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All About Stepper Motors

Created by Bill Earl

Last updated on 2015-09-29 06:19:01 PM EDT

Guide Contents
Guide Contents
What is a Stepper Motor?
A 4-phase unipolar motor.

Types of Steppers
Motor Size
Step Count
Shaft Style
Coils and Phases
Unipolar vs. Bipolar



5-Wire Motor
6-Wire Motor
8-Wire Motor


Driving a Stepper
Simple Unipolar Driver
Simple Dual H-Bridge Driver
Adafruit Motor Shield V2
Advanced CNC Controllers
Matching the Driver to the Stepper
Know the Driver Specifications
Know the Motor Specifications
Obey the Law!
Running Above the Law?
Chopper Drives



© Adafruit Industries



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What is a Stepper Motor?

Stepper motors are DC motors that move in discrete steps. They have multiple coils that are
organized in groups called "phases". By energizing each phase in sequence, the motor will rotate,
one step at a time.
With a computer controlled stepping you can achieve very precise positioning and/or speed control.
For this reason, stepper motors are the motor of choice for many precision motion control
Stepper motors come in many different sizes and styles and electrical characteristics. This guide
details what you need to know to pick the right motor for the job.

© Adafruit Industries

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Some disk drives also use stepper motors to position the read/write head. Low Speed Torque .Y Page 4 of 28 .A 4-phase unipolar motor. Speed Control – Precise increments of movement also allow for excellent control of rotational speed for process automation and robotics.adafruit. CNC. Animation from Wikimedia Commons What are stepper motors good for? Positioning – Since steppers move in precise repeatable steps. A Stepper motor has maximum torque at low speeds. Camera platforms and X. they excel in applications requiring precise positioning such as 3D printers.Normal DC motors don't have very much torque at low speeds. so they are a good choice for applications requiring low speed with high precision. © Adafruit Industries https://learn.

What are their limitations? Low Efficiency – Unlike DC motors. They draw the most current when they are doing no work at all. Although great precision can be achieved running ‘open loop’.com/all-about-stepper-motors Page 5 of 28 . but they need to be paired with an appropriate driver to achieve that performance. stepper motors have less torque at high speeds than at low speeds. they tend to run hot. Limit switches or ‘home’ detectors are typically required for safety and/or to establish a reference position. Some steppers are optimized for better high-speed performance. © Adafruit Industries https://learn. most steppers do not have integral feedback for position.In general. No Feedback – Unlike servo motors.adafruit. Limited High Speed Torque . stepper motor current consumption is independent of load. Because of this.

Most motors have torque ratings. Stepper motors come in sizes ranging from smaller than a peanut to big NEMA 57 monsters. © Adafruit Industries https://learn. NEMA 17 is a common size used in 3D printers and smaller CNC mills. For our purposes. Smaller motors find applications in many robotic and animatronic applications. As you might expect. either 2-phase bipolar. They do not define the other characteristics of a motor. Motor Size One of the first things to consider is the work that the motor has to do. This is what you need to look at to decide if the motor has the strength to do what you want. These are: Permanent Magnet or Hybrid steppers. Two different NEMA 17 motors may have entirely different electrical or mechanical specifications and are not necessarily interchangeable. larger motors are capable of delivering more power. we will focus on stepper motors that can be driven with commonly available drivers. The larger NEMA frames are common in CNC machines and industrial applications.adafruit. some of which require very specialized Page 6 of 28 . The NEMA numbers define standard faceplate dimensions for mounting the motor.Types of Steppers There are a wide variety of stepper types. or 4-phase unipolar.

© Adafruit Industries https://learn.8° motor is the same as a 200 step/revolution motor.adafruit. Resolution is often expressed as degrees per step. Commonly available step counts are Page 7 of 28 . And the higher step-rates needed to turn these motors results in lower torque than a similar size low-step-count motor at similar speeds. 48 and 200. The trade-off for high resolution is speed and torque. High step count motors top-out at lower RPMs than similar size.Step Count The next thing to consider is the positioning resolution you require. A 1. The number of steps per revolution ranges from 4 to 400.

A gear train will also increase the torque of the motor.Gearing Another way to achieve high positioning resolution is with Page 8 of 28 . A 32:1 gear-train applied to the output of an 8-steps/revolution motor will result in a 512 step motor. But the tradeoff of course is speed.adafruit. Geared stepper motors are generally limited to low RPM applications. © Adafruit Industries https://learn. Some tiny geared steppers are capable of impressive torque.

gears and shaft couplers designed to fit. Geared shaft: Some shafts have gear teeth milled right into them. These are desirable when high torques are involved. "D" shafts have one flattened side to help prevent slippage. These are typically designed to mate with modular gear trains. Motors are available with a number of shaft styles: Round or "D" Shaft: These are available in a variety of standard diameters and there are many pulleys.Shaft Style Another thing to consider is how the motor will interface with the rest of the drive system. Miniature versions of these can be found as head positioners in many disk Page 9 of 28 .adafruit. © Adafruit Industries https://learn. Lead-Screw Shaft: Motors with lead-screw shafts are used to build linear actuators.

com/all-about-stepper-motors Page 10 of 28 .Wiring © Adafruit Industries https://learn.adafruit.

For our purposes. Coils and Phases A stepper motor may have any number of coils. we will focus on steppers that can be driven with commonly available drivers.There are many variations in stepper motor wiring. or 4-phase unipolar. But these are connected in groups called "phases". All the coils in a phase are energized together.adafruit. © Adafruit Industries https://learn. These are Permanent Magnet or Hybrid steppers wired as 2-phase Page 11 of 28 .

The other lead will always be positive.Unipolar vs. all the coils can be put to work turning the motor. One lead. All of the common coil wires are tied together internally abd brought out as a 5th wire. Unipolar drivers can be implemented with simple transistor circuitry. The disadvantage is that there is less available torque because only half of the coils can be energized at a time. Some motors come with flexible wiring that allows you to run the motor as either bipolar or unipolar. always energize the phases in the same way. will always be negative. Bipolar Unipolar drivers.adafruit.2 for each phase. A 2-phase bipolar motor will have 4 wires . Bipolar drivers use H-bridge circuitry to actually reverse the current flow through the phases. A 4 phase unipolar motor has 4. By energizing the phases with alternating the polarity. A two phase bipolar motor has 2 groups of Page 12 of 28 . the "common" lead. © Adafruit Industries https://learn. 5-Wire Motor This style is common in smaller unipolar motors. This motor can only be driven as a unipolar motor.

It can be driven in several ways: 4-phase unipolar . 2-phase series bipolar .The phases are connected in parallel.adafruit.All the common wires are connected together . 2-phase parallel bipolar . This results in half the resistance and inductance . The advantage of this wiring is higher torque and top speed. © Adafruit Industries https://learn. Or you just can ignore them and treat it like a bipolar motor! 8-Wire Motor The 8-wire unipolar is the most versatile motor of all. These two wires can be joined to create a 5-wire unipolar motor.just like a 5-wire Page 13 of 28 .The phases are connected in series .but requires twice the current to drive.6-Wire Motor This motor only joins the common wires of 2 paired phases.just like a 6-wire motor.

com/all-about-stepper-motors Page 14 of 28 .adafruit.© Adafruit Industries https://learn.

never need a rhyme We step in time. step in time Step in time. step in time Never need a reason. mateys. Sherman Driving a stepper motor is a bit more complicated than driving a regular brushed DC motor. we step in time "Step In Time" Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. step in time Step in time Step in time.adafruit.Driving a Stepper Step in Page 15 of 28 . Stepper motors require a stepper controller to energize the phases in a timely sequence to make the motor turn. © Adafruit Industries https://learn. step in time Come on.

com/all-about-stepper-motors Page 16 of 28 . There is an excellent tutorial on how to build one at the Arduino site. but only work with unipolar motors.Simple Unipolar Driver The simplest type of driver can be built with a handful of transistors. Unipolar drivers are relatively inexpensive to build.adafruit. Unipolar Stepper Drive Tutorial © Adafruit Industries https://learn. These are simply switched on and off in sequence to energize the phases and step the motor.

it/dob © Adafruit Industries Page 17 of 28 .Simple Dual H-Bridge Driver Driving a bipolar motor requires 2 full H-bridges so it can reverse the current to the phases. The L293D is one of the most popular and economical chips. These can be found at the heart of most first-generation motor shields. Hbridges can be tricky to build from scratch. There is an excellent tutorial on using a bare L293D with an Arduino in the Adafruit Learning System: Lesson 16 . But there are plenty of H-bridge chips available to simplify the task.adafruit. including the incredibly popular V1 Adafruit Motor Shield.Stepper Motors http://adafru.

com/all-about-stepper-motors Page 18 of 28 . The driver chips are interfaced via a dedicated PWM driver chip with an I2C © Adafruit Industries https://learn. each shield can drive up to two stepper motors.adafruit. The V2 shield uses two TB6612 MOSFET drivers. the TB6612 offers twice the current capacity and much lower voltage drops to drive your steppers more efficiently. This frees up lots of GPIO pins for other uses. With 2 driver chips and 4 full H-bridges total. Adafruit Motor Shield V2 Guide http://adafru. You can stack up to 32 of them to control 64 motors with just 2 IO pins! Compete details of this driver can be found in the Learning system.Adafruit Motor Shield V2 The Adafruit Motor Shield V2 is a big step up from the basic L293D based controllers. Compared to the L293D. and makes the shield stackable too.

These boards feature constant-current "chopper" drivers that can be tuned to deliver maximum torque and speed from your motors. The TinyG CNC features an on-board G-code interpreter and 4 motor outputs making this a complete embedded solution for a small to medium sized 4-axis CNC machine. these advanced.adafruit.Advanced CNC Controllers The gShield and TinyG CNC controller boards take you one step closer to industrial level stepper performance. As you might expect. high-performance boards are more complex to work with and are recommended for experienced users. Details on these boards and their operation can be found in the TinyG Wiki and the Synthetos Forums. © Adafruit Industries Page 19 of 28 .

Synthetos Forums Tiny G Wiki © Adafruit Industries Page 20 of 28 .

Mismatched motors and drivers can result in disappointing Page 21 of 28 .adafruit. If you choose unwisely.Matching the Driver to the Stepper Now we come to the most important part: making sure that your motor and driver are compatible. Or worse: damage to the motor and/or controller. you might meet this guy: © Adafruit Industries https://learn.

Continuous Current .The maximum current that the driver can supply to the motor.This is the resistance of each phase. A Voltage rating is often stated.but not Page 22 of 28 . Resistance per phase . There are 2 critical parameters: Amps per phase . "Peak" current ratings are not applicable to stepper motors. It is usually calculated from the two above .This is the maximum current that the motor windings can handle without overheating. Always go by the "continuous" current rating.adafruit. Know the Motor Specifications You will also need to know the electrical specifications for the motor.The maximum voltage that the driver can supply to the motor.Know the Driver Specifications The two most important parameters in the driver specificatons are: Voltage . It is © Adafruit Industries https://learn.

there are some other laws at work here. The stepper coils create a magnetic field when they are energized. But at the end of each step or when not moving. so they will resist rapid changes in current flow. they behave like a purely resistive load and will behave according to Ohm's Law (http://adafru. If you try. But some motors have very low coil resistance. These steppers require a more specialized controller. you will have to answer to the Blue Smoke Monster. Obey the Law! Stepper motor phases are inductors.better to calculate yourself from the above parameters using Ohm's Law. the drive voltage will be less than 5v and performance will not be good. Faraday and Ohm can help you to increase the performance of your motor. Strictly following those formulas. So Ohm's Law allows us to use the motor specifications to calculate the current requirements of the driver. This type of motor is not a good match for a constant-voltage driver. Standing still is also when a stepper motor draws the most current. and virtually all other L293D based controllers. Running Above the Law? It is not possible to cheat Ohm's Law. Voltage = Current x Resistance or Current = Voltage / Resistance These formulas should be strictly applied for all "constant voltage" stepper And according to © Adafruit Industries https://learn.adafruit. the changing magnetic field induces a current in the coil. This includes both V1 and V2 Motor Shields from Adafruit. According to Faraday's Law (http://adafru. Page 23 of 28 . The expertise at the law firm of Lenz.

To keep things safe at these higher voltages. This reverse current is known as "Back Electromotive Force" or "Back EMF". Chopper Drives A Chopper or "Constant Current" drive compensates for the back EMF by driving the motor with a higher voltage. that current will be in the reverse direction of the current creating the Page 24 of 28 .Lenz's Law (http://adafru. Selecting a chopper driver and configuring it for a specific motor requires a good understanding of both the motor and the controller.but to this impedance. This Back EMF increases the "impedance" or effective resistance of the still applies . this also allows for higher top-speeds. This impedance limits the current flow through the coil at the beginning of each step. In addition to adding torque at slower speeds. the chopper drive is able to deliver more current to the coils at the start of the step.adafruit. increasing the available torque. not to the simple phase resistance. the chopper drive also monitors the current being delivered to the motor and "chops" it before it exceeds a pre-set © Adafruit Industries https://learn. By starting at a higher voltage. It is not unusual to drive stepper motors at several times their rated voltage using a chopper drive. So Ohm's Law (http://adafru. Page 25 of 28 .© Adafruit Industries https://learn.

What if there are no motor specifications? See Jason on reverse engineering the stepper wire pinouts (http://adafru.usually in inch/ounces or newton/centimeters. it could hold up one ounce using a 2" diameter pulley. right? NEMA frame-size standards only define the dimensions of the mounting faceplate. so the © Adafruit Industries https://learn. When in and to overcome friction. When calculating the torque required for your project. It takes more torque to lift a mass from a dead stop than it does to simply hold it up. How do I connect my motor to the Motor Shield? For motors purchased from Adafruit.FAQ Will this motor work with my shield? You need to know the motor specifications as well as the controller specification. although you will get less torque. For other motors. Next. check the motors spec sheet if available. it is always better to err on the safe side and use a lower current! What size motor do I need for my project? Most motors have torque (http://adafru. check Jason on reverse engineering the stepper wire pinouts (http://adafru. To figure out if it is compatible. Will this power supply work with my motor? First make sure it does not exceed the voltage rating for the motor or the controller. For phase current. so it should work. be sure to allow extra torque required for acceleration ( Page 26 of 28 . If your project requires a lot of torque and not much speed.adafruit. check the current Most stepping modes energize two phases at a time. Once you have that information. For example. you can estimate based on motors of similar design and similar phase resistance. That will tell you the phase resistance.* You can usually run a motor at a lower voltage. you need to know the electrical specifications of the motor. It's a NEMA 17. If you don't have a spec sheet. check the "Matching the Driver to the Stepper" page to see if they are One inch/ounce means that the motor can exert a force of one ounce at one inch from the center of the shaft. consider a geared stepper. there are wiring instructions listed in the product specifications .

© Adafruit Industries https://learn. For chopper drive controllers. * This applies to constant voltage drivers.current rating should be at least twice the current per phase for your Page 27 of 28 . check the instructions for your controller.

it/aOH) Jason on reverse engineering the stepper wire pinouts ( Motor Page (http://adafru. Here are some of our favorite links: Wikipedia ( RepRap Stepper Motor Page ( Jones on Stepper Motors ( © Adafruit Industries Last Updated: 2015-09-29 06:19:01 PM EDT Page 28 of 28 .Resources There is a lot of excellent information on the web about stepper motors.

