Based on the TMC5160 stepper motor controller, the TMC5160 SilentStepStick is a tiny breakout board that can drive motors up to 3A phase current at 35V.

The TMC5160 motion controller and driver chip is designed to interface between a CPU and a high power stepper motor. All stepper motor logic is completely within the TMC5160, with no software required to control the motor.

The IC supports a motor supply voltage range of 8V to 60V and features a resolution of 256 microsteps per full step. It represents an extension of the capabilities of the Trinamic TMC2100, TMC2130, and TMC5130 family to higher voltages and higher motor currents.

 

The TMC5160-WA. Image from Trinamic

 

The IC incorporates single-wire-UART and SPI communication interfaces. It combines a flexible ramp generator for automatic target positioning with what is claimed to be the industry’s most advanced stepper motor driver. The TMC5160 is available in a 9 x 9 mm2 TQFP48 package or an 8 x 8 mm² QFN package.

 

Advanced Control Technologies Incorporated with the TMC5160

StealthChop: Silencing Stepper Motors

StealthChop is a voltage chopper-based principle that claims absolutely quiet operation in standstill or slow motion.

Motors operating at low speeds exhibit a phenomenon known as magnetostriction, which causes audible high-pitch noise. Based on the current feedback, the StealthChop regulates voltage modulation to minimize current fluctuation.

This capability is relevant for applications such as 3D printing, desktop manufacturing, and personal medical devices where audible noise is unacceptable.

 

StallGuard: Sensorless Load Measurement for Stepper Motors

StallGuard is said to be the first sensorless load measurement capability embedded in a standard stepper driver. It monitors the load by measuring electrical energy flowing in and out of motors and how much energy returns to the power supply. This is important because the motor will likely stall when no energy remains.

 

Block diagram of the TMC5160. Image from Trinamic. Click to enlarge.

 

Additionally, StallGuard provides real-time feedback on the load angle and eliminates the need for reference or end switches. The IC was specially designed for situations when precise referencing is required and when an application requires high-resolution feedback and continuous system condition monitoring.

 

TMC5160 SilentStepStick Specs

The TMC5160 SilentStepStick is an IC Breakout board built around the TMC5160. Features Include:

  • Step/Dir and SPI interface
  • Configuration via SPI or CFG pins
  • Up to 256x microstepping
  • 3 to 5V logic supply voltage
  • For 10V to 35V motors with up to 3.0A RMS
  • Standby current reduction
  • Board width is 0.6 in. and length is 0.8 in.

 

The TMC5160 SilentStepStick. Image from Trinamic

 


 

One alternative is the STMicroelectronics STSPIN820, a silent stepper motor driver IC that also targets applications where silent stepper motors are mandatory. It operates over a 7 to 45V range with a maximum output of 1.5 Amps and features a resolution of 256 microsteps per full step. The IC comes in a 4 x 4 mm2 QFN package.

What's your experience with stepper motors? Any stories about needing to reduce noise in your design? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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