Following in the footsteps of pioneersIn addition to a moonwalk in a simulated lunar environment and a zero-gravity wall, one of the key highlights of a visit to the Euro Space Center is an original, multi-axis simulator seat built by NASA in the 1960s to prepare astronauts for the disorientation that results from space travel.
It is now used to enable visitors to this space-themed tourist attraction established in 1991 to follow in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin and feel like space pioneers, for roughly a minute and a half. The three-axis seat swivels while attached to two aluminum rings. It was operated manually until 2015, when the Siemens logic module was installed, powering it at speeds of up to 30 rpm.
"Previously, our staff had to start the simulator with a simple handwheel, as well as regulating its speed, and braking and stopping it, manually," recalls Catherine Vuidar, marketing manager at the center. With several hundred users a day, it was an extremely labor-intensive operation. However, as a result of installing LOGO! 8, the simulator is now more user-friendly and easier to steer, more efficient, and also much safer.
The installation contractor, Heinen, was already familiar with the logic module. "We had used it on a number of projects before, including to control lighting and heating systems," reports Marc Radoux, chief development engineer. Thus, the team was already well-versed in the programming functionality of LOGO! 8, meaning the entire project was completed much faster. The switchover of the chair's operation from manual to automatic including assessment, testing, and adjustment was completed within just 10 months.
"To enhance the safety of the system, we installed two sensors at precisely defined points on the simulator," explains Radoux. The sensors are connected to LOGO! 8, enabling it to position the seat and the moveable rings on the correct axis when starting up, and realign them perfectly when stopping. This prevents the seat from stopping with the occupant upside-down something that used to occur occasionally.
The multi-axis seat is currently rotated by an asynchronous motor also controlled by the logic module connected to a frequency controller. The frequency controller translates the voltage into the motor speed. Radoux explains: "At zero voltage, the entire system is stopped. The maximum voltage of 10 volts corresponds to the maximum speed of the motor: 3,600 rpm. Consequently, the seat has a maximum rotation speed of 30 rpm." At present, the simulator can be operated at three speeds: slow, fast, and super fast.
The project has been so successful that we have even developed a mobile multi-axis seat. And a third project is also already under way.Marc Radoux, Chief Development Engineer, Euro Space Center
"Technically, however, there are no limits," adds Radoux, "so we could use LOGO! 8 to program an infinite number of scenarios and levels. As a further safety enhancement, there is now an emergency stop device. Voltage and speed parameters are also shown in real time on the controller's display.
As a result, not only is the work of the staff at the Euro Space Center made easier, but thanks to LOGO! 8 visitors can also experience the thrilling world of an astronaut in an intense yet perfectly controlled and automated environment. Radoux confirms: "The project has been so successful that we have even developed a mobile multi-axis seat. And a third project is also already under way."