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Actuator Package: Plan GUI


This document describes the features included in the Plan GUI that allow you to work with the Actuator Package. Plan GUI v2.0 is used for all the examples, but Plan 3.0's functionality is the same.

First Time Streaming

The first time you connect to the actuator package using Plan GUI, you'll want to check basic streaming and control functionalities. You may wish to revisit this section if you ever experience communication issues, particularly if you've programmed custom firmware to the device, or created a custom version of Plan. If you are using Plan 3.0, skip this section and refer to Plan 3.0: Connect & Stream.

For basic functionality first check the following:

  1. Connect the device to your computer by USB and open the GUI
    • Two windows should initially be opened, “Configuration 1” and “Slave Communication”. If they are not opened you can open them by clicking “File > Configuration”, and “File > Slave Communication” respectively.
  2. In the Configuration 1 windows, select the port name corresponding to the device. Click “Open COM”
    • If you don't know which port corresponds to your device, you can check (on Windows) by opening the Device Manager (in the Control Panel) and checking the Ports dropdown. Whichever port is associated with STMicroelectronics is likely to be your FlexSEA device.
    • upon clicking “Open COM” the device should connect immediately.
  3. In the slave communication window, set the first row according to the device and set of data you'd like to stream
    • Select “Rigid” for the experiment
    • Select target slave to match the device that you are connecting to. If you are using an actuator package, select Manage 1 (or Manage 2 if you have programmed as such with your own custom firmware)
    • Select 100 Hz or 200 Hz if you are just testing data throughput
  4. In the slave communication window, Click the x button under On/Off to toggle streaming.

If the downward arrow in the slave communication window turns green, this means you are successfully streaming data from the device. If the arrow does not change color, the GUI is not receiving messages from the device. This means either

  1. the version of plan you are running is broken/unstable
  2. the version of the firmware on the device is broken/unstable/doesn't have USB enabled
  3. the versions of plan and firmware are mismatched

Assuming data is coming through (while the downward arrow is green), we can view this data using the 2D plot window.

  1. Select “Add View > 2D Plot”
  2. Set the Slave dropdown to match the id of your device
  3. Set the variable dropdown(s)
    • try clicking the IMU button to automatically select all IMU values in order.
    • the accessible variables will depend on which experiment you are streaming. For Rigid the IMU measurements are all accessible.
    • if you select an inaccessible variable the 2D plot will draw a straight line with the received value or 0.

If you are able to see data coming through great! You are successfully streaming data with the ActPack!

Controlling the motor


  • Make sure that your ActPack is connected to a battery or power supply. You cannot make the motor move under USB power.
  • Make sure that you are connected to the GUI via USB or Bluetooth and that you can read data
  • Make sure that the motor is free to spin
  • Under the Add Control menu, click on Control Loop

Open Speed

  1. Select Manage 1 as your “Active slave”
  2. Use Act Pack as “Commands”
  3. Select Open in the “Controller” drop-down list
  4. Click “Set Controller”
  5. Click on Slider (You can use the Toggle tab or the Slider tab. For Open, Slider might work better.)
  6. Enter a max value (mV). 5000mV is a good starting point for benchtop experiments. Press Enter or click “Update Min-Max”.
  7. Move the slider and look at your motor.

Position Controller: setup & basic test

  1. Select Manage 1 as your “Active slave”
  2. Use Act Pack as “Commands”
  3. Select Position in the “Controller” drop-down list
  4. Click “Set Controller”
  5. Write to Setpoint. Use the same value as the motor position.
  6. Write gains
  7. Make the motor move by changing the setpoint
  8. Experiment with gains

Impedance Controller: setup & basic test

Setting up the controller and the gains:

Note: This is valid for all GUI released before October 2019.

  1. Open up the Control Window (Tools→Control Loop)
  2. Select ActPack in the “Commands:” dropdown
  3. Select Current in the “Controller” drop-down list
  4. Set Proportional (kp) and Integral (ki) gains. kp = 100 and ki = 32 are good starting points.
  5. Click “Set Gains”
  6. Select Impedance in the “Controller” drop-down list
  7. Click “Set Controller”
  8. Set K and B as desired. As a starting point K = 200 and B = 0 will give you a weak spring.
  9. Click “Set Gains.” You can test the weak spring by manually moving the motor.
  10. You can continue to change and set the impedance gains as you wish.

Demo: this demo was recorded right after the setup shown above. We use K = 325 and we change B from 0 to 1500 to demonstrate the effect of damping.


actpackplan.txt · Last modified: 2020/07/09 20:43 by bbaig