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Tiny Zynq-based robotics controller spotted at X-fest San Jose

Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
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I had to write about this cool little Zynq-based robotic instrument controller I saw at X-fest San Jose yesterday. It’s a project by Dr. Lawrence West, president of Swift Control Systems here in Silicon Valley, who I met by pure chance. By eyeball estimation, the circular controller board measures a mere three inches or so in diameter. It sports a variety of analog and digital sensor inputs and communications ports. This board is designed to control a dual-gimbal mirror assembly on an optical table. The idea is for the components on the optical table to be able to talk to each other, making mirror and optics alignments much easier and saving hours of setup time. Cool idea.

 

I plunked the board on a nearby table to shoot some images. Here’s a photo of the top of the board:

 

 

Zynq-based Robot Controller Top.jpg

 

 

And here’s a photo of the bottom of the board showing the Xilinx Zynq 7010 SoC:

 

 

Zynq-based Robot Controller Bottom.jpg

 

The sizes of the on-board components should give you a good idea of how small the board really is.

 

I can’t tell you much about the various interfaces but I can relate one of Dr. West’s amusing anecdotes. People setting up optical tables are always concerned about thermal-induced changes so Dr. West developed a method for using the Zynq to keep an even temperature in the mirror assembly based on throttling data throughput to the on-board SDRAM. Need more heat? Transfer more data. Less heat? Throttle back. Ingenious.

 

Look for more X-fest San Jose coverage next week in the Xcell Daily blog.