Stepper motor driver IC simplifies control & is CPU-independent

July 14, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Motion control company Trinamic (Hamburg, Germany) has a stepper motor drive IC architected for ease of use: applications include 3D printing. Seven pins initialise and set parameters, and the device includes Trinamic’s stealthChop technology, which virtually eliminates driver noise at low speeds and standstill.

The single-axis stepper motor control and driver IC, TMC2100, has integrated MOSFETs to drive RMS motor current to 1.2A; it is distinguished by the simplicity of its setup and operation. Configuring seven pins on the IC enables parameterisation and feature selection for typical motor applications, without any required intervention by a host CPU.

“Developers are under constant pressure to reduce design cycles and deliver products to market,” explained Trinamic CEO and founder Michael Randt. “Our new TMC2100 was specifically designed to address this overriding commercial requirement. Eliminating the need for many external components and for CPU software coding to setup and parameterise the motor drive means designers can get their systems ready for deployment with seven quick decisions implemented directly on the PCB.”

The TMC2100 offers up to 256 micro-steps per full step to maximise rotational precision. The stealthChop IP employs voltage mode PWM technology to almost completely eliminate motor noise at low-speed and standstill. Noise reduction is especially welcome in office and lab applications, where motors work in close proximity to human operators.

Early adopters include the open-source 3D printer "maker" community. Low-cost TMC2100 breakout boards - "SilentStepStick”, compatible with the popular StepStick motor drives used for 3D printers, are already in the market.

The TMC2100 is capable of complete standalone operation, with motion controlled through Step, Direction and Enable pins. A sister IC, the TMC2130, offers additional flexibility and features, including full diagnostics linked through a standard SPI interface.

Both devices are available today in a QFN36 (5 x 6 mm) package. The devices are priced at $2.30 (1000). An evaluation kit, reference source code, reference layout and free, intuitive desktop development and evaluation software are also available.