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Six-axis hexapod position system used to move models

Six-axis hexapod position system used to move models

Mark Roberts Motion Control (MRMC) is an award winning designer and manufacturer of motion control hardware and software widely used in the film, television and professional photography industries. Its extensive range of camera robot solutions enable high speed, pixel accurate and highly repeatable compound movement that is essential in enabling technology for the special effects and visual imagery we all enjoy today.

As part of MRMC’s impressive array of ‘motion rigs’, Heason Technology has recently supplied design expertise and components for an EtherCAT controlled 6-axis hexapod that is used as a model mover. With its 1500kg payload, MRMC’s servo motor driven ‘motion base’ precisely enables objects or even actors to move in any linear and rotational direction in a volume of approximately 0.7m3 to create the illusion of motion when paired with its sophisticated Flair software.

Heason Technology worked closely with MRMC from the conceptual phase of the motion base project and contributed its motion systems expertise through the design and specification for the hexapod mechanics and drives including its load and performance calculations. The motion specialist also supplied most of the proprietary and custom designed components for the project that was assembled at MRMC’s Surrey-UK facility.

Heason Technology combines its own design and build capability with motion products, components and systems from a select group of globally recognised distribution partners. Its systems integration service is backed by a sales application team and extensive in-house motion engineering support including sophisticated 3D CAD and motion simulation software. For the motion base project Heason supplied precision linear actuators from its distribution partner Thomson Industries as well as brushless servo motors, EtherCAT ready servo drives and associated accessories from Kollmorgen.

With its six precision linear actuators arranged in a Stewart Platform geometry, MRMC’s motion base produces the synchronised compound movement in six-degrees-of-freedom that its Flair software determines as a real-time trajectory seen from a camera lens or from any other point in space for a specific shooting sequence. The PC-based software calculates the actual leg length positions required for each actuator which is transferred into each axis’ brushless servo drive via EtherCAT.

With the ability to create and replay motion sequences with high repeatability and precise accuracy, complete scenes can be composed where actors or models are filmed against a green screen for example, to give the appearance of fast and exciting movement. In a second operational mode, the motion base can be controlled from a manually operated miniature scale replica of the hexapod that mimics the position of six high-precision.

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