set the stroke and speed of the linear motion for the desired application due to the on-board electronics of the unit.

Programmable Solenoid

The Picard Programmable Solenoid (PPS2-17) provided linear solenoid motion capability to a sophisticated stepper motor system with greater simplicity, smaller size, and lower cost. The PPS2-17 provided this motion with a constant controlled force and velocity (no erratic banging motion). The onboard electronics of the PPS2-17 allowed the user to program and store the desired stroke and speed using a simple three button interface. The PPS2-17 only required power, ground, and a control (activation) signal connection for proper operation. Any device connecting the control signal to ground (by switch, sensor, relay, open-collector or open-drain transistor output, etc.) could activate the programmed motion.

Programmable Rotary Solenoid

The Picard Programmable Rotary Solenoid (PPS-1) gave customers the motion capability of a sophisticated stepper motor system with the simplicity of a simple rotary solenoid. This brought new levels of application to the user. Relatively smooth motions were available without the need of an expensive motor control system. The PPS-1 provided the angular motion of a rotary solenoid, without the nonlinear torque and erratic (bang-bang) motion of a standard rotary solenoid. The PPS-1 was packaged with all the electronics it needed for programming and simulating a solenoid built onto a size 17 (1.6″ sq.) stepper motor. This gave the user the ability to set the amount and speed of rotation to the desired application.

I-Wash Coin Box Controller (CBC) Board

Picard Industries was brought in to design a single board controller to operate a manual car wash system. This controller was required to do many of the following functions in real time (simultaneously):

  • Monitor insertion of coins and bills, track totals for auditing.
  • Calculate, track and display wash time, based on the inserted money.
  • Monitor the non-contact (magnetically coupled) wash function selector knob.
  • Display function LEDs based on wash function selected.
  • Control an audible alarm when knob is rotated, time has elapsed, and money is inserted.
  • Interface and communicate to a credit-card service system.
  • Control high pressure water pump based on wash function selected.
  • Control chemical solenoid valves based on the wash function selected.
  • Monitor outside temperature and control a freeze protection function.
  • An owner programming mode for setting (editing) scrolling message banner, cost for wash time, and bonus time, temperature setting to start freeze protection functions, and check money auditing totals.

Picard Industries designed this single board controller using a single flash-based microcontroller. An integrated on-board power supply was developed that provides complete isolation between microcontroller power and any external device power. The utilization of a flash-based microprocessor allows for in-circuit reprogramming (i.e. upgrades).

Production versions of the CBC board are being built, assembled, tested and delivered to the customer. This is an example of the capabilities that Picard Industries can provide for your company.

XL-12 Controller

The XL12 was developed to control the position of a smaller linear stepper motor. It has a front panel display with manual control switches to activate various motion sequences of the motor.

The XL12 can be integrated with other process equipment for automated control. It can be remotely controlled with hardware for use with PLC, or by a computer through the use of a serial port.

This is an example of how Picard Industries can provide the design and manufacture of custom electronic control systems for your product.

I-Wash Single Board Controller (SBC-2000)

Old I-Wash Controller

Picard Industries was invited to look at an existing industrial controller for the possibility of improving the systems’ reliability and reducing manufacturing costs. Production versions of the SBC 2000 were built, assembled, tested and delivered to the customer for less than half the cost of the original unassembled and untested design. This is an example of the capabilities that Picard Industries can provide to enhance your operations.

The Original I-Wash Controller:

System reliability of the old I-Wash controller was compromised by the fact that it was designed with 13 small interconnected printed circuit boards (PCBs). Nine of these PCBs had dedicated microcontroller chips. The power supply design led to electrical noise issues due to the logic power not being isolated from the actuator power. Also, the PC boards were manufactured separately and delivered to the customer untested, thus leading to problems once assembled in the final product.

