Getting electronics projects moving with a stepper motor

Are you an electronics Stepper motor enthusiast looking to get your project moving? Well, in more ways than one, a stepper motor is an essential purchase. They are electronic motors that have the ability to divide full rotation into a series of equal steps owing to the arrangement of toothed electromagnets around the central gear.

In essence, digital pulses are converted into mechanical shaft rotations. Each revolution consists of a certain amount of steps, hence the name of the product. The aforementioned pulses control each step and lead to full rotation once they increase in frequency.

Pulses will also cause the motor to rotate at a precise angle of typically 1.8 degrees. Indeed, in technical terms, a stepper motor is great for positioning and reliability. Each step is extremely accurate; they have a long shelf-life and can achieve a wide range of rotational speeds with just the help of input pulses at a proportional frequency.

But what can they actually be used for? Many industrial and commercial organisations favour stepper motors for their low costs and high reliability. However, how can an electronics enthusiast benefit from using one?

Stepper motors widely used in electronics projects

You’re likely to find a stepper motor used in many electronics projects. After all, utilising a stepper motor is a great way to understand how they function in many everyday appliances such as air conditioners, printers and even toys.

The two main types of stepper motor are referred to as ‘unipolar’ and ‘bipolar’. The latter only have four wires whereas the unipolar version may have five, six or even eight wires.

There are a variety of popular beginner projects involving stepper motors. These include setting up a stepper motor with Arduino microcontrollers. These clever devices enable the hobbyist to programme and then control certain functions.

For example, using a stepper motor, an Arduino board and a few LEDs you can set up your own blinking light show! This is often a common starting place and attraction for many enthusiasts.

As already hinted at, one of the main advantages of using a stepper motor is precisely the control you can exhibit. Because of the way it’s ‘steps’ function, the speed can be managed and effectively programmed by the user.

And with often no requirement for a feedback mechanism to dictate positioning, stepper motors are ideal for use in open-loop position control applications.  On an industrial scale and simply for those pursuing their electronics hobby, stepper motors have become an invaluable piece of kit.

They are remarkably simplistic, requiring only an electronic current to drive rotation. This process in itself can be controlled to the degree as, like the name suggests, the motors move in ‘steps’. In addition, stepper motors are incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of different ways.

When building any control system, commercially or just for fun, stepper motors are ideal. They are compatible with…

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