Motors

This chapter introduces several types of motors commonly used in robotic and related applications. DC motors are inexpensive, small, and powerful motors that are widely used. Gear-train reductions are typically needed to reduce the speed and increase the torque output of the motor. Stepper motors also called actuators, do not rotate continuously, but turn in fixed increments, and resist a change in their fixed positions. They require special driving circuits to apply the correct sequence of currents to their multiple coils. They are commonly used in robotics, particular in mechanisms that perform linear positioning, such as floppy and hard disk drive head motors and X-Y tables. Servo motors are used for angular positioning, such as in radio control airplanes to control the position of wing flaps, or in RC cars to turn the wheels. The output shaft of a servo does not rotate freely as do the shafts of DC motors, but rather is made to seek a particular angular position under electronic control. In effect, a servo motor is a combination of a DC motor, a shaft position sensor, and a feedback circuit. A servo motor also usually includes a built-in gear-train and is capable of delivering high torques directly. No servo motors are included in the 2002 Lego Robots kit.

DC Motors
DC motors are widely used in robotics because of their small size and high energy output. They are excellent for powering the drive wheels of a mobile robot as well as powering other mechanical assemblies.

Ratings and Specifications

The ideal motor would produce a great deal of power while requiring a minimum of current. Operating Voltage. . A low voltage (e. The power of a motor is the product of its speed and torque. The torque of a motor is the rotary force produced on its output shaft.330 RPM. Roboticists often use motors that operate on 6. a given motor draws more current as it delivers more output torque. Typical DC motors run at speeds from one to twenty thousand RPM. Operating Current. Usually this is specified as the speed in rotations per minute (RPM) of the motor when it is unloaded.Several characteristics are important in selecting a DC motor. 12. Typical DC motors may operate on as few as 1. A rating of one ounceinch means that the motor is exerting a tangential force of one ounce at a radius of one inch from the center of its shaft. However. However. Torque ratings may vary from less than one ounce-inch to several dozen ounce-inches for large motors. Also. The power input (current times voltage) is a good indicator of the mechanical power output. the electronics to drive motors are typically more efficient at higher voltages. or 24 volts because most robots are battery powered. Torque. The motor torque is measured in ounce-inches (in the English system). The next three ratings describe the motor's output characteristics: Speed. 12 Volt or less) DC motor may draw from 100 mA to several amperes at stall. The 2002 Johnson motors have a manufacturer's quoted speed of 15. no speed).5 Volts or up to 100 Volts or more. If batteries are the source of power for the motor. and batteries are typically available with these values. at its specified operating voltage. low operating voltages are desirable because fewer cells are needed to obtain the specified voltage. Thus current ratings are often given when the motor is stalled. the current rating (in conjunction with the voltage rating) is usually a good indication of the power output capacity of a motor. depending on its design. no torque) and the stalled state (maximum torque.g. Power. The first two are its input ratings that specify the electrical characteristics of the motor.. At this point it is drawing the maximum amount of current and applying maximum torque. Hence the torque rating is usually taken when the motor has stalled and is called the stall torque. The power output is greatest somewhere between the unloaded speed (maximum speed. When a motor is stalled it is producing the maximum amount of torque that it can produce. or running freely.

The motor is put near the edge of a table with the mass hanging over the edge. a table. The motor shaft must be long enough to wind the thread like a bobbin. At first this will be an easy task because the moment arm required to lift the mass is small--the radius of the motor shaft. a power supply for the motor.1: Experiment to Measure Motor Torque A simple experiment can be performed to accurately determine the torque rating of a motor. and a ruler. Figure 6.2 shows a comparison of the motors available for Lego Robots.1.Measuring Motor Torque Figure 6. a mass of known weight. The 2002 kit comes with four 1998 Johnson motors and two 1996 Johnson motors. The other end of the thread is attached to the motor shaft so that when the motor turns the thread will be wound around the motor shaft. the radius of the thread bobbin should be measured. a piece of thread. All that is needed is a motor to be measured. The torque rating of the motor is this radius times amount of mass that caused the stall. the motor will stall. When the motor is powered it will begin winding up the thread and lifting the mass. Eventually. . the thread will wind around the shaft. The mass is attached to one end of the thread. But soon. At this point. as illustrated in Figure 6. increasing the radius at which the force is applied to lift the mass.

but at zero speed -.one gets a bell-shaped curve of motor power output.also producing zero power! Hence the maximum power output must lie somewhere in between. Conversely.Figure 6.from unloaded full speed to stall -. . and Gear Reduction It was mentioned earlier that the power delivered by a motor is the product of its speed and the torque at which the speed is applied. If one measures this power over the full range of operating speeds -. the motor is producing its maximum torque output. Torque. but at zero torque. When unloaded. the motor is running at full speed.2: Comparison of Lego Robots Motors Speed. thus producing zero power. when stalled.

