If you can't explain it simply, then you don't know it well enough. — Albert Einstein

Explaining Essential Components of Stepper Motor Drive

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A stepper engine drive is a circuit which is used to run a stepper motor. It is also known as stepper motor driver.
The market is flooded with a lot of drive circuits today. Most of the circuits are easy to interface to a motor such that you can easily connect stepper engine to it and you are all set to run the motor.
These circuits come in a vast collection of ratings for voltage and current, and you can choose as per the requirement of the engine which will be used.
A stepper engine drive consists of components such as a controller, a driver, power supply unit and the connections to the motor.
Here in this article, I have broadly discussed the components.

The 3 Essential Components of Stepper Motor Drive

  • Controller
  • Driver
  • Power supply unit
And there are also some different components such as switches, heat sink, connecting wires.

Stepper Motor Controller

The first and critical element of the stepper motor is a controller, also known as a pulse generator.
The controller is used to output pulse commands that are used to move the motor. It can accelerate or decelerate motor speed or can also stop it. It is an essential component in the efficient working of the stepper motor.
In building a stepper motor drive, the controller is the first component that should be selected.
Select the one that has at least four output pins. It must contain serial port, ADC, timers, etc.
Also, there are mainly two types of stepper motor controllers, i.e., open loop and closed loop.
Open loop is simple to operate and is less expensive than a closed loop. Most of the motor applications work well with open loop controller.

[Also read: Servo motor]

Stepper motor driver

The second important component is the motor driver. The function of stepper driver is to control the direction and magnitude of current flow into the motor windings. It takes pulses from the controller and calculates when and how motor windings should be energized to generate motion.
There are mainly three types of stepper motor drivers, i.e., Digital, Analog, and Integrated. These days, Compact integrated circuits, i.e., IC’s have taken the place of discrete driver components. These IC’s are very affordable to buy and are very easy to implement.
One should select the driver as per the current and voltage required. One of the most popular stepper motor drivers is of Leadshine Technology, renowned manufacturers in China. If you want to buy best quality stepper motor driver, you can search for any reseller of Leadshine stepper drivers.

Image source: omc-stepperonline

Power supply unit

A stepper motor requires a voltage ranging from 5V to 12V and current ranging from 100mA to 400mA. Power supply unit is designed as per the motor specifications.
It is vital that the power must be controlled so that fluctuations in speed and torque can be regulated.

So, these are three main components of stepper motor drive. If you are looking to buy stepper motor drive, you don’t have to worry about it. Now you can buy stepper motor and other motion control components just by sitting at home.

[Also read: Brushless DC motor]
Author: Amit Sharma is an all-time professional Writer and very honest sincere and up-front blogger. In general, he tries to blog up-front and honest, without being argumentative or confrontive. He takes care not to offend, but sometimes, he just wants to bash intelligence into some brains.

New Ways to Solve the Energy Problem

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The global energy problem is the problem of providing humanity with fuel now and in the foreseeable future. Here are the ways to solve this problem with an unexpectedly different approach.

alternative energy - new ways to solve the energy problem

Space Solar Stations

Every hour the earth receives more solar energy than Earthmen use for a whole year. One way to use it is to create orbital solar farms that will collect some of the high-intensity and uninterrupted solar radiation. Huge mirrors will reflect the sun's rays on the collector of a smaller size. Then this energy will be transmitted to the ground by means of microwave or laser beams. One of the reasons why this project is at the idea stage is its huge cost. Nevertheless, it can become a reality in the near future because of the development of technologies and the reduction in the cost of exporting goods to outer space.

Energy of the Person

We already have a human-charged device, but scientists are working on how to get energy from a usual movement. It's about microelectronics, but the potential is great for a target audience of a billion people.

Waves and Tides

Curbing all the energy of the ocean could charge the whole world several times, so more than 100 companies are working on this. Because of the emphasis on the energy of the sun and wind energy, tidal one was forced out of the front rows, but it becomes more efficient currently.


Hydrogen, the most common element in the universe, contains a lot of energy, although the engine that burns pure hydrogen produces virtually no emissions. After separation, hydrogen can be pumped into mobile fuel cells and placed on cars for direct generation of electricity. These cars are now produced in fairly large lots and a case study on this matter can be ordered here https://essaylab.com/pay_for_papers_written.

