Automation Now: News and Info for Users of Motion Control

Drop Off Your Panel Box Here for Retrofitting

Posted August 11, 2008 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Innovative Automation

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We often have customers and potential clients over to our office. Once they see what kind of operation we have running over here, they are ready to get started with us.

Did you know that we can retrofit your old panel box with new components?

If you want to drop off your old box for us to rework, or just want to see for yourself our panel shop and how we can build for you one of the cleanest new UL certified panel boxes you've ever seen, we are open 8 to 5 at 1420 Vallwood Parkway in Carrollton.

That's suite 204, but make sure you use the correct entrnce (not the one shown here).

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Posted August 8, 2008 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Uncategorized

That would be today's date. 8/08/08. Should we be buying a lottery ticket or something?

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New robotic arm promises to mind Newton’s third law

Posted by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Innovative Automation, Uncategorized

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On Earth you may barely notice Newton's third law, which famously describes how every force generates an equal and opposite reaction. But in space, with little gravity or friction to resist reaction forces, giving anything a nudge is likely to propel you backwards.

The same problem afflicts robotic arms. Simply moving such an arm produces reaction forces that can shift a spacecraft from its correct orientation.

A new approach that uses gyroscopes to move mechanical joints offers a new way around the problem that uses less energy and can move faster than existing space arms designed to avoid the problem.

Researchers at the Space System Design Studio at Cornell University, New York, have successfully tested a prototype on a microgravity "vomit comet" flight that simulates a space environment.

Gyro power

The established way to control reaction forces on a robotic arm is to use flywheels instead of motors. The speed of a constantly spinning flywheel is altered to generate a force that moves the arm.

But Cornell aerospace engineer Mason Peck and colleagues say they can accomplish the same thing, but expend much less power, using a device called a control-moment gyroscope (CMG).

Each consists of a gyroscope mounted on a powered gimbal that can tilt the spinning device. When this happens, changing the gyroscope's axis of rotation, the gimbal receives a boost of torque, which twists the joint.

Such gyroscopes are used on some satellites, such as the International Space Station, to control their orientation in space. For a down-to-earth demonstration, see how this person on a moving platform can control themselves by holding a spinning bicycle wheel.


The Cornell arm has three joints. Each is controlled by a pair of gyroscopes that between them can exert forces in two directions to move the joint back and forth.

Each of the joints controls movement along only one 3D axis, so they do not work directly against one another.

"You can get an exchange of momentum and cause motion to occur without much power," Peck told New Scientist, "it takes a little power, but nowhere near as much as if you were spinning up or down the disc," Peck says.

Because the system will allow quick movement with little power, it could be especially useful for controlling a camera or telescope that had to quickly track a moving object. But it is equally useful as a basic robotic arm, Peck says.

"It's a unique idea," says Vaios Lappas, an aerospace engineer at the University of Surrey. "You can develop a very attractive, advantageous technology for space robotics using CMGs. They could have superior capability with the same or less physical resources, and pretty much the same complexity."

Journal reference: IEEE Transactions on Robotics (DOI: 10.1109/TRO.2008.924264)

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Top 10 Conversation Hacks

Posted August 6, 2008 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Innovative Automation

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We learn a lot in our sales training at Innovative Automation.

A whole lot more than just words passes between people who are talking, so a few simple conversational skills can help you recognize what's really being said and help you lead the discussion your way.

Learn how to read body language and facial expressions, de-code euphemisms, ask sensitive questions, criticize constructively, get what you want in negotiations, cut off chatterboxes, and more with our top 10 conversation hacks. Click here for more.

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