Several features common to all stepper motors make them ideally suited for these types of applications. Open Loop Positioning – Stepper motors move in quantified increments or steps. Hybrid stepping motors combine aspects of both permanent magnet and variable reluctance technology. bipolar windings or bifilar windings. The rotor experiences a torque and moves the rotor in line with the energized coils. Each of these is described in the sections below. what circuitry is needed to drive these motors. Variable Reluctance Motors Variable Reluctance Motors (also called variable switched reluctance motors) have three to five windings connected to a common terminal. Holding Torque – Stepper motors are able to hold the shaft stationary. Both permanent magnet and hybrid motors may be wound using either unipolar windings. These motors are commonly used in measurement and control applications. 2. This attraction is caused by the magnetic flux path generated around the coil and the rotor. The arrangement of these windings is the primary factor that distinguishes different types of stepping motors from an electrical point of view. The motor moves clockwise when winding 1 is turned off and winding 2 in energized. The stator. The rotor teeth marked X are attracted to winding 1 when it is energized. The rotor teeth marked Y are attracted to winding 2. The commutator and brushes of conventional motors are some of the most failure-prone components. Load Independent – Stepper motors will turn at a set speed regardless of load as long as the load does not exceed the torque rating for the motor. These features are as follows: 1. with each winding wrapped around opposing poles. Permanent magnet motors have a magnetized rotor. Douglas W. stopping and reverse. This results in 30 degrees of clockwise motion as Y lines up with winding 2. Brushless – Stepper motors are brushless. CNC machines and volumetric pumps. The following control sequence will spin the motor depicted in Figure 1 clockwise for 12 steps or one revolution.AN907 Stepping Motors Fundamentals Author: Reston Condit Microchip Technology Inc. minimizing the flux path. TYPES OF STEPPING MOTORS There are three basic types of stepping motors: permanent magnet. Excellent response to start-up. 4. This application note covers all three types. variable reluctance motors are distant from the other types. DS00907A-page 1 . Continuous clockwise motion is achieved by sequentially energizing and de-energizing windings around the stator. and they create electrical arcs that are undesirable or dangerous in some environments. Figure 1 shows the cross section of a three winding. From the electrical and control system perspective. Sample applications include ink jet printers. Dr. the position of the shaft is known at all times without the need for a feedback mechanism. Jones University of Iowa INTRODUCTION Stepping motors fill a unique niche in the motor control world. 5. As long as the motor runs within its torque specification. The rotor in this motor has four teeth and the stator has six poles. or stationary part of the stepping motor holds multiple windings. variable reluctance and hybrid. 30 degree per step variable reluctance motor. while variable reluctance motors have toothed soft-iron rotors. EXAMPLE 1: Winding 1: 1001001001001 Winding 2: 0100100100100 Winding 3: 0010010010010 time  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. 3. The following sections discuss the most common types of stepper motors. and how to control stepping motors with a microcontroller.

Regardless of the number of wires. like all permanent magnet and hybrid motors. The rotor is a permanent magnet with six poles. these motors operate by attracting the north or south poles of the permanently magnetized rotor to the stator poles. one winding acts as either a north or south pole depending on which half is powered. The center tap wire(s) is tied to a power supply and the ends of the coils are alternately grounded. moving to 4 or 5 windings. Current direction in unipolar motors is dependent on which half of a winding is energized. each with a center tap. in these motors. where the direction of current flow through the stator windings is irrelevant. In practice. as shown in Figure 2. Rather than operating by minimizing the length of the flux path between the stator poles and the rotor teeth. the direction of the current through the stator windings determines which rotor poles will be attracted to which stator poles. The number of poles can be made greater by adding windings. EXAMPLE 2: Winding 1a: 100010001000 Winding 1b: 001000100010 Unipolar Motors Winding 2a: 010001000100 Unipolar stepping motors are composed of two windings. . FIGURE 1: FIGURE 2: UNIPOLAR STEPPER MOTOR VARIABLE RELUCTANCE STEPPER MOTOR The difference between a permanent magnet stepping motor and a hybrid stepping motor lies in how the multipole rotor and multi-pole stator are constructed. Therefore. unipolar motors have 5 or 6 wires. these motors typically have more winding poles and teeth for smaller step angles. Physically. The center taps are either brought outside the motor as two separate wires (as shown in Figure 2) or connected to each other internally and brought outside the motor as one wire. These differences will be discussed later. but for small step angles. EXAMPLE 3: Winding 1a: 110011001100 Winding 1b: 001100110011 Winding 2a: 011001100110 Winding 2b: 100110011001 time Figure 2 shows the cross section of a 30 degree per step unipolar motor. operate differently from variable reluctance motors. three north and three south. the usual solution is to use toothed pole pieces working against a toothed rotor.AN907 Figure 1 illustrates the most basic variable reluctance stepping motor. As a result. while motor winding number 2 is distributed between the left and right motor poles. the following sequence will spin the motor clockwise 12 steps or one revolution. the halves of the windings are wound parallel to one another. for example. time Note: Only half of each winding is energized at a time in the above sequence. unipolar motors are driven in the same way. Winding 2b: 000100010001 Unipolar stepping motors. As above. Variable reluctance motors using this approach are available with step angles close to one degree. Motor winding number 1 is distributed between the top and bottom stator poles. Thus. DS00907A-page 2  2004 Microchip Technology Inc.

A control circuit. The H-bridge is discussed in more detail in the “Basic Control Circuits” indicate the polarity of the power applied to each motor terminal and 0 to indicate no power is applied. the rotor must have more poles. It is important to note that the torque generated by the motor during this sequence is not constant. Using + and . Figure 3 illustrates a 30 degree per step bipolar motor. This requires changing the polarity of each end of the windings. 3 south and 3 north arranged around its circumference. DS00907A-page 3 . known as an H-bridge. This gives the motor more torque. current will flow from left to right in winding 1 when 1a is positive and 1b is negative. is that more complex control circuitry is required by bipolar motors.+ + - + + . When the rotor has a high pole count. the stator poles are always toothed so that each stator winding works against a large number of rotor poles. therefore. The combined sequence is shown in Example 4 (24 steps per revolution).+ + - . two winding halves are energized at one time in the second sequence. while the second sequence maximizes torque by energizing both windings at a time. two H-bridge control circuits are needed for each motor. while motor winding 2 is distributed between the left and right stator poles. Like a unipolar motor. As shown in Figure 3. is used to change the polarity on the ends of one winding. compared to unipolar motors. Unlike unipolar motors.AN907 Unlike in the first sequence described. Current will flow in the opposite direction when the polarity on each end is swapped. The first sequence minimizes power consumption by energizing only one winding at a time. bipolar motors have no center taps. The advantage to not having center taps is that current runs through an entire winding at a time instead of just half of the winding.+ + - Terminal 2a: - + + - Terminal 2b: + - + + - - - 0 + 0 - . these sequences are shown in Example 5 for one revolutions or 12 steps.0 + 0 - 0 + 0 0 + 0 .0 + 0 - - 0 + 0 0 0 + 0 - - 0 + time —> Bipolar Motors Bipolar stepping motors are composed of two windings and have four wires. bipolar motors produce more torque than unipolar motors of the same size. bipolar motors can be single stepped with two different control sequences. Permanent magnet rotors with 100 poles have been made. 0 + 0 0 + 0 - . Figure 2 illustrates the most basic unipolar motor. Every bipolar motor has two windings.+ + - - - - - - + + - - + + + + + - time —> Current flow in the winding of a bipolar motor is bidirectional. but also increases the power usage by the motor. The draw back of bipolar motors. The rotor is a permanent magnet with 6 poles. Each of the above sequences describes single stepping or stepping the motor in its rated step size (in this case 30 degrees). For higher angular resolutions. as alternating steps have one and two halves of a winding energized respectively. As a result. and this pole count is commonly achieved for hybrid rotors. FIGURE 3: BIPOLAR STEPPER MOTOR EXAMPLE 4: Winding 1a: 11000001110000011100000111 Winding 1b: 00011100000111000001110000 Winding 2a: 01110000011100000111000001 Winding 2b: 00000111000001110000011100 time This method moves the motor in steps that are half its rated step size. Combining these two sequences allows for half stepping the motor. using toothed end-caps on a simple bipolar permanent magnet. Motor winding 1 is distributed between the top and bottom stator poles. EXAMPLE 5: Terminal 1a: + 0 - Terminal 1b: - Terminal 2a: 0 + 0 Terminal 2b: 0 Terminal 1a: + + - Terminal 1b: - .  2004 Microchip Technology Inc.

like the variable reluctance motor. which serves as a center tap. FIGURE 4: BIFILAR STEPPER MOTOR EXAMPLE 6: Terminal 1a: + + 0 .0 + + + 0 . Hybrid Motors Hybrid motors share the operating principles of both permanent magnet and variable reluctance stepping motors. The teeth on the rotor provide a path which helps guide the magnetic flux to preferred locations in the air gap..” Motors with bifilar windings are identical in rotor and stator to bipolar motors with one exception – each winding is made up of two wires wound parallel to each other... The magnetic concentric magnet increases the detent. is actually connected as shown for winding 1 in Figure 4.0 + + + 0 . As a result....- Terminal 2b: 0 . To use a bifilar motor as a unipolar motor.0 + + + 0 . The sequence for half stepping the motor is shown in Example 6 for one revolution or 24 steps. Winding 2 in Figure 4 shows the parallel connection configuration. To use a bifilar motor as a bipolar motor..AN907 Combining these two sequences into one sequence will half step the motor so that it moves in 15 degree increments.. Bifilar motors are driven as either bipolar or unipolar motors. common bifilar motors have eight wires instead of the four wires of a comparable bipolar motor. the two wires of each winding are connected in either parallel or series.0 + Terminal 1b: .0 + + + 0 .. In terms of stepping the motor. while a series connection allows for high voltage operation. the two wires of each winding are connected in series and the point of connection is used as a center-tap.0 + + + 0 - Terminal 2a: 0 + + + 0 . A parallel connection allows for high current operation. As a result.0 + + + 0 .. . FIGURE 5: DS00907A-page 4 HYBRID STEPPING MOTOR  2004 Microchip Technology Inc.. Bifilar Motors The term bifilar literally means “two threaded. unipolar motors are wound using bifilar windings so that the external connection..0 + + + 0 .. Interestingly.. The rotor for a hybrid stepping motor is multitoothed.0 + + + 0 . and contains an axially magnetized concentric magnet around its shaft (see Figure 5). Refer to the previous sections “Unipolar Motors” and “Bipolar Motors” for a description of how to make a hybrid motor turn. Winding 1 in Figure 4 shows the unipolar winding connection configuration... This statement is based on the temperature and power constraints of a motor.. unipolar motors may be used as a bipolar motor at the rated voltage and half the rated current specified for the motor.0 + + + 0 ...0 + + + time —> Note: The torque generated by the motor during this sequence is not constant as alternating steps have one and two windings energized respectively... holding and dynamic torque characteristics of the motor when compared with both the variable reluctance and permanent magnet types. hybrid motors are driven like unipolar and bipolar motors..

As a result. while most variable reluctance motors have fairly coarse step sizes. With all motors. Hybrid motors suffer some of the vibration problems of variable reluctance motors. the two primary issues are cost and resolution. DS00907A-page 5 . jerk-free moves from one step to the next. Bipolar motors have approximately 30% more torque than an equivalent unipolar motor of the same volume. thus allowing direct drive for both the slow oscillating wash cycle and the fast spin cycle. but they are not as severe. hybrid and variable reluctance motors are made using stacked laminations with motor windings that are significantly more difficult to wind. some of the least expensive motors made. both permanent magnet and hybrid motors can be microstepped. This will have an impact on the cost of an application. it can be a source of problems. Unlike variable reluctance motors. With appropriate motor design. allowing positioning to a fraction of a step. The same drive electronics and wiring options generally apply to both motor types. while few permanent magnet and hybrid motors offer useful torque at 5000 steps per second and most are confined to speeds below 1000 steps per second. in applications where other motors require gearing. These motors are typically run in full-step increments. permanent magnet and hybrid motors are very quiet. Permanent magnet motors are. some newer washing machines use variable reluctance motors to drive the drum. Microstepping is not generally applicable to variable reluctance motors.8 degrees are very common. but if smooth coasting is required.AN907 CHOOSING A MOTOR Unipolar Versus Bipolar There are several factors to take into consideration when choosing a stepping motor for an application. the complexity of the controller. Permanent magnet and hybrid stepping motors are available with either unipolar. The challenge of magnetizing a permanent magnet rotor with more than 50 poles is such that smaller step sizes are rare! In contrast. but the drop in torque with speed is less pronounced with variable reluctance motors. A bipolar motor utilizes the whole of a winding when energized. bipolar or bifilar windings. The low torque drop-off with speed of variable reluctance motors allows use of these motors. With sinusoidal exciting currents.6 degrees. so are generally more robust than permanent magnet motors. Variable Reluctance Versus Permanent Magnet or Hybrid Variable Reluctance Motors (VRM) benefit from the simplicity of their design. For example. The higher torque generated by a bipolar motor does not come without a price. it is easy to cut finely spaced teeth on the end caps of a permanent magnet motor rotor. These motors can be configured as a unipolar or bipolar motor and the application tested with the motors operating in either mode. and allowing smooth. the latter can be used in either unipolar or bipolar configurations. In contrast. and smaller step sizes are widely available. Permanent magnet motors are generally made with step sizes from 30 degrees to 3. With appropriate control systems. This is because the permanent magnets in these motors attract the stator poles even when there is no power. speeds in excess of 10. These motors do not require complex permanent magnet rotors. although very few of them offer useful torque above 5000 steps per second.000 steps per second are feasible with variable reluctance motors. as well as the physical characteristics of the motor. In comparison. Bipolar motors require more complex control circuitry than unipolar motors (see “Basic Control Circuits”). The following paragraphs discuss these considerations. Some of these factors are what type of motor to use. a unipolar motor or bifilar motor are good choices. They generally can step at rates higher than permanent magnet motors. The reason for this is that only one half of a winding is energized at any given time in a unipolar motor. This magnetic detent or residual holding torque is desirable in some applications.  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. Variable reluctance motors do have a drawback. no matter what drive waveform is used. permanent magnet or hybrid motors are generally preferred where noise or vibration are issues. If in doubt. without gearboxes. so permanent magnet motors with step sizes of 1. They are sometimes described as can-stack motors because the stator is constructed as a stack of two windings enclosed in metal stampings that resemble tin cans and are almost as inexpensive to manufacture. permanent magnet and hybrid motors cog when they are turned by hand while not powered. Complex current limiting control is required to achieve high speeds with variable reluctance motors. such motors can also be made with very small step sizes. The choice between using a unipolar or bipolar drive system rests on issues of drive simplicity and power to weight ratio. without question. the torque requirements of the system. Hybrid Versus Permanent Magnet In selecting between hybrid and permanent magnet motors. It is noteworthy that. torque falls with increased motor speed. variable reluctance motors are generally noisy.

