Packing the Power

November 5, 2007

5 Min Read
Packing the Power

The primary focus of low power drive development is compact packages that produce higher levels of performance. By reducing both the footprint of drives and simplifying the drive architecture, suppliers are striving to develop smaller, more powerful products at the right price points. The major design goals are power density and efficiency in the smallest possible package, along with a wide range of configuration options that make the drives easy to set up and operate.

Programming flexibility, auto setup features and software configuration options are also important. An increasing number of drives are providing advanced motion control capabilities, such as providing stepper motor control or functions for digital speed and open-loop speed control. Products are providing broader support for communication protocols, versatile power capabilities and support for a wide range of position and velocity feedback options. Additional options include control inputs available for selecting motor direction, disabling operation and braking.


Maxon is offering a one-quadrant amplifier for brushless dc motors with its DEC 24/3. The ready-to use open board is a solution for drive tasks with 5 to 24V operating voltage and maximum output power of 3A (intermittently up to 6A). Maxon EC motors and EC flat motors can be directly connected.

With an input voltage ranging from 5 to 24V, the DEC 24/3 can be used with various voltage sources, allowing operation as a digital speed controller and open-loop speed controller. The required operating mode can be easily selected using a DIP switch. The speed value can be set via an integrated potentiometer or external reference value.

The controller offers additional options, with control inputs available for selecting motor direction, disable and braking. Required maximum power is set using a potentiometer. In continuous operation, output current should reach 3A and 100 percent overload is permissible for intermittent acceleration.


Three new powerful miniature servo drives from Elmo Motion Control support up to 2,400W. By integrating the company’s proprietary FASST power management with thermal management technology, the new drives offer power density of 35W/cm3 and more than 99 percent efficiency in a miniature package.

Elmo’s SimplIQ digital core embedded into the small servo drive offers motion control capabilities, programming, communication protocol support and versatile power capabilities. The units support a wide range of position and velocity feedback options including digital halls, incremental, encoder, incremental encoder and halls, resolver, interpolated analog encoder, analog halls, tachometer, position potentiometer and absolute coarse/fine analog encoder.

Compactness allows for easy mounting near the axis and/or directly into the application configuration. A pin-based design enables direct integration into the application’s PCB for significant cost savings. SimplIQ products are integrated in robots, semi-conductor production equipment, avionics, machine tools, packaging equipment, textile equipment and medical equipment.


The ST5-Q stepper drive from Applied Motion Products can be operated stand-alone and programmed using the Q programming environment to provide register manipulation, conditional processing, math functions, multi-tasking and “generic” HMI compatibility. The drives feature up to 5.0A with 24 to 48V dc input, eight digital inputs, four digital outputs and two analog inputs.

Self-test and auto setup features measure and configure motor parameters automatically. Anti-resonance technology eliminates midrange instability for higher motor speeds and fuller use of available torque. Demand signal smoothing reduces extraneous system resonances for smoother motor performance and reduced wear on mechanical components. Torque ripple smoothing adjusts the current waveform to reduce low-speed torque ripple for smooth motion at low motor speeds. MicroStep emulation provides smooth motion for systems with low step resolutions such as retrofit systems with controller resolution fixed at a low value that cannot easily be changed.


The four-quadrant, programmable motion control DSV405 servo drive from Electrocraft does not require a secondary controller. The drive uses constant current bi-polar chopping with full on board programmability to effectively drive and control brushless dc (BLDC) motor applications. Rated at 12 to 40V dc input and 5 amps continuous output, the drive can be configured to operate in position, velocity and torque modes.

Eight I/O ports allow the DSV405 to receive and respond to signals from switch closures and openings along with optocoupler outputs. This allows the controller to start and stop a motor based on switch closures or interruption of an optocoupler beam.

Users can create and store motion profiles including acceleration, deceleration, hold and run current, position targets and slew velocity. Other simple commands let the user respond to input signals from the external system and drive secondary devices such as relays or solenoids based on the needs of the system.


Lin Engineering has introduced a RoHS-compliant version of its R701 and R710 drivers. These bipolar step motor drivers operate from 24 to 80V dc and supply phase currents ranging from 1 to 7 amps. The driver also features 10x microstepping, selectable current reduction of 33 percent, a step frequency of 200 kHz and optically isolated step, direction and disable/enable inputs.

For users needing less vibration and smooth performance, the R701 and R710 boast onboard trimpots that can be adjusted to alter the current waveform coming out of the motor and going into the step motor coils. This adjustment will decrease the amount of noise and vibration coming out of the motor enabling for smooth motion.

The R710 has the same features as the R701 plus two additional features. An Input Option Header allows the use of a Common Ground or a Common +5V dc for optically isolated inputs. A Step Pulse Multiplier always outputs 10 microstepping, even with a step input of Full Step, Half Step, 5 Microstep or 10 Microstep.

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