Evaluation Type: Electromechanical
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?: At this time, I dont know any other such complete and custom solution for such applications.
What were the biggest problems encountered?: Since is a prototype kit, not yet in production, there were some issues with the documentation, as in some cases is not clear enough, but however not a big problem in the final at least for me. Also some weird vibrations of the motor at a given relatively low speeds.
I am deeply grateful to element14 community, especially to Randall Scasny, who selected me to test this kit from Trinamic. Also many thanks to Lisa from Trinamic who provided me the encoder cable to play with this kit.
The TMC5161-EVAL-KIT arrived as it is presented in figure 1. And is made from: a bipolar stepper motor, the TMC5161 low power Driver & Controller IC board and the The Landungsbrücke board. Its documentation links are relative easy to be find on their website, hence I will not advertise it.
Figure 1 The TMC5161-EVAL-KIT and its containing parts
The encoder cable was not included in the package but Trinamic provided the missing cable which however was not complete, as some soldering was needed, see figure 2. Also maybe some labeling of the signals can be good practice for future tester and developers.
Figure 2 The encoder cable and its bare wires
Is it a really nice hardware design, but I will would replace that bulky THT capacitors with small ones, even maybe some smaller ones but in parallel to fulfill the needed capacitance.
My setup, as it is shown in figure 3, is wired to a power supply which gave me the ability to monitor the power consumption of the whole system.
Figure 3 A close-up of the setup
When first connected the system to the PC, I got an error regarding the firmware version, which was outdated (figure 4), hence I had to update its firmware before starting, figure 5.
Figure 4 "Older firmware detected" error
Figure 5 Updating the firmware
For testing, I chose to play a little by with the GUI and not having the encoder cable connected to the stepper motor. First I have programmed the motor to rotate in a direction to reach its maximum speed with a low-to-medium acceleration. At low speed I notice some weird vibrations, which were present there even if I rotate the motor in the other direction. See the next video with the testing, and notice the power consumption and the motor speed is increasing.
2.1.Tests with the encoder cable
To be added in the next days.
In the past, I have designed my own hardware from scratch without any dedicated ICs to control stepper motors for small power applications. I haven't worked before with a such complete and dedicated solution to control a stepper motor, it has all the things you need to control such motors embedded in their hardware, while with their software you can do a lot of complex tasks and tests. However, since is a prototype, I expect that they will do some upgrades both in hardware and software for future versions of this solution. Also, I have seen a few bugs while trying to spin the motor in the software GUI which were mitigated only with the restart of the whole setup including the USB connection and the software.
I hope they plan to start production world wide soon as I am thinking to use such drivers in a 2 axis control application, fully controlled and monitored by and FPGA-based solution. Also, I have seen in all of my stepper motor applications which weren't equipped with the encoders,that if at high speeds the rotor is somehow blocked, it cannot be recovered with the present control sequence even in this case. Maybe Trinamic will find a solution to sense and mitigation for this issue in the future. Or maybe it already exist and I am not aware of it....
Also, I think that some additional features can be implemented in future hardware revisions like voltage, current and motor temperature monitoring. They can be useful in complex applications.
To element14 community, I am really sorry with the delay of my review, but I have had a very unexpected busy summer and I didnt manage to get my whole testing plan in action, but however I plan to update this review in the near future.