6 degrees. This makes this torque figure somewhat problematic because the moment of inertia of the rig used to measure this torque is rarely stated in manufacturers data sheets and is rarely equal to the moment of inertia of the load actually driven in the application. pull-in and pull-out. • Pull-out torque – The load a motor can move when at operating speed.AN907 Functional Characteristics Even when the type of motor is determined. physical size. the result is the controller will no longer know the position of the motor. maximum RPM – these are some of the factors that will influence which motor is chosen.5 and 3. This corresponds to 48 and 100 steps per revolution respectively. there are still several decisions to be made before selecting one particular motor. In either case. These torques are important for determining whether or not a stepping motor will “slip” when operating in a particular application. The pull-in torque offered by a stepping motor depends strongly on the moment of inertia of any load rigidly attached to the motor. they decrease the maximum rotational speed. Figure 6 shows an example of a torque curve for a stepping motor. A “slip” refers to the motor not moving when it should or moving when it should not (overrunning a stop). The most common step sizes for PM motors are 7. when driven at a constant stepping rate. Torque. are a function of step rate. Some stepping motors are sold with gear reductions which provide smaller step angles than are possible with even the finest stepping motors. Gear reductions also increase the available torque. • Detent torque – The torque required to rotate the motor’s shaft while the windings are not energized.9 degrees (400 steps per revolution). operating environment. • Pull-in torque – The torque against which a motor can accelerate from a standing start without missing any steps. step size. longevity. Even coarse steps with this arrangement translate to very fine movements of the lead screw because of the gear reduction inherent to this mechanism. Stepping motor manufacturers will specify several or all of these torques in their data sheets for their motors. STEP SIZE One of the most crucial decisions to make is the step size of the motor.6 degrees (100 steps per revolution) to 0. many stepper motors are coupled to a lead screw by a nut (these motors are also known as linear actuators). These are: • Holding torque – The torque required to rotate the motor’s shaft while the windings are energized. but because torque falls with stepping rate. For linear movement. Stepper motors have different types of rated torque. TORQUE Torque is a critical consideration when choosing a stepping motor. DS00907A-page 6  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. The dynamic torques. Open loop positioning fails in this case. Hybrid motors typically have step sizes ranging from 3. This will be determined by the resolution necessary for a particular application. . The motor must be adequately sized to prevent this from happening or a closed loop feedback system employed. Most manufacturers provide torque curves in their data sheets.

all stepper motors are not created equal and even the best motors will fail if the proper considerations are not made. Other motors are designed to be cooled by conduction to the chassis on which the motor is mounted.  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. • Ensure adequate cooling. BASIC CONTROL CIRCUITS This section will show the basic circuits needed to drive the various types of stepping motors. Exposure. Figure 7 shows the basic circuit for driving a variable reluctance motor. The following are some design guidelines that influence motor longevity: • Ball bearings vs bronze bushings – Ball bearings last longer than bronze bushings and do not generate as much heat. but they cost more. Variable Reluctance Variable reluctance motors have multiple windings. DS00907A-page 7 . dirt and debris will all take their toll on a motor. • Protect the motor from harsh environments. other components in a particular system will wear out long before the motor ever will. Hybrid motors that sue rare-earth magnets are particularly heat sensitive. When the switching MOSFET for the winding is turned off a voltage spike is produced that can damage the transistor. The diode protects the MOSFET from the voltage spike assuming the diode is adequately sized. humidity. These circuits will be expanded on later in the “Current Limiting” section to include current limiting considerations. typically three to five. Some of the questions asked should be: • How long does the motor need to work properly? • What environmental hazards will the motor be subjected to? • What heat will the motor operate at? • Is the motor’s operation continuous or intermittent? Stepper motors by their very nature are more robust than other types of motors because they do not have brushes that will wear out over time. the current in the winding begins ramping up. Typically. which are all tied together at one end. This will be discussed in depth in the “Current Limiting” section. • Motors that run near their rated torque will not last as long as those that do not. • Finally. Motors generate heat and this must be dissipated. harsh chemicals. motors should be driven properly. As with all inductive loads.AN907 FIGURE 6: TORQUE VS. Motors should be chosen so that they will run at 40-60% of their torque rating. For motors that include an integral heat sink. The windings are turned on one at a time in a particular sequence to turn the motor. Note the diodes across the windings. This means special care should be taken to ensure the current rating of the windings are not exceeded. SPEED 35 Torque (N-m) 30 25 20 PULL-OUT 15 PULL-IN 10 5 0 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000 Speed (Steps Per Second) LONGEVITY Another factor to consider when choosing a motor is the longevity of the motor. However. ensure adequate circulation of cooling air. as voltage is switched on across a winding.

All of the diodes must have switching speeds comparable to the speed of the transistors. These are necessary because the inductor is center tapped in unipolar motors. VSUPPLY A To Controller B C Unipolar The basic control circuit for a unipolar motor.AN907 FIGURE 7: VARIABLE RELUCTANCE MOTOR CONTROL CIRCUIT. UNIPOLAR MOTOR CONTROL CIRCUIT VSUPPLY A C To Controller To Controller B DS00907A-page 8 D  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. When one end of the motor winding is pulled down. the lower diodes shown in Figure 8 can be omitted. FIGURE 8: Some MOSFETs have integral diodes that allow reverse current to flow unimpeded. shown in Figure 8. Note the extra diodes across each of the MOSFETs. . and if these integral diodes have sufficient current carrying capacity to carry the full motor current. is similar to that for a variable reluctance motor. the other end will rise and visa versa. regardless of the gate voltage. These diodes prevent the voltage from falling below ground across the MOSFETs. If such transistors are used.

these are shown in the schematic representation for MOSFETs used in Figure 9. requiring a negative bias to turn-on. The diodes in parallel with each of the MOSFETs protect the MOSFETs from voltage spikes caused by switching the inductor. some MOSFETs have integral diodes. As pointed out for unipolar motors. Q1 and Q3 are P-channel MOSFETs. Under no circumstances should the transistors on the same side of the bridge be switched on at the same time. FIGURE 9: H-bridges have one inherent danger that should be mentioned. if these are able to conduct the full motor current. Q4 Q6 Winding 2 Q8 A2 B2 To Controller Q3 Q1 A1 C2 D2 DS00907A-page 9 . BIPOLAR MOTOR CONTROL CIRCUIT VSUPPLY Q5 Q7 To Controller Q2 Winding 1 B1 C1 D1  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. These diodes must be adequately sized in order to prevent damage to the MOSFET or diode itself. An alternate H-bridge design uses identical MOSFETs for all 4 transistors. This will cause a short which will damage the control circuit. Special care should be made to switch all MOSFETs off before turning the next set of MOSFETs on. in fact. Note: Transistors Q2 and Q4 are N-channel MOSFETs and therefore require a positive bias on turn-on. shown in Figure 9. An H-bridge can be configured to allow current to flow in either direction across a winding. the additional diodes shown in the figure can be omitted. and uses charge-pump and level shifting circuitry to drive the gates of the upper transistors shown in Figure 9. Current will flow from right to left when Q2 and Q3 are on while Q1 and Q4 are off.AN907 Bipolar The basic circuit for driving the windings of a bipolar motor is the H-bridge. Referring to Figure 9. current will flow from left to right in Winding 1 when MOSFETs Q1 and Q4 are turned on while Q2 and Q3 are off.

EQUATION 2: T2 = Hcos(((π/2)/S)θ) A technique referred to as sine-cosine microstepping adjusts the current in each winding so the net torque is constant. we can do so by setting the currents through the motor windings to the values given in Equation 3 and Equation 4. In most applications. Figure 10 shows a graph of torque verses rotor position for an ideal two-winding stepper motor. Good microstepping implementations strive to get as near to this linear motion as possible. This means the steps should be equal in size with no noticeable acceleration or deceleration of the shaft as the motor turns. As a result. Microstepping is used to achieve increased step resolution and smoother transitions between steps. In an ideal motor. FIGURE 10: TORQUE VS. they are close enough that we can ignore these nonlinearities. ANGULAR POSITION FOR AN IDEAL TWO WINDING MOTOR Holding Torque 1st Winding 2nd Winding +3S Combined Windings +6S Angular Position The desired motion of a stepper motor is linear. these waveforms will only be approximately sinusoidal. especially at lower speeds. in radians θ = shaft angle. Note the sinusoidal shape of the waveforms. microstepping increases system performance while limiting noise and resonance problems. if we want to hold the motor rotor at the angle θ. .AN907 MICROSTEPPING In order to understand the fundamentals of microstepping. in radians DS00907A-page 10 The torque of the second winding is expressed by the following equation.  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. Saturation and fringe-field effects make real motors non-ideal. Single stepping a motor results in jerky movements of the motor. it’s necessary to look at the torque exerted by a stepper motor as it turns. in real motors. and the sum of the torques from the two windings will not be the perfect arithmetic sum of the torques with just one or the other winding powered. but in practice. Microstepping works on the principle of gradually transferring current from one winding to another. This is achieved by pulse-width modulating the voltage across the windings of a motor. The duty cycle of the signal charging one winding is decreased as the duty cycle of the signal charging the next winding is increased. and the torques add linearly. The torque curve for one winding of the ideal two winding stepping motor in Figure 10 can be expressed mathematically by the following equation: EQUATION 1: T1 = Hsin(((π/2)/S)θ) where T1 = torque of the first winding H = holding torque S = step angle. the torque produced by each winding is proportional to the current in that winding.

smooth movement of the motor is achieved with this method by changing the current in the windings in a sinusoidal fashion.AN907 EQUATION 3: again. one winding is energized while the current flow in the other winding is ramped down. I1 = IMAX cos(((π/2)/S)/θ) EQUATION 4: I2 = IMAX sin(((π/2)/S)/θ) These equations assume that the current in the windings will not exceed IMAX. The next section will talk about current limiting considerations. though the torque is not constant while the motor turns. Figure 11 shows the way the current in each winding is altered as the shaft turns. The second winding then remains energized while the first winding undergoes the polarity reversal. DS00907A-page 11 . In this method. Like the sine-cosine microstepping method. reversed and then ramped up BIPOLAR MICROSTEPPING FROM MAXIMUM TORQUE Current FIGURE 11: 1st Winding +3S +6S +9S 2nd Winding Angular Position (S = rated step size)  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. A second way to implement microstepping maximizes torque in a bipolar stepping motor.

microstepping can be used to achieve arbitrarily fine angular resolution. Figure 10 shows a graph of torque verses position of the motor shaft. We could achieve the same resolution using 1:32 reduction gearing. we can step in increments of 0. Also note that the magnitude of torque overall is less than the ideal case. It is impractical to calculate the sine or cosine of the duty cycle for the PWM signal supplying a winding because the time to process the calculation and code space needed. Figure 12 shows this same graph (for one winding) with the dotted lines representing the effect static friction has on the system. gearing has the benefit of increasing the torque and position-holding stiffness of the motor. Holding Torque FIGURE 12: STATIC FRICTION IMPOSED ON TORQUE VS ANGULAR POSITION +1S +2S +3S +4S +5S +6S +7S +8S +7S +8S Angular Position Holding Torque FIGURE 13: MOTOR TORQUE MINUS STATIC FRICTION +1S +2S +3S +4S +5S +6S Angular Position DS00907A-page 12  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. Microstepping Limitations The previous discussion assumed an ideal two winding stepping motor.5 degrees per step. Note the resulting dead zone between the zones of available torque. only one look-up table is needed because cosine is just an offset of sine.23 degrees using an inexpensive permanent magnet motor with 7. and even this is generous! Using 32 microsteps per step. In practice. The look-up table pointers corresponding to each winding just need to be offset by 90 degrees. but this introduces backlash and it reduces the maximum speed. it is rarely worthwhile to subdivide each motor step into more than 32 microsteps. but in practice friction and departures from the ideal sinusoidal torque versus shaft angle curve make this impractical. Redrawing the graph in Figure 12 to show only the available torque for a single winding results in the graph shown in Figure 13. It’s more practical to have a sine lookup table with the values for the duty cycle. . There are several factors that affect the linearity of microstepping in real motors. In practice.AN907 In an ideal motor. Compared to microstepping. The first limitation is static friction in the system.

Increasing the voltage supplied to a motor increases the rate at which current rises in the windings of the motor.AN907 The dead zone has an impact on microstepping because it limits the angular resolution of the stepping motor. The toothed shape of the rotor and other physical characteristics of the motor contribute to this. Another limitation to microstepping is the fact that the torque verses position curve is not perfectly sinusoidal for real motors. Stepper Motor Winding Model In order to understand why running stepper motors at high voltage is beneficial to motor performance. once the stepping rate comes anywhere near the pulse rate used for current control. Figure 14 shows a plot of actual position vs. high torque stepper motors need to run at higher voltages in order for the motor to reach its full potential. either by using analog-to-digital converters or by measuring the current using digital-toanalog converters. In addition. if the currents through the motor windings are set by pulse-width modulation. FIGURE 16: Current WINDING CURRENT VS TIME dI (t = 0) = V L dt IMAX = V R IMAX Time t = t1  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. Although this is not necessarily the case for very small stepper motors. This section will explain why performance is boosted and what role current limiting plays in this process. The more responsive current in the windings. If current levels through the motor windings are produced from digital data. dI (t = t ) = V 1 L dt DS00907A-page 13 . expected position for a typical motor. A winding can be modeled as the inductive-resistive circuit shown in Figure 15. Figure 16 shows how current behaves over time when the supply voltage is applied. the greater the torque and speed characteristics of the motor. the precision of the current control system becomes almost meaningless. Motor/Winding L There are three components to this model: the supply voltage. FIGURE 14: REAL VS ACTUAL ROTOR POSITION CURRENT LIMITING Stepping motors are often run at voltages higher than their rated voltage. FIGURE 15: RESISTIVE-INDUCTIVE WINDING MODEL t = t1 R V +The digital nature of the motor drive circuitry poses two additional limits on the accuracy of microstepping. the resistance of the winding (R) and the inductance of the winding (L). It also makes it impossible to produce perfectly smooth transitions between steps. the precision of these conversions introduces problems. it is necessary to look at the behavior of current in the windings of a stepping motor.

the efficiency of the system has dropped significantly with the introduction of a power resistor. the power resistor may be extremely large and expensive. In-series Resistance The first way to increase the supply voltage without exceeding IMAX is to connect a power resistor in series with each winding of the motor. IMAX = 2V/2R = V/R). therefore. The power resistor limits current in a less than efficient manner by burning it off as heat. Notice the resistance and voltage are increased proportionally so that Equation 3 is still satisfied and IMAX is unchanged (i. V +- R V +- L Figure 18 shows how current rise time is affected by increasing the supply voltage and resistance. It is important to understand this relation when applying a higher than specified voltage to a stepping motor.e. FIGURE 17: WINDING MODEL WITH ADDITIONAL RESISTANCE EQUATION 7: R IMAX = V/R EQUATION 8: I(T) = (V/R) × E-(T-T1) × R/L The instantaneous rate that the current drops when voltage is removed is given by: EQUATION 9: dI/dt = -V/L These equations show that current rises and falls for a given winding as a function of the supply voltage and the internal resistance of the winding. the run time of the system is significantly reduced by the power wasted in the power resistor. Figure 17 shows this circuit.e-t × R/L) The instantaneous rate that current rises when voltage is first applied is given by: EQUATION 6: dI/dt(t = 0) = V/L Ohms law governs the maximum current level. shows that IMAX is also affected by increasing the supply voltage. Current. For battery controlled operation. Running a motor at high voltage but not taking into consideration current limitations can be very detrimental to motor life. the current drops exponentially when the voltage supply is removed. however. drops according to: CURRENT VS TIME IMAX = V = 2V R 2R 2 1 Time Referring to Equation 5 and Equation 6. So how can the rise time be improved without the current exceeding IMAX? The simplest way is to add resistance in series with the motor. In the circuit shown. This requires that a power resistor equivalent to two times the internal resistance of the winding (R) be added. and the well being of people who come in contact with the motor (the motor gets really hot!). in order to achieve this performance boost. However. the rate that current rises in a winding is increased by using a higher supply voltage. as a function of time. the driver circuitry. Note 1: IMAX is a specification found in the stepper motor manufacturer’s data sheet. DS00907A-page 14  2004 Microchip Technology Inc.AN907 The current rises exponentially until IMAX is reached. This brings the total resistance of the circuit to 2R. FIGURE 18: Current The current in the winding will remain at IMAX until the supply voltage is switched off. The reason it is important is that the current in the windings of a stepping motor must never exceed the maximum specified current (IMAX)(1). Equation 7. the performance of motor is improved. . the magnitude of the supply voltage is tripled (2V). Depending on the magnitude of the voltage supply increase. Current as a function of time is given by: EQUATION 5: I(t) = (V/R) × (1 . The rise time is improved.. Referring to Figure 16.

