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The stepper motor driver based on the Allegro A4988 (also A4983) has a lot of problems with temperature. It is getting very hot and stops to work. And it is difficult to set up with the potentiometer. When the current is too high, driver gets hot and steps get lost. When current is too low, there might not be enough power and steps get lost as well. Are there any alternatives to this A4983?

Pololu A4988 Datasheet

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    \$\begingroup\$ I added links to the ICs' datasheets. Please make it a habit to do this in the future, so that we all know what you're talking about, and we can help you better. \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Sep 1 '12 at 13:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by "difficult to set up with the potentiometer"? Something you forgot to tell us? \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Sep 1 '12 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I updated the question. \$\endgroup\$ – powtac Sep 1 '12 at 16:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ What is "the stepper motor driver based on the A4988"? Where does "the potentiometer" come in? \$\endgroup\$ – Oli Glaser Sep 1 '12 at 17:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ If it is a chopper drive, the potentiometer would be to program the current. It could be replaced with a multiturn variety, or fixed resistors of calculated value. For a real improvement in performance, discrete power semiconductors (likely MOSFETs) are warranted, but with a corresponding increase in application complexity. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Sep 2 '12 at 14:59
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There are many companies who do do dedicated chips for stepper drivers. The A4988 has a step+dir digital interface. If that's what you want, then you could for example use the Texas Instruments' DRV8825

I was myself looking at different ways of interfacing stepper motors (not just step+dir), and made a comparison table of stepper motor drivers.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The second link is now dead. \$\endgroup\$ – Skippy le Grand Gourou Nov 18 '13 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Updated link to point to a working url instead. \$\endgroup\$ – Mikko Virkkilä Nov 19 '13 at 19:29
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I also have the a4988 stepper drivers and am running into the same problems as you are, so I am very interested in finding alternatives.

This won't answer your question but maybe will help alleviate the quirks of the a4988. I have found that attaching small heat sinks (such as these) and putting a fan across them helps with the overheating.

One could also imagine attaching a peltier cooling system to them in order to further alleviate the heat dissipation problem.

Pololu also has the "Black edition" of the a4988 which has 4 layers instead of the normal 2 and supposedly gives it better heat dissipation. I haven't used this myself.

Good luck

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    \$\begingroup\$ The problem with attaching a heatsink it it's being placed in the wrong place. The A4988 is designed to be heatsunk from the bottom. Really, someone needs to rework their carrier boards so you can just attach a heatsink to the bottom side, or (much better) dump the whole "carrier board" approach all-together. A whole board that is single-sided load, that can be clamped against a fairly large heatsink is the proper design. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf Sep 5 '14 at 3:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ConnorWolf, quite right! I didn't realize this until (what is now) many years later. I've since 'graduated' to using the Smoothieboard, which uses A4982 stepper drivers that have better thermal qualities along with some thermal vias placed underneath. They explicitly say not to put heat sinks on the top of them for precisely the reason you pointed out. \$\endgroup\$ – user834 Oct 9 '14 at 3:03
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Ive used the L6474 and it runs terrible hot too. It seems manufacturers are trying to make the chips smaller to impress each other, but they would work better if they were bigger. The L6207 L6208 ran very cool.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ They're making them smaller to make them cheaper, not to impress each other. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf Sep 5 '14 at 3:48

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