David Wilson, Motion Products Evangelist, Texas Instruments
I HATE flying! The "one size fits all" mentality of the airline industry drives me nuts! For example, the TSA herds you like cattle through a ridiculous one-size-fits-all ritual that they call "Security", which is designed to make you feel safe when you travel. Then they hand you over to the airlines, where the abuse continues. You stumble down an impossibly narrow aisle to your assigned seat, with your luggage smacking every other miserable passenger as you go by. You finally arrive at your assigned location at the back of the plane, where you realize that you aren't just a cattle, but a veal. You contort your body to fit into this tiny space that they call a "seat", and assume the locked and upright position! It matters not whether you are 6'3" or 3'6", you get the same size stall.
On a recent trip, I started thinking ...what would happen if semiconductor companies treated their customers the same way the airline industry treats THEIR customers. Then I realized ...many semiconductor suppliers DO treat their customers this way. For example, when it comes to motor control, many semi-suppliers have adopted this same "one size fits all" way of thinking. Whether you want to do BLDC motor control, PM Synchronous Motor control, or AC Induction Motor control, the response is often the same: "...you need to use sensorless Field Oriented Control. Take a look at our new reference design, and watch how nicely it spins our motor!" Invariably, this evokes a response from the customer, something like, "...well that's nice. But I really want you to spin MY motor." This will often initiate a slow-motion chain of events where you will be asked to give them your motor while they go off and ponder over it for a few weeks.
Another example is development tools. When the discussion gets around to code generation, you can expect to hear the salesperson say something like, "...our compiler is really good! It does everything you could EVER possibly want to do when developing motor control code." The customer may then respond with something like, "...well that's nice, but I really don't like programming in C anymore. Do you have any other options, like 'model-to-code' generators? The blank stare that follows lets you know that "What You See Is What You Get"!
I have designed motor control solutions for the semiconductor industry for over 20 years now, and I have seen this scenario play out more than once. That's why I'm so excited to talk with you about some recent changes that are happening here at Texas Instruments with regard to motor control! Our new reference design philosophy shifts the focus off of OUR motors over to YOUR motor, in an effort to get your motor running as quickly as possible. We call it the "InstaSPINTM" program. As the name implies, we believe we can get YOUR motor spinning INSTANTLY ...in most cases, right out of the box!
Our first InstaSPIN offering is called "InstaSPINTM-BLDC". Available on several TI processor platforms, InstaSPIN-BLDC is a sensorless commutation engine built upon the tried-and-true principle that simple is better. And the simpler it is, the harder it is to break! We have field tested InstaSPIN-BLDC on over 50 different synchronous motors of all shapes and sizes; and in each case, we were able to get the motor up and running in under 30 seconds! In over 90% of cases, the motor just started spinning instantly as soon as we clicked the "Enable Motor" button on the associated GUI tool. InstaSPIN-BLDC also allowed us to precisely tune the commutation process on each motor in under 2 minutes by simply adjusting a single tuning parameter!
It is truly delightful to see the wide-eyed look of astonishment on a customer's face when they realize just how robust this technology is, and how easy it is to use with their motors. But besides quicker motor commissioning, InstaSPIN-BLDC also delivers extremely accurate commutation timing, even in the presence of abrupt speed changes. In addition, the startup and low-speed performance is vastly superior to other commutated techniques based on back-EMF zero-cross timing. For a more detailed description of this exciting technology, plus a video presentation on how it works, please stop in for a visit to our motor control website:
So the next time you find yourself stuck in a long line at airport security, remember 3-1-1: THREE-phase motors, controlled with only ONE tuning parameter, available from the number ONE motor control semiconductor supplier: Texas Instruments! I guarantee that your trip will be a lot more fun!