Rarely are two voltage supplies available for a given application and using two supplies is far less cost effective than using just one. One drawback to the two voltage supply method. Figure 19 shows what this circuit might look like. So how can one voltage supply be used to accomplish this task? The solution is the use of chopper control. FIGURE 19: TWO SUPPLY VOLTAGES V +V +- Current 2V R 3 IMAX = V R 2 1 Time Chopper Control V +- The circuit requires a way to switch from one power supply to the other. DS00907A-page 15 . however. A pulse-width modulated waveform is used to create an average voltage and an average current equal to the nominal voltage and current for the winding. is that using two separate supplies is often impractical in most applications. FIGURE 20: Two Power Supplies Note that using two voltage supplies yields the best results. The basic idea behind chopper control is to use a high voltage source to bring the current in the winding of a stepping motor up to IMAX very quickly. For closed loop control. CURRENT VS TIME Using the rated voltage Using high voltage with a power resistor Using high voltage during the rise time of the current to IMAX and then switching to the rated voltage  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. When IMAX is reached the voltage is chopped or switched off. This method is very suitable when using a microcontroller for stepping motor control because limited additional microcontroller resources are required. Referring to Equation 5 again. This method also has the added benefit of being power efficient compared to adding a in-series resistor. Equation 5 is used to calculate the length of time that the high voltage is applied to the winding before switching to the low voltage supply.AN907 Another drawback of using a power resistor is that it does not optimize the rise time of the current in a winding. The time at which power is switched from one supply to the other can be controlled by either a closed loop or an open loop system. 3. Chopper control is a way to limit the current in the winding of a stepping motor when using a high voltage supply (a voltage higher than a motors rated voltage). The duty cycle of this PWM waveform is shown in the following relation: EQUATION 10: D = VNOMINAL/VSUPPLY Where VNOMINAL = IMAX/r A comparison of current and the voltage applied to the winding over time is shown Figure 21. This will be talked about more in the next section (chopping circuits) and is applicable to using two power supplies. Applying a high voltage to the winding until IMAX is reached and then dropping the voltage to a level that will maintain IMAX is the most efficient way to improve the performance of a stepping motor. The current rises rapidly and then remains at IMAX when supply voltage is switched. Figure 20 shows how the current behaves for the three situations discussed thus far: 1. it would be ideal to increase the supply voltage without adding resistance in series with the winding. One way to do this involves the use of two power supplies. In the case of an open loop system. Though increasing the voltage supply and resistance proportionally produces a better rise time than not increasing either. So how can the supply voltage be increased without the addition of resistance and the current still not rise above the motors rated IMAX? The answer is to use two supply voltages. 2. increasing resistance has an adverse affect on the rise time. a small current sensing resistor provides feedback to the controller and the voltage is switched when IMAX is reached.

the voltage across RSENSE should not exceed 10% of the supply voltage! For very high current motors. For instance. some motor driver chips even include 3-bit internal DACs along with the comparator and final-stage drive circuitry. Generally.Vx. More discussion about chopper control as it relates to microcontrollers will be covered in the next section (Microcontroller Control of a Stepping Motor. the voltage is modulated to limit the current in the winding to IMAX. where Vx is a small voltage. rather than bringing the current up to IMAX as quickly as possible. The passive components connected to the comparator provide hysteresis so that the voltage is not reapplied until: Winding Current VSENSE = VCONTROL . the voltage supply is switched on until IMAX is reached. The following circuit illustrates a hardware-based design. Microstepping varies the current sinusoidually between 0 and IMAX.6 volts (one silicon diode drop) and 5 volts are common. the duty cycle of the waveform should never exceed 50%.AN907 FIGURE 21: CURRENT AND SUPPLY VOLTAGE COMPARISON FOR CHOPPER CONTROL When VSENSE rises above VCONTROL. Current limiting is an integral part of microstepping. microstepping could be implemented by deriving VCONTROL from the output of a digital-to-analog converter in the controller. Thereafter. and sense resistances on the other of 1/2 or 1 ohm are common.) With reference to Figure 22. Current Limiting For Microstepping There are many different ways to implement chopper control using a microcontroller. IMAX Time Hysteresis is necessary to prevent limiting the frequency with which the comparator and MOSFETs chop the supply voltage. . if a 5V stepping motor is being driven by a 10V peak-to-peak waveform. so this frequency should generally be held in the audio range but well above the maximum expected stepping rate. Time Figure 22 shows what one possible chopper circuit looks for in a bipolar motor. the sense resistor should be as small as possible while still allowing VCONTROL to be easily measurable. DS00907A-page 16  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. Values of VCONTROL between 0. Microstepping can be combined with the high voltage supply current limiting techniques talked about in this section in order to improve the responsiveness of a motor when microstepping. the voltage across the winding is switched off. Both thermal switching losses in the MOSFETs and radio frequency dissipation from the entire circuit rise with chopping frequency. Supply Voltage As Figure 21 indicates. When microstepping at a high voltage. the duty cycle of waveforms modulating each of the windings must be limited so that the current in the windings never exceeds IMAX. The way this circuit works is that the voltage across the current sense resistor (RSENSE) is compared to a control voltage (VCONTROL) which is predetermined according to: EQUATION 11: VCONTROL = RSENSE × IMAX In practice. current sensing using Hall-effect sensors and other advanced technologies can greatly reduce losses from current sensing.

This must be converted to dyne-centimeters or newtonmeters before doing any physical calculations.5 0. nor do they spin very fast. However. These motors do not produce much torque for their size.8 1.8 4. These motors have very small internal resistances and run at high currents. They can be run without current limiting considerations as long as they are driven at their rated voltage.4 0. using kilograms as a measure of force. The statement of holding torque in Table 1 is typical of many motor manufacturers. usually 5V to 12V. An example of a high performance motor would be a motor with the specifications shown in Table 1.4  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. higher motor performance (speed and torque) can be achieved by running these motors at higher voltages. TABLE 1: HIGH PERFORMANCE STEPPING MOTOR SPECIFICATION Step Angle Voltage Current Resistance Inductance Holding Torque Rotor Inertia Number of Leads Deg V A/Phase Ohm/Phase mH/Phase kg-cm g-cm2 LEAD kg 1. Low performance stepper motors are purposefully built with a high internal resistance so that they can be run on a typical voltage source.96 16 570 6 1.AN907 FIGURE 22: CHOPPER CIRCUIT VSUPPLY To Control A B To Controller RSENSE Comparator VCONTROL Understanding Motor Specifications High torque stepping motors are a different story all together. Weight DS00907A-page 17 .

8V. Referring to Table 1. it must not drive the magnetic circuits into saturation and it must not produce motor fields that are sufficient to demagnetize the motor rotor. However. The 10-bit duty cycle of the waveform is set by the CCPR1L and CCP1CON registers. The TC4469 dual H-bridge shown in Figure 24 is a logic-input CMOS quad driver developed by Microchip. DS00907A-page 18 Capture Compare PWM module The Capture Compare PWM (CCP) module is available on many PIC microcontrollers. Full-bridge mode is useful for implementing microstepping control for a bipolar motor. In PWM mode. The enhanced PWM mode has full-bridge and halfbridge support. BASIC MICROCONTROLLER STEPPING MOTOR CONTROL This section discusses using PIC® microcontrollers for stepper motor control. Figure 24 shows how the output pins of one ECCP module can be multiplexed to the windings of a bipolar motor using added external AND-invert logic gates. Figure 23 shows a circuit in which the PIC16F73 is interfaced to a unipolar motor. the CCP module will provide a PWM waveform on the CCP1 pin. If the circuit in Figure 23 is used with VSUPPLY equal to VNOMINAL for the motor. Winding 2 is configured in the same manner using CCP2 and pin RB2. IMAX is the critical specification for a motor that should not be exceeded. This is why it is so critical that the drive circuitry should never permit currents exceeding IMAX. the number of turns and the resistivity of the winding material. In a well designed permanent magnet motor. CCP1 modulates the voltage across alternating sides of winding 1 based on the input from pin RB1. Any PIC microcontroller can be used to control a stepper motor. Running the motor at this voltage will yield terrible performance in terms of speed and torque. If the VSUPPLY is above VNOMINAL. The microstepping technique used here is high-torque microstepping in which the voltage applied to only one winding is modulated at any given time (see the Microstepping Section for a definition of high-torque microstepping). There are several peripherals available on Microchip parts that make controlling a stepping motor more precise. The CCP module is very useful when microstepping. Frequency is determined by the Timer2 prescaler value. The voltage specification given on motor data sheets is simply the maximum voltage across a motor winding that will produce a current equal to IMAX given the internal resistance of the winding. In this example. microstepping and current limiting). it can be very advantageous to choose a microcontroller with select peripherals that will take care of most of the stepper motor overhead. As stated earlier. motor windings have some internal resistance (R). multiplying current per phase by the ohms per phase results in the rated voltage. plus several additional features. This resistance is ultimately what determines the maximum current that a winding should be subjected to. depending on the complexity of the control desired (i. The power loss of a winding is given by: EQUATION 12: PLOSS = R × IMAX2 The maximum current allowed in a motor winding must not overheat the motor. This peripheral is useful in stepping motor applications for its pulse-width modulation capabilities. . programmable dead band delay and auto shutdown. This resistance is a function of wire diameter. duty cycles for the choppers can be run from 0 to 100% for microstepping. This IC is a MOSFET driver but can be used to drive small stepper motors that require very little current (under 200 mA). Equation 7 shows this relation. when both motor windings are run at IMAX and the motor is properly mounted and ventilated. the maximum duty cycle for each chopper must be reduced proportionally. High performance stepping motors are intended to be driven at higher voltages with current limiting considerations.AN907 Notice the voltage specification 1. As discussed earlier. it will be very close to both its thermal and magnetic limits. the PR2 register and the clock speed of the device. The voltage specification for a motor is simply the voltage that will produce a current equal to IMAX given the internal resistance of the winding.e. ENHANCED CCP PWM MODULE The Enhanced Capture Compare module available on many PIC microcontrollers offers the same functionality as the CCP module. This implementation allows for sinecosine microstepping in which two windings are modulated simultaneously (refer to the microstepping section for a definition). The output stage of each gate on the TC4469 is a half-bridge. The PIC16F73 has two CCP modules.  2004 Microchip Technology Inc.. Note: The PWM waveform is inverted from one side of the winding to the other.

AN907 FIGURE 23: UNIPOLAR MICRO STEPPING VSUPPLY Winding2 Winding1 CCP1 13 VDD 20 VDD RB1 22 8 VSS CCP2 12 19 VSS RB2 23 PIC16F73 FIGURE 24: BIPOLAR MICROSTEPPING USING THE ECCP MODULE VDD RC3 7 1 VDD RA1 5 14 VSS 8 RC7 6 RB1 VDD 1 1A 2 1B 3 2A 4 2B 5 3A 6 3B PIC16F684 8 4A 9 4B 14 VDD 1Y 13 2Y 12 3Y 11 4Y 10 GND 7 TC4469  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. Winding2 U2 U1 Winding1 VSUPPLY DS00907A-page 19 .

Stepping motor performance can also be improved by driving these motors at a voltage greater than what they are rated for. Several PIC microcontrollers have on-chip comparators that can be used to accomplish this task. CONCLUSION Stepper motors are ideally suited for measurement and control applications. If higher voltage is used to boost performance. the PIC microcontroller can modulate the voltage across the winding so that the average voltage equals the nominal voltage for the phases of the stepping motor. McGraw Hill.shinano.165. The way this works is the A/D converter is read continually by the microcontroller. halfstepping. DS00907A-page 20  2004 Microchip Technology Inc. The step resolution and performance of these motors can be improved through a technique called microstepping. Note: Stepper Motor Tutorial by Rustie Laidman (http://209. namely microsteppng and current limiting. Microchip Technology Inc.pdf) AN822.153/stepper/). The Handbook of Small Electric Motors.uiowa. This functionality can be accomplished by a CCP or ECCP module. Industrial Circuits Application Notes.solarbotics. microstepping and current limiting are all stepper motor drive techniques that are well within the utility of PIC microcontrollers. Copyright 2000 Article: The Rise of VSR Motor.AN907 COMPARATORS REFERENCES The current limiting section discussed how comparators can be used in chopper circuits. Greg Paula. Yeadon and Yeadon. the comparator implementation uses less processor resources than the ADC implementation. the microcontroller will modulate the voltage across the winding so that Vnominal is maintained. The CCP.cs. The comparators can be used to chop the input directly in hardware or can generate a software interrupt in the microcontroller indicating IMAX has been reached. Jones (http://www. Stepping Motor Tutorial by Dr.41. PIC® microcontrollers are able to drive all the different types of stepping motors: variable reluctance. .edu/~jones/step/ Shinano Kenshi Douglas W. Eds. ECCP and comparator modules available in Microchip’s microcontroller line allow for the implementation of the more advanced stepping motor control techniques.uiowa. In summary. Copyright 1995 A/D CONVERTERS The same functionality just discussed can also be accomplished by feeding the output of the sense resistor into a PIC A/D converter by way of an operational amplifier. permanent magnet and hybrid. When the value generated by the A/D converter indicates IMAX is reached.htm) In practice. Stepper Motor Microstepping with The comparator implementation also yields a faster response. (http://library. Copyright 1998 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers Drive Circuit Basics.cs. Single-stepping. then current limiting considerations must be taken into account. Mechanical Engineering stepper. 2001 HTTP://www. PIC microcontrollers are an ideal choice for stepping motor control. (http://www. When an interrupt is generated.

or infringement of patents or other intellectual property rights arising from such use or otherwise. fuzzyLAB. the Microchip logo. All other trademarks mentioned herein are property of their respective design and wafer fabrication facilities in Chandler and Tempe. the person doing so is engaged in theft of intellectual property.  2004 Microchip Technology Inc.A. Select Mode. • Neither Microchip nor any other semiconductor manufacturer can guarantee the security of their code. FlexROM. Microchip Technology Incorporated. require using the Microchip products in a manner outside the operating specifications contained in Microchip's Data Sheets. In addition. dsPICDEM. Most likely. • There are dishonest and possibly illegal methods used to breach the code protection feature. FanSense. dsPICworks. microperipherals. PICkit. you may have a right to sue for relief under that Act. Attempts to break Microchip’s code protection feature may be a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. when used in the intended manner and under normal conditions. MPASM. © 2004. The Company’s quality system processes and procedures are for its PICmicro® 8-bit MCUs.S. No licenses are conveyed. PICmicro. AmpLab. Microchip’s quality system for the design and manufacture of development systems is ISO 9001:2000 certified. PICDEM. PRO MATE. ICEPIC. ECAN. PIC. All of these methods. MPLINK.S. MXLAB. FilterLab. ICSP. and other countries. SmartTel and Total Endurance are trademarks of Microchip Technology Incorporated in the U. Serial EEPROMs. MPSIM. Printed on recycled paper. If such acts allow unauthorized access to your software or other copyrighted work. microID.A.A. PowerInfo. In-Circuit Serial Programming.A.S. MXDEV.” Code protection is constantly evolving. PICSTART. implicitly or otherwise.S. SEEVAL. • Microchip believes that its family of products is one of the most secure families of its kind on the market today. Microchip received ISO/TS-16949:2002 quality system certification for its worldwide headquarters. It is your responsibility to ensure that your application meets with your specifications.Note the following details of the code protection feature on Microchip devices: • Microchip products meet the specification contained in their particular Microchip Data Sheet. We at Microchip are committed to continuously improving the code protection features of our products. rfLAB.A. dsPICDEM. SmartShunt and The Embedded Control Solutions Company are registered trademarks of Microchip Technology Incorporated in the Trademarks The Microchip name and logo. PowerCal. Printed in the U. Migratable Memory. Accuron. Use of Microchip’s products as critical components in life support systems is not authorized except with express written approval by Microchip. KEELOQ® code hopping devices. KEELOQ. California in October 2003. PowerMate. nonvolatile memory and analog products. Code protection does not mean that we are guaranteeing the product as “unbreakable. PowerSmart and rfPIC are registered trademarks of Microchip Technology Incorporated in the U. • Microchip is willing to work with the customer who is concerned about the integrity of their code. dsPIC. and other countries.S. No representation or warranty is given and no liability is assumed by Microchip Technology Incorporated with respect to the accuracy or use of such information. SmartSensor. MPLAB. Information contained in this publication regarding device applications and the like is intended through suggestion only and may be superseded by updates. to our knowledge. Serialized Quick Turn Programming (SQTP) is a service mark of Microchip Technology Incorporated in the U. All Rights Reserved. DS00907A-page 21 . PICMASTER. PICtail. PICDEM. MPLIB. Application Maestro. ECONOMONITOR. Arizona and Mountain View. under any intellectual property rights.. PowerTool.