Heat of Underground Lava Flows

The way to convert heat into electrical energy that rises from the molten depths of the earth is used for the needs of millions of houses around the world and in the mathematical language is a torque equation. Its geothermal energy. It accounts for 27% of the generated energy of the Philippines and 30% of Iceland.

Nuclear Waste

Nuclear power plants are traditional nuclear reactors that have been in use for decades, being responsible for 20% of the energy consumed in the United States. But now we have a more efficient technology of fast reactors, where the rods are immersed not in water, but in liquid sodium. Thanks to this, 95% of uranium is used, instead of an unacceptably low efficiency of 5%. This method will solve a huge problem of getting rid of radioactive waste since these reactors can use them repeatedly.

Window Solar Panels

Every day the production and installation of solar cells are becoming cheaper, which leads to their widespread distribution. Europe led by Germany is the leader in converting the energy of the sun into electricity. Researchers from the National Laboratory of Spain have made a significant breakthrough in the technology of photocells at quantum dots, which will allow highly efficient solar panels to work as transparent glass. When this technology becomes cheap enough to enter the mass market, any sunlit window can be turned into a miniature solar station.

Biofuel (Algae)

Today biofuels are winning their positions. The only drawback is that the first generation of biofuels uses the same land and resources that used to grow food, which raises prices for it and causes many problems in the developing world. This brings us to the third generation of biofuels - algae, which can replace oil once and for all. The natural algal oil content is more than 50%, which guarantees easy extraction and processing of the oil. The remains of the plant can be turned into natural gas or fertilizers to grow even more algae without chemicals.

Soaring Windmills

Even today we get enough energy from the wind, but thanks to the hanging wind turbine above the ground, where the wind is stronger and more stable we could get it much more efficiently. The scheme is simple. It is a soft circular airship tied to the ground with a turbine in the middle that will produce a double amount of energy as a stationary windmill of the same size.

Thermonuclear Fusion

Unlike nuclear fission, nuclear fusion does not produce any deadly nuclear waste, since it merges the atoms together, rather than splits them. Consequently, there is no threat of uncontrolled reaction, which can lead to melting of the active region of the reactor. However, it is easier said than done.

How underground cable locator works?

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Before locating a fault in an underground cable, it is necessary to know the route of the cable. How can you locate a fault when you don't know where the cable is? Sometimes you may find maps of the cable routes in the documentation (and that is why a good documentation is necessary for every work). But, when you don't have the map of the cable route, you need to locate and trace it. Locating underground cable is necessary not only for finding faults, but also for undertaking any excavation possibly near a cable route. This article will explain the types of underground cable locators and how they work.
Basically, there are two main cable location methods:
Active Location: This method involves locating a specific line/cable by means of injecting specific frequency signal using a transmitter and the tracing it with a receiver.
Passive Location: This method involves looking for unknown lines by detecting electromagnetic field with the help of a detector or receiver. Though the passive location method does not allow us to distinguish between the type of line, it is necessary prior to an excavation work. Some underground cables may already be energized and, hence, can be located by scanning for their electromagnetic fields. Non-energized underground utilities or cables may be located by scanning re-radition of signals induced on the utility by a radio transmitter.

How cable locator works?

A cable locator generally consists of two modules - a transmitter and a receiver.
A transmitter is basically an AC generator which supplies the signal current to the underground cable to be traced. The signal can be usually set to a specific frequency by the transmitter. This signal creates an electromagnetic field of the same frequency around the cable which can be then detected by a receiver.
Signal can be transmitted into the cable either by direct connection method or by induction method. The direct connection method is the most efficient way of applying a signal to the cable and should be used wherever possible. In this method, the transmitter is connected directly to the cable at one end while the other end is grounded to complete the circuit. While in induction method, there is no need to make any physical connection to the cable. It transmits the signal by inducing it electromagnetically from above the ground.
how cable locator works

