Staatliche Technikakademie Weilburg

 Visualization of the processes in the fischertechnik subsystems cycle line and vacuum gripper 

Project description

Two students of the Staatliche Technikakademie Weilburg (located between Limburg and Wetzlar) have programmed an independent project with the help of the fischertechnik factory model. They used the subsystems cycle line and vacuum gripper. The assembly line is a production line with two processing stations. A workpiece is pushed over conveyor belts and processed by a milling cutter and drill. The vacuum gripper is a gripper arm with three adjustable axes, which closes the production chain. As soon as the cycle line has completed its processing, the gripper arm grabs the workpiece and transports it back to the starting point. When processing is complete, the workpiece can also be moved to any position so that it can be continued. 

The actual task for the students was to program and visualize the system using LabVIEW from National Instruments. As communication interface the students used an Arduino, three relay boards and a self-soldered input board. The Arduino, a microcontroller consisting of hardware and software, served as an interface between LabVIEW and the automation system. Since the simulation system required 24 volts and the Arduino only works with 5 volts, a device had to be installed that transforms the voltage up and down. For this purpose, the students designed a circuit board with 18 fixed voltage regulators and capacitors to perform this task. In addition to the USB interface of the connected computer, the system is also supplied by a 24V power supply unit. The three relay boards, connected to the Arduino, switch the actuators of the system.
The operator of the plant can select various operating modes via the LabVIEW front panel of the computer. The plant has a manual and automatic mode. The sensor states required by the user are displayed.

Thanks to the flexibility of the fischertechnik components, the students were able to move the individual parts as required. Only the speed of the system posed a problem because the loop rate of the LabVIEW program is not perfect due to the limitation of the LINX components. 
Technology diagram 

Academy Profile

The State Technical Academy in Weilburg is one of the largest independent state technical schools in the Federal Republic of Germany. Skilled workers from technical professions can further educate themselves in two years (full-time) to become state-certified technicians. Pupils with an intermediate level of education can acquire a vocational qualification in two years at the Höhere Berufsfachschule. The offered occupational fields include mechanical engineering, 
Mechatronics, electrical engineering and information technology.

Company profile Arduino

Arduino is a microcontroller consisting of open source software and hardware. The manufacturer of the same name is based in Turin. 

Company profile National Instruments

National Instruments is an Austin, Texas-based company with a German subsidiary in Munich. For more than 40 years, the company has been developing automated measurement and test systems for the semiconductor, automotive, aerospace, defense, energy, research and education industries, among others. LabVIEW is a graphical system development software for test, measurement and control applications.