Bob Casiano

EMC/IOCAP Supervisor, CID


Micron Technology, Inc. Manage EMC Compliance testing at certified test facilities, perform EMC pre-compliance testing, Near-Field, conducted EMI, as well as RLC...

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TI’s New Brushless DC Motor Kit

Note from EEWeb: The winner of the Stellaris Motor Controller Kit is Marek Majewski! Congratulations Marek!

Today I am going to review a new brushless DC motor controller board from TI. I will give a brief overview of how I set this up as well as some tips for getting started.

TI Stellaris Motor Controller Kit

TI Stellaris Motor Controller Kit

The DRV8312 Digital Motor Controller kit contains everything you will need to use to develop your motor control solutions with TI’s InstaSPIN-BLDC solution, which is a topic for another blog.

Motor Controller Dev Kit

Motor Controller Dev Kit

The kit contains the following items:

  1. MDL-LM3S818CNCD controlCARD featuring a Stellaris® LM3S818 microcontroller
  2. DRV8312 DMC baseboard with slot for the controlCARD
  3. Brushless DC Motor, NEMA17
  4. 24V 2.5A DC Power Adapter, 110-240V AC input, USA power cable
  5. USB-miniB to USB-A plug cable (for debug and serial communication)
  6. ½-inch blue jumper wires (for bridging power)
  7. Development Kit Application and Documentation CD
  8. TI’s Code Composer Studio™ IDE CD
Motor Control Card

TI designed the LM3S818CNCD to work with the DRV83xx baseboard series of development kits. The LM3S818 is preprogrammed with the necessary firmware to be controlled by the quick start GUI that is included on the Stellaris Development Kit CD.

LM3S818CNCD Microcontroller Card

LM3S818CNCD Microcontroller Card

DRV83xx Baseboard

The DRV8312 Baseboard that comes with this development kit has a number of interesting features. First, it comes with an ISO controlCARD socket (100-pin DIMM). This slot is for the LM3S818 control card connectors to provide optional +12vdc supply for logic and gate drive power. A connector for the +24vdc power supply is provided in the kit with an alternative DC power supply. The DRV8312 three-phase PWM motor driver chip. Each half-bridge has a low-side shunt current sense as well as a reset switch. There is a mode jumper, M1, for configuring cycle-by-cycle current limit or latched over-current mode. Connections are provided for a quadrature encoder and for hall sensor feedback.

DRV8312 DMC Base Board

DRV8312 DMC Base Board

Using the Kit – hardware setup

Okay, it’s out of the box. Now, remove the baseboard from the ESD static bag. You are wearing your static wrist strap that is connected to an earth ground, right? Next, if the motor control card is not in the control card socket of the baseboard, insert the LM3S818 card into the socket labeled “Control Card Socket.” The control card is keyed to match the control card socket—can’t mess this up.

ATTENTION: There should not be a jumper or two jumpers plugged into the edge of the LM3S818 control card opposite of the edge connector. The jumpers should still be in a small zipped locked bag in one of the small pockets of the development kit box. Leave them there for now, they are for using the control card in stand-alone mode.

The kit comes with a NEMA size 17 BLDC motor. I read the DK-LM3S-DRV8312 Readme First document from TI, which is for connecting the motor to the DRB8312 baseboard. Refer to this document if you are having any motor startup issues. Using a slotted screwdriver, screw in the three 20 gauge wires into the Motor connector with labels: MOA (black), MOB (red) and MOC (yellow), there are 5 other cables (26awg) that I didn’t need to use this time. There is a USB_A to USB_mini-B cable included in the kit, remove the cable from the box. The mini-B side will plug into the USB connector provided on the LM3S818 control card while the standard USB_A side plugs into the USB port of your laptop or desktop system. There is a +24 vdc 2.5A DC power adapter with USA power cable for 110-240V AC input, pull this out of the box and plug into the DC bus 24V power jack located near the motor connector on the baseboard.

Connected to the Motor

Connected to the Motor

Using the Kit – software setup

With the Stellaris Development Kit CD, I installed it directly to the C-drive and nowhere else.

Stellaris Development Kit - Docs & SW

Stellaris Development Kit – Docs & SW

I noticed three new unknown drivers after plugging in the LM3S818 card into my laptop. With the Dev kit CD/DVD still in the DVD drive, I updated each unknown driver from the Dev kit CD/DVD. The GUI for controlling the motor control card is located in the following folder – C:\StellarisWare\AppNotes\sw01289\GUI. The filename is “Sandstorm_InstaSpin-BLDC-GUI_v102.exe”, I placed a shortcut on the desktop for easy access.

Sandstorm InstaSPIN BLDC Shortcut

Sandstorm InstaSPIN BLDC Shortcut

After initially starting up the GUI, I noticed there were three indicators at the bottom of the main tab of the program. They should be green if the PC and LM3S818 are talking to each other. That was not the case for me. To connect to the motor controller card you may have to “connect” the PC to the LM3S818 card. Selecting “connect” at the top of the GUI, two options are available: “Start Connection Wizard” and “Connect”. For a first time run, I selected the “Start Connection Wizard,” then “Connect to Engine.” In the lower left corner of the connection wizard window under “Targets” box, I selected the [-]Texas Instruments/CortexM:Stellaris M3 device/Generic Stellaris M3 device.” Under the “Transports and Connection Methods” box, I selected “serial,” then the “select” button at the bottom right corner. This window should automatically close. If all is well, the three indicators at the bottom of the program will turn green. To connect to the motor, selected “Enable Motor” in the lower left corner of the GUI window.