A receiver detects the electromagnetic field created by the transmitted signal around the cable. The electromagnetic field can be detected above the ground at the top of the cable. A receiver can also be set to detect electromagnetic field of already energized cables (as in passive locating).
There are basically two types of cable locators depending upon frequency of signal - single frequency and multiple frequency locators.
Single frequency locators, as their name implies, are able to produce a signal at only one specific high frequency. These locators are well effective in noncongested areas where very cables or utilities present under the ground and are distinct from each other. Since high frequency tends to induce into everything that is conductive under the ground, it may produce distorted signals for the receiver. In other words, a high-frequency signal may get induced into a nearby gas pipe or communication line, making it difficult to distinguish the cable.
Copper, aluminum, iron, each metal respond better to a different frequency. A multi-frequency locator helps you to tune the transmitter frequency according to the material of the line. This makes it easy to distinguish between whats needed and whats not. Multi-frequency locator also helps in making the task easier. Higher frequencies are better for picking up more signals while lower frequencies make it easier to follow a particular line.
Many tracers or locators are available that detect 60 Hz or 50 Hz frequencies. These locators allow tracing of energized cables.

Locating Underground Cable Faults

Finding the type of a fault in underground cables using a megger should not be a difficult task. But, finding the exact location of the cable fault needs special techniques. Two of the popular techniques are the Murray and Varley loop tests for locating faults in underground cables. This article explains about few other popular techniques for locating faults in underground cables - viz. (i) Cable thumping, (ii) TDR, (iii) High voltage radar methods

Cable thumping for locating underground cable faults

A cable thumper is basically a portable high voltage surge generator. It is used to inject a high voltage DC surge (about 25 kV) into the faulty cable. If you supply a sufficiently high voltage to the faulty cable, the open-circuit fault will break down creating a high-current arc. This high current arc makes a characteristic thumping sound at the exact location of the fault.
To find the location of cable fault using the thumping method, a thumper is set to thump repeatedly and then walking along the cable route to hear the thumping sound. The higher the dc voltage applied, the louder will be the resulting thump. This method is useful for relatively shorter cables. For longer cables, the thumping method becomes impracticable (imagine walking along a cable that runs several kilometers to hear the thump).

Advantages and disadvantages of cable thumping

A major advantage of cable thumping is that it can locate open circuit faults very accurately. Also, this method is easy to apply as well as easy to learn.
Though the thumping method provides very accurate fault location, it has its own drawbacks. Applying this method for longer cables is extremely time-consuming. It may take hours or even days to walk along the cable to locate the fault. Moreover, during that time, the cable is exposed to high voltage surges. So while the existing fault is located, the high voltage surges may weaken the insulation of the cable. If you are proficient in cable thumping, you can limit the damage to the cable insulation by reducing the power sent through the cable to the minimum required to conduct the test. While moderate thumping may not cause noticeable damage, frequent thumping may degrade the cable insulation to an unacceptable condition. Also, this technique can not find faults that do not arc-over (i.e. short circuit faults).

Time Domain Reflectometer (TDR)

time domain reflectometer TDR
Megger Time Domain Reflectometer
Source: Wikipedia
A Time Domain Reflectometer (TDR) sends a short-duration low energy signal (of about 50 V) at a high repetition rate into the cable. This signal reflects back from the point of change in impedance in the cable (such as a fault). TDR works on the similar principle as that of a RADAR. A TDR measures the time taken by the signal to reflect back from the point of change in impedance (or the point of fault). The reflections are traced on a graphical display with amplitude on y-axis and the elapsed time on x-axis. The elapsed time is directly related to the distance to the fault location. If the injected signal encounters an open circuit (high impedance), it results in high amplitude upward deflection on the trace. While in case of a short-circuit fault, the trace will show a high amplitude negative deflection.
signal trace on TDR - time domain reflectometer
Signal transmitted through and reflected back from a fault

Advantages and disadvantages of TDR

As a TDR sends a low energy signal into the cable, it causes no degradation of the cable insulation. This is a major advantage of using TDR to find the location of a fault in an underground cable. A TDR works well for open-circuit faults as well as conductor to conductor shorts.
A weakness of TDR is that it cannot pinpoint the exact location of faults. It gives an approximate distance to the location of fault. Sometimes, this information alone is sufficient and other times it only serves to allow more precise thumping. When the TDR sends a test pulse, reflections that may occur during the time of outgoing test pulse may be obscured from the user. This can happen with the faults at near end and called as blind spots. Also, a TDR can not see high resistance (generally above 200 Ohms) ground fault. If there is surrounding electrical noise, it may interfere with the TDR signal.

