Hexapod Motion Controller, Simulation Software for Hexapod, Stewart Platform Motion Control, 6-axis controller, EtherCat Control, 6DOF Motion Platform Positioner, by PI USA

Control of Hexapod / Stewart Platforms:
Hexapod Motion Controllers & Simulation Software

Hexapod Overview
Hexapod FAQ
Hexapod Controllers PDF Datasheet

hexapod controller

hexapod controller
C.887 Manual Control Technical Note
Hexapod Control Introduction
All PI Hexapod (Stewart Platform) controllers are based on decades of experience with high-precision parallel kinematic mechanics. They are delivered with ample software support, including a simulation tool to verify workspace and loads on individual struts dependent on mounting orientation.

In addition to the coordinated output of the six hexapod axes, standard controllers provide two additional axes that can be used to operate rotary stages, linear stages or linear actuators.

Virtualized Pivot Point
All PI Hexapod controllers allow the user to set a pivot point anywhere in space with one simple command. Software control of the center of rotation is critical in many alignment tasks, from photonics applications to precision assembly. PI controllers make hexapod control easy for the user. Positions are entered / programmed in the cartesian coordinates and the controller takes care of the rest -- the specified target will be reached after travel along a smooth vectorized path.

Interfaces for Standard PI Hexapod Controllers
  • EtherCat Option
  • Manual Control Pad
  • TCP/IP Ethernet Industry standard
  • RS-232 (25m short connection)
  • RS-422 (optional, for up to 1.4 km long distance)
  • Analog Input (optional)
  • Optical Input (optional)
  • Keyboard (optional)
  • Monitor (optional)

Software Components / External Control
  • Library files for Windows and Linux Operating Systems / DLLs
  • LabView VI’s full set
  • PIMikroMove™ program integration
  • Additional scan routines
  • Additional auto alignment routines (e.g. photonics alingment & test equipment)
  • Worldwide remote control via ethernet
  • Flight Simulator Interface with Demo Software

EtherCat / G-Code Control for Automation and Micro-Machining
A new controller with EtherCAT fieldbus interface extends the hexapod versatility for automation and precision machining applications. Operating modes include: absolute positioning in six Cartesian axes. Cyclic position commanding via PLC for synchronization with additional automation components. Stand-alone operation possible. Fields of application: Micromachining, precision alignment, automated processes. Optional: Control via additional interfaces, i.e. Profinet, Profibus, CANopen, SERCOS III

Command Set / Operating Systems / Libraries
The native command set comprises about 40 commands and is is compatible to PI's General Command Set and includes extremely fast scan and align routines for different alignment tasks. All Hexapod controllers come with a complete software package for Windows and Linux operating systems. Alternatively, they can be run in stand-alone mode with an optional integrated key pad and monitor or by means of an external keyboard and monitor

Custom software can communicate by ASCII strings, or, more conveniently, through included library files (Windows DLLs, Linux libraries) or LabVIEW drivers. Most controllers can be upgraded with optical boards for alignment of IR and Visible light sources.

PIMikroMove™ Software

  • See and control all connected controllers and mechanical axes in one window
  • HostMacros: create command sequences for connected controllers and run them on the host PC, can be called recursivly
  • Position Pad: control 2 axes with mouse and joystick
  • 3D visualisation of connected hexapod geometry
  • Analog input visualisation


  • Allows controlling one or more PI Hexapod controllers connected to a host PC
  • Is available for the following operating systems:
  • Windows 2000, XP and Vista
  • Linux operating systems
  • Sample program with open source code
  • Supports all functions available in firmware
  • Very convenient for programming in C, C++, VB, C#…

LabVIEW Drivers

  • Including GUI programs such as terminal applications, configuration software, full scanning routines with graphical representation etc.
  • Online help window for each VI
  • Compatible with PI's General Command LabVIEW Driver Set

Graphical representation of a tripod positioner and its work space.

More Information on PI Software Tools

The video shows an 18 axis advanced silicon photonics test
and alignment system based on two 6-DOF hexapods and
two XYZ high-speed piezo scanners and control software from PI.

The video shows simulation and testing software for Hexapod
integration, including Verimove collision avoidance.

