Motion Control and Motor Drives

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What do I need to replace a physical joystick with a digital one?

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Hi, All. Quite sure this is covered at least partially elsewhere but I need a more basic explanation.

 

I'm trying to help a student replace a physical joystick with a LabView program so we can use it remotely while our lab is shut down. The joystick is for X and Y motion of an instrument that we use. It connects to a motor controller hooked to the instrument, and it doesn't have incremental controls (you push it to the right, it goes right at a fixed speed until released).

 

We want to basically skip the joystick and send signals from a computer (running LabView) to the motor controller.

 

What sort of hardware are we going to need? An Arduino? A serial cable soldered into the joystick outputs?

And, along those lines, we're thinking the motor controller supplies voltage to the joystick, but we're not sure how much. Is there a simple way to determine the type/magnitude of signals our virtual joystick needs to send to the motor controller without gutting the controller? Do we even need to know, or can our program just control a device which opens/closes a gate to the voltage from the controller?

Thanks for any and all help.

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Update: I'm pretty sure what I'm looking for is more generally a GPIO to USB device, where the GPIO side connects to my motor controller and the USB side connects to my computer. An Arduino could do the job, but is probably overkill. The computer will send signals to make or break connections between the motor controller's voltage source and the various wires corresponding to up/down/left/right.

 

Still fuzzy on the exact type of device and voltage considerations, as well as precisely how to interface with LabView, but I guess I'll figure that out.

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