Saturday, April 25, 2020

Cambridge Technology 6230H galvo short teardown

Cambridge Technology's galvos are popular as the de facto high performance galvonometer scanner.  The highest performing models are moving magnet scanners; these are conceptually similar to a single phase brushless motor. However, in galvo duty the rotor never completes a revolution, instead scanning back and forth with a maximum range of around 40 mechanical degrees (+/- 20 degrees). This range is small enough that rotor position is not part of the torque generation loop (and in fact, with a single set of coils, it is impossible to control the stator current phase); instead, galvos operate as current-amplitude-to-torque converters.

The galvo in this teardown is a 6230H, a mid-sized model still in production. The rotor (second from the left, bottom row) is a radially magnetized, single-piece sintered neodymium magnet with a very long aspect ratio. This aspect ratio maximizes the torque-to-inertia of the rotor - torque scales as LR*R = LR^2, whereas rotor inertia scales as MR^2 = LR^2*R^2 = LR^4, so torque-to-inertia falls off as R^2. I'm not sure why further optimizations weren't made to the shaft, for example, a hollow shaft and/or a shaft made of an exotic alloy would have reduced inertia further, and the CT galvos are not particularly cost-sensitive products.

The stator (top left) is epoxied into the galvo housing with (hopefully thermally conductive) epoxy. To avoid saturation, the stator is a complex air-cored winding, similar to what is found in high performance servomotors. Not having stator iron has the added benefit of greatly reducing stator inductance, which could limit the electrical step response of the system. A coreless stator means the short-term current of the system is only limited by the fusing of the stator windings, and, in practice, by demagnetization of the rotor PM's due to off-axis current at the ends of travel (since the stator field does not rotate to stay in sync with the rotor field).

The real voodoo in the Cambridge galvos is the position sensor, consisting of the quadrature photodiode assembly in the bottom left. This is used in conjunction with the IR illuminator (bottom row, third from the left) to measure the rotor position with impressive accuracy. 8uRad short term repeatability equates 16b+ of angle data over 40 degrees of travel, and a linearity of 99.9% open loop is very nearly 10 bits with no additional calibration.

Overall, no surprises - this is a state of the art galvo and the design and construction show it. The motor part is nothing fancy (I'm sure you could copy it with a little help from China), but the position sensor would require quite the R&D to duplicate, especially since the little photodiode "slices" look like custom parts.