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The efforts that you put into programming automated systems lead to electromechanical actions. We have wisely chosen each of the components of the B-Flex system so that it is:

  • Reflective of reality in automation.
  • Directly linked to important basic principles.
  • Economical in order to promote assembly, disassembly, troubleshooting and repairing without significant damage.
  • Scalable to encourage the addition of new technologies.

The whole unit is light, robust, compact and transportable. Moreover, the student can disassemble it completely and rebuild it, as much the mechanical part as the electrical part.

Our hardware

Documentation

With hybrid learning, we encourage the student to take charge of his own progress; Accessibility to  a clear and detailed information is fundamental. We opted for a web-based version.

  • Updated version available at all times.
  • Interactive with diagrams, pictures, links, videos, etc.
  • Examples of B-Flex contextualised essential functions.
  • Detailed characteristics of I/O signals.
  • Overview of the control and operative part.

A set of icons displayed at the top of the page allow you to navigate through the documentation and access different information about Group MFT and the B-Flex. It is even more than documentation; It is the nervous center of the B-Flex platform. You will refer to this section very often.

Documentation is accessible to everyone and free.

Go take a look, it’s worth it! Click here…

B-Flex board

It is thanks to our 14 years of experience in production of equipment for technical training that we have created the B-Flex board. It is our response to the needs observed in the classrooms. Conventional controllers like PLCs are:

  • Expensive and require supplementary modules $$ (non available at student’s home)
  • I/O not designed for the type of manipulations performed by the students.
  • Transfer of programs from the PC to the PLC necessary, but useless in a context of trainings.
  • The PLC doesn’t have direct access to the huge PC resources: calculating capacity, USB port, networking, etc..

In short, PLCs were designed to be separate from the PC and installed in an industrial environment. In a learning environment or at home, the PC is permanently connected to the control part. We build on this advantage and use the PC as a control station.

B-Flex board:

  • Affordable and complete: 8 In and 8 digital OUT, 4  analog IN, 1 high-speed counter In, 1 PWM OUT, 1 Frequency Out, 1 analog Out and 1 DC variable power-supply 3-20V.
  • Compact outside: 8.5 cm x 8.5 cm.
  • Protection on the I/O, whether they are digital, analog and even the power-supplies.
  • No program transfer required after compilation.
  • Accesses resources and fully uses the processing and visualising power of the PC.

The B-Flex board acts like a remote I/O. Combined with the IRAI software suite, all the processing is donne in the PC. Welcome to the PC-based control universe. And the advantage of our system: 100% compatible IEC 61131-3!

Auxiliary board

It complements the B-Flex board by transferring a few I/O to quick-connect terminals.It is also used to multiply distribution points of DC power supplies while limiting the current.

Remote signals and secure feeds are essential to work with breadboards. The breadboard is the indispensable tool to learn electronic circuits relating to interfaces. Since it is removable, the student can use it in different classes, thus creating links between the different subjects taught.

Here is a list of the auxiliary board functions:

  • Deport I/O signals to facilitate their access from the breadboard.
  • Simplify the connection, thanks to Push-In wire connector.
  • Add 8  24 VDC screw terminals protected by a current limit.
  • Add 8 screw terminals wired to the ground.
  • Insert 2 light indicators to signal the presence of the 24 volts.

In short, the auxiliary board facilitates the student’s work when he develops circuits on the breadboard or when he adds electromechanical interfaces to the B-Flex.

B-Flex mechanisms

The mechanical part resembles that of handling cranes often seen in industries. A piece is moved to a certain spot on an axis to be ejected.

This choice of an operative part accessible to all was made based on the possibilities to multiply and integrate to a functional whole competences on mechanics, electricity, electronics, 2D and 3D design, programming as well as 3D physical simulation.

Moreover, it seems vital to us to limit the costs in order to provide to each student his own B-Flex; Observing is good, but doing is better, especially in technical training.

The framing elements of the B-Flex are in aluminum profiles. This provides many advantages:

  • Lightness, robustness and elegance.
  • Easy alterations of the structure for add-ons e.g. parts dispenser.
  • Easy installation and adjustment of sensors and actuators without changing the frame.
  • Lateral handles facilitating transport.
  • Rubber strip to protect the workbench and hold the B-Flex in place.
  • Possibility to add frames to pile up the units for storage.
  • Etc.

Beyond these functional qualities, we have chosen a provider that has a wide range of accessories and assembling elements. We are therefore able to offer many additions to our B-Flex platform.

Right now, it is possible to order single fasteners allowing  you to install sensors and actuators wherever on the B-Flex without having to drill holes or modify the structure. There’s no better way to experiment year after year.

Concerning motors and speed controllers, we offer two different technologies. The two are highly interesting in an educational context. We recommend that you expose each student to both technology, because the equipment, the connections and the programming of each are different.

