STEP400

by Ponoor Experiments

A 4-axis stepper motor driver for creative coders

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of $3,500 goal

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Product Choices

$300

STEP400

A STEP400 board and four motor connectors


$30

Electromagnetic Brake Board

A control board for stepper motors with an electromagnetic brake. To use this board, a motor with an electromagnetic brake is required and is not included.


$5

Sensor Cable

Pre-crimped, ready-to-go sensor cable for connecting to the 4 homing and 4 limit sensor inputs on the STEP400 board. Includes one cable.

Details

Recent Updates


As Featured In

STEP400 is part of the Microchip Get Launched design program.

STEP400 is a stepper motor driver board capable of controlling up to 4 axes. STEP400 elegantly combines all the necessary functions, from communication to motor control, into a simple and complete package. STEP400 uses Open Sound Control (OSC), which based on standard Ethernet rather than a specialized industrial protocols, to achieve ease of use while ensuring that it is reliable enough for use in art, design, or any other creative applications. STEP400 can be easily controlled by creative coding environments such as openFrameworks, Processing, Max, Unity, or Touch Designer. STEP400 is compatible with Arduino so you can drive motors with your own code, too.

Functionality

  • STEP400 can drive 4 motors, from tiny to high powered ones. It uses STMicroelectronics PowerSTEP01 as driver chips.
  • A single OSC command can generate positioning motion or constant speed rotation.
  • Two drive modes are available: a smooth and accurate voltage mode, and powerful current mode, which can be used to drive high speeds.

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  • An open loop servo mode is available to track the target position stream in real time, like an RC servo.
  • A simple configuration tool generates a readable JSON file, which can be loaded via a microSD card.
  • Ethernet connectivity allows for the system to be easily scaled up.

Born From The Needs Of Real Projects

STEP400 comes out of a number of projects we have done with stepper motors. We initially built the system using a combination of DIY modules, but as the system scaled up, the wiring became chaotic, causing all sorts of problems due to the unstable connections between modules and the length of the digital signal path.

After some struggles while working on projects, we realized that we should design a dedicated driver board that would put together everything we needed. Prototypes of STEP400 were created for our own purpose and have been used, tested and validated in a wide variety of real-world projects.

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Photos courtesy of TASKO Inc, anno lab, invisi., and dot by dot inc.

STEP400 In Action

Here are some examples of projects created with prototype versions of this board:

dot by dot | Flower Mirror

invisi. | Medium

WOW | Emerge

Open Sound Control (OSC) Protocol

The standard way of controlling stepper motors is with industrial Ethernet, which lacks compatibility with general network devices as well as open specification. This makes it more time-consuming than necessary to use it for any purpose other than factory automation.

Since STEP400 is a stepper motor driver designed specifically for creative applications, it uses the simple and easy-to-use OSC protocol to solve this issue. Open Sound Control (OSC) is an open-ended, dynamic, UDP-based protocol with a URL-style symbolic naming scheme . It is widely used in the field of electronic music and new media art.

Control of STEP400 involves Arduino Zero and Ethernet shield elements. You are free to decide how to control it. For instance, you could rewrite the Arduino sketch to be controlled by Artnet or WebSocket, or by basic USB serial data.

Refer this update for demo videos of OSC control from several programing environments.

Add-On Options

Electromagnetic Brake Board Add-On

An optional control board for stepper motors with an electromagnetic brake is available. It is easy to connect to the main board. An electromagnetic brake is only unlocked when the power is energized, so it can safely hold the load when the system shuts down or the power supply is unexpectedly cut off. To use this board, a motor with an electromagnetic brake is required and is not included.

Sensor Cable Add-On

The homing and limiting sensor connectors are JST XA. This style of connection is handy, readily available, and easy to attach, detach, and extend.

It is, however, necessary to crimp the terminals to the cable if you are making this connector at home. Crimping the terminals requires a bit of experience and some tools, which can be a hurdle for smaller projects. Because of this we are providing a cable with a connector crimped on one end as an add-on option. The other end of the cable is cut off and can be used to solder any sensor or switch.

Features & Specifications

  • MCU: Microchip ATSAMD21G18A
  • Ethernet controller: Wiznet W5500
  • Stepper driver: STMicroelectronics PowerSTEP01
  • DC-DC converter: ROHM BD9G341AEFJ
  • Axes: 4
  • Applicable motor: Bi-polar stepper motor
  • Input voltage: 12-72 V
  • Maximum phase current: 5 A (under ideal conditions)
  • Power input terminal: M3 screw terminal
  • Stepper output terminal: 3.81 mm euro style terminal block
  • Sensor input terminal: 8 JST XA (B03B-XASK-1)

STEP400 Board Layout

NumberDescription
1MCU, ATSAMD21G18A, Works as Arduino Zero.
2USB type-C for the USB connection of the MCU and logic power supply.
3Ethernet controller W5500. Compatible with the Arduino Ethernet Library.
4RJ45 connector with magnetics for Ethernet connection.
5microSD card slot. A JSON configuratin file can be loaded from here.
6HOME sensor or switch input with 5V power output. JST XA (B03B-XASK-1)
7LIMIT sensor or switch input with 5V power output. JST XA (B03B-XASK-1)
83.81mm pitch Euro style pluggable terminal block for bi-polar stepper motor.
9Stepper driver chip, STMicroelectronics PowerSTEP01.
1016MHz crystal oscillator to synchronize all driver’s clock.
115V to 3.3V LDO
12Step down buck converter. Input range : 12V to 75V, output 5V. ROHM BD9G341AEFJ
13P-MOSFET for reverse polarity protection.
14Power input screw terminal, 3mm screw. Input voltage range : 12-72V
15DC jack, 5.5mm/2.1mm, center positive. Connected in parallel with #14.
16DIP switch to set ID.
17SWD connector to program SAMD chip.
18A box header for the add-on brake board, or for general I/O purposes.

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Each STEP400 board will come with four motor connectors.

Comparisons

STEP400 SlushEngine Model DWiFi Stepper
Number of axis4 71
Motor DriverPowerSTEP01 L6480 x3, L6470 x4PowerSTEP01
Input Voltage12-72V 9-35V9-80V
Output Current5A 20A for L648010A
ControllerATSAMD21G18A N/A (external)ESP8266
Develop EnvironmentArduino Raspberry PiArduino
ConnectivityEthernet SPIWiFi
Sensor InputHome, Limit HomeHome
Price$300 $99$65

Development History

We originally developed a board to control eight small stepper motors. STEP400 was based on this design with a goal to control fewer, yet larger, motors. With this project, we aim to deliver a production version based on our current prototype. The original board that controls the eight motors will continue to be developed as a separate model called STEP800.

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Open Source Support & Documentation


Credits

Ponoor Experiments

A big fun of electronics and magnets, explore them with many ways. 15+ years experience for kinetic projects in art, music and design engineering.


Kanta HORIO

Taiki Niimi

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