Ponoor Experiments' STEP400 Is an OSC and Arduino-Compatible Four-Axis Stepper Driver

Built around the Microchip SAM D21, the board offers four outputs, sensor inputs, Ethernet connectivity, and up to 5A power output.

Gareth Halfacree
3 years agoRobotics

Japanese electronics concern Ponoor Experiments is preparing to launch a four-axis stepper motor driver built around an Arm Cortex-M0+ microcontroller and featuring on-board Ethernet: the STEP400.

"STEP400 is a four-axis stepper motor driver designed for creative applications. An Arm Cortex-M0 processor, Ethernet, and four stepper motor drivers are combined on one PCB, with a simple and creative coding environment to generate motion," Ponoor Experiments explains of the design. "If you are familiar with creative coding environments like openFrameworks, Processing, Max, Unity, or TouchDesigner, you can easily generate smooth and precise motions with simple the Open Sound Control (OSC) protocol through an Ethernet cable. STEP400 is compatible with the official Arduino IDE Ethernet library so you can write your own code, too."

The STEP400's prototypes have already proven their worth in the field as drivers for art projects. (📹: Dot by Dot)

"We find that when people bring stepper motors to their projects, they quickly realize that there are no standard protocols or equipment, and it’s difficult to even get started. After working with stepper motors for several projects ourselves, we met some digital and physical problems. After struggling for days on certain projects, we gradually came to the conclusion that we needed a dedicated driver board which can do everything we need."

The STEP400 is, effectively, a single-board implementation of what would normally require an Arduino Zero development board, an Ethernet shield add-on, four stepper motor drivers, and sensor inputs to allow for homing and limiting.

STEP400 is designed primarily for use with the Open Sound Control (OSC) protocol. (📹: WOW Inc.)

The STEP400 is based on the Microchip ATSAMD21G18A system-on-chip with a Wiznet W5500 Ethernet controller, STMicroelectronics PowerSTEP01 stepper driver, and the Rohm BD9G341AEFJ DC-to-DC converter. The board accepts 12-72V as input on an M3 screw terminal and offers 5A of current "under ideal conditions" via its 3.81mm Euro-style terminal blocks to the stepper motors.

The board will be available to back on Crowd Supply soon, while design files and source code for the prototype can be found on GitHub.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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