General stepper motor question:

Is it safe to manually turn a stepper motor that is energized (holding at a fixed position)? Or could it damage the motor in some way?

I'm working on an old stage based system that uses stepper motors to move the axes. Each of the axes has a knob on the end that I can use to move the stage position manually, but when the system is energized I'm afraid it will damage something if the knob is turned. When the system is not energized it's very easy to turn the knob, so I'm assuming it might damage the motor to turn it while holding.

Thanks in advance.


1 Answer 1


Turning the shaft directly when it's energized won't hurt the motor- it's similar to the motor missing steps when you try to ramp it too fast.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Could there be a feedback mechanism which could potentially damage the user, although not the motor? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19, 2015 at 21:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndrewMorton Usually steppers are run open-loop, but even if there was a closed-loop response it would just try (to the torque limit of the motor) to return it to the original position, not kick like Model T hand crank. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19, 2015 at 21:40
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I thought it worthwhile to check on that. What a fantastic vintage car collection you must have! (NNTR) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19, 2015 at 21:47

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