A simple conveyor chain becomes intelligent

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Most of the inventions that changed our world came by chance. The combination of two standard products and an additional idea was the ignition point that created the pikchain®.

The name pikchain® is based on “pick and place” Of course there are already machines like portal robots which are used for pick and place applications, but they have one thing in common: because of the back and forth motion the robot always has one empty run! The pikchain® has a continuous movement with no empty runs. This saves time and money.

igus® Bowden cable

A Bowden cable is a moving machine element to transmit a mechanical movement or a pulling force through a combination of a wire and a casing sturdy in the running direction (“draw wire” according to DIN 71986).
The Bowden cable was named after its inventor Ernest Monnington Bowden (1860-1904).

An optimized friction pair between the drive wire and the outer slide segments is achieved by appropriate materials. A support or guiding element is not necessary, because the system is self-centered in the draw wires by tensile forces. All materials, outer slide segments and wires are made ​​of plastic. The individual outer slide segments are made of PA2200 plastic. All the individual parts are similar, they are assembled in the pre-assembly by simple clipping. The components of the outer slide have a spherical bearing face for:

Centering of the segments among each other

Transfer of pressure forces in the Bowden

3-dimensional movement potential of the segments

The draw wire is a Dyneema rope with a nominal tensile strength of 3800N.

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Stage of development of sensor technology

The AS5304A linear encoder chip of the manufacturer Austriamicrosystems is located on the sensor boards.
The magnetic rings have 31 pole pairs (pivot) and 29 pole pairs (rotation), so that 4960 (pivot) and 4640 (rotation) signals respectively are issued per rotation. This corresponds to an angular accuracy of approx 0.07°. In addition, our magnetic rings are provided with an extended south pole for the absolute zero position (hall sensor). The two sensor boards are wired as follows:

black GND
red + 5V
blue Encoder Channel A
yellow Encoder Channel B
green Encoder Index
white Hall Sensor (zero position)

The used hall sensor made by Honeywell is a solid state sensor with the type designation SS443A, the collector resistance is already placed on the boards.
Hall sensor manufacturer’s site

New version of the sensors: Two six-core cables have been swapped for one 12-core cable in the new sensors. This reduced the cable diameter from 2 x 3.1 mm to 1 x 4.0 mm. In addition, the pivot and rotary movement are better differentiated by the extended color coding of the individual wires.

An overview of the sensor cable configuration is given below.

Sensor cable configuration

pivoting motion  
red + 5V
black GND
white Hall sensor
green Encoder Index
blue Encoder Channel A
yellow Encoder Channel B
rotation  
white/brown + 5V
Brown GND
Gray Hall sensor
white/green Encoder Index
violet Encoder Channel A
pink Encoder Channel B

[forcecaption]Readout unit with display of the rotating and pivoting motion.<br><br>

[forcecaption]Sensorchips for<br> 1) Rotating and<br>2) pivoting motion

[forcecaption]Magnetic rings for <br>1) Rotating and<br>2) pivoting motion

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