[Also read: Types of underground cables]

High voltage radar methods

As the low-voltage TDR is unable to identify high resistance ground faults, its effectiveness in finding underground cable faults is limited. To overcome this limitation of TDR, following are some popular high voltage radar methods. (i) Arc reflection method, (ii) surge pulse reflection method and (iii) voltage decay reflection method.

Arc reflection method

The arc reflection method uses a TDR with a filter and thumper. The thumper (or surge generator) is used to create an arc across the shunt fault which creates a momentary short-circuit so that the TDR can show a downward deflection effectively. The arc reflection filter protects the TDR from high voltage surge generated by the thumper and routes the low-voltage signal down the cable.

[Also read: Grading of underground cables]

Surge pulse reflection method

This method uses a current coupler, a thumper and a storage oscilloscope (analyzer). This method is used for long run cables and on faults that are difficult to arc over which do not show up using arc reflection method. In this method, a thumper is directly connected to the cable without a filter which can limit both the voltage and current applied to the fault. The thumper injects a high voltage pulse into the cable creating an arc at the fault, which subsequently causes a reflection of energy back to the thumper. The reflection repeats back and forth between the fault and the thumper till its energy gets depleted. The current coupler senses the surge reflections which are then captured and displayed by the storage oscilloscope.

Voltage decay reflection method

This method uses a voltage coupler, a dielectric test set (high-voltage dc test set or proof tester) and a storage oscilloscope (analyzer). This method is used for transmission class cables when the generation of arc at the fault requires breakdown voltage greater than that a typical thumper or surge generator can provide. Here, the voltage coupler senses the reflections produced by the flashover of dc voltage at the fault and the analyzer captures and displays them.

Reference: http://www.cablejoints.co.uk/upload/Megger_Cable_Fault_Finding_Solutions.pdf

Difference between Potentiometer and Rheostat

Potentiometer and Rheostat are two terms that are associated with the variable resistors. Technically both these terms represent the two different configurations provided by the same components. After reading this post you'll be able to develop a crystal clear concept regarding both terms.

Introduction to Variable Resistor (VR)

A variable resistor is a three terminal device. It provides a variable value of resistance across electrical circuits. For example, a 9 kΩ V.R will provide resistance ranging between 0-9k.
The most common type of V.R is shown below. It has three terminals a, b, c (We will drive in the details later on). The circular knob can be rotated to achieve variation in output resistance.

variable resistor

As previously mentioned the above type of variable resistor is most common. Meanwhile, it is the oldest one too.
Today's variable resistors are packaged as trimpots (the latest version) with a small bolt on one side. A screw tightener can be used with trimpots for operations.
[Also read: Diodes, Transistors and GTO]


Let's reconsider the original variable resistor. The potentiometer configuration utilizes all the three terminals in working.
The left side of image displays the circuit diagram for config and right side displays the practical look.


Two blue wires connect to an external circuit for providing a variable voltage to the output. And that is the reason why potentiometer is named so.


This arrangement employs two terminals of a variable resistor in its working. Terminal a connects with the power source, b connects in series with the external circuit and c is left open. The purpose is to achieve a constant value of 'R' so as to achieve a variable current in the connect circuit/device. The left side of image displays the circuit diagram for Rheostat configuration and the right side provides a practical connection for this config.


Potentiometer vs. Rheostat : Practical applications

A potentiometer provides variance in voltage at output terminals and is employed in Power industry for controlling the speed of DC Machines. It also finds its application in sound equipment for controlling the audio. The frequency matching on old radio sets utilised repeated principles of both these configurations.
Closing the above discussion, in a nutshell, we can summarise the results:
The potentiometer and rheostat are the two configurations that can be used in electronic circuits and components to achieve a variable voltage and current values.

Author: Guzel Sans completed his bachelor in Power Electrical Engineering. His areas of interest are HF Modelling, Power Systems Protection, and Electronics design Engineering. He loves Programming JS, CSS and playing with HTML5 in leisure hours. He is the founder of online tool Electrical Calculators. Favourite software: MATLAB.