Motor driver

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  • servo motor controller
  • stepper motor controller
  • DC motor controller ("brushed")
  • AC motor controller ("brushless")
  • ... (todo: fill in the other kinds) ...

A DC motor controller that is 'reversable' generally uses an 'H bridge'. This 'H-bridge' uses four output drivers in a configuration that resembles an H where the load is the cross bar in the middle. The lines on either side of the load (the downward strokes in the H) represent a series connection of a pull-up driver and a pull-down driver. This allows each terminal of the load to be connected to either the positive supply rail, or the negative supply rail. This allows a positive, negative or zero voltage difference across the load. This load voltage is then utilised to provide the desired control required of the motor. The various combinations can give a 'forwards' torque on a DC motor, a 'backwards' torque on the same motor, can allow the motor to free-wheel (without any applied torque) or can provide a locking of the motor such that it resists any attempt to rotate it.

A single phase AC motor is generally driven in the same way as a DC motor, however instead of operating the motor drive as a constant DC voltage (in either the 'forward' or 'reverse' direction) the AC motor is driven by an approximation to a sinewave. This approximation is created using the H bridge and driving it with a PWM input such that both the positive and negative voltage periods are the same. This is normally acheived either using a sawtooth waveform compared against a sine wave reference, or is done using a lookup table in a microcontroller.

A similar method is used to drive multiphase (3-phase) AC motors, however instead of just using an H bridge, only a half H bridge is used per phase (3 half-bridges). Each phases half bridge is then driven in the same manner as for the single phase motor, with a phase difference between the phases as appropriate.

Most stepper motor controllers uses 2 independent H bridges (4 half-bridges) for the 2 independent coils of a stepper motor. Each possible state (one bridge driving current one way, the other way, or free-floating) of both bridges gives 4 "full steps", 4 "half-steps" between the full steps. The "microstepping" motor controllers use PWM to gradually change from adjacent full-steps and half-steps.

((fill in more details here...))

current sense

Often people want to measure the current going through the motor.

There are 3(?) basic techniques:

  • low-side current shunt
  • high-side current shunt
  • magnetic field sense
  • ... (any others I missed?) Yes, pseudo 'mirror' current sensing a MOSFET -- sampling the voltage across a MOSFET while it is turned on. That voltage is linear with current but varies with temperature. If the purpose of measuring current is to turn off the MOSFET before it overheats, the variation with temperature doesn't matter. (A true current mirror isn't useful for motors, right?)
  • ... (any others I missed?)

Low-side is (electrically) the simplest.

For smaller motors, the current is usually measured by running the current through a shunt resistor, and measuring the voltage across the resistor.

In situations where low-side sensing is difficult ( automobile electronics bonded to the "GND" car frame; other systems where it is inconvenient to put a resistor on the "lo" power wire), we turn to high-side sensing.

side current sense Newark: high side current sense; [