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Automation & Control
Single-Chip Motor Controller Enables Quieter, Smaller Precision Automation
12/10/2012

The cSPIN, STMicroelectronics' new single-chip motion controller, allows for the design of equipment such as robotics and industrial machines with quieter, smaller, and lighter precision movement and positioning systems, according to the company.   (Source: STMicroelectronics)
The cSPIN, STMicroelectronics’ new single-chip motion controller, allows for the design of equipment such as robotics and industrial machines with quieter, smaller, and lighter precision movement and positioning systems, according to the company.
(Source: STMicroelectronics)

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naperlou
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good integration
naperlou   12/10/2012 10:23:56 AM
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Reducing the motor control function to a single chip is a great way to reduce component count.  These functions are driven by physics and a broad range of motors, thus giving flexibility, but not requiring a fully generalized solution.

Elizabeth M
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Re: good integration
Elizabeth M   12/10/2012 1:24:53 PM
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Thanks for the perspective, naperlou. It seems that "less is more" is becoming a theme in motion-control systems, as smaller yet more complex devices require more precision and less bulk. Appreciate your comment.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: good integration
Cabe Atwell   12/10/2012 5:36:18 PM
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I'd like to get my hands on a few for testing. I hope that minimum order of 1,000 is just a suggestion.

I want to build a small but high powered stepper driver, and this looks like a good option.

Is there an easy way to convert step signals from USB to parallel without CAM package restriction?

C

BobDJr
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Gold
Re: good integration
BobDJr   12/11/2012 9:44:51 AM
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Here's a link to the ST evaluation board for the L6480:

http://www.st.com/internet/evalboard/product/254209.jsp

Cabe Atwell
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Re: good integration
Cabe Atwell   12/11/2012 3:47:29 PM
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TTemple,

I didn't like animatic's idea of integrating the controller at the motor. Where intense electromagnetic fields are blasting the local area. Maybe the board is shielded, maybe not. However, I would like to see the motor's power supply at the motor itself and move the drive electronics away.

BobDJr,

Thanks for the link. I will look into this ASAP.

C

ttemple
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Platinum
Re: good integration
ttemple   12/12/2012 11:12:00 AM
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Cabe,

I have not experienced problems with noise in Animatics motors, but heat can be an issue.  Under certain conditions the motors have heat related problems (the heat kills the controller, I think).  I used some in an application where there was a lot of regeneration current and a high duty cycle.  The motor life was greatly diminished in this application because of the heating.

One nice thing about the motors is the simple wiring. The power to the motor is unregulated DC (2 wires), and 3 wires for communication.  No 3 phase motor cable and no encoder and/or hall sensor cables, etc.  Additionally, if you have end of travel and/or home switches, they go straight to the motor.

Charles Murray
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Re: good integration
Charles Murray   12/10/2012 6:58:57 PM
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Elizabeth, any idea what the cost differential would be between this single-chip design and a typical multi-chip design?

Elizabeth M
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Re: good integration
Elizabeth M   12/12/2012 3:21:20 AM
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Sorry, Charles, I have to say I don't know. Perhaps STMicroelectronics could help you with this question?

TJ McDermott
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Re: good integration
TJ McDermott   12/11/2012 12:07:17 AM
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Good integration is right.  The controller can be built into the stepper motor, maybe even as a plug-in option.

ttemple
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Platinum
Re: good integration
ttemple   12/11/2012 8:29:14 AM
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Animatics (http://www.animatics.com/) has been building the controllers inside the end cap of stepper and servo motors for quite a few years now.  You connect a power source and a communication cable to the moter, and off you go.

tekochip
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Platinum
Re: good integration
tekochip   12/11/2012 9:26:45 AM
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Good find ttemple.  Tuning a stepper controller for a particular motor can be real pain, and if you're not a EE, a plug and play solution is the way to go.
 
Just about every silicon vendor has a "motor controller" part, whether it be for BLDC motors or steppers.  What makes the difference is how quickly you can get the part to spin a motor and how much it costs to do it.  As mentioned in the article, the biggest problem is the resources required from the micro to spin the motor.  Another problem, not often addressed, is debugging.  Many of the motor controller parts do not gracefully remove the load when debugging, so that breakpoints and single-stepping can have disastrous results.  This part looks to be a very high-end solution that may not fit into smaller motor applications like those used in the gaming industry, but would really work well in medical and robotics.


Consultofactus
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Iron
Re: good integration
Consultofactus   12/11/2012 9:56:45 AM
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Only if you can wedge the FETs or IGBTs in as well. This device drives external "6 packs".

jcdammeyer
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Silver
Not enough in one package
jcdammeyer   12/11/2012 11:23:55 AM
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A useful part perhaps for some applications but what does it do that a dsPIC c/w embedded CAN port cannot?  External winding drivers are still required.  A processor that does SPI is still required.  And unless one mixes P and N channel FETs the high side needs to be 12V above the gates so external support devices and drive FETs are still needed.

What would be really useful would a be device that can microstep a motor to 1/16, have step/dir inputs and have coil drivers with 3.5A and 80V-100V rating.  There are a few devices out there that do 2.5A and 24V but exceed that voltage at your peril.

John

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