Standard Hexapod Controller

The C-887 hexapod controller comes in two standard variations: a) compact controller, b) 19” rack-mount, with slots for optional plugin cards.
More information on the C-887 Hexapod Controller

Hexapod Controller for EtherCat shown with H-811 Hexapod mechanics. Hexapod Controller Datasheet

Custom Controller with Monitor and Keypad

Control / Software

PI Hexapods come with ample software support, including a simulation tool to verify workspace and loads on individual struts dependent on mounting orientation.

Included software allows easy scan and automated alignment of fiber optics components, etc.

Hexapod control and 3D visualisation of connected hexapod geometry with included PIMikroMove™ Software.

Simulation software allows the graphical off-line configuration and simulation of the hexapod in the customer environment. It offers full functionality for creation, modeling, simulation, rendering and playback of hexapod configurations to predict and avoid interference with possible obstacles in the work space.

User Defined Pivot Point
PI Hexapod controllers allow the user to set a pivot point anywhere in space. It is important to have a fixed pivot point as the center of rotation especially in photonics alignment & packaging applications. Furthermore, the cartesian coordinates of any position and any orientation can be entered directly and the specified target will be reached after travel along a smooth path.
Hexapod Coordinates  Platform in INI position (XYZ axes
shown displaced to reduce clutter)

 Platform at a position (x, y, z) and
U=1-; U axis is always parallel to X.
 Platform at INI position

 Platform position of (x, y, z), U=10
and V=10; note direction of the V
axis, always parallel to plane of
 Platform in INI position

 Platform position (x, y, z). U=10
V=-10and W=10; note direction of
the W axis, always normal to platform.

Hexapod Options & Accessories

Optical Metrology Boards / Power Meters
The controllers for the F-206, M-840 and M-850 Hexapod systems can be equipped/retrofitted with the following photometer cards: F-206.VVU (2-channel, visual) and F-206.iiU (2-channel, IR).

PIMotion&Vision™—Integration of Vision System and Motion Control
PIMotion&Vision™ offers an integrated solution for difficult tasks such as automated positioning of optics, semi-conductor wafers, microsystems technology MEMS fabrication or alignment and scanning of samples under a microscope. The advantage is one consistent software interface for both motion and vision, based on National Instruments LabVIEW + IMAQ Vision, offering a general coordinate system and flexible modules like AutoFocus, FindCorner, AlignEdges for easy handling of a complex system.

Interactive 6-Axis Manual Control Pad Upgrade
The F-206.MC6 manual control pad facilitates system setup and testing procedures. It consists of a board that plugs into the Hexapod controller and a control pad with six digital "potentiometer" knobs (one for each degree of freedom).

The manual pad works seamlessly with the Hexapod software, and allows programmable step sizes of 0.1 µm to 500 µm (linear) and 0.0001 to 0.5deg (angular) per step. Computer commanded steps can be intermixed with manual positioning input maintaining the true position inside the position registers of the Hexapod controller. The control pad comes with a 3 m cable. A 3 m extension cable is available as part number C-815.MC6.

Fast Piezo Scanner Option for Rapid Nano-Alignment
For applications where alignment with nanometer-range resolution is required, or where rapid mapping of the entire cross-section of a component in as short a time as possible is desired, a piezo scanner can be used.

Hexapod manual control pad facilitates system setup and testing procedures. It permits independent motion in all degrees of freedom with programmable step size.

P-616 NanoCube® Piezo XYZ scanner mounted on H-811 Hexapod, performing a fast Fiber Array Alignment.

Most controllers can be upgraded with optical boards for alignment of IR and Visible light sources.

Optical Power Meter for photonics / fiber alignment applications.

Custom Hexapod Controllers
In addition to the standard hexapod controllers / software packages, PI has also designed a number of controllers for customer specific applications.

For NEXLINE®- Non-Magnetic Piezo Motor Hexapod Ultra-High Vacuum Hexapod Controller, real time operating system, 20MB trace memory 100Mb/s Ethernet Custom Compact Hexapod Controller (DC Servo), Case: 10.5x3.5x10”

Controller for Ultra-High Load Hexapod (1 ton+), AC- motor driver support, brake support, incremental sensor and absolute incremental sensor on second interface
High-Altitude Hexapod Controller, requires no fan, compact flash operating system, rack mounting flanges

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