Myths About Motor Control – Myth 3

Small electrical motors are ubiquitous. The human environment is being automated in an increasingly fast pace, driven by the desire for safety, security and health, fueled by an aging population in the highest developed countries, gadgets that go mainstream, and by new manufacturing trends that characterize the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Every day, we see new, ingenious applications for small electric motors. And while this series on myths about motor control is supposed to cover all aspects on how to control a motor, the booming market for small motors is quite different compared to the huge industrial motors, meaning there are too many myths out in the world. So, instead of talking about electric motors in general, we’ll focus on myths in the small motor market, tackling one myth a week.

Note that some aspects are true for bigger motors as well.

Myth 3: All you need is a microcontroller and some libraries: Control algorithms for BLDC / Servo are easy to implement.

Motor and motion control is a growing market and almost every microcontroller manufacturer offers solutions for motor control. Typically, these are controllers with optimized internal peripherals (e.g. PWM units, ADCs…) and they come with libraries, application examples and – sometimes – dedicated toolkits. The promise is always a short time to market, combined with ultimate performance & flexibility.

The reality looks slightly different: Depending on the level of the support of motor control by the semiconductor company, the libraries are sometimes either very generic, so it takes time to adapt them to your application, or very specific for a dedicated motor and microcontroller making it hard to tune to your application – you might end up with a huge investment in time (been there, done that…). So, motor control is not rocket science, but – if done right – it requires more than some mouse clicks…

However, that doesn’t mean you have to be a motor or motion control expert to use the world’s best solutions. Few manufacturers offer solutions that make motion control as easy as possible – a bit more complicated than some mouse clicks, but easily understandable with good documentation and walk-throughs.