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Control Hardware

The control hardware is comprised of Opal-RT engineered components and some standard computer components (such as Intel processors) to achieve very high-speed and precision real-time simulation.

The DriveLab kit includes the external power supply, the interface cables, and the real-time simulator.

The real-time simulator components can be divided into two categories:

PC-basedA motherboard, hard drive with RTOS, power supply and processors are the main components of the PC-based category
Inputs/Outputs (I/Os)An FPGA board based on Spartan-3 Xilinx’s chip with PCI Express interface, digital I/O boards and +/-16V analog board are the main components of the I/O category

For the DriveLab kit application, we will focus on the I/O interface.

Real-Time Simulator I/O

Analog Inputs

Opal-RT’s standard analog input range is +/-20V. The DriveLab application scales the voltages in order to comply with this specification. The analog input carrier connector on the real-time simulator is known as a DB37F connector (see I/O Cables for details).

In this configuration, analog inputs are used to read the phase currents and the DC bus voltage.

  • Currents A1 and B1 of inverter circuit #1
  • Currents A2 and B2 of inverter circuit #2
  • +36V common DC bus voltage

Note: Currents are measured and sent as voltages by the DriveLab box (see Power electronics section for more details). A gain is applied during the conversion. See Control software section on how to retrieve the exact current values in the model.

Digital Inputs

Opal-RT digital inputs are opto-isolated.

In this configuration, digital inputs are used to read encoder feedback provided by the DriveLab box and the encoders:

  • Fault detection on inverter circuit #1
  • Fault detection on inverter circuit #2
  • Encoder feedback (A, B, Z) from both encoders
  • Hall effects (U1, V1, W1) of encoder 1 (8-pin)

Opal-RT digital outputs are opto-isolated and require an external DC voltage source as a voltage reference level for the digital signals to be outputted. In the DriveLab application, this voltage is fed by the DriveLab box to the real-time simulator.

In this configuration, digital outputs are used to provide signals to the DriveLab box:

  • Firing of phase A1, B1 & C1 (PWMs) on inverter circuit #1
  • Firing of phase A2, B2 & C2 (PWMs) on inverter circuit #2
  • Fault clearance signal (common to both circuits)

I/O Cables

Real-time simulator inputs and outputs must be properly connected to the DriveLab box to interact with it.

OPAL-RT provides two custom cables to connect both systems; each cable has two different connectors at either end:


  • Standard DB37M connector (to connect to the simulator analog I/O slot)
  • 50-pin connector (to connect to the DriveLab box analog inputs connector)

Refer to Pin assignments for the analog input DB37 pin description and for the 50-pin analog input connector pin description.

Caution: The analog input and the control signal connectors on the DriveLab box are different sizes, therefore, there is no risk of plugging in the wrong connector.

However, the connectors on the simulator are the same size, therefore users MUST plug the analog input cable into the analog input slot and the control signal cable into the digital I/O slots.

Failure to do so may result in hardware damage of the DriveLab box, the cable, and the real-time simulator. If you are not sure, refer to the System Integration documentation found on the CD provided with the system or to your project manager.

External Power Supply

The external power supply provided with the system is used to power the DriveLab box, which requires an external +36VDC source to power the common DC bus. Although the power supply provided may be able to reach higher voltages, it must be set to +36VDC. Higher voltages may result in damage to the DriveLab box and to other hardware components.

Before connecting the external power supply to the DriveLab box, set the power supply to 0V. Then, connect the external power supply to the DriveLab box and power them. It is important to power the DriveLab box and the external power supply after both units are connected together.

OPAL-RT TECHNOLOGIES, Inc. | 1751, rue Richardson, bureau 1060 | Montréal, Québec Canada H3K 1G6 | | +1 514-935-2323