Hackaday Prize Entry: Industrial Servo Control On The Cheap

[Oscar] wonders why hobby projects ignore all the powerful brushless motors available for far less than the equivalent stepper motors, especially with advanced techniques available to overcome their deficiencies.  He decided it must be because there is simply not a good, cheap, open source motor controller out there to drive them precisely. So, he made one.

Stepper motors are good for what they do, open-loop positioning along a grid, but as far as industrial motors go they’re really not the best technology available. Steppers win on the cost curve for being uncomplicated to manufacture and easy to control, but when it comes to higher-end automation it’s servo control all the way. The motors are more powerful and the closed-loop control can be more precise, but they require more control logic. [Oscar]’s board is designed to fill in this gap and take full advantage of this motor control technology.

The board can do some pretty impressive things for something with a price goal under $50 US dollars. It supports two motors at 24 volts with up to 150 amps peak current. It can take an encoder input for full closed loop control. It supports battery regeneration for braking. You can even augment a more modest power supply to allow for the occasional 1 KW peak movement with  the addition of a lithium battery. You can see the board showing off some of its features in the video after the break.

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Open garage door indicator


How many times has this one happened to you? Just coming home from work, you walk in from the garage, settle down, and pick up the newspaper. But wait, did you remember to shut the garage door?

Presenting the open garage door indicator. [xjc2010] chose the simplest circuit possible, using only a switch to turn on and off the setup, an LED acting as the signal, and a transformer/resistor combo to drop the voltage to an acceptable LED friendly 2.8 volts. We don’t like how he strung wire all over his house to place the beacon, and would have preferred something wireless in one way or another, but for under 6 bucks this gets the job done quickly and cheaply. Now if only we could get it to remind us if we turned off the oven while on vacation.

[thanks Craig]