High resolution magnetic encoder goes brushless

DN Staff

March 6, 2000

2 Min Read
High resolution magnetic encoder goes brushless

Chicago--Encoders are a great way to improve servo-system performance. Until now, however, achieving resolutions in the 500-cpr (counts per revolution) range for brushless motor applications required relatively expensive optical encoders. These devices use a light source, a lens or grating, and an optical sensor.

Engineers typically choose between coupling a housed encoder to the motor shaft or assembling modular components to cut costs and save space. Either choice requires costly assembly time, and results in a relatively fragile feedback device that is sensitive to harsh environments. That's why some engineers prefer magnetic encoders. Magnetic feedback offers immunity to external influences, does not depend on an unreliable light source that decays over time, and is much more rugged.

  • Medical instruments

  • Test and measurement equipment

  • Semiconductor manufacturing

The trade-off is that until now, commercially available magnetic encoders were only capable of resolutions in the 10 to 32 cpr range--not enough for even moderate servo-system performance. All that has changed since MicroMo engineers developed a proprietary reluctor-wheel design and a custom ASIC that provide a low-cost, compact-magnetic encoder that achieves up to 512 cpr. Called the IE series, MicroMo will unveil its new brushless versions at booth 1945 of the National Design Engineering Show.

Magnetic encoders use a wheel or reluctor with magnetic domains on its edge surface. As the wheel rotates with the motor shaft, Hall elements pick up the change in magnetic flux density.

The design challenges were two-fold, according to MicroMo's VP of Advanced Research and Planning Stephen O'Neil. "The first was understanding how magnetics work in encoder-based systems, and the second was the custom ASIC development.

"Overcoming the limited number of magnetic domains that can be packed on a wheel was key to the project's success," says O'Neil. "And a single custom ASIC offers engineers the choice of 16, 64, 128, 256, or 512 counts per revolution."

These dual-channel encoders with digital outputs are available as integral parts of the 15-, 22-, and 23-mm motor. No assembly, soldering, cable making, or termination additions are required. The signals are CMOS and TTL compatible.

The integrated plastic design has all miniaturized electronics on board, and adds a premium to the base-motor price of about $20 and up, depending on the model. This is typically below the unassembled unit cost of larger, less reliable encoders, according to O'Neil.

Additional details...Contact Steve O'Neil, MicroMo Electronics Inc., 14881 Evergreen Ave., Clearwater, FL 33762-3008; Tel: (800) 807-9166; Fax: (727) 573-5918; E-mail: [email protected].

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