ebm-papst K4 Motor System Development Kit - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: ebm-papst K4 Motor System Development Kit

Author: redcharly

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: No one

What were the biggest problems encountered?: No problems

Detailed Review:


When I read on the site that it was possible to submit an application to participate in this roadtest, I did not miss the opportunity.

I have already done roadtests concerning motors, in particular two relating to TRINAMIC products using stepper motors.

This ebmpapst kit is an opportunity to deepen my knowledge of BLDC motors and to create simple applications that can be created and tested at school with my students.

Here is a video that summarizes my work.





 Hardware Description

The "K4 Drive System Development Kit" consists of 5 hardware components.

  • K4 Switch Box
  • ECI-63.40 or VDC-3-49.15 Motor (-002 and -003 kit versions only)
  • RS485 adapter
  • USB-A to USB-B cable
  • RS485 connection wires


1. K4 Switch Box

It is the most important component of the kit. It allows you to control the motor using different inputs. At the top right we find the 2 connectors for the power supply.

From the datasheet, we see that the voltage to be used must be equal to or slightly higher than the motor rating. In the case of the kit I am using, I will use a 24V power supply.

Two fuses protect both the switch box and the motor and are easily accessible on the top of the switch box.

On the right, we find the 18-pole connector for the motor. It makes immediate the use of ebmpapst motors that mount it by default but we can also connect other motors respecting, however, the connection diagram provided in the manual of the K4 switch box.

On the left we find a 10-pole connector that has many functions:

  • the first two allow the Motor V and Logic V voltages to be measured in real-time
  • then there are 3 output pins from which user-specified digital information can be obtained,
  • 2 pins allow you to connect an external analog signal for motor control
  • the last 2 are used to connect the USB-RS485 adapter.

Finally, we have 4 switches which have three positions, top (static-on), center (static-off), bottom (button), and which can be configured by the user using the software.

The last control on the K4 switch box is a linear potentiometer that allows the user to supply an analog voltage ranging from 0V to 10V as a control input.

The switch box is made in a compact and robust case and uses quality components, there are also LEDs to simplify its use and all connectors are easily accessible and usable.

2. VDC-49.15.K4 Motor

The motor contained in the kit is powered at 24V and has a maximum power of 100W.

It is already connected to the 18-pin connector which is used for connection to the K4 switch box.

The motor, in addition to overload protection, also has Hall Effect sensors to have a continuous reading of the position and can be controlled by means of the RS485 protocol.

motor schematics

3.  RS485 adapter

The driver installation for the USB-RS485 adapter is normally carried out automatically the first time the device is connected to a Windows 7 and above PC.

If this is not the case, you can download (www.cti-shop.com/treiber/) and install the device driver for the USB-RS485 adapter.

Software description

As for the software, the "K4 Drive System Development Kit" uses a very light and easy-to-use program. Its name is "driveSTUDIO".

It can be downloaded from the link: http://info.ebmpapst.us/drivestudio-download and is a .zip file of about 900kB.

By unpacking the file, a folder, an executable, and a configuration file are extracted. Just run the .exe file to start the program.

The software is simple to use, it allows access to dozens of parameters that can be modified by the user to set a well-defined behavior to the engine.

I have used this software for many hours doing different tests on the engine and have noticed that it sometimes crashes and forces the user to close it from the task manager.

The driveSTUDIO user interface is divided into these areas:

  1. Menu bar: it is the classic menu bar thanks to which you can open previously saved projects or save those created, change the main settings, export data relating to position, speed, and acceleration, instant by instant both in graphic format and in the form of data file. The possible operations are essentially what you need.
  2. Modes: the software has 3 different modes, the first, DEMO, shows in real-time the current, temperature, speed, and position relative to the motor. The motor can also be controlled using the graphical interface to set speed, acceleration, direction, maximum current, etc. The second, PARAMETERS, is the mode in which it is possible to configure in a very detailed and precise way all the electrical and mechanical parameters relating to the motor. The third, SERVICE, allows you to reset to factory conditions and update the switch box and motor firmware.
  3. Status Area: this part of the software shows information relating to the type of device connected (device id and order number), information on the serial communication between the K4 switch box and motor, and information on the current conditions of the motor (speed, position, acceleration, temperature, etc.). There are checkboxes that allow you to choose which quantities will be graphically displayed in the Display area section.
  4. Working Area: The working area shows the relevant selected mode with tabs and groups that can be expanded or hidden.
  5. Display area: includes two tabs, the first is used to show the measured values from the drive graphically, the second area shows the logs (information, errors, and warnings are listed here with a timestamp).