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All rights reserved. This document includes basic information needed to get started quickly. Physically. there is a great deal of information available about how these motors work and how to use them. What is a Stepper Motor? A stepper motor is an electrically powered motor that creates rotation from electrical current driven into the motor. doing so requires more finesse of the input waveform that drives the stepper motor. This is unlike a DC motor that exhibits continuous rotation. and this generates discrete rotation of the motor shaft.Freescale Semiconductor Application Note AN2974 Rev. stepper motors can be large but are often small enough to be driven by current on the order of milliampere. the focus of this application note is on stepper motors that can be driven by microcontrollers. Although it is possible to drive a stepper motor in a manner where it has near continuous rotation. . 1. 06/2005 Quick Start for Beginners to Drive a Stepper Motor by: Matthew Grant 16-Bit Automotive Applications Microcontroller Division Introduction This application note is for novices who want a general quick-start guide showing how to control a stepper motor. and includes a practical example that is simple and easy to implement. 2005. Current pulses are applied to the motor. © Freescale Semiconductor.. To reduce confusion. Figure 1 illustrates some basic differences in stepper and DC motor rotation. Because stepper motors can be used in a variety of ways and are driven by a variety of devices. Inc.

the VR stepper motor does not have a permanent-magnet and creates rotation entirely with electromagnetic forces. DC Motor Rotation Types of Stepper Motors There are a variety of stepper motors available. This motor does not exhibit magnetic resistance to turning when the motor is not powered. An interesting characteristic of this motor is that even when it is not powered.Types of Stepper Motors DISCRETE ROTATION x° x° STEPPER MOTOR HCS12 MICROCONTROLLER CONTROL 1a) CONTINUOUS ROTATION DC MOTOR HCS12 MICROCONTROLLER CONTROL 1b) Figure 1. 1 2 Freescale Semiconductor . • Variable-reluctance (VR) stepper motor — Unlike the PM stepper motor. the motor exhibits some magnetic resistance to turning. but most of them can be separated into two groups: • Permanent-magnet (PM) stepper motor — This kind of motor creates rotation by using the forces between a permanent magnet and an electromagnet created by electrical current. Stepper vs. Rev. Quick Start for Beginners to Drive a Stepper Motor.

The metallic core is placed within the coil windings to help channel the electromagnetic field perpendicular to the outer perimeter of the magnetic disk. Quick Start for Beginners to Drive a Stepper Motor. a stepper motor consists of a stator. PERMANENT MAGNET STEPPER MOTOR – SIGNAL B + CURRENT i + S N SIGNAL A COIL WINDING ROTOR SHAFT COMING OUT OF PAGE PERMANENT MAGNET DISK WITH TWO POLES – DIRECTION OF MAGNETIC FIELD METAL CORE USED TO HELP CHANNEL THE MAGNETIC FIELD Figure 2. When electrical current flows through the coil windings.What is Inside? What is Inside? Generally. with each winding around a soft metallic core. while others may have many poles. Figure 2 and Figure 3 show an example of these internal components. Rev. the rotor in PM stepper motors is actually a permanent-magnet. The stator usually has two or more coil windings. Permanent Magnet (PM) Stepper Motor Taking a closer look. 1 Freescale Semiconductor 3 . while the rotor is a central shaft within the motor that actually spins during use. The stator is a surrounding casing that remains stationary and is part of the motor housing. Some simple PM stepper motors such as the one in Figure 2 only have two poles on the disk. the permanent magnet is in the shape of a disk surrounding the rotor shaft. a magnetic field is generated within the coil. In some cases. The characteristics of these components and how they are arranged determines whether the stepper motor is a PM or VR stepper motor. The number of poles on the magnetic disk varies from motor to motor. a rotor with a shaft. and coil windings. One arrangement is a magnetic disk which consists of north and south magnetic poles interlaced together.

As these state changes in electromagnetic fields take place more rapidly. The magnetic fields produced by the coils pass through the air gap and through the metallic rotor. An external device. an attraction or repulsion force will exist. in Figure 3a). and so on. and reversed in the proper sequence. The same process occurs with coils B and B to attract rotor edges 2 and 4 respectively. This is an example of a 3-phase VR motor. the VR stepper rotor will remain aligned to the coils as long as coils C and C are energized and the magnetic fields are not changed. is very good for controlling the electromagnetic sequences by directing the flow of current through the coil windings. software can be written and loaded into an HCS12 MCU. Figure 3 shows some of the physical details that characterize its operation. the metallic rotor spins in a direction that brings the nearest edges (2 and 4) of the rotor as close as possible to the pair of energized coils (C and C). on the order of milliseconds. the rotor may turn a fixed number of degrees. the surrounding coils that are physically located opposite of each other are energized to create opposite magnetic fields. while coils A and A must be oppositely energized to attract rotor edges 1 and 3 respectively. the rotor can rotate faster. and coil C produces a north-pole magnetic field. such as an HCS12 microcontroller (or. and sometimes more quietly. To do this. coil C produces a south-pole magnetic field. coils C and C must be deenergized. we can see that if the electromagnetic fields in both the PM and VR stepper motors are turned on. off. out of the coil. Because the magnetic fields attract each other. VARIABLE RELUCTANCE STEPPER MOTOR 2 B A C A C 1 2 A B 3 B B 1 4 3b) C A B B 1 4 4 3 2 C 3a) C A 3 C A 3c) Figure 3. Quick Start for Beginners to Drive a Stepper Motor. When the nearest opposite pole on the disk aligns itself with the electromagnetic field generated by the coil. Rev. To move to the next state and continue this rotation. Each time an electromagnetic field combination is changed. 1 4 Freescale Semiconductor .What is Inside? Depending upon the polarity of the electromagnetic field generated in the coil (north pole. Because of the mechanical limitations of the system. MCU). the rotor can be turned in a specific direction. the rotor can only rotate effectively up to certain speeds. This causes the rotor to spin in a direction that allows an opposite pole on the perimeter of the magnetic disk to align itself with the electromagnetic field generated by the coil. Figure 3 shows how the rotor spins as the coils are energized and de-energized. Like the PM stepper rotor. In a VR stepper motor. smoother. the rotor will come to a stop and remain fixed in this alignment as long as the electromagnetic field from the coil is not changed. For example. into the coil) and the closest permanent magnetic field on the disk. VR stepper motors work in a very similar fashion. How the Variable Reluctance (VR) Rotor Spins From the examples discussed earlier. or south pole.

b. B) applied to the coil varies from –5 V to +5 V. then moving to the next sequential step by energizing both coils should help jolt the rotor free. Figure 7c) is the worst case starting position for the desired alignment. the rotor could be positioned. then the combination of signals a and a cause the coil to see an effective signal A. 1 Freescale Semiconductor 5 . the effective signal (A. Two of these effective waveforms shown in Figure 4b). Coil B is not energized. This generates a north-pole electromagnetic field toward the magnetic disk. Altogether. current flows into coil A through terminal a and out of terminal a. as in Figure 7a). NOTE The orientation of the rotor prior to energizing a single coil may be unknown. a microcontroller) into the coil windings of the motor. If this happens. It is worth noting that the individual waveforms (a. when attempting to align itself. If we consider terminal a as a positive reference. A graph of the waveform is given in Figure 4. which repels the nearest north-pole section on the disk and attracts the nearest south-pole section. such as full-stepping or micro-stepping. A step by step description of how these particular waveforms work together to move the motor shaft follows. two signals must work together to drive a single coil. 90 degrees out of phase can be used to drive the PM stepper motor. When coil signal A is positive and coil signal B is zero. Each signal (a. Quick Start for Beginners to Drive a Stepper Motor. Rev. These forces cause the motor to rotate in a direction that will align opposite poles. b) is applied to a coil terminal. a. some waveforms work better than others. In Figure 4a). this application note focuses on one called half-stepping. Each transition in one of the waveforms corresponds to a state change (movement) in the motor. a. Likewise. b) directly from the microcontroller pins to the coil terminals only vary from 0 V to +5 V. b. shown in Figure 7a). for example. signal B in Figure 4b) is produced by combining signals b and b from Figure 4a). Pulsed waveforms in the correct pattern can be used to create the electromagnetic fields needed to drive the motor. four signals are shown. Both waveforms are applied to the motor simultaneously. Because each coil has two terminals. It is possible that. shown in Figure 4b).Waveforms that can Drive a Stepper Motor Waveforms that can Drive a Stepper Motor Stepper motors have input pins or contacts that allow current from a supply source (in this application note. and has positive and negative duty cycles. It is even possible that initially the rotor may not turn because the magnetic forces of the coil could be equally divided over pushing and pulling the north and south pole of the PM disk. as shown in Figure 7c). These signals can be produced by a dedicated stepper driver or a microcontroller. Although there are a few options to choose from when selecting a waveform to drive a twophase PM stepper motor. Figure 4a) and b) show eight different states for halfstepping. However. Depending on the design and characteristics of the stepper motor and the motor performance desired.

Waveforms that can Drive a Stepper Motor +5V + 0V PORT PIN SIGNAL a – +5V COIL SIGNAL A time PORT PIN 0 V SIGNAL a time +5V COIL SIGNAL B + 0V PORT PIN SIGNAL b – +5V 4a) 0V PORT PIN SIGNAL b time time 6 7 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 0 1 2 DIFFERENT STATES WITH DISCRETE TRANSITIONS 6 7 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 0 1 2 +5V 0V COIL SIGNAL A time –5V +5V 0V COIL SIGNAL B time –5V 4b) Figure 4. Coil signal B rises and positively energizes coil B. Rev. The north-pole of both coils now share an attraction for the south-pole of the disk. The same action takes place with the south-pole of the coils and north-pole of the PM disk. the next transition occurs in coil signal B. Discrete Transitions While coil signal A is positively energized. causing the disk to realign (rotate) itself between shared attractions. 1 6 Freescale Semiconductor . Electric current flows into terminal b and out of terminal b. creating its own electromagnetic field. Quick Start for Beginners to Drive a Stepper Motor.

time –5V +5V COIL SIGNAL B 0 time –5V Figure 5. the distinction between states and specific steps become blurred. This technique is often referred to as microstepping. coils A and B take turns controlling the PM disk. Although the digital waveforms in this example are not sinusoidal. leaving the signal in coil B to dominate the alignment of the PM disk. they can also be used for smooth movements. This temporary sharing creates a half-step in the transition of control from one coil to the next (half-stepping) and allows smaller. discrete turns to be taken by the motor. In an ideal case. it shares control of the disk with the other coil. 1 Freescale Semiconductor 7 . DIFFERENT STATES WITH SMOOTH TRANSITIONS 6 7 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 0 1 2 +5V COIL SIGNAL A 0 Smooth state transitions produce smooth rotor movement for stepper motors. their similarities to a sinusoidal waveform can still be noted by comparing Figure 4 and Figure 5. Before one coil releases full control of the disk. Smooth Transitions Quick Start for Beginners to Drive a Stepper Motor. A series of electromagnet changes over the period of both signals continue to work together in this fashion to rotate the PM disk. In summary. This implementation may be well suited for applications that seek to reduce or eliminate the discrete movement of the motor. which also reduces noise and vibration. the waveforms that would allow the smallest incremental change would actually be sinusoidal to ensure the smoothest transition between full steps. In such a case. coil signal A falls to zero. Rev. Although stepper motors are often used for their ability to make discrete movements.Waveforms that can Drive a Stepper Motor For the next transition.

