iRig Motion Control is designed to provide intuitive control for artistic movement of safety critical mechanical systems.  Operators use a Mac-based software application with optional wired or wireless pendants for controlling theatrical rigging, live motion, and performer flying. The software provides up to 100 cues that can be pre-set to eliminate operator error, provide repeatability, ensure consistency between operators, and allow for quick and simple reconfiguration.

A typical system configuration consists of an Apple Mac computer, a fieldbus gateway, and a variety of motors that communicate via an industrial fieldbus.  There are three components to the iRig software.  The first component is the main Mac application that provides the intuitive user interface.  The second component is the fieldbus gateway adaptation software that abstracts the motor control protocols.  The third component is the safety-architected data exchange software that marshals communication between the gateway and the Mac.  The iRig Motion Control, paired with a variety of motors and backup safety systems, enables simple yet complex control of small- to medium-scale safety critical systems.   

Drives and Fieldbus Technology

Modern drives implement a variety of fieldbus control interface standards. iRig is designed to abstract the specifics of the fieldbus technology to provide easy configuration and operation. This gateway adaptation layer allows for support of a mixed system with many different fieldbuses. However, the majority of iRig installations to date have centered around the industry leading SEW Eurodrive drives interfaced with Profibus fieldbus interface. iRig Motion Control has invested in developing expertise around Profibus system commissioning, installation, and troubleshooting. But as fieldbus standards evolve, particularly as Ethernet based fieldbus standards become more mature and widely adopted, iRig is well positioned to adapt and provide a bridge between existing and future standards.

Why Mac OS-X?

Mac OS-X was chosen as the basis for our high-level automation control systems for a number of reasons. At its core, Mac OS-X is a UNIX operating system bringing all of the benefits of a proven kernel. A solid kernel running on Apple designed and controlled hardware results in a very stable system. This reliably is difficult to achieve with Windows based solutions. On top of the UNIX kernel, Mac OS-X delivers numerous facilities for building and running apps with a very high-quality user experience. The expressiveness of a Mac application is a perfect match for the power and flexibility built into the other components of iRig automation products.

iRig Application

The flagship iRig application is designed to control up to 10 axes of motion. It allows for cued, target-based motion under the control of an operator who interacts with the GUI.  For example, a ‘remove platform’ motion sequence could involve 3 separate moves: the curtain raised to a fixed height, a platform moved upstage, and the curtain lowered to its resting position.

iRig can synchronize motion of multiple axes with various motion modes including “synchronized speed” or “synchronized time” modes which either move multiple axes at the same speed or which move multiple axes so that they finish their move that the same moment in time. Each move can be specified as a “synchronized speed” or “synchronized time” move and stored individually or as part of a motion sequence.  During live performances iRig is aware of current position deviations from the ideal stored cues and can intelligently adjust the move speed/time to assist the operator in compensating for these deviations.  But as a safety feature, iRig will not permit operators to override limits set by installer/rigger. 

iDrive Application

The iDrive application is designed to control a few axes of motion typically in live interactive motion scenarios such as performer self-flying via a wireless control interface. This typically means that the Mac GUI is used only for system commissioning and status feedback. User interaction is simplified via a remote wired or wireless interface. .

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