Motor Controller Choice for Stepper Motors

Still trying to learn the details of how to choose Motor Controllers depending on the Stepper.

I've got two different Bipolar Stepper Motors:

1: (NEMA 17 / 200 steps/rev)

Current: 1A/phase Phase Resistance:3.5Ω Holding Torque:13 Ncm (18.4oz.in)

2: (NEMA 23 / 200 steps/rev)

Current: 3A/phase Phase Resistance:1.12Ω Holding Torque:190 Ncm (1.9Nm / 269oz.in)

What motor controllers would be most appropriate and why?

for #1, from what I can tell, the following would be fine: - L298N (Oldest / least efficient, but should work) - TB6612FNG (Peferable because it's MOSFET) - A4988 (Takes over the stepping controls from the MCU. Is it MOSFET?)

What would be best options for #2?

I understand the stepper motors deliver better performance at considerably higher voltages than the typical listed on in the spec sheets (approx 3ishV listed for the above). I've seen numbers suggesting 12v, 24v, even higher.

a) Does operating motor controllers at higher voltages raise the amps such that you have to re-consider your choice of motor controller? b) How to determine how high to take the voltage?

The A4988 would be a good choice for #1, the TB6612FNG for #2. I confused the TB6612FNG driver for the TB6600 type driver which will work with a 3A stepper. The TB6612FNG is a brushed motor driver, not a stepper driver. I would use the A4988.

a) Does operating motor controllers at higher voltages raise the amps such that you have to re-consider your choice of motor controller?

On the A4988 and most modern stepper drivers, the coil current is set using the voltage that the motor will use. Higher voltages will give more speed but the driver current control will be adjusted for the voltage.

b) How to determine how high to take the voltage?

The max voltage usually depends on what the stepper driver is rated for.

Robin2's stepper basics tutorial may be of interest.

For the second (3 amp) motor I suggest you select a stepper driver that can provide at least 4 amps. It is never a good idea to operate electronic devices close to their limits.

...R

WhatsYourFunction: Still trying to learn the details of how to choose Motor Controllers depending on the Stepper.

I've got two different Bipolar Stepper Motors:

1: (NEMA 17 / 200 steps/rev)

Current: 1A/phase Phase Resistance:3.5Ω Holding Torque:13 Ncm (18.4oz.in)

DRV8825 breakout is ideal here, it will run cooler than A4988

2: (NEMA 23 / 200 steps/rev)

Current: 3A/phase Phase Resistance:1.12Ω Holding Torque:190 Ncm (1.9Nm / 269oz.in)

Geckodrive? Perhaps a TB6600 based driver? 3A is beyond small stepper chips, lots of heatsink needed.

What motor controllers would be most appropriate and why?

for #1, from what I can tell, the following would be fine: - L298N (Oldest / least efficient, but should work) - TB6612FNG (Peferable because it's MOSFET)

No, L298N or TB6612 is not appropriate for modern steppers at all

  • A4988 (Takes over the stepping controls from the MCU. Is it MOSFET?)

What would be best options for #2?

Ideally a nice discrete-MOSFET industrial stepper drive, but they are expensive - the Geckodrive options are budget versions of these, and the TB6600 is cheap (but needs massive heatsinking).

I understand the stepper motors deliver better performance at considerably higher voltages than the typical listed on in the spec sheets (approx 3ishV listed for the above). I've seen numbers suggesting 12v, 24v, even higher.

160V is used on big CNC rigs - only the insulation breakdown voltage limits the voltage

a) Does operating motor controllers at higher voltages raise the amps such that you have to re-consider your choice of motor controller?

No, stepper drivers are constant current

b) How to determine how high to take the voltage?

How much speed you need. Want 3000rpm with a NEMA34, think 80V or more. The voltage is needed to overcome winding inductance when spinning fast (at 3000rpm a standard stepper is handling 2.5kHz AC, normal brushless motors at that speed only see 50 or 100Hz, so inductance is far less of a limiting factor, with steppers its everything).

groundFungus:
The A4988 would be a good choice for #1, the TB6612FNG for #2. I confused the TB6612FNG driver for the TB6600 type driver which will work with a 3A stepper. The TB6612FNG is a brushed motor driver, not a stepper driver. I would use the A4988.
On the A4988 and most modern stepper drivers, the coil current is set using the voltage that the motor will use. Higher voltages will give more speed but the driver current control will be adjusted for the voltage.
The max voltage usually depends on what the stepper driver is rated for.

Robin2’s stepper basics tutorial may be of interest.

This is great. Reviewing now… Thank you.

MarkT:
No, L298N or TB6612 is not appropriate for modern steppers at all

Good to know. In my ignorance I tested #1 (The 1A) with an L293D. It actually worked pretty well. But at idle – after 15 seconds of use it would twitch – tick sounds at a steady pace. Apparently I’m lucky there was no blue smoke. Still curious about the reason for the twitching.

MarkT:
How much speed you need.

Not necessarily much. The idea is to raise a curtain. 30 - 60rpm is fine. If it takes a minute, no problem. If it can go faster, also fine. It takes about 14lbs to start moving, but it won’t need to go fast. If I’m understanding torque correctly, #2 (the 3A stepper) at 190 Ncm should be sufficient, correct?

Robin2: For the second (3 amp) motor I suggest you select a stepper driver that can provide at least 4 amps. It is never a good idea to operate electronic devices close to their limits.

Thanks for that. To date I haven't found that stated as clearly anywhere else.