To proceed. Most microcontrollers have registers that can be used to control logic levels of an I/O or port pin. and increased fault tolerance. U[3:0]. A motor of this size could weigh a few ounces and be 3–5 centimeters wide. Pins U3 and U2 can be used to control the current in coil B. The input voltage of the motor is assumed to be about ±5 V.How to Use an HCS12 Microcontroller to Drive the PM Stepper Motor How to Use an HCS12 Microcontroller to Drive the PM Stepper Motor HCS12 microcontrollers are good devices for driving stepper motors because they are fast. Some of these algorithms can become involved and require intimate understanding of the motor. some general assumptions about the motor and microcontroller have to be made. a microcontroller can provide multiple solutions in a single system because of their ability to be programmed to communicate with other systems while controlling a stepper motor. we can use the lower nibble of register U. Rev. sophisticated velocity profiling. to control port U pins U0. with a typical current somewhere between 1–20 milliampere. compatible with the discrete movements of steppers. This is one of the simpler types of motors and will be the subject of example for the remainder of the application note. the microcontroller needs four output pins capable of driving and sinking somewhere between 1–20 milliampere out of each pin. An internal diagram of what such a motor might look like is shown in Figure 2. step-like movement in a PM stepper motor. Microcontrollers can also generate the waveforms needed to produce movement in a stepper motor. multi-axis control. and pins U1 and U0 can be used to control the current in coil A. this section gives a general description of how to use the port pins on an HCS12 microcontroller to create basic. In some instances. Current that flows out of the U3 pin will flow into U2. We can select four control bits from any HCS12 I/O register that is available. Some examples of use are precision movements. Because the desired performance of a stepper motor may vary. A connection should be made from pins U3 and U2 to the contacts of coil B. and vice versa. 1 8 Freescale Semiconductor . the algorithm used by a microcontroller to drive a stepper motor is likely to vary as well. To control the four pins of the motor. and the port corresponding to this register is called port U. and can be easily programmed to work with steppers of different types. For simplicity. Quick Start for Beginners to Drive a Stepper Motor. To soften the approach for beginners. in addition to very organized use of the microcontroller resources. Port pins on an HCS12 microcontroller are suitable for this effort. U1. The stepper motor is assumed to be a 4-pin. U2. The same condition applies to pins U1 and U0. This is especially advantageous over a dedicated stepper driver that is more difficult to modify and not likely to have full communication capabilities. A connection should also be made from pins U1 and U0 to the contacts of coil A. two-phase PM stepper motor with two poles on the PM disk. Let it be assumed that there is a register called register U. and U3 of the microcontroller.

if a debugger is available. After motor movement has been achieved.How to Use an HCS12 Microcontroller to Drive the PM Stepper Motor HCS12 OUTPUT PORT REGISTER LOWER NIBBLE USED TO CONTROL STEPPER MOTOR 7 6 5 4 3 0 2 0 a a 1 0 1 0 STEPPER MOTOR a a Figure 6. and set the bits in register U to the next state. If the delay between changes to the microcontroller register states is too short. It also shows the matching PM stepper motor configuration that might occur in that state. A delay that is too long could create a motor response with noticeably rigid movements and choppy noises with each step. Rev. An easy way to begin driving the motor is to focus on getting the motor to move a single step at a time. direction reversal can be accomplished by switching the microcontroller connections to one of the motor coils. but is usually on the order of milliseconds. Using an HCS12 MCU to Control the Stepper Motor With an appropriate algorithm. Tracing through an algorithm with a software debugger. which is to set the bits in register U to a particular state or configuration. Quick Start for Beginners to Drive a Stepper Motor. However. Figure 7 also corresponds with the graph in Figure 4 and the drawing in Figure 6. 1 Freescale Semiconductor 9 . a change is produced in the waveform that causes the motor to rotate a fixed amount. For each change in the microcontroller register state. is a way of slowing the algorithm down so the response of the motor can be observed. The general flow of the algorithm can be similar to the flow of a state machine. The period of time required between register states will vary depending upon the motor and the performance desired. Figure 7 illustrates example microcontroller register contents from state 0 to state 3. we can use pins U[3:0] of the HCS12 to produce the waveforms needed to drive a stepper motor. in the direction desired instead of many steps at once. for the purpose of this application note. the motor will not physically be able to move fast enough to keep up with the register state changes. wait a discrete amount of time. it may be helpful to have a long delay between register states because it allows easy observation of the motor response and movement due to microcontroller register changes.

Simply cycling through the states sequentially and placing the state values on port pins will cause a stepper motor to move. //Init Port U by writing a value of zero to Port U. 0x05. The code turns the motor a number of steps (100 half-steps) in one direction. In this example. //Init Port U to the starting state. This line //selects state 0 and places the corresponding value //(0x06) in the lower nibble of Port U. /******************************************************/ steps_to_move = 100. Rev. 0x01. 0x04}. char state_array[NUM_OF_STATES] = {0x06. #define NUM_OF_STATES 8 //There are 8 different states in this particular example. next_state = 0. 0x08. 0x09. 1 10 Freescale Semiconductor . #define DELAY_MAX 2000 //The maximum # of counts used to create a time delay. and then turns the motor back the same number of steps in the opposite direction. 0-7. next_state can start from any state //within the range of possible states in this example. char next_state. 0x0A. 0x02. It also has the advantage of having the port states stored in sequential order in an array. only //the lower nibble of Port U is being used. /********************SET UP PORT U********************/ DDRU = 0xFF. state #1 corresponds to a value of 0x02. //Used in a for loop //This array actually contains the state values that will be placed on Port U. One of the advantages of the code below is that it can be easily modified to keep track of a motor’s position.How to Use an HCS12 Microcontroller to Drive the PM Stepper Motor 6 STATE 1 5 4 b 3 0 b 2 0 a a 1 0 1 0 PORT REGISTER CONTENTS 7 STATE 2 5 4 b 3 1 b 2 0 STATE 3 5 4 b 2 0 b 3 1 a a 1 0 0 0 PORT REGISTER CONTENTS 7 a a + b 2 0 b 3 1 a a 1 0 0 1 i + S 7b) 4 COIL SIGNAL B b + b– a + N – a N COIL SIGNAL A 5 PORT REGISTER CONTENTS COIL SIGNAL B b + b– i S N 6 i S 7a) 6 i + – a 7 COIL SIGNAL B b + b – i i COIL SIGNAL A a a 1 0 1 0 PORT REGISTER CONTENTS COIL SIGNAL B b + b – a 6 N 7 COIL SIGNAL A – a COIL SIGNAL A 7c) 7d) S STATE 0 – a Figure 7. //State #0 corresponds to a value of 0x06. HCS12 MCU Register Contents from State 0 to State 3 Below is an example of a program that performs half-stepping and can be used to drive a stepper motor. //since only 4 pins are needed to control the motor. int steps_to_move. Quick Start for Beginners to Drive a Stepper Motor. //Writing 0xFF to DDRU sets all bits of Port U to act as output. PTU = 0. An arbitrary positive # can be used. //Used to select the next state to put in register U. PTU = state_array[next_state]. void main(void) { /*******************CREATE VARIABLES*******************/ int i. etc. This is written in C. //Set the # of steps to move. //The # of rotational steps the motor will make. //Init next_state to state 0.

then cycle back to 0 { next_state = 0. i++) { //Wait here for a while. 7. i < DELAY_MAX. } PTU = state_array[next_state].How to Use an HCS12 Microcontroller to Drive the PM Stepper Motor for(i = 0. //Subtract 1 from the total # of steps remaining to be moved. Cycling though the states causes rotation //in one direction. steps_to_move--. } PTU = state_array[next_state]. } steps_to_move--. next_state--. steps_to_move = 100. //Increment next_state. } //The following code rotates the motor back in the opposite direction.1). i < DELAY_MAX. while (steps_to_move > 0) { if (next_state < 0) { next_state = (NUM_OF_STATES . Rotation may be observed for(i = 0. i++) { //Wait here for a while. } } //End of Main Quick Start for Beginners to Drive a Stepper Motor. } while (steps_to_move > 0) { if (next_state > (NUM_OF_STATES . //Place new value in Port U. } next_state++. Decrementing states causes opposite rotation.1)) //If next_state is greater than the highest //available state. Rev. for(i = 0. 1 Freescale Semiconductor 11 . i++) { //Wait here for a while. i < DELAY_MAX.

MOTOR CONTROL BLOCK DIAGRAM POSITION WITH FEEDBACK DETECTION (FEEDBACK) MICROCONTROLLER OR MOTOR DRIVER MOTOR ROTOR OR GEAR OTHER SYSTEM Figure 8. the feedback is not always needed but can still be provided for precision assistance. In the case of stepper motors. the motor is a single component within a system of other devices that must all work in unison for successful operation. Stepper motors have worked well in factories and assembly environments. software can make quick register adjustments to characteristics like polarity. DC motors need feedback because they have a harder time making precision movements and require a circuit that can compensate for the risk of drifting or overshooting a target position.How are Stepper Motors Used? How are Stepper Motors Used? Stepper motors have found their way into many different areas of control systems.freescale. Quick Start for Beginners to Drive a Stepper Motor. and Feedback Efficient Motor Control with an HCS12 Microcontroller Actual control of a stepper motor in real applications is not trivial. Example System with an MCU. cars. but writing linear software to handle complex motor control can leave little bandwidth for the microcontroller to tend to other matters. refer to http://www. For more details about applications like motor control and HCS12 microcontrollers. In contrast. stepper motor. The interrupt capability of the motor control module allows the microcontroller to run sequentially through software until the motor needs to be serviced. before returning to normal flow. easily repeatable movements at moderate to low frequencies. toys. Stepper Motor. Figure 8 below shows an example block diagram of a system with microcontroller. 1 12 Freescale Semiconductor . They can be found in printers. In particular. and duty cycle. Often. and feedback. The feedback circuitry for the position of a motor is likely to be more complicated for dc motors than for stepper motors. In the simple example code given. the microcontroller wastes much of its computing power stuck in a delay loop before performing any other meaningful task. Steppers are most commonly used in open-loop position control applications. in applications such as robotic arms and precision assembly controls. stepper motors are ideal for control systems that require discrete. A microcontroller responsible for driving the motor can also handle other tasks or service other devices within the system. period length. and a host of other applications and products. After a motor interrupt occurs. disk drives. More efficient use of the microcontroller can be obtained by using an HCS12 with a motor control module. The wide popularity of these motors can be attributed in part to the various ways the motor can be driven and because of its compatibility with digital systems.

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Quick Start for Beginners to Drive a Stepper Motor, Rev. 1
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This fact. The pull-out curve is of more interest. Pull-out torque and output power for a 57 mm PM stepper driven by a unipolar L/R-driver and a PBL 3770A bipolar constant current driver. and the type of driver used. compared to the basic unipolar L/R-driver. for zero-load inertia. we see that the output power of the motor can be increased by a factor of six.5 20 10 0. In data sheets for stepper motors. calculation and experimentation. As we can see from the figure. the maximum output power is available at relatively high stepping rates.8W 60 4. Some popular motors and drivers are dealt with. as well as the importance of the gearing between the motor and the load. The design process is more an iterative process. for different types of motor and driver combinations. which is true for Output power [W] 6 70 4.8W 0 0 500 1000 1500 Full-step stepping rate [Hz] Torque PBL3770: Torque L/R 2000 0 2500 Output Power PBL3770: Output Power L/R Figure 1. In an actual application. power.5 50 3 40 30 1.Industrial Circuit Application Note Stepper motor and driver selection Stepper motors are used in many different types of applications this makes it difficult to recommend a general step-by-step design flow chart.5-degree Pull-out torque [mNm] 80 57mm PM stepper is illustrated in figure 1. for this type of motor (approximately 150 to 400Hz. because it shows the total available torque when the motor runs at constant speed at a given frequency. through the use of a bipolar constant current driver. The purpose of this application note is to show how system performance is affected by motor and driver selection. In applications with low damping. working duty cycle. In an application. the pull-in and pull-out torque are given. The difference in output torque. this curve has to be modified to account for the load inertia. The pull-in torque curve shows the maximum friction torque with which. motor heat sinking. involving experience. at different stepping rates. One problem when selecting the right motor type and size is the big influence that the driver has on the output torque and power. this torque is used for overcoming the load fiction torque and for accelerating the load and motor inertia. In both cases the winding and driver combination have been designed to drive the maximum current through the winding at stand still without exceeding the maximum 7-watt power dissipation for this type of motor. depending on driver circuit). From the chart. 1 . without losing any step. the usable torque from the stepper motor can be drastically reduced by resonances. The increased output power is a function of both the increased over-all pull-out torque and the increased stepping frequency range. as functions of stepping rate. the motor can start. compared to the maximum pull-in frequency. motor winding. and system efficiency for a 7. Limits to system performance Torque and output power The output torque and power from a stepper motor are functions of the motor size.

As a rule. Design time Even though customization of step motors is possible. Performance curves for a 100 ohm unipolar 57 mm PM-motor driven by a 20V L/R constant voltage driver. These resonances can often be eliminated by using halfstepping or microstepping. • Driver transistors have to withstand twice the maximum supply voltage. and the gear rate. the available output torque and power can be drastically reduced by resonance. the resolution problem of a stepper design can normally be dealt with after the motor size and driver type have been established. The use of ramping opens up stepper motors for power output applications.nor microstepping can reduce the resonances. Some driver and motor combinations have such low damping. Using a more-flexible driver circuit. 2 Applications • Low speed and low power applications were the motor mainly is used to produce a torque. • Normally only used with small size motors. and high stepping rates.5 3 40 30 1. neither half. and does not limit the usage of steppers to lowperforming low-output power system. that they do not run without a high-damping load. 4. mid-. This means that there are several different combinations which can be used to get the desired resolution. constant current drivers have the most problems with resonances in the lowfrequency region. At these frequencies. Damping also depends on the motor type—PM-motors have higher damping than hybrids. it requires both engineering time and time for manufacturing stepper motor samples. • Windings must be designed for the used supply voltage. at certain stepping rates. Resonances in stepper motor systems can arise at low-. Resolution and positioning accuracy The resolution of a stepper motor system is affected by several factors— the stepper motor full-step length. Drawbacks • Lowest motor output power. • Maximum power dissipation at stand still. • Holding torque depends on supply voltage and motor temperature. Damping and resonances In applications with low system damping. • Higher motor cost and larger size for the same output power as from other drives. we have to use ramping up/down when we start and stop the motor and load. • Regulated power supply normally required. Table 1. • For small motors very low cost transistor arrays can be used. half-step or microstepping). • Large torque ripple when driven in half-step mode. due to slide bearing friction and magnetic losses. . shows that. the selected driver mode (full-step.5 20 10 0 0. Unipolar constant voltage driver attributes Features • Low electronic component cost. • Low electrical noise level.8W 0 0 500 1000 1500 Full-step stepping rate [Hz] Pull-out Torque Efficiency Output Power Figure 2. Constant voltage drivers normally have problems with resonances at medium and/or high frequencies. like the chopper constant current driver can make it possible to select a standard motor with no performance loss. This limits the usage of this type of drivers at medium and high frequencies to driving high-damping loads. to be able to get a high-performance stepper motor system. This condition is known as no-load instability. most stepper applications.Pull-out torque [mNm] Output power [W] Efficiency [%] 6 80 70 60 50 Motor is no-load unstable for stepping rates above 325Hz. Because of this.

motor. For midsized motors. Drawbacks • Low or very low efficiency. Unipolar L/NR constant voltage driver attributes Features • Low component cost • Low electrical noise level. With welldesigned gearing. it is possible to handle variations in both load inertia and friction. wiring. The performance curves show the pull-out torque. driver. Table 2. In figure 2. A motor winding with 100 ohm phase resistance has been selected. the settling time can easily require several hundred milliseconds. features and drawbacks are also listed. Unipolar constant voltage This is the classic low-end driver. • Maximum power dissipation at stand still increase by the L/nR ratio compared to the normal L/R driver. the settling time can be kept to a minimum—if not. Pull-out torque [mNm] Output power [W] Efficiency [%] 80 6 Motor is no-load 70 unstable for 4. the motor has problems with no-load instabilities at stepping rates above 325Hz. To get good dynamic behavior in an open loop system.and medium-volume applications. Performance curves for a 100 ohm unipolar 57mm PM-motor driven by a 40V L/2R constant-voltage driver (2 × 100ohm external series resistors). If the system is designed properly.5 60 stepping rates 50 above 400Hz. 3 . or transistor arrays can be used. the performance of some commonly-used driver configurations are compared when they drive a 57mm 7.5-degree PMstepper motor. the engineering cost becomes a larger part of the total cost. the settling time becomes a very important factor. it is possible to lower the total system cost and increase the performance by using a more-complex driver (with a slightly higher cost) and less-costly motor and power supply.5 20 10 0 1. This gives good control of winding current and low losses in power transistors. the performance of this type of driver is shown. the engineering cost is less important. • Problems with heat dissipation from the series resistors. In many applications. and the system efficiency. In this case the flexibility and high integration of a constant current driver can help save engineering time and cost. and gearing. • Holding torque depends on supply voltage and winding temperature. Efficiency is defined as the mechanical output power from the motor divided by the input power to the driver. Applications • Low and medium speed and low power applications. the major cost is the hardware—including power supply. 40 3 30 1. In low. To drive small-sized motors.Cost In high-volume applications. Performance of drivers In the following section. In this case. For each driver. • Large torque ripple in half step mode. Dynamic characteristics In applications were the stepper must move from one position to another then stop in the shortest possible time. Lower efficiency the higher Rext/R ratio. It offers the lowest price for the driver electronics—only four transistors are used. a transistor array of ULN 2003 or similar type can be used. output power (at the motor shaft). Driving voltage/ currents are selected so the stand-still motor losses are kept at maximum rated 7 W. power darlington transistors. With this driver. it is important to have the correct gear rate and precise control of the motor running and holding torque.7W 0 0 500 1000 1500 Full-step stepping rate [Hz] Pull-out Torque Efficiency Output Power Figure 3.

