Powerlolu - Powerful 10A Stepper Motor Driver

by fluidfred, published

Powerlolu - Powerful 10A Stepper Motor Driver by fluidfred Jan 6, 2013


Use This Project

Give a Shout Out

If you print this Thing and display it in public proudly give attribution by printing and displaying this tag.

Print Thing Tag

Thing Statistics

27248Views 2217Downloads Found in Electronics


High Power Pololu Board (Powerlolu) based on A4989 - can be connected to RAMPS Pololu port.

Powerlolu can drive stepper motors up to 500 Watts, drawing currents up to 10 Amps.

The existing Pololu boards found in common RepRap 3D printers are at their limits when driving the 2 Nema17 z-axis stepper motors in parallel. Continuous z-axis movement can cause the board to overheat. These boards hardly drive stepper motors bigger than a Nema17. To avoid overheating or to drive larger motors a more powerful driver board is needed.

The Powerlolu board enables the use of bigger stepper motors for a wide range of uses. This could be the conversion of manual milling machines into computer controlled milling machines (CNC-Machines) using the affordable electronics such as Arduino and RAMPS. Building 3D printers with a larger print volume or with larger extruders would be possible.

Tested the design by connecting a Nema43 stepper motor by Nanotec Electronic (capable of 6.6 Amps per coil, Torque 2000Ncm, Weight 8,4kg) to a Powerlolu attached to a 3D printer's RAMPS X-port.

A short video of the new driver can be seen on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9FWvhZI7rs .

After two hours of motor usage the Powerlolu board only got luke warm - however see installation note below

The schematics for the Powerlolu driver are freely available at https://github.com/fluidfred/powerlolu.

Technical specifications:

  • 3-wire control with DIR, STEP, Enable-signal, compatible to the Pololu board

  • Supply voltage of the stepper motor from 12V to 50V

  • Adjustable stepping via SMD-jumper, 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/16 (default) steps

  • Precision pot to adjust the current limiter

  • no extra heat sink required due to passive cooling, up to NEMA 23 connected

  • Molex snap-on connector for connecting the RAMPS board to the Powerlolu

  • Dimensions PCB: 75.5mm x 65mm

Important installation note:
Observe the heat emission when using stepper motors larger than NEMA 23.
If necessary, implement a cooling system, i.e. heat sinks mounted at the power-Mosfets and a fan. Each individual Powerlolu should be protected by connecting an appropriate fuse between VBB (X2) and the power source of the stepper motor.

More installation notes can be found under http://wiki.germanreprap.com/en/handbuch/powerlolu concerning wiring with RAMPS and current limiter adjustment.
There is a adapter board between powerlolu and RAMPS at github see: https://github.com/fluidfred/powerlolu/blob/master/Powerlolu_Pololu.brd

More from Electronics

view more

All Apps

Upgrade this Thing with Thingiverse Apps

No results.

any ideas or hints where i can still buy a Powerlolu board? or anybody here who wants to sell one or two?

I see you have the V1.1 listed on the github, but it's the V1.0 brd

Is this still the up to date bom?

For the A4989 is it digikey part number 620-1389-1-ND?
Is IRLR024N digikey part number IRLR024NPBFTR-ND?
What would the part numbers be for GMGDS32 and C-GRID-05:-70543

Heap of junk. I blew one of these up trying to drive a NEMA 34 motor. They state that they can drive a NEMA 43. You can get an industry spec driver for a few dollars more. Don't even bother with this driver.

May 5, 2015 - Modified May 5, 2015
fluidfred - in reply to dynaba

finaly its up to you what you use, it is open source hardware.

The powerlolu shouldn't blow with a NEMA 34 motor, if the currrent is max 5A per coil.
You could easily exceed 5A per coil, if you connect two large NEMA 34 Motors in parallel, like often done on a RepRap printer at the Z-axis.

Something else must be wrong with your wiring.

German RepRap has sold over 1000 powerlolus so far. I am sure that thier customers don't use it just for driving NEMA 23 motors.

Hoping it works with you industry spec drivers.

For an extra $30 you get a driver with documentation and a support line for help.

I am interested to buy this stepper motor driver,please send me the procedures for buying six
numbers of the same

I am interested to buy this stepper motor driver,please send me the procedures for buying six
numbers of the same

I am interested to buy this stepper motor driver,please send me the procedures for buying six
numbers of the same

I downloaded your PCB design and fully assemled two powerlolu board.
Unfortunatelly, it is not working. I didn't figure out yet.I hope to solve the problem
and share video of powerlolu.

Test Procedure
1) I produced EN, DIR and STEP signals with my microcontroller board (Control signals were following Sequence Chart of Control Signals)
2) Powerlolu and Microcontroller board power supply were 12 V 8,5A and 5V 1,5A respectively.
3) I connected stepper motor phase cables and Powerlolu power supply cables, when power was off.
4) I didn't adjust potentiometer (current limiter) when Powerlolu power supply was on.
5) I checked stepper motor phases with a continuity tester.
6) I tried to drive Nema 23 stepper motor.
7) I didn't use optoisolator between Powerlolu board and my microcontroller board.


normally it should work!

It is important to adjust the current limiter before you connect power as described at https://www.germanreprap.com/de/support/documentation/Powerlolu to the most possible clockwise position.

use the google translator.

I also advise you to limit the current of your 12V source to 2A just in case you have a shortcut in your circuit.

The optoisolator is not necessary for testing it if you have one common ground.

You find the scematic on github in case you want to trak the problem.

I hope that helps you.

If you try it with a 10nF cap, please let me know whether it works.

I also noted a 470k resistors between G and S. It seems unnecessary to have them, but would indeed require a bigger bootstrap cap, because it will discharge through the resistor.

I took the input gate capacitance and multiplied by 20: Ciss 20 = 480 pF20= 9600 pF. I take 10nF because its more available but 6n8 should suffice already. Using gate charge is perhaps the more elegant way to calculate, but there is a problem in your formula, since C = Q / U. however the results seem almost correct. 12nF. I don;t understand 3V though. I would assume at least 12V (VREG) for Ugs. Maybe it's not all that critical.

I calculated it as follows . Qgs=3.7nC, Cgs=QUgs = 37nC3V = ~11nF * 10 = 110nF. I used 100nF. I tested it and it works for a voltage from 12V-48V. Please let me know if your calcualtion is different.

the datasheet of the A4989 suggests a value for the bootstrap caps of 10-20 times the total gate capacitance of the MOSFETs. With the used IRLR024N I calculate 10nF but schematic says 100nF. Any particular reason for it?

Sanjay - I used the Allegro A4989

What is the IC being used here? Looked on github but can't see anything, that shows what the chip actually is?

triffid_hunter, i am experimenting with encoders right now

doctek, license it is in the public domain

Where can I purchase a fully assembled board?

powerlolu driving two Nema 23 stepper motors connected to a PRotos. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qECB6vovBEEhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

thinking of a board for power servomotors as well. Gives 3D-Printing a new dimension - e.g. printing houses made out of concrete. ;-)

What's the license for this beauty??

Any chance you'll design something like this for DC motor control?

http://github.com/triffid/ESChttp://github.com/triffid/ESC perhaps? has enough I/O brought out to hang an encoder somewhere