After various disappointments i finally understood how to find those damn wires on stepper motors. I tought it was simpler to drive bipolar motors but at the end i prefer unipolar stepper motors.. more cables but easier to drive.

Anyway... after breaking my only L293D i decided to try again with the famous ULN2803A. With some patience and low voltage (5v) i followed the previos mentioned video description and wrote down all the wire sequences of the stepper motors i have salvaged.

  1. OKI EM-199 (SMA6511) from epson printer
  2. OKI EM-154 (STK6711AMK4B) from epson printer
  3. OKI EM-318 (LB1847) from epson printer
  4. Mineba PM35L-048-HPI2 from hp printer
  5. Mitsumi M55SP-1N from hp printer

As you can see i only found the datasheets of the motors that i could not find the drivers datasheet. So...

From what i understand the Mitsumi M55SP-1N:

  1. consumes less: 259mA/phase
  2. the excitation mode is the one used in the library 2-2 Phase excitation
  3. and i know i can use 12v to drive it.

It's the first time i use a stepper motor

I don't want to destroy my microcontroller or any other part of the circuit.

And here is the question:

Am i safe using a ULN2803A to drive the Mitsumi M55SP-1N at 12v from 3,3v or 5v?

by that i mean:

  1. the ULN2803A has already lots of protection diodes.. safe enough?
  2. the Mitsumi M55SP-1N datasheet says 259mA/phase*4=1,1Amp..correct? uln2803 handles 500mA per channel and a max of 2,5A .....
  3. powersupply of 1.25 Ampere....enough right?
  4. A strange thing happend .. @5v with high speed stepping the ULN2803A got hot. 50-60 deg C. normal?


simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

If its ok (safe) .... what Capacitor should i put near the Vin of the stepper motor?

And if you think i should use one of the above stepper drivers or know more about the unknown motors, i'm happy to learn new things...

Note: Like i said i already tested all motors at low voltage & low RPM, all of them work at 5v using the above circuit except the capacitors. This on a breadboard.. now i want to solder it together. I'm new to electronics, and something that, for you, is obvious, is probably something that i don't even know.


1 Answer 1

  1. the ULN2803A has already lots of protection diodes.. safe enough?


  1. the Mitsumi M55SP-1N datasheet says 259mA/phase*4=1,1Amp..correct?

Yes (close enough). The resistance of each phase is 50Ω +-7%, so at 12V it should draw approximately 12/50 = 240mA per phase (actually it should be even less than this, due to voltage drop in the Darlington transistors).

  1. powersupply of 1.25 Ampere....enough right?


A strange thing happend .. @5v with high speed stepping the ULN2803A got hot. 50-60 deg C. normal?

Getting hot at high speed is to be expected. Each time a coil is turned off the flyback diode passes a pulse of current as the magnetic field in the coil dissipates. At high speed the diodes pass as much current when the coils are turned off as the transistors do when they are turned on, which increases total power loss. The transistors also have a switching loss which becomes more significant as stepping speed increases.

50-60° case temperature is OK. The ULN2803 is not very efficient. At 240mA each Darlington transistor drops about 1.1V, which equates to 1.1W of total power loss when all 4 phases are turned on. Maximum allowed junction temperature is 125°C. Junction to Ambient thermal resistance is 73°C/Watt (D package), so at room temperature (20°C) and 1.1W the junction temperature should be ~100°C.

uln2803 handles 500mA per channel and a max of 2,5A ....

Those are absolute maximum stress ratings, not recommended for normal operation. For safety and reliability you should not exceed half those values.

  • \$\begingroup\$ And, just as a handy rule of thumb, 60 C is pretty much the "Ouch!" point, where it's no longer bearable to touch. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2016 at 1:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ So best to keep it cool is to use 2 inputs/outputs of the uln2803a and driving all at 12.5v or more (the powersupply has a trimmer)? What about the cap of 1000uF near the centertabs cables?? \$\endgroup\$
    – cocco
    Feb 22, 2016 at 4:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ At 24v i would have less problems... mh intresting... but i have no 24v powersupply. \$\endgroup\$
    – cocco
    Feb 22, 2016 at 4:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WhatRoughBeast yeah aproximatively.... maybe it was 40-50°C ...but at 5volts . i have no proper measuring tool. i could attach a thermistor...when everything is soldered together and then maybe add a heatsink... i think i have some also the size of that chip.. \$\endgroup\$
    – cocco
    Feb 22, 2016 at 5:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know why, but the uln2303 worked perfectly with 5v then as i attached a 12v powersupply the chip released the black smore after some strange stutters... i may forget a diode... maybe on the centertab.... \$\endgroup\$
    – cocco
    Feb 25, 2016 at 6:32

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