. Table 4. to a higher level compared to the nominal voltage used at stand still. Figure 3 shows the performance of this driver in the L/2R-mode. • Power transistors have to withstand twice the maximum supply voltage. Unipolar constant current driver attributes Features . and use the full pull-out torque (with normal safety margin) if the motor only runs a limited number of steps in the unstable range.5 60 525 to 850Hz. This drive also shows the no-load instability. This driver can also be configured in the “run/ Table 3. driving the same 100 ohm unipolar motor.5 20 10 0 0 0 500 1000 1500 Full-step stepping rate [Hz] Pull-out torque Efficiency Output Power Figure 4. • Half stepping without torque ripple possible. This driver can be configured with different L/R ratios. Drawbacks • Only 70% of holding and low speed torque compared to bipolar constant current. • If large high to low driving voltage ratio is used the control off holding torque and step accuracy becomes difficult as a result of variations in winding currents.5W 3 30 1. • Winding leakage inductance have to be considered when snubbing circuit is designed. • 6 lead wires add cost and space for motor connectors and flexible cables. 50 40 2. • Low to medium speed and low to medium power applications. • Medium electrical noice level. This limits the applications. for a short time. A higher L/R-ratio increases high-stepping-rate output torque. Unipolar timed Bi-level This driver uses two voltage levels to increase motor utilization. Compared to the L/R-driver we now gain higher output torque and power. L/2R means that the total resistance is equal to two times the motor’s internal resistance. Performance curves for a 100 ohm unipolar 57mm PM-motor driven by a 40/20V Bi-level constant-voltage driver (High-voltage-on time = 4ms). During the remaining time. • Holding torque depends on winding temperature and supply voltage. It is possible to ramp through unstable frequencies. but the peak system efficiency has decreased. Unipolar timed bi-level driver attributes Features Drawbacks Applications • Medium electronic component cost • Timing circuit or extra CPU overhead needed to control high voltage on time. the nominal voltage is used. the voltage across the winding is raised. at high frequencies. Unipolar L/nR constant voltage This driver is similar to the unipolar constant voltage but has external series resistors in series with the motor windings. to driving high-damping loads or to operating in ramp up/down applications. The maximum output power has doubled.Pull-out torque [mNm] Output power [W] Efficiency [%] 80 6 Motor is no-load 70 unstable for stepping rates from 4. • 6 power transistors needed compared to 4 for the standard and L/nR unipolar drives. 4 Applications • High speed and medium power applications. but reduces the system efficiency. here for stepping rates above 400Hz. were the motor does not run at constant speed. At every step taken. • Nearly the same high speed torque as bipolar chopper drive • Uses 6 power transistors compared to 8 for bipolar constant current.

plus: Drawbacks • Same as for the bipolar constant current. • High speed and high power applications. The torque curve for a given motor is a function of both the high-voltage level and the high-voltage-on time. Compared to the L/nR-driver. • 8-lead motors can be configured for 3 different operating currents. • Higher cost for the current control electronics than for normal bipolar drive. • No snubbing circuits required and current turn off can be selected for fast (return to power supply) or slow. this does not cause any problems. In this example the high voltage is 40V (2 times the nominal voltage) and the high voltage on time is 4ms. If used in a ramp up/down application. Applications • For small and medium size motors highly integrated drivers are available. • High speed and high power applications. second sourced drives also available. bilevel driver intended for use with small-sized motors. The efficiency is reduced as a result of higher resistive losses caused by using only half of the windings at a time. Unipolar constant current This driver gives the best performance of the unipolar drives—but it is lower than for the bipolar chopper driver. but in this case only the mid frequencies are affected. • Problems with electrical noise and interference can occur. • Increased stop position resolution. • Low losses stand bye mode possible. • For small and medium size motors highly integrated drivers are available. Table 5. Ericsson’s PBD 3517 is a fully-integrated. Bipolar constant current microstepping driver attributes Features • Same as for the bipolar constant current. Performance curves for a 3. • 8 power transistors needed to drive a motor. plus: • Resonance free movement on low step rates. In figure 4. At higher frequencies. 5 . power losses caused by leakage inductance and snubbing circuits also appear. • Applications were resonance free low speed characteristics is needed. Pull-out torque [mNm] Output power [W] Efficiency [%] 80 6 4. winding current 960mA). if the constant speed is selected in the stable area above 850Hz.5 50 40 3 30 20 1. Compared to the original L/R-driver.8W 70 60 4.75 ohm bipolar 57mm PM-motor driven by PBL 3770A constant-current driver (Chopper voltage 20V. • Highly integrated drivers available. Table 6. This driver also has problems with no-load instability. were the high voltage is used while the motor is stepped and the low voltage is used at stand still. the performance of the L/2R driver is shown while driving the same 100ohm unipolar PM stepper. • Power losses in current sensing resistors. This driver can also be combined with L/nR-series resistors to give higher flexibility in selecting stand-by holding torque. Bipolar constant current driver attributes Features Drawbacks Applications • Maximum motor utilisation and high efficiency. • Maximum torque at low and high stepping rates.5 10 0 0 0 2500 1250 Full-step stepping rate [Hz] Pull-out Torque Efficiency Output Power Figure 5. the efficiency is higher—and is not decreased by losses in series resistors as the ratio Uhigh/Unom is increased. the maximum output power is three times higher.stop” bi-level mode. • Applications were increased resolution is required.

Bipolar constant current The highest output power and motor utilization for a given motor is achieved with the bipolar constant current driver. However. current levels (if constant current mode). The no-load instabilities in the mid. For a constant-current driver. the winding and current turn-off circuit has to be properly-designed. duty cycle and so on. Remember that the power consumption depends on input voltage. In the case of bipolar drive. The motor current. This way. even though the energy stored in the winding has to be taken care of (or moved to the other winding half) when the current is turned off.and half. large variations of holding and running torques occurs. due to losses in the power supply. use a high chopping frequency and do not use a lower inductance than needed to get maximum-required step rate—it is also possible to use a lower chopping voltage. In most applications. its influence is small. This will increase transformer cost and heating problems. progress in IC-technology has made it possible to develop fully-integrated bipolar constant-current drivers. it is normally possible to use an unregulated supply voltage. In figure 5. as well as physical separation from sen- . Performance at mediumand high-stepping rates are close to that of full. Here a motor with a constant-currentadapted winding resistance of 3. maximum stepping rate. This greatly improves lowfrequency stepping by eliminating overshot movements. caused by the winding current ripple. is controlled by the driver itself. A shorter step length than 1⁄32 of a fullstep normally does not make any further improvement in the motor’s motion. Here. If chopping current ripple is kept at or below 10% of the nominal current. General driver aspects Power supply design For all drivers of constant-voltage type.and high-stepping rate regions are no longer present. An unregulated power supply for a constant voltage driver also affects the motor power dissipation making good motor utilization impossible. a resonance at 100Hz is present. Microstepping can also increase motor resolution and step accuracy. If the current-turnoff circuit works on the principle of current commutation from one winding half to the other. but extra electronics for setting the sine/cosine current levels are used. Microstepping can be used with different microstep lengths. This increases the flexibility in selecting constantspeed running frequencies. and system efficiency. Bipolar constant current microstepping This is an improved version of the basic full. To minimize this problem. the increased risk of different interference problems has to be considered. Interference problems For all chopper-type drives. The pull-out torque at high stepping rates is affected by the supply voltage but at low step rates. Snubbing and current turn off circuits To assure trouble-free functioning of all unipolar drives. since the windings only consist of one part each and no leakage inductance can occur. This means that the over-all system efficiency will decrease further. In a ramp up/down application. this normally doesn’t cause a problem. During the last 10 years. This driver uses the same power stage as the bipolar constant-current 6 driver. making this type of driver cost-effective for driving small. this does not cause any problems as long as this frequency is not used as constant speed frequency. ringing.and half-step modes. motor temperature. the leakage inductance is kept to a minimum. the holding torque is also raised. is it also possible to run the normal full. From the chart. The best way to get this information is to make a prototype and measure the driver input current under different driving conditions.and half-stepping. With most microstepping controllers. chopper-type drivers can generate increased iron losses. DC-losses is kept at a minimum due to maximum utilization of the copper in the winding and no power losses from leakage inductance and snubbing circuits since every winding only consists of one part. the performance for this type of driver is shown driving the same type 57mm PM-motor. the hysteresis loss related to the chopping current ripple is low compared to the hysteresis loss related to the stepping current changes. The winding current is selected to give the same resistive losses in the winding at stand still as for the unipolar drives tested above. the energy stored in the leakage inductance is handled by a snubbing circuit. regulated power supplies are normally required.stepping bipolar constant-current driver. thus making stop-time minimizing more difficult or impossible. The current-turn-off circuit is of four diodes in opposition to the four power transistors in the Hbridge. we can see the increase of output power. the winding currents form a sine/cosine pair. It is important that a unipolar winding is bifilar wound—this means the two wires that build up the coil on each motor pole are wounded in parallel.and medium-sized motors. especially when larger size motors are used. Due to the better utilization of the winding. This is done by a current-turn-off circuit or a snubbing circuit. Hysteresis losses in motors With some low-inductance motors. If unregulated supplies are used. compared to the values shown in the figures above. load. and resonances. separate snubbering circuits are never needed. Separate and wide grounding lines. and thereby also holding torque and power dissipation.75 ohms has been selected. It is difficult to calculate the power consumption for a particular application.

In figure 6. 20mm. Other popular PM-motor sizes are 35mm and 42mm. The motors uses slide bearings and a simple mechanical design to keep cost low. The chart shows the power dissipation of the motor and driver together. winding current 280mA) 7 . At higher step rates. we can see that the maximum torque. Stepper lead wires should also be separated from sensitive signal wires to reduce capacitive and inductive coupling. Power losses in motor and driver are also shown (Chopper voltage 20 V. and output power from a given motor is achieved with the bipolar chopper driver. Other applications are fax machines. At low step rates this gives a 7-watt loss in the motor.8W 4 40 37% 20 0 0 500 1000 1500 Full-step stepping rate [Hz] Efficiency Output Power Pull-out Torque 2 0 2500 2000 Power losses Figure 6.5 and 15 degrees but others are also available (9. At higher stepping rates the hysteresis and eddy-current losses become the major ones.75 ohm bipolar 57 mm PM-motor driven by PBL 3770A constant-current driver. For low stepping rates. similar that of the 57mm PM-motor used above. and 18 degrees. Performance curves for a 25 ohm bipolar 42 mm square hybrid stepper driven by PBL3770A constant-current driver (Chopper voltage 40V. We will now examine the performance of some commonly-used stepper motor types when they are driven with a bipolar chopper drive. can help to avoid interference. 11. At low step rates about a 3W-loss in the two PBL 3770A circuits can be expected. most of the losses are related to resistive losses in the motor winding. the life expectancy is shorter. step accuracy and efficiency is lower. At higher stepping rates. Performance curves for a 3. suitable to use as paper feed and carriage drive motor in mediumperformance matrix or daisy printers and in typewriters. Pull-out torque [mNm] Efficiency [%] Output power [W] Power losses [W] 120 12 100 10 80 60 40 20 0 AA AA A A A AA A A A A AA A A A AA AA AA A 8 7. This motor is rated at 7 watts maximum power dissipation. the total loss decreases indicating the ability to get a higher output power without exceeding the maximum The 57mm PM-motor is. Commonlyavailable full-step angles are 7.and mediumperforming applications. is plotted as a function of the stepping frequency. The power loss Pull-out torque [mNm] Efficiency [%] 120 Output power [W] Power losses [W] 12W 12 100 10 80 8 AA A A A A A A AA A A A A AAAA A 60 6 4. the driver losses decrease as the winding current decreases and the switching stops. for examples). 57mm PM motor PM-motors are a cost-effective alternative in many low. From the above driver comparisons. sewing machines. Especially for low-cost tin-can PMsteppers.sitive electronics on the PCB.25.3W 6 65% 4 2 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 0 5000 Full-step stepping rate [Hz] Pull-out Torque Efficiency Output Power Power losses Figure 7. In a chopper application the capacitive coupling of the chopped voltage (this is a square wave signal with the amplitude equal to the supply voltage and the frequency equal to the chopping frequency) present at the motor lead wires can cause serious problems if not handled. as well as an additional 1W in the current sensing resistors and approximately 1W in the external diodes. these losses can be high— because of the absence of laminations and the use of low performing magnetic materials of the stator and rotor flow path. The 20mm motor is popular as a head driver in 31⁄2" floppydisk drive applications. The slide bearing can also cause problems if a belt drive is applied directly to the motor shaft. Compared to hybrid motors. valve controls. for instance. winding current 960 mA). can be expected when other types of drivers are used. the performance of this motor is shown again. A drop in performance. 25mm and 63mm motors are also common PM motor sizes. efficiency. and plotters. Performance of motors The maximum output torque and power from a stepper motor is limited by the power losses of the motor.

