Quick-start kit packages BLDC vector control

September 25, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
With STMicroelectronics’ STM32 Motor-Control Nucleo Pack, you can “plug and spin” brushless DC motors in, “just a few seconds” - the company promises. The $35 starter kit plus free-of-charge software algorithm aims to help engineers and hobbyists implement efficient vector control in a very short time for motor-driven projects such as drones, appliances, E-bikes, home-automation, health care, and industrial machinery.

The P-NUCLEO-IHM001 Motor-Control Nucleo Pack in combination with software elements from the STM32 Motor Control Ecosystem enables users to ‘plug and spin’ synchronous motors without any dedicated skills or additional equipment. The pack contains an STM32 F3 Nucleo microcontroller board, plug-in 48V/1.4A motor-driver board based on the STSPIN L6230 motor-driver IC, and a low-voltage brushless motor.

After connecting the boards and motor, the motor is ready to run using the sample trapezoidal (6-step) or sinusoidal (field-oriented control or FOC) control algorithms that are pre-loaded on the microcontroller. With the motor running, users can compare and understand control techniques, and then customise the controller (in the FOC mode) by changing settings with MC WORKBENCH configurator and code generator.

The free, PC-based MC WORKBENCH tool simplifies customising motor-control libraries (STSW-STM32100), and can also help the user set up a different motor or a different driver board from ST’s Motor Control Ecosystem. The latest library version (v4.2) introduces a “Motor Profiler”, which automatically detects the motor parameters for self-configuration of the motor-control library with no additional equipment needed, and “One-Touch Tuning” that simplifies adjustment for load and inertia over a wide speed range.

The STM32F302 microcontroller in the Motor-Control Nucleo Pack has high arithmetic performance with its DSP extensions for feedback-loop control and integrates peripherals including a dedicated motor-control timer, op-amp, and comparators. The pre-loaded sample algorithms are standard firmware from ST’s motor-control library and STM32Cube tool, and can be customised as required. Like the entire motor-control library, they are available in source code free of charge and can be used on most STM32 devices and various hardware boards.