and at torques that are far too low. Figure 6.7). a strong torque can be produced at the final stage. If the normal operating speed of a motor/gear-train assembly is faster than the peak efficiency point. The motor shaft is fitted with a gear of small radius that meshes with a gear of large radius. the geartrain will be able to accelerate quickly. This type of motor speed control is easier to implement with digital circuitry. but will not be operating at peak efficiency once it has reached the maximum velocity. Experimentation is probably the best way to choose the optimum gear-train. Gear reduction is the standard method by which a motor is made useful. but overall power is preserved (except for losses due to friction) and therefore the torque must increase.3: Example of Several Pulse Width Modulation Waveforms . It is typically used in mechanical systems that will not need to be operated at full power all of the time. different gear ratios might be appropriate. The challenge when designing a high-performance gear reduction for a competitive robot is to determine the amount of reduction that will allow the motor to operate at highest efficiency. The motor's gear must revolve several times into order to cause the large gear to revolve once (see Figure 8. The percentage of time that the power is on determines the percentage of full operating power that is accomplished. Depending on the mass of the robot and the performance desired. Instead of reducing the voltage operating the motor (which would reduce its power). The speed of rotation is thus decreased. Pulse Width Modulation Pulse width modulation is a technique for reducing the amount of power delivered to a DC motor. this would often be a system other than the main drivetrain or when the main drivetrain is steered. For a Lego Robots robot.A typical DC motor operates at speeds that are far too high to be useful. the motor's power supply is rapidly switched on and off. By ganging together several stages of this gear reduction.

3 illustrates this concept.Figure 6. each of which may be on or off. Therefore. . A PWM waveform consisting of eight bits. The Lego Robots system software used to control the motors operates at 1000 Hertz. showing pulse width modulation signals to operate a motor at 75%. Every 1/1000 of a second. Stepper Motors The shaft of a stepper motor moves between discrete rotary positions typically separated by a few degrees. Every 1/125 of second the waveform is repeated. a control bit determines whether the motor is enabled or disabled. This provides the RoboBoard with eight motor speeds. Because of this precise position controllability. 50%. is used to control the motor. meaning the PWM waveform may be adjusted to eight power levels between off and full on. the control bit make 8 checks per cycle. and 25% of the full power potential. A wide range of frequencies could be used for the pulse width modulation signal.

but rather is commanded to move to a particular angular position. or if the resisting torque on the shaft is too great. . The rate at which the coils are respectively energized determines the velocity of the motor up to a physical limit. Stepper motors have several electromagnetic coils that must be powered sequentially to make the motor turn.the servo feedback control loop -. The electronic sensing and control circuitry -. The power wire is simply connected to a power supply. If the position is outside the range of movement of the shaft. Stepper Motor Control The stepper motors user in Lego Robots have two sets of three wires: power. and two control/ground lines. two motor ports are required to drive a single stepper motor. Stepper motors are used in X-Y scanners. an electronic shaft position sensing and control circuit. floppy and hard disk drive head positioning. Each pulse pair represents one step command. Servo Motors Servo motors incorporate several components into one device package: a small DC motor. The length of a pulse in time does not correspond to any angular position. and numerous other applications. computer printer head positioning. from one position. Typical stepper motors have two or four coils. or step. the motor will continue trying to attain the commanded position.stepper motors are excellent for applications that require high positioning accuracy. plotters. This series of pulses thus steps the motor to the desired position of the shaft. By reversing the order that the coils are powered. and machine tools. Special circuitry or software must be used to drive the stepper motors. On the RoboBoard. The two control/ground signals are alternately grounded for a brief period. The output shaft of a servo motor does not rotate freely. a gear reduction drive for torque increase. The pulses must simply be long enough to cause the motor coil to actuate.drives the motor to move the shaft to the commanded position. to the next. a stepper motor can be made to reverse direction.

Most servo motors operate from five volts.7 to 2.0 milliseconds for the full range of travel of a servo shaft.Servo motors are used in model radio control airplanes and helicopters to control the position of wing flaps and other flight control mechanisms. Each pulse represents one position command. There are no servo motors in the present Lego Robots kit. Typical pulse times range from 0. The length of a pulse in time corresponds to the angular position. Most servo shafts have a 180 degree range of rotation. and control. The control pulse must repeat every 20 milliseconds. . The power and ground wires are simply connected to a power supply. The control signal consists of a series of pulses that indicate the desired position of the shaft. ground. Servo Motor Control A servo motor has three wires: power.

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