Thursday, November 6, 2008

I converted to QUARC!

I used to use WinCon... a lot! Now I completely switched to QuaRC, and it's all for the better. QuaRC is a brand new software completely designed from ground up so that it can take advantage of all the latest technologies. Of course, we learned a great deal from our many years of using and developing WinCon. Therefore, QuaRC is not the new version of WinCon! It simply replaces it in a much more flexible and powerful way.

For instance, QUARC can already be run on multiple types of operating systems and CPUs. Also QUARC is really geared toward running the most advanced and efficient real-time controllers. This is, for example, shown by its inherent multi-threaded design which makes it ideal for implementing true multi-rate systems (one thread per rate) and blocking I/O and/or communication channels (in separate threads). This is a whole new level above what WinCon does.

Contrary to WinCon, QUARC is fully and seamlessly integrated with Simulink® and particularly when using external mode. For example, this allows QUARC and hence the generated real-time controller to support right from the Simulink model online parameter tuning, dynamic signal plotting (e.g., in Floating Scopes, Scopes, or Displays), model referencing, MAT-file logging, data streaming, and scope triggering.

Communication is another of QUARC's great strengths. It follows a very generic and user-customizable paradigm, where for example switching from one communication protocol to another is just a matter of changing one initialization string in the whole model, or where selecting blocking or non-blocking mode is done from a drop-down menu.

When compared to WinCon, accessing hardware has also been completely reviewed and improved by also using a generic scheme for all of QUARC's supported data acquisition cards. A lot more cards are supported and switching from one card to another is done in just a couple of mouse clicks, without replacing any block in the model. QUARC also interfaces to more open-architecture robots, as well as other devices like grippers, (FireWire or USB) cameras, and, last but not least, the Nintendo® Wii Remote!

Finally, the QUARC documentation is extensive and fully integrated with the MATLAB help. It gets new users started quickly by means of various demos and tutorials. There is even a WinCon-To-QUARC migration section.

QUARC is now in full swing with its 1.2 version coming out in a few weeks. So stay tuned for upcoming new features and exciting applications.

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