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I want to use a PC power supply on three 12V stepper motors. The problem is that I want to limit the current of the 12V DC output to 3A maximum for each of the three motors. The power supply has 34A maximum current that can fry the motor driver circuit.

Any suggestions? Thanks!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't try to run more than 2 at once. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 9, 2014 at 23:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why do you suppose the motor drivers will draw more than 3A? \$\endgroup\$
    – Samuel
    Jun 9, 2014 at 23:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm using an Adruino with a Adafruit Motor Shield to drive the motor. I have already fried a pair with this pc power supply (which is working fine on a computer) and I guess that it somehow drew more current that it should. \$\endgroup\$
    – Thanasis
    Jun 10, 2014 at 22:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Going to Necro this one and clarify that your Power Supply 12V rail could have not possibly drawn more current to your motors if they were indeed already working and classified as 12V. You've probably supplied a 12V to what were 5V, which yes would provide x2.4 more current than it was meant to have and thus become quite toasty. A limiting circuit here would simply lower the input voltage as the current rises, thus answering this question by itself (use a lower voltage for these motors). Adding fuses would instantly demonstrate this is the case in the event they immediately blow up. \$\endgroup\$
    – lucasgcb
    Sep 25, 2020 at 15:18

2 Answers 2

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The Power Supply Unit (PSU) creates a voltage difference on its leads. This means that the 12 Volts output connector will have a 12 Volt difference between its leads. Note that this says nothing about current yet.

When you connect the 12V leads to a load (think of a load as a resistor), the current through the load will always follow Ohms Law: \$I_{}\$ = \$V_{}\$/\$R_{}\$. In our case, the load is your motor.

The rating on your PSU is the upper limit that the PSU is telling you it will handle. If your load (\$R_{}\$) is so small that the current draw (\$I_{}\$) is higher than 34A, the PSU will fail in one way or another. With your three-motor system, the maximum draw that the power supply will see is 9A. This is well below the PSU's maximum output capability (34A).

The 3A rating on your motors is the amount of current that they will effectively draw from a 12VDC supply. You can thus deduce that each motor's effective on-resistance is:

\$R_{}\$=\$V_{}\$/\$I_{}\$

\$R_{}\$ = 12/3 = 4 Ohms

With the 4 Ohm load (your motor), your supply will pump only 3A per motor. If you want to prevent any accidental draw of over 3A, you would install an in-line safety fuse for each of the motors. The fuse will self-destruct (and force an open circuit) if more than 3A is pumped through it, saving your motors.

Hope this helps!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Fuse is also good in that way it can let for short periods of time more current (when starting, accelerating...) and still protect if over current situation lasts longer than it should. \$\endgroup\$
    – sailfish
    Jun 10, 2014 at 11:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm using an Adruino with a Adafruit Motor Shield to drive the motor. I have already fried a pair with this pc power supply (which is working fine on a computer) and I guess that it somehow drew more current that it should. \$\endgroup\$
    – Thanasis
    Jun 11, 2014 at 19:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Thanasis The ADA Fruit Motor Shield gives 3A peak, this means that your motors may draw 3A momentarily (when motors start or break, they have a peak draw of current). Otherwise, you're limited to 1.6A continuously (half of that) or risk damage. If your stepper motors are indeed 12V 3A (which are quite beefy for steppers), then that peak is actually much higher, the shield cannot handle it safely and you'll need an external power electronics circuit. \$\endgroup\$
    – lucasgcb
    Sep 25, 2020 at 15:31
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Very easy there is he current sence resistor in series with main mosfet which is operting on pwm.change that resistor value according to your requirement

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