Motor Drivers at Elektor Labs

September 20, 2019 | 13:04
Electric motors are everywhere and drivers are needed to make them spin in a controlled way. At Elektor Labs we frequently test and try motor drivers and we also roll our own. Here is a short overview of what we are currently looking at.

AC Motor Driver

Some time ago we received a request for a driver capable of controlling AC motors scavenged from household equipment like tumble dryers and similar machines. We set out to work and after a few months of work we came up with a prototype that does the job (project no. 150199).

Besides providing enough power for the AC line powered motor, electrical safety is also an important design aspect for such a device. For this reason, we split the design in two parts: a high-voltage power board and a low-voltage microcontroller board.

Stepper Motor Driver

Another upcoming project is our TMC2160-based stepper motor driver (project no. 190255). The TMC2160 is a chopper driver IC from Trinamic and we designed a nice, small PCB for it. The IC runs in standalone mode and communicates with a microcontroller over an optically isolated SPI port. DIP switches set the motor driver parameters.

This module is particularly suited to use with CNC machines our Wolverine gantry robot as it provides an interface very similar to other commercially available drivers. Besides being powerful and flexible, this driver will also make motors run smoother and quieter.

TMC2160 stepper motor driver
The TMC2160 Stepper Motor Driver has a standard CNC machine interface.

COTS Motor Drivers

We not only design our own motor drivers; we also try out commercially available ones. Here is one by Cytron, the MD10C. This is a low-cost 10-ampere, 5 to 30-volt DC brushed motor driver and our first impression was that it works pretty well.

H bridges

Here is another one, this time from Infineon. The board is an IFX007T Arduino-compatible shield. This is not a real motor driver but has three half H bridges. In this video it drives two motors connected in parallel on an old RC car.

Stay tuned

Motor drivers are popular and we will certainly be doing more with them at Elektor, so keep following us.

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