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DRIVING STEPPER MOTORS WITH THE L293D

 

 

 

Stepper motors are great to use in robotics. By energizing the coils in the motor

in a particular sequence, a motor takes 48 or more small, precise steps

to make one full revolution. If you are using two of these motors to drive your

 robot’s wheels, you can get good control over how far it travels by making the

 motors travel x many steps forwards or backwards. That’s assuming you can

 find stepper motor drivers, of course. I’ve always had problems finding

good servo drivers. Once I was even reduced to using discreet components

(say it isn’t so!) to drive my steppers.

Then I got my hands on the L293D motor driver chip (See motors part 1)

and life got a lot easier. The L293D contains two H-bridges for driving small DC

 motors. Now the home-viewing audience might say: "Rob, it’s easy to drive DC

motors. What I need to do is drive a stepper motor." No problem. After all,

what is a DC motor but a coil and the L293D drives two of them backwards

 or forwards. That’s what stepper are - two (or more) coils being

 driven in a sequence, backwards and forwards. So one L293D can, in

theory, drive one bi-polar 2 phase stepper, if you supply the sequence.

I found some close-out two-phase bi-polar steppers (part#117954) in the

 Jameco Catalog. For six bucks plus shipping I get a 7.5 degree stepper

 with 48 steps per revolution. The stepper motor runs at about 5

volts and pulls 800 milli-amps of current. That’s a lot of current so

 I can expect my chips to heat up. The way I fix the heat problem

is by gluing a heat sink to the top of the chip. Any piece of metal

 three or four times the size of the chip will do. If things get real

hot, I use a small fan to move air over the top of the heat sink.

STEPPER CONTROLLER SCHEMATIC

 

 

I realize that Seattle has developed it’s own mutant breed of

 controller circuits, I think it’s based on the 68HC12, but I have

 successfully resisted all attempts to be lured to the dark side

 of the force and will continue to use the BS-2 (Basic Stamp II). Here

is a real quick description of the L293D inputs:

1, 9 Enable pins. Hook them together and you can either keep them high

and run the motor all the time, or you can control them

with your own controller.

2,7,10, 15 Control the two coils. Here is how you pulse them

 for a single cycle:

 

STEPPER TABLE

COIL A1

COIL B1

COIL A2

COIL B2

STEP 1

ON

ON

OFF

OFF

STEP2

OFF

ON

ON

OFF

STEP3

OFF

OFF

ON

ON

STEP4

ON

OFF

OFF

ON

 

3,6,11,14 Here is where you plug in the two coils. You want to ohm them out

and make sure you get one coil hooked up to 3,6 and another

 one hooked up to 11,14.

4,5,12,13 Gets hooked to ground.

8 Motor voltage, usually about 6 volts.

16 +5 volts. It’s a good idea to keep this power supply separate

from your motor power.

And here is the schematic to hook the BS-2 and the L293D together. Hey, I’ve even

included the code!

 

 

The software to program the Basic Stamp II can be found in stepprog.bs2

Notice that this single chip can handle a two coil stepper otherwise known

 as a two-phase stepper motor. If you want to do more than that, you need more

 chips. The cool thing is that if you have multiple steppers and you want to drive

them one at a time (say on a PC board driller), it’s easy to have multiple L293Ds

 driven on the same line.

 

 

BONUS! TROUBLE-SHOOTING SCENARIOS:

Let’s say you get this thing all hooked up to your microcontroller

 and it doesn’t work. Here are a couple of symptoms and what they

 point to as the cause. Since I’ve had the misfortune of experiencing

each one of these problems personally, I thought I might be able

to save you a little time and pain.

Symptom: The stepper motor shaft turns easily with fingers.

Cause/solution: No power to the circuitry, no power to the motor, or enable pin is low.

Symptom: Everything on, but motor is locked in one position.

Cause/solution: The L293D got the first position and that’s all. Check software, check connections, and check that the hard-wired ports match the software.

 You might want to pull out the logic probe.

Symptom: Everything on, stepper is shifting in position, but the motor won’t turn.

Cause/solution: The correct line isn’t getting pulsed. Either the

 software is trying to pulse the wrong line, or the lines are connected

incorrectly. First thing to do is slow the pulses way down. Next, try

 different combinations of the lines or software. You are

 looking for a pulse series that increments the motor continually in one direction.

Symptom: Motor pulses, but it’s erratic and sometimes changes

direction. Using your fingers you can turn the shaft either

direction even though you still feel a pulse.

Cause/solution: One of the coils isn’t energizing. Check your

wiring and your software. You might want to put the circuit to

the probe or unplug the motor and check the voltages.

Symptom: Motor pulses, but the direction is wrong.

Cause/solution: Reverse the pulse order in the software or turn the cable around.

Symptom: Circuit over-heats quickly without anything working.

You hear a pop, see smoke, and one or more chips crack and/or turn to carbon.

Cause/solution: Congratulations! you have reversed one or more

 voltages and fried one or more components in your circuit!

HELP WANTED

I’m getting a Snappy 3.0 Deluxe and a camcorder so I can post

 some pictures of my robots on the web.

Of course now that I’m getting a camcorder, I want to make some

 tapes of my robots walking. I need to know an easy, fairly inexpensive

way of editing and mass-producing the video. Can you help

me out? Please write me at

 

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