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Driving stepper motor over maximum rated current?

Discussion in 'General Electronics' started by jpoge66, Aug 31, 2004.

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  1. jpoge66

    jpoge66 Guest

    I recently purchased some stepper motors and drives. The drive has an
    adjustable max current setting of .25 to 1.4 amp RMS or (.35 to 2.0
    amp peak). It has an input voltage range between 12 and 24 VDC. I
    realize that increasing voltage won't change the max current through
    the windings, only speed up the time to reach max current.

    The motors in question are size 17, bipolar, hybrid stepping motors.
    The documentation sent with the motors says they were tested at "1.7
    amp peak" and there are stickers on the motor which say "1.25A" which
    I'm assuming means RMS. I'm assuming these are the maximum ratings.
    All the amperage figures are per phase. The fastest I conceivably
    would like to turn the motors would be about 2800 pulses/sec, or
    roughly 7 rev/s – they were tested far past that. I think that for my
    application I may want to suck every bit of torque out of these motors
    as possible and I'm already assuming that I'll need to supply them
    with 24V. This is all very theoretical at this stage though,
    everything is still in the box.

    I have seen some post suggesting that running steppers at currents
    higher than the rated current is sometimes done. Is this advisable???
    Is an increase from 1.25 amp to 1.4 amp/phase (the max available with
    my drives) a big deal? Am I likely to see a big increase in torque?
    Am I likely to see it more at slow speed, high speed, both??? Say if
    I were to slowly increment the current up from 1.25 amp to 1.4 amp to
    test, is there any way I could tell when I'm nearing the danger of
    burning out the motor? How would duty cycle play into this? For
    instance, if I expect to move the motor for only a 1 or 2 seconds at a
    time and possibly stop for most of a minute in between moves will
    overheating be an issue (although, I may be using partial or full
    current for holding torque some of the time)?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. CFoley1064

    CFoley1064 Guest

    Subject: Driving stepper motor over maximum rated current?
    Hi, Jason. If you're concerned about torque at higher speeds, you might want
    to look into current drive rather than voltage drive. This is covered in the
    great web tutorial on the subject, Jones on Stepper Motors

    particularly Chapter 4. Current Limiting for Stepping Motors

    Also, if you're in a torque bind even then, you might want to look at a larger
    motor. Size 23 and Size 34 are the next steps up.

    In answer to your immediate question, overdriving the coils at 120% of rated
    current for a very limited duty cycle should be OK, but only if you compensate
    by reducing the holding current in the coils during the rest of the cycle. See
    if your drive has provision for reducing holding current (a lot of them do).
    If it doesn't, you will be forcing 1.4A through the coils even when it's
    stopped, which is a no-no. Either that or, possibly, your drive has a shutdown
    signal which will turn off power to the coils when there's no motion. If
    you're microstepping or half-stepping, the motor might bump when shutoff is
    released and the motor is turned back on. Remember to unassert the shutdown
    signal before you send motion pulses or a "GO" command to the drive - many
    drives need time to settle before they can start moving.

    Most manufacturers of steppers and drives have apps engineers who are familiar
    with that particular stepper and drive, and should be able to give you a
    definitive answer. Look to them for help - that's what they're paid for.

    Good luck
  3. I have seen some post suggesting that running steppers at currents

    I'd say it was fine, so long as you don't cook it. OTOH, have you considered
    a bigger motor?

    best regards

    Robin G Hewitt
  4. You can feed very large currents in provided they're balanced by
    enough off or low current time that you don't exceed damaging
    temperatures inside the motors.

    You can get considerable improvements in torque while running fast by
    feeding the motors at a high voltage from a large capacitor with a
    capacity designed in conjuction with the driving characteristics so
    that damaging temps are not exceeded. The reason for this is that
    conventional voltage regulated drive is designed for the worst case of
    static load, and is heavily degraded by back EMF at high load.

    Another way of doing a similar thing is to use current controlled
    power supplies operating at high voltages.

    The virtue of the traditional design is that it's fail safe. The
    problems of my suggestions are that malfunctions can easily produce
    damaging conditions, so you need to design in your own fail safe
    circuits. But the advantage is much higher performance.
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