Using driveSTUDIO

The steps for configuring the hardware and for installing and using the software are well described in a pdf file.

It is necessary to pay close attention to the power supply voltage and to the sequence of operations to be carried out for the correct functioning of the kit.

As soon as the software is started, after having powered the engine, it will be necessary to connect to it using the correct COM port.

Once the connection has been made, the engine ID will be displayed and, from that moment on, we can use the engine by controlling it with the K4 switch box.

We can use the kit in different ways, in the following we will see some of them.


The motor can be speed controlled by setting the desired speed with a suitable slider.

A positive sign corresponds to a movement in a clockwise direction, a negative sign corresponds to a counterclockwise rotation, the range of speeds allowed varies from 0 to 5000 rpm.

The control can also be carried out in position, by setting in the appropriate textbox the value of the distance to be traveled starting from the current position and it is possible to rotate the motor both clockwise and anticlockwise. Each complete revolution of the engine corresponds to 65535 counts and the engine has an accuracy of a few hundred counts with respect to the target position.

In the Display Area we can view the graphs of a lot of signals, for example Position, Velocity, Current, Digital Inputs and Digital Outputs, Analog Inputs  and Analog Outputs, Temperature and a Status Register. It may be useful to refine the software by adding multiple windows to view multiple signals at the same time without seeing them overlapping. In fact, it makes little sense to have, for example, velocity, current, and temperature in the same graph! And furthermore, since all the signals share the same y axis, if we display the position, which can assume very high values, all the other quantities will be hardly distinguishable and will be confused with the x axis.

There are two radio buttons that allow you to choose the engine control mode. By selecting Digital Inputs, the user can control the motor using external inputs or by acting on the potentiometer in the Control Box. By selecting Service Interface, the motor can be controlled by acting on two sliders to set the speed and current and by clicking two buttons (clockwise and anticlockwise motion) and one to perform relative movements by setting a numerical value to the position (clockwise movements with positive and counterclockwise with negative values)

The Parameters tab allows you to act on many parameters and allows a very fine tuning of the motor motion. We can act on general parameters, for example the maximum and minimum voltage accepted, or on the parameters most closely associated with the movement of the motor, in particular we can act on position, speed and acceleration with a high degree of configurability. For example, we can assign different values to acceleration and deceleration both clockwise and counterclockwise, fix maximum speed or current values and vary the constants KI and KP of the controller. To modify a parameter you must first click on Read to view the current parameters, modify those you want to change, write the modifications to RAM memory by clicking on Write and save them using the Save button.

It is also possible to use the Driving Set drop-down menu to choose one of the predefined modes. Each of them corresponds to a different behavior of the two switches IN1 and IN2 and, consequently, a different type of motor control.

A small thing to fix in the software is the translation of the parameters in the last tab (Parameters) which are written in German even though English has been chosen for the software.

By acting on the parameters, it is possible to realize the classic triangular or trapezoidal type control, by setting the initial, maximum and final speeds and the accelerations and decelerations.

In the video in this roadtest you can see some of the ways to use the kit.



It was great to work on this kit and I can't wait to take it to school for my students to use. The engine is really impressive in its features and the Control Box is a great control tool. This kit is ideal for introducing students to the use and configuration of an electric motor and "hides" all the control electronics, making it easy to use even by those who do not have great knowledge of electronics.

The protection against overvoltages and overcurrents make this kit very versatile and robust and is therefore suitable not only for industrial activities but also for laboratory teaching activities.

Thanks to ebm-papst and to Element14.com.

Carlo Russo