The instrument box - "Ibox" - is a control box you plug in your Tools to. It reads the sensors in the handles and controls the motor output on handles with force feedback.
The Ibox has 6 channels, of which 4 have force feedback capability. All channels measures one degree of freedom, typically the opening angle of a handle thumbgrip or lever. The channels with force feedback also measures the applied force, to be able to control the motor output for a haptic sensation. The ibox also controls the LED on the handles, which e.g. can be useful for instructing a trainee which tool to select in an exercise sub-step.
A handle can be connected to any of the channels, regardless if it has force feedback or not. But a handle with force feedback must be connected to the red, orange, yellow or green channel to provide force feedback.
The connectors on the Ibox have color markers, starting from red, orange, etc. A handle that is mated with a red shaft shall be connected to the connector with the red marker, and so on. When a red shaft is inserted and identified in a Port, the Port reports the ToolID to the simulator, which then knows that the handle opening angle shall be read from, and the calculated forces be sent to, the red channel.
All handles connects to the Ibox with a robust all-metal push-pull connector. To connect, align the connector and push. To disconnect, just pull.
All handles can be "hot-swapped", meaning connecting or disconnecting a handle can be made without turning off or restarting the ibox. The ibox detects the precense of a handle and performs the necessary initialization and shutdown.
Just like the Port, the Ibox has a thermal control system that predicts the temperature of the motor winding (in any connected force feedback handle) to be able to protect from over-heating. When the simulated motor temperature exceeds a certain temperature, the maximum output power is limited.
The Ibox will perform the necessary calibration of the sensors in the connected handles. A force feedback handle will drive the motor first to fully open then to fully closed to calibrate the force sensor and the handle opening angle. The force sensor is also calibrated when the tool is not in use. A non-force feedback handle needs to be manually opened/closed once to be calibrated.
The Ibox is mounted with a quick connector, without the need of a tool. Position the Ibox over the quick connector bracket and push until it snaps to lock. Press the small lever to release it. This system allows you to easily move the Ibox from one setup to another.
Please contact us if you need customization of the Ibox. You may want to have less channels, say one or two, you may want to omit the force feedback capability, or you may want to have the Ibox integrated your own structure where the connectors are mounted in a panel. We are here to assist.