In theory, you really don’t need much to work with electronics. A scope ought to do everything. However, for special purposes, it is handy to have meters, logic analyzers, and other special-purpose instruments. If you work on motion systems like 3D printers and CNC machines, you ought to have a way to look at stepper motors. You don’t? [Zapta] has a great Simple Stepper Motor Analyzer and [Teaching Tech] has a great video (see below) that shows some of the great things it can do.
What can it do? It analyzes the motor in place and can visualize what’s happening during stepping, microstepping, and other operating modes. Connecting the instrument is easy since you just use a four-pin pass-through connector.
The video has a good explanation of how steppers work including looking at a motor torn down, which is interesting all by itself. Watching the drive waveform for microsteps is a good way to show off the use of the tool.
The tool looks quite useful for setting stepper drive current and the video shows doing that both with a manual adjustment or using G-code, including some thermal images of hot drivers.
Overall, this looks like a useful tool if you run steppers. The CPU driving the machine is a STM32 “black pill” and there’s a TFT display, obviously. A EEPROM and two current sensor chips round out the bill of materials. The FAQ mentions that since device has a USB serial port, so with some changes to the firmware, you could remove the display and just operate from a host computer if you wanted to simplify the project. If you want to learn more about the art of driving steppers, grab a PAL and a 555.