Design Con 2015

Don't let your motor control design skills get rusty

December 03, 2012

Bernard Cole-December 03, 2012

An area of expertise that embedded developers can’t afford to let get rusty or out of date is anything to do with motor control. This is because a significant portion of the applications in any embedded market segment – industrial, automotive and aerospace - involves developing the algorithms and code to make motors work efficiently.

Nor are embedded apps in consumer electronics immune, especially with the increased concern about the power efficient operation of the many electric motors in our homes. Even ARM/Atom-based mobile smartphones and tablet computers  with their MEMS-based  sensors, motor controllers and motion detectors also have embedded MCUs to offload the computation of the complex PID algorithms needed to direct their operation.

To address the complex motor control challenges of such applications as well as manage the task of network protocol management, in “Achieving maximum motor efficiency using dual core ARM SoC FPGAs,” Michael Parker of Altera describes how to use an FPGA/ARM-based SoC to perform both functions in real-time.

Because of the importance of motor control across such a broad swath of embedded applications Embedded.com tries to provide timely and detailed coverage of motor control application development in the form of design articles, webinars and technical white papers. Some recent Embedded.com articles I can recommend as Editor's Top Picks include:

A simple algorithm for microstepping a bipolar stepper motor
Linear motor control without the math
Case study of PID control in an FPGA

A number of recent (and not so recent, but still useful) Design Tips articles I've found on specific implementations of motor control using MCUs, FPGAs, and even a desktop PC include:

Motor control scheme yields four positions with two outputs
Hardware controlled brushless DC motors ease burden on CPUs
MCU drives H-bridge to power permanent magnet DC motor
Circuit provides bidirectional variable-speed motor control 
Encoder and PC make complete motor control system
Trapezoidal motor control velocity profiles in software

Back-EMF method detects stepper-motor stall

Embedded.com Site Editor Bernard Cole is also editor of the twice-a-week Embedded.com newsletters as well as a partner in the TechRite Associates editorial services consultancy. He welcomes your feedback. Send an email to bccole@acm.org, or call 928-525-9087.

See more articles and column like this one on Embedded.com. Sign up for the Embedded.com newsletters. Copyright © 2012 UBM--All rights reserved.

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