Comments: Big Easy Driver Hookup Guide

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  • -------------------- Tech Support Tips/Troubleshooting/Common Issues --------------------

    Compatible Stepper Motors with Example Code

    The Big Easy Driver was able to work with the 68 oz.in and 125oz.in stepper motor. Testing it with a variable benchtop power supply at 9V/2A, I was able to get it working with both the old bildr turorial's example one_stepper_example.ino provided in one of the old bildr tutorials http://bildr.org/2012/11/big-easy-driver-arduino/ and the example code that was provided in theSparkFun hookup guide => https://github.com/sparkfun/Big_Easy_Driver/blob/Hw-v1.6_Fw-v1.0/Firmware/SparkFun_Big_Easy_Driver_Basic_Demo/SparkFun_Big_Easy_Driver_Basic_Demo.ino . The maximum that I saw the power supply pull was around 1.9A briefly when the potentiometer was adjusted to the maximum current.

    Note that you must send numbers through the serial terminal in order to move the stepper motor with the SparkFun example code . Also, both example codes use different pin connections so make sure that you are connecting the board to your Arduino correctly.

    Power Supply

    Make sure that your power supply is stable. Unstable power supplies will cause the stepper motor driver to blow out. The ripple and spikes in voltage probably causes the IC to work harder and will blow out from the feedback.

    Powering Logic Side

    In one case, a customer had cut the APWR trace. Make sure that you apply voltage to the driver's logic circuit if the trace has been cut. For a 5V Arduino, applying 5V from the Vcc was sufficient.

    Humming/Buzzing Noises and Stepper Motor Not Moving?

    You might need to adjust the potentiometer to provide more power to the stepper motor. There is a current adjust would be the best to allow more current to the stepper motor. The stepper motor should be able to run more smoothly (assuming you have enough power from your power supply) after adjusting the potentiometer. You would need a precision, flat head screw driver. Make sure to adjust the potentiometer slowly. Applying too much force and turning it too much can damage the component. It does not take much to damage the potentiometer.

    Heat Sink

    You do not need a heat sink to get the board working with the 68 oz.in or 125oz.in stepper motor. I was able to get it working without the need to add a heat sink. The ground plane on the back of the board is sufficient to get it working. The board would get hot to the touch but it was able to run without any issues. It might be recommended for long term use so that the IC will not be damaged from the excessive heat and have it run more efficiently.

    Solder Joints

    Make sure that you have good solder joints. Any loose connections between your stepper motor and the channels of the stepper motor driver can damage the IC. In general, if there is a loose connection when the coils of the stepper motor are energized and connected to the channels, there will be a feedback that will fry the stepper motor's IC.

    Damaged Driver?

    The development/breakout boards that are produced by SparkFun are usually tested on a pogobed https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/constant-innovation-in-quality-control and inspected by a technician for quality control before they are packaged and sent out. This reduces the chance that a bad board was sent out.

    If you had a loose connection or a bad power supply and the stepper motor is not running (after checking the power supply, potentiometer, example code, and connections to your microcontroller), it's possible that the driver was damaged. If you are able to move the stepper motor's shaft and the board's IC or GND plane gets extremely hot to the touch, the board might have been damaged. In extreme cases, the IC blows out from having a loose connection.

    In one case, a driver was damaged. The stepper motor was not driving and the board would get hot to the touch. Checking the voltage regulator, there was a short caused by the fried A4988 driver IC. The board was able to function after removing and replacing the driver IC.

  • Hi, complete newbie here and was wondering if I can drive 3 x Big easy driver of 1 Arduino board to function identically. My 2nd questions is, can I use Cat5 cable between Arduino and Big easy driver for signaling only (power supplied from separate cable.) over a distance of 3 meters (around 9 foot).

    Many Thanks

    Thanks

    Ash

  • I'm new to stepper motors.

    I changed the delay(stepValue) functions below to delayMicroseconds(stepValue); and it smoked the board. Any idea why?

    digitalWrite(stp,HIGH); //Trigger one step forward

    delay(stepValue);

    digitalWrite(stp,LOW); //Pull step pin low so it can be triggered again

    delay(stepValue);

  • Newby here. 1. What is the difference between connecting the motor/power in to the first set of connections Top row and the second set as in the example picture? 2. If A corresponds to 1 motor pair (coil) and B to the other, shouldn't the picture show Red/yellow on A and Grey/Green on B? Any clarification is appreciated. Referred pictures here: https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/big-easy-driver-hookup-guide

    NOTE: This is the motor I'm using https://cdn-shop.adafruit.com/product-files/324/C140-A+datasheet.jpg So I assume that the color code in the example mentioned (https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/big-easy-driver-hookup-guide) does not reflects a exact match to my motor (For some reason I though the example was the same motor) So I think the wiring just has to match YOUR motor.

    EDIT: Answers found 1. The Big Easy Driver is designed around the Allegro A4988 motor driver. Each pin present on the board has two connection points. The first, which are the pins closest to the center of the board, are spaced out to fit standard 0.1" headers. The secondary connection points are closest to the edge of the board, and are spaced to fit 2-pin screw terminals. You can use whichever pin connections work best for your project. Functionality between the two sets does not change.

    Thanks.

  • Ultimate beginner here, in this instance where does the input come from? What is setting the pins from low to high?

    • I agree with Toni, but I'd like to add a few things. That input can really come from anywhere. Typically it comes from a microcontroller, but you could also sit there with a wire connected to VCC and tap the input by hand and watch it move. You could attach it to a spinning wheel so that every rotation caused a connection and a step, etc. You can even setup a 555 timer (an antique IC that outputs a pulse that people either love or hate). But 99.9% of the time one should always listen to Toni. The Arduino Uno (or SparkFun Redboard) is a great place to start. Most of our example code is designed for this board and it is a great learning platform. As a beginner you might want to check out the SparkFun Inventor's Kit or the Mini SparkFun Inventor's Kit that walk you through the basics of the SparkFun Redboard. If you already have some of the components or just don't want to buy the kit feel free to check out the manual which is online as well. You can also learn quite a bit from just reading it even without a board in front of you.

    • That's a great question! The inputs to the Big Easy Driver have to come from a microcontroller. We typically recommend using an Arduino Uno for beginners as there is a lot of example code for getting started. Any of the code in this tutorial is designed to work with an Uno.

  • I would like to see a version of the Big Easy Driver handle 4 amps and have terminals connections for everything on the board including an external pot. It would be nice to keep the Dir and Step as is to keep things simple. I would have liked to have bought one of your other boards but it was controlled by SPI or something like that. I don't understand that type of connection enough to be able to use it. It is much simpler for me to keep things simple with the way the Big Easy Driver board hooks up;

    I just bought 2 more big easy driver boards and got out all my terminals but none of the types I have fits. Is there anything that fits these boards? If you sell them what is the part number(s). Looks like it would take more then one size of terminal. Thanks. d

    • Sorry about that! Thought those got linked in originally. You'll want to use 3.5mm screw terminals, such as these.


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