Step motor:

We use a bipolar motor Nema 23, e.8 degrees/step, double shaft. The double shaft allows to assemble and interface different sensors and actuators for experiments. The I/O signals of the speed controller are typical of what is found on the market:

  • 5V optocoupler input: Pulse, Direction, Enable.
  • 24-50V independent power supply of the motor.
  • Two phase outputs for the bipolar motor.
  • DIP SW configuration of the maximum current, holding current, resolution (MicroSteps).
  • Protection against: overheating, short circuits, exceeding the current and voltage capabilities.

D.C. Motor

We use a 12 VDC brush motor. The motor is equipped with a rotary encoder producing 90 pulses per rotation and a transmission reducing the speed 30:1. The nominal speed is 103 RPM. To avoid noise problems, the 12 VDC comes from an independent power supply. The I/O signals of the speed controller are representative of what we find on the market:

  • Direction input to adjust the sense of rotation
  • 10 kHz PWM input and output to determine the speed.
  • Unique 12 VDC power supply

Note: The output %Q7 of the B-Flex is provided with a pull-up resistant linked to the 5V for compatibility. Same thing for the PWM output. The student doesn’t need to add external resistors which sometimes cause damage to the equipment. The speed controller is equipped with two switches that control the motor in manual mode in both directions. It also has two light indicators to visualise the state of the output.

The power transmission is done by a toothed belt and two toothed pulleys. The pulleys have side covers to hold the belt into place. A system that is relatively cheap, light, efficient whilst still providing a synchronous drive.

An electromagnet fixed to a nylon slider, itself inserted into a aluminum profile, completes the displacement of an object over a 26 cm distance. A graduated ruler is attached to the base of the B-Flex.

The displaced objects are cylinders or cubes of different colours and made of different materials. At the end, the pieces are ejected into a container.

From an educational point of view, this mechanism is extremely interesting. You can:

  • Characterise the power transmission via the toothed belt.
  • Present the input/output law of a mechanism.
  • Program the system using mm as a unit of measure.
  • Generate acceleration and deceleration curves.
  • Add sensors: colour, distance, weight, etc.
  • Étudier les modes de marche et d’arrêt.
  • Study on and off modes Etc.

More details in the section Practical work.

These components are currently experiencing significant growth because of, amongst other things, the accelerated development of robotics and intelligent devices. In its basic version, the B-Flex is equipped with the typical sensors:

  • 3 inductive position sensors.
  • 1 rotary encoder.
  • 1 normally closed switch.
  • 1 normally open switch.

Côté actionneur nous avons:

  • 1 electromagnet.
  • 1 solenoid.
  • 1 indicator light.
  • 1 audible alarm.
  • 1 stepper motor.
  • 1 DC motor.

The B-Flex was designed from a development standpoint. Simple and complete, there is much room for growth in terms of number of sensors and actuators.

More details in the section Travaux pratiques.

Add-Ons

In the fourth quarter of 2016, we will have a first electromechanical add-on to the B-Flex platform, namely an automatic parts distributor. Currently, the pieces are placed manually by the operator.

Come back and see us!

Gizmos

DIY (DoItYourself) packages are independent of the B-Flex platform and allow to achieve particular skills. They are used in beginner groups and are a powerful motivation factor; For instance, all the students want to finish and test their audio amplifier!

The packages are very affordable. On our website, you will have access to all the necessary details to identify the components, assemble the unit and setting it in motion. We even provide evaluation sheets.

Audio Amplifier

Description:

Set of components to assemble the preamplifier, the amplifier as well as the power supply (rectifiers, condensers and regulators) for a stereo audio system. The total power is of 36W, i.e. 18W per channel on the left and right. Included in the set are the electronic components, the printed circuit, the connectors, the finned cooler, the hardware and a complete documentation comprising an evaluation grid of the student. Take note that the AC transformer and the speakers are not included.

Targeted skills:

  • Identifier des composantes électroniques.
  • Identifying electronic components.
  • Welding electronic components.
  • Designing, cutting and drill the base.
  • Developing a test procedure.
  • Writing a technical report.

Bloc d’alimentation

Description:

Set of components to assemble a complete 0-12 VDC linear power supply. The package includes::

  • A transparent case made of plexiglass with a 110 VAC attachment plug.
  • Set of components: transformer, diode bridge, condensers, regulators, LED, buzzer.
  • Printed circuit, finned cooler, switch.
  • Digital display, alligator clips.

Targeted skills:

  • Identifying components typical on a DC power supply.
  • Designing plans for a DC power supply.
  • Welding electronic components.
  • Developing a procedure to measure output currents and voltages.
  • Using a spreadsheet to trace curves.
  • Drawing the block diagram of a DC power supply.

Chute d’eau

Description:

Trousse de composantes pour monter

Compétences visées: