Controlling 4 independent stepper motors at the same time

I am an art student working on my senior thesis project and need help with understanding what is possible. As i am new to ardunio world i feel lost in the endless amount of products available. I am working with professors who have some experience in programming and using electronics and motors in their work, but what i want to do is a new challenge and i am trying to figure out the logistics.

I have prototyped a tongue that moves by four pull cables and i want them to eventually be fully automated (PICS). FYI, this is just a quick mock up and the final will be made from different materials. Now i see that i can control up to two step motors with the Arduino motor shield and they are stackable so i could put two of the shields on the board, but is there a cheaper product that will allow me to run 4 stepper motors on one board? if not can i run each motor in different directions and independently with multiple stacked motor shields? I plan i making 4-5 tongues once i figure out the first one.

While i understand that it will be expensive, i am just trying to figure out the most cost effective solution before i spend $40 on two shields per tongue. I also dont have any step motors in mind as i dont know how much torque will be needed, any suggestions would be much appreciated.

You may be and art student, but now you are doing mechanical engineering. So get a spring scale and attach it to the tongue in your REAL project and measure the forces need to move the tongue that way you intend it to move, and record those values.

Next measure the actual distances you will have the tongue move and record that for each direction.

Now you have some real data to make real decisions about the stepper motors and the mechanical connections you will need to connect them to your tongue.

Paul

is there a cheaper product that will allow me to run 4 stepper motors on one board?

Your search terms should be "cnc engraver shield arduino" or "cnc expansion shield". It is a shield for a UNO which carries 4 stepper driver cards. I see several on ebay and amazon.

Some come with A4988 drivers, but my recommendation, if you are not totally constrained by budget, would be to purchase the drivers from Pololu and add them to the bare shield. A drv8825 should also fit in the shield if you need more current.

But, as Paul_KD7HB has posted you need to define your motor requirements first.

Untold_History: I also dont have any step motors in mind as i dont know how much torque will be needed,

As others have said you need to measure the forces first and allow a big margin for error. The device in your pictures looks heavy. You also need to figure out the speed at which the motors must work.

It may be that geared DC motors would be a better choice.

Buying the wrong motors (and motor drivers) is a good way to waste money.

And, almost certainly, a motor shield is not the appropriate thing to use for driving stepper motors.

These links may give some useful background info. Stepper Motor Basics Simple Stepper Code

...R

Hi,
Welcome to the forum.

Please read the first post in any forum entitled how to use this forum.
http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php/topic,148850.0.html .

OPs pics;

Tom… :slight_smile: