Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (7-18-11): Motor control - Embedded.com

Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (7-18-11): Motor control

Embedded Newsletter for 07-18-11

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July 18, 2011

Tech Focus: (Micro) step up to motor control


A simple algorithm for microstepping a bipolar stepper motor

Linear motor control without the math

Generate stepper-motor speed profiles in real time

Editor's Note

Bernard Cole Bernard Cole
Site Editor

My top featured design article for this issue of Embedded Tech Focus is “A simple algorithm for microstepping a bipolar stepper motor” by TI’s Jose Quinones. After reading it I decided to brush up (excuse the pun ) on brushless stepper electric motors. Talk about hiding in plain sight! Now I find it hard not to see them everywhere.

Microprocessor-controlled stepper motors are one of the most versatile forms of positioning systems, used in industrial control, lasers and optics, automobiles, computer disk drives, flatbed scanners, printers, plotters and slot machines among many apps. And with MEMS, they are used in numerous embedded consumer and mobile designs as well.

Given their ubiquity, it is no surprise that embedded systems designers devote a lot of imagination to coming up with innovative ways to make MCU-controlled steppers and microsteppers do more and do it better, faster, and with lower power. Of the many articles on the topic included here, my Editor’s Top Picks are:

Generate stepper-motor speed profiles in real time
Designing more efficient stepper motor control subsystems
Choosing the right driver/controller for your stepper design

In addition to the design articles, webinars and white papers here, I created a Google list of on-line videos of MCU stepper related lectures, tutorials, and hands-on DIY examples, all organized by date.

If you find this Tech Focus useful, save it in your email list for future reference or follow the instructions above to view the newsletter online and save it to your browser favorites list. Online search engines are great but using them is like reading a reference book with only the index at the end to guide you. An easier way to access the information you need is to use the Embedded newsletters as your Table of Contents for design information on the Embedded.com site and in ESD Magazine .

Design How Tos

A simple algorithm for microstepping a bipolar stepper motor

This article details a simple algorithm utilizing conventional microcontroller blocks to control commercially available H-bridges to properly commutate a bipolar stepper motor through a microstepping profile.

Linear motor control without the math

A new algorithm using only addition and subtraction and no complicated math produces the linear acceleration necessary to run a step motor smoothly.

Designing more efficient stepper motor control subsystems

ST Micro's Tom Hopkins describes how the L6470 programmable state machine based L6470 simplifies the implementation of multiple motor controls by integrating a digital control core with the driver IC to manage user-defined movement profiles with minimal loading on the main microcontroller.

Generate stepper-motor speed profiles in real time

Using a mid-range PIC microcontroller, this article describes a new algorithm for stepper-motor acceleration that allows speed profiles to be parameterized and calculated in real time.

PRODUCT HOW-TO: Choosing the right driver/controller combination for your stepper motor design

How to use AMI Semiconductor's ASSP ICs to achieve the right level of stepper motor controller/driver integration.

Designing a MCU-driven permanent magnet BLDC motor controller: Part 1

This three part tutorial provides the basics of implementing an MCU-based BLDC motor controller for use in automobile subsystems. Part 1: dealing with the basics.

Use micro-stepping techniques to smooth operation of step motors

This article details a micro-stepping design technique that improves the precision of the rotor movement and smoothes out the motion of stepping motors.

Stepper Motors Assist Adaptive Headlights

The latest adaptive front-lighting systems swivel headlight beams in advance of a vehicle's turning.

Designing a low-voltage motor drive

This tutorial outlines the basic rules for most effectively putting MOSFET gate-drive ICs to work for you

Electronic Control for One-cylinder Engines

Anti-pollution legislation around the world affects in particular the design for small gasoline engines. In order to meet future requirements, mechanical engine control systems have to be replaced by electronic ones. Freescale has developed a reference design for this application.

Open-Source Robotics and Process Control Circuit Examples – Part 2: Stepper Motor Controller

Learn more about prototyping complex robotic and control systems with this look at the design of the circuit and coding for a stepper motor controller for an autonomous submarine project from the “Open-Source Robotics and Process Control Cookbook.”

Embedded Systems Bookshelf


Embedded Books Reading Room
Bernard Cole's favorite links to book excerpts.


Engineer's Bookshelf
Airport fiction blows. A look at books other engineers are reading and why you should read them, too. Recommend and write a review yourself. E-mail Brian Fuller.

Jack Ganssle's Bookshelf
A list of book reviews by Jack Ganssle, contributing technical editor of Embedded Systems Design and Embedded.com.

Max's Cool Beans
Clive “Max” Maxfield, the editor on Programmable Logic DesignLine, often writes about interesting books.


New TI motor drivers for stepper and brushed DC motors lower RDSon more than 60 percent

Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) has expanded its DRV8x motor driver family with eight new devices supporting up to 5 A for higher-current bipolar stepper and brushed DC motors.

Integrated driver ICs with high current capability offer space reductions in stepper motor designs

ON Semiconductor has launched two new integrated driver ICs that will drive high current motors with reduced component count and board space in stepper motor based applications.

ON Semi extends current range, flexibility for stepper motor designs

ON Semiconductor has extended its bipolar stepper motor control family to include two Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) versions of a motor driver capable of peak currents up to 800 mA and for use with an external microcontroller for added flexibility.

Stepper motor unit with integrated motion control

The PANdrive PD-140-42-SE mechatronic unit from Trimanic contains a motion control element in combination with a 42 mm stepper motor (NEMA 17).

Device controls stepper motors with limited burden on MCU

LSI Computer Systems Inc.(LSI/CSI) has developed a low-cost precision stepper motor controller designated LS7290 that is designed to control two-phase bipolar stepper motors or four-phase unipolar stepper motors with minimum burden on the host microcontroller.

Enhancement to stepper motor increases design flexibility; emulates brushed-motor operation

AMI Semiconductor added enhancements to their family of single-chip stepper motor driver and control ICs. The new features include a facility for running stepper motors at a continuous velocity and an automatic start function which allows a stepper motor to start automatically when powered up.

Agilent Technologies

New Agilent Oscilloscopes with Breakthrough Technology Deliver More Scope for the Same Budget

InfiniiVision 2000 and 3000 X-Series scopes offer 26 models from 70 to 500 MHz starting at $1,230 USD. Entry models offer industry-exclusive options like 8-channel Mixed Signal Oscilloscope and integrated function generator. Advanced scopes change to 16-channel MSOs and add serial bus debug options.
Click here to learn more.


Small motor control efficiency gains deliver big energy savings

Virtual Conference Keynote Address details global energy usage to power motors.

Motion control set to transform next generation consumer devices

Motion sensing and control is clearly going to be the enabling technology for a whole new generation of consumer devices, just how easy is it to implement in practice?

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