STMicroelectronics has released a new single-chip motion controller that engineers can use to design a variety of equipment with quieter, smaller, and lighter precision movement and position systems, the company said.
The new cSPIN controller includes similar features to controllers with a multi-chip architecture but with all the functionality on one chip, making it optimal for the design of equipment that requires precise movements, such as robotic systems and industrial automation, as well as security cameras and other camera-focusing mechanisms.
"The key benefit is the possibility to implement a high-performance stepper motor driver in a very simple, compact, and inexpensive way, while the state-of-the-art technology avoids the need for several ICs and many passive components," Vincenzo Marano, system and application manager for motor control at STMicroelectronics, told Design News.
Many current motion controllers include more than one processor, which generally provides more noise and complexity in equipment design, according to STMicroelectronics. Multi-chip controllers also often require additional motor-control software, as well as for designers to combine calculation, control, and interfacing functions after they've been developed on separate chips, adding an extra step to the equipment development process.
"Because of the integration of the motion engine, cSPIN needs few resources from the host controller (typically a microcontroller): no complex routines need to be implemented in the controller software allowing for faster development cycles and cost savings, especially in multi-motor applications," Marano told us.
CSPIN's single-chip design is more compact and low-weight than multi-chip controllers, and also allows for precise control over rotation speed, which is handy when designing repeatable motions that require accuracy, such as equipment that mixes liquids for medications, according to the company. "The most common stepper motor models provide 200 step per revolution, which, with this product, turns into more than 25,000 micro steps per revolution," Marano said. "Such a high resolution, together with a special control technique (voltage mode operation), also provides an exceptional motion smoothness."
Engineers also can develop equipment that is less noisy, which can reduce the environmental impact on people working in places like laboratories and hospitals. The controller's lightweight and compact design also lends itself to the development of systems that overall are lower cost and more efficient, eliminating the inclusion for shunt resistors and therefore reducing the possibility of energy waste, according to STMicroelectronics.
STMicroelectcronics has released two versions of the cSPIN controllers -- the L6480, which supports micro-stepping operation at up to 1/128 steps resolution, and the L6482, which includes the predictive control algorithm and the auto-adaptive decay mode.
The core features of cSPIN controllers include the following:
- A digital motion engine, gate driver, and SPI interface on one chip;
- Programmable speed control and positioning;
- Integrated protection mechanisms: over-temperature, low bus voltage, over-current, motor-stall;
- 5Mbit/s SPI interface;
- Fully-programmable gate driving;
- Innovative voltage mode control with internal BEMF compensation (L6480);
- Advanced predictive current control with auto-adaptive decay mode (L6482);
- Low standby current.
Prices for the controllers based on volume production are $3 for 1,000 units.