New Driver From RepRap, Singing


RepRap has released a new driver board for their stepper motors. They’ve honed the design to be easier to assemble and cheaper. We’re sure all of that is wonderful, but what really got our attention was the video. In the video, which you can see after the break, they run a test file through it to make it “sing” happy birthday. Is this something that everybody does and we’re just now catching on? Why all the musical stepper motors today?


20 thoughts on “New Driver From RepRap, Singing

  1. The real fun is where some people a bit back played the imperial march from star wars on a moving harddrive- that was impressive. This too, mind you.

    My guess is the musical steppers phenomenon is just a really hack-esqe way to show off your programming street cred. It works, doesn’t it?

  2. It goes way back. As long as there have been programmable stepper motors people have been playing music on them. I have fond memories of musical Apple II drives, and I’ve heard stories of musical exploits going further back.

    It is just a natural thing.

  3. Yeah, after i saw the floppy drive playing star wars, i tried it myself. A little pascal code on a dos machine and a few wires from the parallel port to the floppy connector, and the floppy motors are at your mercy. I can’t image the complex orchestrations necessary with some of the other projects though.

    I’m pretty sure there used to be a way to play “When I’m Sixty-Four” on your 1541 disk drive, working on the same principle.

  4. The regulator is probably so you can use an transformer or unregulated adaptor to power it and with the regulator you get a stable power.
    Plus you can use a longer cable and have the regulator and capacitors remove any spikes.
    I’m just guessing though.

    The site has a very nice instructionset on how to put it together too I must say, including hotplate reflow instructions, they seem to be an outfit that thinks a bit about things, which also seems to indicate they have good reasons for the regulator.

  5. @ rasz

    Maybe it is because the +12v line is usually much much higher rated than the +5v line.

    If you had an older PSU before the atx12v specifications came out you might have a lot more amperage.

    Also if you plan to run this away from a PC (or PC power supply) it is easier to find supplies in the 7-20v range that will work with this board.

    At first sight it does seem strange though.

  6. @ rasz

    the stepper motors are driven on a different, and higher, voltage (voltage defines the top speed of the stepper motors). it’s better to provide just one voltage rail than to provide two due to installation and wiring concerns. the on-board 5v supply allows me to slap this driver board to a 12v battery and be done. then there’s the fact that regulating to 5v on the board produces a clean logic-level supply.

    5v regulation is cheap and easy, so why not?

  7. >it’s better to provide just one voltage rail
    >than to provide two due to installation and
    >wiring concerns

    20 years of PC industry prove you wrong :), + whole design is standarized around ATX plugs. Controller is using 5V directly from PS. Thats why it looks weird.

  8. I read an article written back in the days of magnetic core memory. Apparently a student was thrown out of school for making the core memory play happy birthday. At the time the module was claimed to hundreds of thousands of dollars and they thought the program may damaged it. Also, brushless motor drivers for RC cars, planes, helis use the motor to emit difference tones during the setup. Some of the first dot matrix printers used the head to beep out codes as well as some early bubble jet printers. Though the bubble jets used the stepper not the head.

    So, yeah. you guys are just catching on to somthing that probably started back in the days of tesla (though i don’t recall any exact citations from that period)

  9. @steve: i wouldn’t say that we are just catching on, i would phrase it more like “we are still enjoying the tricks of old”

    on a side note, anyone know if these boards can be controlled with mach3? they would make nice stepper controllers for a retrofitted mini mill if they do. I can not find any real documentation on step/direction and how they accept inputs from anything other than the reprap boards.

  10. @h_2_o You should be able to interface with the boards through any interface that will send Step and Direction signals over a parallel port. EMC2 and Mach3 would both work with it.

  11. Good questions h_2_o (if I may say so without being mistaken to be patronising), and nice to see a clear answer too, but if it’s not done yet the site needs such info too.

  12. Actually, if you think about it, playing a song out of the motor, or even the whole rep-rap, is a pretty decent way of “quick-testing” it. The human ears are very sensitive to timing, pitch, timbre, etc. How many mechanics do you know who can diagnose a car problem simply by listening to it…

    Anyway, if you run a program like this through the rep-rap and it sounds okay, chances are you’ve assembled and wired it correctly and all the parts are working as intended.

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