The New I-Wash SBC 2000:

Picard Industries designed a single board controller (SBC-2000) using a single flash-based microcontroller chip to replace the 13 PCB, 9 microcontroller chip design. This drastically reduced the number of connectors in the design. An integrated on-board power supply was developed that provided complete isolation between logic power and actuator power. The utilization of a flash-based microprocessor allowed for easy reprogramming of the software in the controller (i.e. upgrades).

New I-Wash SBC

Hexapod Motor Controller

The goal of this project was to develop a Hexapod platform with a reduced positional accuracy, compared to the competitor’s product. An added bonus was its creation at 1/10th the cost. Picard Industries was hired to design a motor control system to move 6 small stepper motors simultaneously. The motors needed to be micro-stepped to achieve the necessary smoothness and resolution in step position. These 6 stepper motors are linear actuators and are used to move the upper platform relative to the base. With 6 linear actuators placed in 3 triangular pairs, the upper platform can be moved in all six degrees of motion. They are X, Y, Z, and Theta X, Y, and Z (these are the rotations about X,Y, and Z). A microcontroller was used to coordinate the motions of the 6 motors and communicate with a PC over a serial port. Commands from the PC were sent to the motor controller over this serial port and the motor moves accordingly.

Polaroid Shutter Controls

This project was completed for a digital camera manufacturer that purchased their shutters from Polaroid, but did not know how to control them. Since Picard Industries has a vast background in controlling miniature stepper motors like the one used in this shutter, we were contracted to design the electronics and controlling software to make the shutter operate correctly in their camera.

We built incoming inspection test fixtures to test shutters as they were received from their shipping department. The test fixtures were also used to test different software algorithms and do life testing of the mechanism.

This shutter consists of a pair of sliding blades that are driven linearly with a rack and gear system by a small 10mm, 5-volt, stepper motor. The shutter has an integrated position sensor that verifies that the blades are moving. Motion control algorithms were devised to step the motor with this sensor. This allowed the shutter to be moved much faster and with greater certainty by ensuring that it was moving properly.

Errors in the motion of the blades could now be detected and reported to the camera. This gave the camera manufacturer a shutter that was small, fast, and “smart” in that it knew if something went wrong during an exposure.

Robot Arm Plus

The Robot Arm Plus project turned a stock battery powered, 5-axis toy robot that uses simple joysticks into a teaching tool that gives students a true (although simple) representation of how robots and their software work in real life industry. To enhance the capabilities of this educational robot, Picard Industries was hired to design and manufacture a printed circuit board (PCB) along with a computer-control interface.

We redesigned the internal PCB so that the motors could not only be controlled with the joysticks, but with a Windows Interface PC program through a serial port. Each motor and gearbox has been modified with an encoder so that the true position of the axis could be determined. A microcontroller on the new PCB coordinates motor motion commands sent through the serial port and sends the motors to their correct position. All motors on the robot arm can be maneuvered simultaneously, resulting in a fluid motion.

Errors in position are detected and reported to the user on the PC screen. The computer-control interface gives the user the ability to move individual motors and store these motions in a program script file so that these sequences of motion can be repeated as desired.

View the PC User Interface (PDF)

Old PCB
New PCB

USB Relay Board

The USB-Relay is a unique, relatively low cost, mechanical relay control system. It is powered and controlled solely by a standard USB port. This system provides the method of automated PC relay control unmatched in size, simplicity, and ease of use. The USB-Relay includes Windows based application software that runs on any standard PC with Windows-XP/Vista and a USB port. This user interface provides for individual manual control of all four relays.

 

USB Optical Flipper

The Picard USB Optical Flipper offers a small, quiet and simple motorized method of inserting an optic into a beam path at a relatively low cost.

The unit comes complete with a 3 meter USB cable and software that runs on any standard PC with a Windows-NT/XP/VISTA operating system with a USB port. The USB port provides the means to power and control the Flipper. It provides a self-powered method of motor control that is unmatched in size, simplicity, and cost.

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