42mm square motor This motor is normally manufactures with 3. if the application requires higher efficiency or ball-bearings Figure 7 shows the performance of a 25-ohm bipolar 3.8. This type of stepper motor is available from many manufacturers at a reasonable price. Performance curves for a 2. the ball-bearings offer higher life expectancy and make the design of the gearing and mechanics easier. At high step rates. From the power losses curve. The 5-degrees step angle is interesting when high shaft speed is more important than high holding torque. If a lower duty cycle or better heat sinking is applied to this motor a peak output power of at least 10W can be achieved. 1. It is also a competitor to the small-sized PM-motors. At low step rates. 2. and for driving the print wheel in typewriters and daisy wheel printers. The main feature of this type of motor. On the other hand. they have a higher internal damping and offer. The motor uses ballbearings to maintain the very small air-gap required for high efficiency. It is suitable as a carriage driver for printers and plotters. In many applications. This indicates that an even-higher high-frequency performance can be achieved with a higher chopping voltage or with a lower-inductance winding. compared to the 57mm PM-motor. On the other hand.8-ohm bipolar winding and with 42mm length has been selected. A motor with 5-degree step angle. but four-times-higher output power. This shows the ability to increase the motor current to get even higher output torque and power at low step rates. Holding torque [mNm] 450 Hybrid holding torque Hybrid DC-losses PM holding torque 300 PM DC-losses 150 0 0 DC-losses [W] 18 12 284mNm 6 84mNm 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 Winding current 1400 1600 1800 0 Figure 9. This motor is suitable for paper handling and carriage driving in high- . The performance of this motor type is plotted in figure 10.8. The diagram shows the same highefficiency as for the 42mm square motor. Holding torque and DC-loss as functions of winding currents for a 57mm PM motor and for a 57mm hybrid motor. decreasing the low frequency torque can be a way of decreasing noise levels and vibrations in applications where the load friction torque consumes a larger part of the motor torque than the load inertia. nearly doubled system efficiency is the most interesting difference.allowed motor losses of 7W. a more-noise-free operation than the hybrid motors. This is the smallest motor size of this class. 12W (including driver 16W).6-degree 42mm square motor driven by a constantcurrent driver. 8 stand still. in some applications.6-. The current level is selected to give 4W resistive losses at Pull-out torque [mNm] Efficiency [%] 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 0 Output power [W] Power losses [W] 31W 32 28 24 20 16 12 8 4 0 5000 AA A A AA A A A A AA A A A AA AAAA A AA A 66% 1000 65% 2000 3000 4000 Full-step stepping rate [Hz] Pull-out torque Efficiency Output Power Power losses Figure 8. the losses decrease and at standstill the losses are only 3W.and 0. a much higher torque and output power is available. This type of stepper became very popular some years ago as head driver for 51⁄4" floppy and hard disk drives.9-degree step angle. the power losses of the motor is approx. winding current 75mA). is higher efficiency and step accuracy. PM-motors have one advantage over hybrid motors. This is acceptable with normal cooling of the motor and 100% duty cycle. A maximum of over 30W is achieved in the area of 3000 to 3500Hz. we see that at higher stepping rates the losses decrease. This motor type is rated for 4 to 6W losses depending on manufacturer. but the price is higher than the PM-motors. Compared to the 57mm PM motor in figure 6.9-degree step angle and in a number of different lengths from 40mm to 100mm. 57mm (size 23) hybrid motor This type of hybrid stepper motor is normally available with a 1. Step accuracy is ±3% to ±7% of a full-step.8 ohm bipolar 57 mm hybrid stepper (length 42mm) driven by PBL 3770A constant-current driver (Chopper voltage 40V. This motor is more expensive than the two other types described above.and 0.

the optimum performance often is achieved at different voltage and current levels. are plotted as functions of the the 2-phase-on current.3W 40 4 34% 20 0 0 500 1000 2 1500 0 2500 2000 Full-step stepping rate [Hz] Pull-out Torque Efficiency Output Power Power losses Figure 10. In an application. Stepper motor manufacturers often specify the stepper motor windings by the maximum-allowed power disipation at stand still. the torque from this motor shows a relativly-flat torque characteristic for stepping rates below 3kHz. Performance curves for a 3. is suit-able for driving the print mechanism of laser printers. Designing a system Analyzing the load When designing a stepper motor system. This gives the nominal winding voltage and current levels. the gear rate should normally be designed so that the load inertia seen by the motor is close to the motor internal inertia. with per-formance shown in figure 8. Now the losses occur where they are more motivated at the stepping rate where the maximum output power appears. Power losses and holding torque The limiting factor in high-performance stepper motor designs is the stepper power dissipation. Pull-out torque [mNm] Efficiency [%] Output power [W] Power losses [W] 12. it is important to do an analysis before selecting motor and driver and before designing the transmission and mechanical system. The load inertia seen by the motor is: Pull-out torque [mNm] Efficiency [%] Output power [W] Power losses [W] 12 120 100 10 8. even though the resistive losses in the winding is only 3W. For the hybrid motor. (Chopper voltage 20V. In figure 13 another combination of driving current and voltage is used to increase the output power to 5.75ohm bipolar 57mm PM-motor driven by PBL3770A constant-current driver. we see that the winding currents can be increased beyond the maximum rating without causing too much saturation effect. To get the maximum performance from this type of system.75ohm bipolar 57mm PM-motor driven by PBL3770A constant-current driver. the first question to ask is “What are the characteristics of the load?” Too often. This is a result of the 750mA current level not using the full low-speed capabilities of this motor. the holding torques of the 57mm PM and 57mm hybrid motors. Increased current will raise the output torque at low speeds and make the region with maximum output power wider (towards low frequencies). described above. Friction or inertia loads If the system will have high dynamic performance. only a small loss in torque apears. Performance curves for a 3. Low-speed losses are decreased to less than 50% and lowspeed torque only dropps to 80%. (Chopper voltage 25V. winding current 480mA). as are the resistive power losses in the windings. From the diagram. we can see that for the PM-motor. (50% of the value used in figure 6.) Comparing figure 6 and 10 shows the improved low-frequency performance.5W with the same maximum losses as in figure 6.5W 6 4 34% 2 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 0 Full-step stepping rate [Hz] Pull-out Torque Efficiency Output Power Power losses Figure 11. then most of the output torque from the motor will be used to accelerate the system’s inertia. To get the best performance.4W 8 80 AA AAA A A A A A A A A AA AA A AAA A 60 6 4. In figure 9. or industrial motion control. (high acceleration/ retardation). winding current 600mA).1W 120 12 100 80 60 40 20 10 AA AA AA AA AAAA AAAA AAAAA AAA AA AA AAA A 0 0 8 5. In figure 8. this question is given too little consideration. In the high-stepping-rate region. Figure 10 shows the affect on motor and drivier performance when the winding current is decreased to 480mA. but it will only increase the peak output power marginally. PBL3770A is a suit-able driver for this size of stepper motor. This indicates that using the specified current level of 960mA does not give the optimum performance on low stepping rates.performance printers and plotters. compared to the specified 7W. 9 . The 5degree stepper. the holding torque curve shows a knee at 600mA—indicating that magnetic saturation starts to occur at this current level.

Often the choice of a smaller motor can make a compact mechanical design easier. and the resolution needed. If this technique is used. which makes measuring easy. or by selecting half. If the system involves a linear motion. A smaller motor can also. it is a good idea to compare a few different combinations of motor driver and gearing. Depending on the importance of the different demands and the ability to fulfill them. 10 Selecting concept After analyzing the load. or with the data in the manufacturer’s data sheet. the maximumneeded load power can be calculated: P[W] =v[m/s] × F[N] for linear systems and P[W] = ω[radians/s] × T[Nm] for rotating systems. are supplied by some manufacturers—but the additional cost for this is rather high. Winding type and resistance do not affect the cost. Another factor that influences the motor cost is the production volumes of a certain motor and the number of manufacturers of that motor. and to what extent. Gr = the gear rate. At which step rates. it is necessary to calculate or measure the load friction torque. this is fairly constant at different speeds. often gives better performance —in efficiency and output power—than a large motor driving the load directly. but small-sized PM motors usually use slide bearings. The design is normally an iterative process. From the measured force or torque. At medium step rates the constant-current drivers normally have the least problems with resonances. a spring scale can be used—and for a rotating system. If the motor drives a belt gearing or a belt transmission directly. make the design of the motion system easier. This ensures proper lifetime and reduces torque loss due to bearing friction caused by the belt tension. The measurement is easily influenced by inertia and resonances in the measuring system. In applications where long life expectancy is needed. Low system inertia normally creates fewer problems with resonances. As a rule. the designer has a range of options in combining motor gearing and driver in a system. mounting flange can be . motors with ball bearings are required. Another way of estimating the load power consumption is to replace the motor or motor and gearbox with a DC-motor with known current-totorque function and drive the motor at the desired speed while measuring the current consumption. Customizing the motor In medium. the pull-out curves in the data sheet are not always valid for an actual application. Most manufacturers offers customization on the following items. ball bearings are strongly recommended. Shaft Single. As a result. an increased inertia can be used to move a resonance to a lower frequency. Hybrid motors use ball-bearings as a standard (to maintain the narrow air-gap). the usable torque from a stepper motor can decrease at certain stepping rates due to resonances. For most type of loads.and high-volume applications. A higher-step-rate driver and a smaller motor.Jlm = Jl ÷ Gr2 where: Jl = load inertia without gearing However. The motor cost normally increases with motor size. Cost The motor cost depends on motor type and size. this torque reduction appears depends on the application damping and inertia. This means that many times a “popular” type and size motor is the best choice even if the motor output power is a little higher than required. in some applications. it is possible to customize the motor. if the motor is in a moving part of the mechanism. the maximum and minimum stepping rates. Also remember that measuring stepper motor pull-out and pullin torque is tricky. with ball bearing as an option. together with a suitable gearing. and information about the maximum speed of the motion. A friction torque is reduced by the factor 1⁄Gr by a gear mechanism. PM motors. but here the characteristics of the load have large impact.or microstepping mode drivers. with calculation and experimentation. other parameters such as shaft diameter. The damping of the driver also influence the torque reduction. Resonances at low stepping rates can normally be reduced by lowering driver current and voltage levels. Mechanical aspects The physical dimension and weight of the motor are important criteria when a motor is selected. If highest-performance or lowest-cost for a given performance is essential. Damping As noted earlier. bearing types.or double-sided Length Pinions Winding Resistance Inductance Rotor Type of magnets hybrid air-gap distance Lead wires Length Connector From some manufacturers. Motor selection Output power This is the most important design criteria in getting the best price/ performance of a stepper motor system. If the manufacturer’s data sheet is used be aware of the big differences in performance of the stepper motors due to different drivers. we know the output power needed. a torque watch can be used. hybrid motors are more expensive than PM-motors. it is possible to measure the power consumption at different speeds. and the inertia and damping of the application is normally different. Compare the power requirements of the load with the data given above. Friction torque/load power consumption To select the right motor size and driver type.

it offers the simplest control electronics and it is recommended for high. 8 7. resulting in less vibration and noise compared to low-speed operation. Power losses [W] 12 Pull-out torque [mNm] 120 Pull-out 280mA Pull-out 200mA Losses 280mA Losses 200mA 100 80 Selecting driver mode FULL-STEP MODE: This is the basic stepper driving mode. then the bipolar constant current driver is the best choice. As demand for output power from the stepper increases. more-effective drivers offer the best price performance ratio. Pull-out torque [mNm] Efficiency [%] Output power [W] Power losses [W] 120 12 100 10 80 60 40 20 0 0 AAAAAAAAA AA A A A 6 3. then the different unipolar driver can be the best choice.8W 4 36% 500 1000 1500 2000 2 0 2500 Equivalent full-step stepping rate [Hz] Pull-out Torque Efficiency Output Power Power losses Figure 12. Performance as a function of winding current for a 25ohm bipolar 42mm square hybrid stepper driven by PBL3770A constant-current driver (Chopper voltage 40V. If minimum cost for the driver electronics is the most important design criteria. since both the chopper voltage and the current in the winding can be changed to get the desired pull-out torque curve from the motor. Performance as a function of chopper voltage for a 25ohm bipolar 42mm square hybrid stepper driven by PBL3770A constant-current driver (Chopper voltage 40/30V. the inertia of the motor and the load smooth out the torque. winding current 280/200mA). The best motor utilization is achieved with the bipolar constant current driver and this driver is the obvious choice for all highpower applications.and mediumfrequency operation. Performance curves for a 3. the unipolar L/R-driver offers the lowest cost for the electronics for a given output torque. 2-phase-on current 480mA).3W 6 60 5.75ohm bipolar 57mm PM-motor driven by PBL3770A constant-current driver. If only low stepping rates are used and the use of gearing is not a solution. For applications in the low.1W 10 8 60 6 40 4 20 2 0 0 0 1000 2000 3000 Full-step stepping rate [Hz] 4000 5000 Figure 14. At these frequencies.and medium-power range.3W 40 4 2 20 0 0 0 1000 2000 3000 Full-step stepping rate [Hz] 4000 5000 Figure 13. Powersupply design gets easier and powersupply losses decrease since regulated supply normally is not needed for constant current drivers. 11 . winding current 280mA). several alternatives exists. Driver design Selecting driver type The performance curves at the beginning show the effect of the driver on the system. rather than the over all system performance. This driver offers higher flexibility in selecting the motor winding. If system efficiency is important.customized but this is normally applicable only in high-volume applications. Pull-out torque [mNm] 120 Pull-out 40V Pull-out 30V 100 80 Output power [W] 12 Output 40V 10 Output 30V 8 7. Chopper voltage 20V. (Half-step mode fast current decay.

it is often a good idea to reduce the current level to get a more-flat torque characteristics from the motor. The EMF constant for a motor is measured by conecting the motor winding to an osciloscope and rotating the rotor at a constant speed (by means of a DC-motor for instance) and measuring the peak value and the frequency of the generated signal.HALF-STEP MODE: Half stepping with 140% 1-phase-on current gives smoother movement at low step rates compared to full stepping and can be used to lower resonances at low speeds. however. Depending on the load torque demand (friction and inertia) as a function of stepping rate. In Figure 14. It is not possible to increase the optimum stepping rate for a motor to very high values since then hysteris loss and rotor leakage inductance will decrease the efficiency. Higher resolution is also offered. Change the stepping mode this way will also lowers CPU-time requirement (step rate reduced by 50% at high speeds) if the system use a microprocessor as control unit.5kHz = 30 Volts. Microstepping can also be used to increase stop position accuracy beyond the normal motor limits. we can see that the optimum operating frequency moves from approximatly 2kHz to 1. Using the EMFrule we get the same result: 20mV/Hz × 1. Power losses at low step rates have also decreased. As demand for output power from the stepper increases. The main advantage is the lowered noise and vibrations at low stepping rates. a slightly-higher torque at low speed and a small decrease at higher step rates. From the figure. Figure 12 shows the effects on performance of the 57mm PM-motor when half stepping is applied to this motor. a switch to full-step mode can be done at a suitable frequency. The best motor utilization is achieved with the bipolar constant current driver and this driver is the obvious choice for all highpower applications. This winding will have half the number of turns and thus 1⁄4 of the resistance and inductance of the original winding.5kHz when the chopping voltage is decreased from 40 to 30 volts. Compared to to full stepping (reffer to figure 10 for the same driving conditions). From figure 7. . EMF selection A good design criteria for winding design is the EMF (electromotive 12 force) of the winding The optimum motor performance efficiency and output power is achieved close to the step frequency where the EMF peak value is equal to the driving voltage (chopper voltage in the case of constant current drive). If maximum performance at both low and high step rates is essential. more effective drivers offers the best price performance ratio. maximum operation frequency. the microstepping driver is the best choice. Designing the winding For a constant current chopper type driver the winding design depends on the desired output power. Figure 13 shows the affect on the torque and output power of the 42mm hybrid motor when the chopping voltage is decreased. if the step rate is low. The peak output power. This normally decrease resonances and power losses and allows a lower-rated driver circuit. with a maximum output at the same stepping rate. has an EMF constant of 20mV/Hz (full-step frequency) With a 40-volt chopping voltage. the step accuracy specification only is valid for 2-phase-on positions. is not affected as the torque at 2kHz is not decreased. which in most cases when high output power is important. the effect of decreased winding current is shown—from the curve we can see that only the low and medium frequencies are affected by the lower current. the 42mm square motor. The generated frequency corresponds to a four-times-higher full-stepping rate. Half stepping also doubles the system resolution. with performance as shown in figure 7. The accuracy is lower and the stop-position hysteresis is larger for 1-phase-on positions. A simplified design method. If resonance-free movement at low step rates is important. we see that at 2kHz both the efficiency and the output power are at their maximum values. this gives a optimum stepping rate of 2kHz. gives a good results is described below. To design a winding for 20 volts. and chopper voltage. MICROSTEPPING: The smoothest movements at low frequencies is achieved with microstepping. As an example. a winding with 10mV/Hz EMF constant should be used. Summing up The unipolar L/R-driver offers the lowest cost for the electronics for a given output torque. Selecting the current level In a constant-current driver the driver-current level mainly affects the torque at the low frequencies. To get the same holding torque and lowfrequency performance the winding current has to be raised to twice the original value. From this the EMF constant can be calculated. Observe that for most steppers.