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Old Apr 03, 2011, 07:02 PM
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TI Brushless Motor Controller Reference Design

Hi, I thought I'd post a quick note on a product from TI called their "Reference Design Kit for Brushless Motors" (part number RDK-BLDC).

This is available from digikey. It's a bit pricey at around $250, but it comes with everything you could ever want if you were thinking of building a brushless motor controller, or if you just want to study and tweak in a turnkey environment: Full schematics, ~20W power supply, full source, debug utilities, a sensored brushless motor, a debug board, ethernet debuggin, a free compiler, and very, very good documentation.

It works with both sensored and sensorless motors. The control SW has PID loops to allow you to set constant RPM, constant power, ramp rates, fault conditions, etc.

The motor controller is a part from a company called Stellaris that TI bought a while back (I'd not heard of them before this). The part is a new 50 MHz ARM M3 core, one of the first to ship the 32-bit M3 core. Dev tools look good. I downloaded a demo compiler from Keil that seems to be able to build, but I haven't flashed any changes yet.

In any case, I just have the demo up and running. This is a very, very cool dev kit they have put together. In the capture below, you can see the motor is set to constant RPM mode (given the 50 Hz timing on the hall effect sensor). If you load the motor, it slows a bit and the current picks up and it goes back to 50 Hz. When you let go, it bounces like a spring. Not sure why phases C LO and B HI are inactive. If you stop and restart the motor, there is another pair that are inactive. But as noted, the docs are plentiful, and the printer has a new cartridge of toner, so I'll learn this soon enough.

In the second shot, you can the transition as it switches phases and see the PWM activity more clearly. Loading the motor causes the widths to widen, as you'd expect, to let more current flow and increase the torque.

Overall, an invaluable learning tool with massive amounts of documentation to get deep into brushless motors controllers.
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