Sandstorm InstaSPIN BLDC GUI - Main Tab

Sandstorm InstaSPIN BLDC GUI – Main Tab

Now, to make some motor noises!! At this point, the motor is ready to do your bidding. There are three graphs that will display Flux, Van and Vag. The software uses a “sensorless” algorithm to calculate these values, which is why we only had to connect three wires. The other unused wires are for the hall sensor feedback. To enable, select the image of a waveform with a yellow colored gate overlayed. This will start a “continuous read” that will graph all three items I listed. The settings tab will allow you to make changes to Startup Duty Cycle, Startup Current, Velocity Limit and a couple of other parameters to fine tune the motor control.

Sandstorm InstaSPIN BLDC GUI - Settings Tab

Sandstorm InstaSPIN BLDC GUI – Settings Tab

I found I could get from out of the box to controlling the motor in about 15 minutes, versus the hour or so reading all the documentation. However, that is probably why it only took 15 minutes to setup. The GUI that comes with the DRV8312 development kit can go a long way to helping the motor driver engineer get to their ideal motor control settings in a short period of time.

Nice development kit, relatively easy to setup and use.

Tags: stepper motor, motor kit, Texas Instruments,

Comments on this post:

Mike Burr
By Mike Burr (+30) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  Nice review!
The GUI interface make it look like the ability to configure specific control regimes will be easier than doing only math and dropping in numbers and testing.

A kit like that might be able to configure a minuatrized version of a conveyor belt and pusher, to do some testing with our metal detectors. This givems me some ideas.

Thank you for such a thorough review.

Fredrik Nyman

2 years ago:  What a great review. Can the board/kit drive multiple motors?

David Proffer
By David Proffer (0) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  Nice demo board and good intro videos by Bob and Dave. I would like to get one of the boards to demo in the high school electronics and robotics class I'm giving this summer. Good to be able to show the students the progression from hobbyist level to professional tools, products and equipment. They are trying a little back EMF as part of their Botball robotics competition right now, these folks really set some great education targets for high schoolers learning robotics. Love Dave's motor, always great to have motors that growl in a good way ;-)

Babeanu Daniel

2 years ago:  Very good kit and very good presentation. This is a must have kit for a student and not only. Everyone could use one ,you don;t get bored.The user interface looks great and easy to work with,you don;t have to do all the calculation wich takes time.. Thx

Bob Casiano
By Bob Casiano (+26) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  Thank you all for your comments.

As far as how many motors the DRV8312 dev kit can control, that would be one. However, the DRV8312 baseboard is just the motor driver. I'm assuming the LM3S818 control card can be designed into a system with multiple motor drivers, or use the LM3S818 in a PCB design that has multiple drivers included. I'll look into this and post what I find later.

John Albers
By John Albers (+2) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  Nice review, looks like a really good kit to get beginners' hand's dirty.

Bruce Moore
By Bruce Moore (0) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  These Tools are Nice, and As a beginner, I would like to take a much closer look.

Hendrik Lipka
By Hendrik Lipka (0) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  With 299 dollars, it's not exactly cheap. I hope that you get a full version of Code Composer studio with it (even if it is board-locked).

Todd Hayden
By Todd Hayden (+51) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  Please enter me in the raffle, I would be interested in experimenting with this eval kit. Nice work on the youtube video showing the kit!

Kvks kumar
By Kvks kumar (+2) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  This is a great review and I think it would be a great kit to own. Even its gui is too good. I would like to experiment with new things and I think this would be a great one to start with. I would like to own one such kit to start working out with and experiment with..

Norman Chahuares

2 years ago:  Yeah $299 is not cheap. But you can use it to evaluate other uC like the Picollo C2000, just add a $50 coltrolCARD and you can swap uC.

Jason Bishop
By Jason Bishop (0) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  Great review..this looks perfect to test a new project I am working on.

Robert Glodt
By Robert Glodt (0) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  Looks nice for some initial testing and development. Thanks for the review!

Dave Wilson
By Dave Wilson (0) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  Follow-up on the question about whether the 8312 kit can control multiple motors: The DRV8312 is designed to drive one BLDC motor. But it can also drive a 2-phase stepper motor in microstep mode if you tie two of the coil terminals together and connect them to the third 8312 output. Or, it can drive multiple DC motors under certain limited conditions. You can achieve this without having to make any hardware modifications to the kit. However, the software and GUI that come with the kit are designed to control only one BLDC motor.

Regarding the LM3S818 control card, Bob is correct. Since the PWM module on the LM3S818 is so flexible, it can be configured to drive multiple brush DC motors, or even multiple BLDC motors under limited conditions.

For a tutorial on how InstaSPIN-BLDC actually works, you can watch another video that I did at:

Bob Casiano
By Bob Casiano (+26) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  Thank you Dave for following up on my questions. Appreciated it.

And I thank all readers for their comments and questions.

Dennis Bauer
By Dennis Bauer (+2) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  Interesting have to look up the specs of the motor though

Mark Majewski

2 years ago:  Hi.
This is my first post...
I'm very interested a TI news...
If i get this free demo stuff :-) i have place to put it and test it :-D
I made robots, and working on prothetic arms and legs ...

If i can ... please send :-)

B rgds

Bob Casiano
By Bob Casiano (+26) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  Hello all,

I just got a response to my question about the number of motors the MDL-LM3S818CNCD controlCARD can control.

"The configuration of the Stellaris controlCARD uses 3 of the 6 available ADC channels to control 1 motor. With that being said, the most that this controlCARD would be able to properly control would be 2 motors."


Erick Farias
By Erick Farias (0) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  it seems really helpful for control algorithms , i want it !

Paul Kelly
By Paul Kelly (0) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  Now thats what you call a KIT! Would love to upgrade OSCar with it :)

Bob Casiano
By Bob Casiano (+26) 0Score: 

2 years ago:  Hey Paul, sweet Arduino ride! Love that you can control it with the iPhone. Nice site by the way and thank you for your comments.

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