Mechanical Fish Tail Control System

The project consisted of synchronously controlling the multi-segmented tail section of a mechanical fish.  Each segment’s motion is controlled by an off-the-shelf CAN amplifier module. All modules are networked via a Controller Area Network (CAN) bus to a National Instruments’ Single Board RIO with a CAN module. A CANOpen protocol implementation was required to communicate with the amplifier modules over the bus.

Although the SbRIO has a CAN bus module there was no LabVIEW code available from National Instruments that would implement the CANOpen protocol required by the amplifier modules. PLF Consulting therefore designed an FPGA state machine that successfully implemented the necessary protocol messages to control and synchronize the tail segments. The real-time (RT) side of the SbRIO was responsible for maintaining a constant flow of messages to the FPGA CANOpen State Machine and monitoring the health of the tail segments.