Students, enthusiasts, or professional engineers can now enjoy our five-part MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) to help them master this challenging subject matter. One of our core competency is the optimization of controllers and power devices responsible for driving motors. For instance, our STSPIN motor drivers were one of the many devices and solutions around motor control at the first ST Industrial Summit that took place just a few hours ago in Shenzhen, China. Moreover, we just launched yesterday a whole new series of microcontrollers, the STM32G4, that integrates new mathematical units and a plethora of analog peripherals, making it an exceptional MCU for motor control, among other applications. Tools like our Motor Control SDK (X-CUBE-MCSDK) also simplify developments thanks to firmware libraries and a graphical user interface that enable developers to take advantage of all the features we provide with our devices.
Motor Control Part 1: Theory and Motor Profile
Our Motor Control MOOC is highly extensive and will benefit a wide range of users as it starts with the fundamentals on brushless DC (BLDC) motors and goes all the way to troubleshooting a design and the intricacies of field-oriented control. The first part gives an excellent theoretical overview to ensure students have a strong understanding of the vocabulary and concepts at the heart of motor control. The videos also quickly migrate to practical lessons, such as the measurement of a motor’s impedance or the use of an external power supply to test the motor’s operations, for instance. The course also explains why these measurements are crucial once engineers start developing their applications, ensuring that they get a relatable and real-world experience. It even offers a spreadsheet to help them transition to our motor control SDK.
Motor Control Part 2: Workshop
The Motor Control MOOC Part 2 is a series of labs designed to teach the tools and APIs that are indispensable to motor control applications. To ensure all students can replicate the steps in the videos, we recommend using the NUCLEO-F303RE board, the X-NUCLEO-IHM16M1 motor driver expansion board that relies on a small and precise BLDC motor driver, the STSPIN830, as well as a three-phase motor, such as the Gimbal GBM2804-100T. The lectures start by showing students how to get started, and by the end of the coursework, they will be able to use our FOC library. The lecture below goes into the firmware architecture and APIs as well as what the commands look like once developers call them in their code. There are even little exercises to test the users’ knowledge and ensure they advance with a full understanding of the material.
Motor Control Part 3: Troubleshooting and Fine-tuning
Once students have a strong understanding of motor control applications, Motor Control Part 3 looks into fine-tuning and troubleshooting systems. It delves into PI regulators and the most common runtime issues. The videos are generally short, and in the example below, teachers go over the steps necessary to diagnose errors and explain in detail the typical solutions available. For instance, a “FOC Duration” problem could mean that the PWM frequency is too high. Similarly, if the system detects an overcurrent, it is essential to check the jumpers, the current sensing topology, potential short-circuits, or verify that the frequency of the PWM isn’t too low.
Motor Control Part 4: Selecting the Right Components
Students tend to overlook Motor Control Part 4 and vastly underestimate its importance, but choosing the wrong component can break a design, cause massive delays, and potentially harm end users. Additionally, the knowledge and experience in this course will serve engineers because the point is to help them understand how to read data sheets and look out for what matters. The videos also show how ST offers unique mobile tools to ensure engineers don’t spend an excessive amount of time buried in product tables but can find the right device by entering important parameters and see the products and packages that make sense for their PCB. For instance, the ST Op-amp App is a great time saver.
Motor Control Part 5: FOC Training
The last section of our MOOC, Motor Control Part 5, looks more closely at field-oriented control, a critical aspect of motor control. The coursework reviews some of the basics to reinforce essential concepts and build a strong foundation to help engineers implement validation processes and optimize their applications. This coursework relies on the P-NUCLEO-IHM002 motor control pack to help students dive into the most complex parts of our libraries and SDK. For instance, the video below looks at braking strategies and the best way to dissipate the kinetic energy to stop operations without damaging the system. Depending on the application, engineers can use a brake resistor or a DC vector, among others.
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