Motor controller questions

I just finished a project using a couple of steppers with microstep controllers(http://www.ebay.com/itm/Single-Axis-TB6600-0-2-5A-CNC-Two-phase-hybrid-Driver-Controller-Stepper-Motor-/371480658669?hash=item567df902ed:g:y3QAAOSwT5tWOvjj) and now I'm looking tout together another machine.

The question is with regards to the controllers used by the CNC guys to power all of the motors they use. My new project will use 3 steppers with 2 using 3A - 5A of current each and thought it would be cleaner to use a single board to control all three instead of a separate microstep driver for each like I did on my last project.

I see when looking at these on the web everyone is using gcode to program them and I'm not sure if that is a requirement to use them or if I can just use them like I did with my previous drivers and have the arduino tell them where to go. I'm not using them for CNC which is what the gcode is for.

I would just buy one and play with it but they start at $85 and rapidly go up from there so I would rather know what it can do up front before I start buying things.

Thanks for the help.

Your post is very confusing after the first paragraph.

If you plan to use 3amp or 5 amp stepper motors then you need to buy stepper drivers that can comfortably supply te required current. They will not be cheap. Each motor will require a separate driver. I'm not sure if you can buy a "box" with a few large drivers in it.

GCode is a separate thing entirely. It is a simple system for describing the moves that a CNC machine needs to make. If you have an Arduino program that can produce step and direction signals it will almost certainly be able to control the drivers for large stepper motors.

There is an Arduino program called GRBL that can interpret GCode and cause stepper motors to move accordingly. But it sounds as if you have no requirement to interpret GCode.

...R
Stepper Motor Basics
Simple Stepper Code

Sorry for the confusion Robin,
I know how to select a driver to match the motor which I have done previously with another project but thought if I could control all 3 steppers in my new project from one motor shield that would be more compact than 3 separate drivers as I did before.

When I search for a 3 stepper shield controller I get these boards for the CNC machines and because they usually drive larger current steppers like I will need I'm trying to figure out how they will operate with my arduino, I saw some that use GRBL and wasn't sure the difference between that and GCode but since I really wasn't going to use GCode I hadn't dug any further into it.

The shield's I have seen allow you to change the current draw on each motor driver on the shield if you have different size motors which works for me but my hesitation was with the programming side of the shields and if it was a requirement of the shield to run on GCode to make the motors move, I would like to just make the arduino control movement as that is what I have some knowledge in doing.

I'm just trying to match up with what I did with my last project using simple stepper code like you have at the bottom of your reply.

ribbonman:
When I search for a 3 stepper shield controller I get these boards for the CNC machines

You need to post a link to them so I can understand what you are referring to.

…R

I thought I had put in my OP,

Synthetos gShield (grblShield) V5 : ID 1750 : $63.00 : Adafruit Industries, Unique & fun DIY electronics and kits(I now this doesn't suit my current needs but is an example of what I'm looking at)

In your Original Post you say

My new project will use 3 steppers with 2 using 3A - 5A of current each

Those TB6560 drivers will not be sufficient for that - they will be right at their limit with the smaller motors.

I suggest looking for drivers that can supply 4 or 5 amps (for the 3 amp motors) and 6 or 7 amps for the 5 amp motors.

The fact that all the drivers are (or are not) on a single PCB or in a single enclosure is just a matter of convenience.

I could easily see the price running to $65 for EACH driver.

...R

There is always the BOOST-DRV8711 board, much cheaper, but needs SPI configuration at startup
(ie is not standalone). Good for upto 4.5A http://www.mouser.co.uk/ProductDetail/Texas-Instruments/BOOST-DRV8711/?qs=m1T3c8F5IUKBy%2brxKmOMbw==&gclid=CjwKEAjw8ZzHBRCUwrrV59XinXUSJADSTE5kY6GLcYD5wqnmzvMSk8M_V5pPjSUyFrTMvBuj0ARlBxoCqz3w_wcB

Robin2:
The fact that all the drivers are (or are not) on a single PCB or in a single enclosure is just a matter of convenience.

...R

The convenience is really what I was looking for, keep everything nice and compact without having drivers mounted everywhere.
I know the TB6560 doesn't handle anything above 3A but it was the concept of having 3 drivers on the same shield that I was trying to convey.
I still need to figure out just exactly how large the steppers are going to need to be to move things so it might work.

MarkT:
There is always the BOOST-DRV8711 board, much cheaper, but needs SPI configuration at startup
(ie is not standalone). Good for upto 4.5A http://www.mouser.co.uk/ProductDetail/Texas-Instruments/BOOST-DRV8711/?qs=m1T3c8F5IUKBy%2brxKmOMbw==&gclid=CjwKEAjw8ZzHBRCUwrrV59XinXUSJADSTE5kY6GLcYD5wqnmzvMSk8M_V5pPjSUyFrTMvBuj0ARlBxoCqz3w_wcB

Thanks MarkT,
I was hoping for a all in one type board, but will look into it.

Surely you have come across a Gecko Drive g540 in your search , if not you should search and you’ll find tons of info. It sounds to me like just what you’re looking for however I believe from the top of my head it maxes out at 3.5 amps per drive. It uses step and dir signals and is readily controlled via Arduino just as your first project was.

You can also control it from an Arduino with GRBL via gcode which is in my opinion even easier than what you are doing, once you get it figured out. I’m working on a project at the moment to do just that where I have designed my own pcb that is my version of an Arduino clone and it simply plugs directly into the g540.

Cheers,
bc

g540BT1.jpg

Hey billcat,
The Gecko is what really got me started looking in that direction but that prompted the question of having to use GCode to operate it or could I just use the stepper code from the arduino tutorials.

I like the sound of your project but it is a little above my abilities at this time, but the board helps with the learning curve.

ribbonman:
the question of having to use GCode to operate it or could I just use the stepper code from the arduino tutorials.

You can also use the G540 exactly as you did previously. You just need to find the pin-out from the Gecko website for the db25 connector and then connect jumpers from your Arduino to the X, Y, Z, A step and dir pins as you see fit. Heck I have the pinout here, I’ll attach…

cheers,
bc
G540terminals.jpg