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Controlling Precision Stepper Motors in Flight Using (Almost) No PartsThis concept allows control of high-performance stepper motors with minimal parts count and minimal flight software complexity. Although it uses a small number of common flight-qualified parts and simple control algorithms, it is capable enough to meet demanding system requirements. Its programmable nature makes it trivial to implement changes to control algorithms both during integration & test and in flight. Enhancements such as microstepping, half stepping, back-emf compensation, and jitter reduction can be tailored to the requirements of a large variety of stepper motor based applications including filter wheels, focus mechanisms, antenna tracking subsystems, pointing and mobility. The hardware design (using an H-bridge motor controller IC) was adapted from JPL's MER mission, still operating on Mars. This concept has been fully developed and incorporated into the MCS instrument on MRO, currently operating in Mars orbit. It has been incorporated into the filter wheel mechanism and linear stage (focus) mechanism for the AMT instrument. On MCS/MRO, two of these circuits control the elevation and azimuth of the MCS telescope/radiometer assembly, allowing the instrument to continuously monitor the limb of the Martian atmosphere. Implementation on MCS/MRO resulted in a 4:1 reduction in the volume and mass required for the motor driver electronics (100:25 square inches of PCB space), producing a very compact instrument. In fact, all of the electronics for the MCS instrument are packaged within the movable instrument structure. It also saved approximately 3 Watts of power. Most importantly, the design enabled MCS to meet very its stringent maximum allowable torque disturbance requirements.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Randall, David (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
July 1, 2015
Publication Date
March 6, 2010
Subject Category
Computer Programming and Software
Mechanical Engineering
Computer Operations and Hardware
Cybernetics, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
Meeting Information
2010 IEEE Aerospace Conference(Big Sky, MT)
Distribution Limits