Frequently Asked Questions

Our FAQ consist of issues which have been raised by our customers.  If your question is not answered here, please contact us!  We are happy to respond to any reasonable request. 

Our email address is support@stepperboard.com.

Our technical support phone number is (USA) 314-521-8808.  If you are calling from the USA, you may also use our toll-free number, 877-230-5270.  Our normal office hours are 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM CDT, Monday through Friday.

Table of Contents

  1. How do I connect a motor to your product?
  2. Can you show me some motor wiring examples?
  3. How do I run more than two motors with one serial line?
  4. Is there an easy way to test the board in Windows (or, "what do I use to interactively access your boards")?
  5. I cannot find HyperTerminal, or I cannot get Hyperterminal to echo my typed characters.  What might be wrong?
  6. What is your shipping policy?
  7. How do I determine the power requirements for the system?
  8. How do I find the limit-switch based zero position for a motor?
  9. How can I get the most up-to-date version of the sample code and documentation (i.e., "where is your downloads page")?
  10. What type of serial cable do I use to connect my PC to your products?
  11. How do I contact your company?
  12. I want to issue a relative seek from the current motor position, but it does not seem to do what I want.  What is wrong?
  13. Are there any issues in operating a motor strictly unidirectionally (i.e., spinning in just one direction)?
  14. What AMP connectors do I need to obtain in order to connect to your boards which have the AMP MTA-100 connector options?
  15. I cannot access my device with your StepperBoard class library, and I do not see it using your "TestSerialPorts" application.  However, I have no trouble when I use HyperTerminal.  What is going on here?

How do I connect a motor to your product?

The application note here is a modified excerpt from our manual, which describes the wiring theory of both unipolar and bipolar motors to our system.

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Can you show me some motor wiring examples?

The application note here is a modified excerpt from our manual, which describes wiring of specific unipolar and bipolar motors to our system.

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Can you show me some motor wiring examples?

The application note here is a modified excerpt from our manual, which describes wiring of specific unipolar and bipolar motors to our system.

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How do I run more than two motors with one serial line ?

Most of our current products support "daisy chained" serial routing.  This process involves your connecting the SI and SO pins of a 'child' board to the SO2 and SI2 pins of its 'parent' board, and then accessing the child via selecting a route using the appropriate '{}' command.  For example, if 3 boards were daisy-chained this way, you would access the board that is connected directly to the computer by first sending the text

{}

From then on, that 'closest' board would be selected.  To select the child board that is connected to that parent board, send the text

{0}

and to select the child board of that child board, send the text

{00}

Please read the manual associated with your particular board for more details of this capability.

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Is there an easy way to test the board in Windows?

Our free "SimpleSerial" application provides for an easy method of testing board features and motor response.

Please click here for a summary of how to use our "SimpleSerial" application

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I cannot find Hyperterminal on my Vista computer, or Hyperterminal will not echo my typed characters.  What might be wrong?

If you are using Windows 98 or Windows Me, you may have one of the versions of Hyperterminal which do not correctly support the "local echo" function.  Under Vista, it may not even have been installed!

Our free "SimpleSerial" application provides for an easy method of testing board features and motor response, and includes all of the key "HyperTerminal-like" features which are required for operation with our products.

Please click here for a summary of how to use our "SimpleSerial" application

 
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What is your shipping policy ?

The application note here describes our shipping policies. Fundamentally, we use the rules of FOB ORIGIN; the product is considered to be yours as soon as it leaves our factory.

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How do I determine the power requirements for the system?

When using the SS1010 and BS1010 series of boards, you need to calculate your power requirements based on the information available here.

When using the BCxxx  series of current-controlled products, you need to calculate your power requirements based on the information available here.


How do I find the limit-switch based zero position for a motor?

When using the GenStepper firmware, there is no single command which both (a) exactly locates the point for a motor associated with its left limit, and (b) sets the current location of that motor to 0 when it reaches that limit.  However, the code to do this "magic" is quite simple, assuming that you already have the base communications working between your host system and the controller.

Click here for a text version of a VBScript program which will zero the Y motor.  The program has a rather complete set of comments, and should be self-explanatory.

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How can I get the most up-to-date version of the sample code and documentation?

Please click here to go to our downloads page.  This gives you access to all of our standard documentation and sample files.

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What type of serial cable do I use to connect my PC to your products?

For our RS232 boards, we designed our serial connections to be compatible with a straight-through 9-pin male-to-female serial cable.  Please note that we only use pins 2, 3 and 5 of the cable.

For our USB boards, use standard A-B cables.  These are the ones which have the rather large square connection on the non-PC side.

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Can I operate one or two relays at the same time as I operate a stepper motor?

If you are only operating one stepper motor using any of our boards which have the GenStepper firmware installed, and if that motor does not require use of the Double Current Mode of operation, then you may operate up to 2 relays at the same time as you operate the stepper motor.   The manual is in Adobe Acrobat format, and is available from our downloads page here.

As an added bonus, you also can monitor from 2 TTL input signals, by using the related limit switch input sensors as generic TTL input signals.

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I want to issue a relative seek from the current motor position, but it does not seem to do what I want.  What is wrong?

The relative seek command (such as "+300s") as implemented in most of our firmware  performs its calculation dependant on the current type of motion being performed by the motor. 

If the motor is going to an exact location (as in executing a "goto" or another relative seek command), then the new location is calculated based on the current TARGET location. 

If the motor is going to an unknown location (as in executing a "+s" slew command, or a "z" stop motion command), then the new location is calculated based on the current instantaneous location.

You may wish to review this excerpt from our UniversalStepper manual, which describes this behavior in more detail.

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Are there any issues in operating a motor strictly unidirectionally (i.e., spinning in just one direction)?

The base design of all of our stepper motor products assumes that you are "seeking" to fixed locations.  That is to say, you want to be able to repeatedly go to a set of locations, via performing forward and backward seeks.

The code performs this by maintaining a signed 32-bit location counter for each motor.  Any time a (micro) step is done, this counter gets updated to the new location as part of the process.  If you only travel in one direction, then you will eventually "overflow" this counter.  For example, if you move forward one step beyond the maximum possible signed 32 bit value of

    2,147,483,647

you will suddenly have the location counter "think" that you are at location

    -2,147,483,648;

which is an unsigned difference of over 4 billion!

As long as your 'unidirectional' motion is performed strictly via the  "+s" or "-s" commands, this will make no difference (i.e., just making the motor spin in a given direction at a requested rate is fine). 

However, if your application is repeatedly requesting the same forward delta, for example "+500s", at some point you will get to the point where the "+500" would move the location counter from being a very large positive number to being a very large negative number.  The code performs a relative seek by first calculating the target location (i.e., doing the add), and then calculating the actions that it will take to get to the target location.  As a result, you would get a rather unexpected seek of over -4 billion when you did the "+500s" when you were within 500 of the maximum legal location (the above 2,147,483,647 value).

The workaround is to make use of the 'assign current location' command, "=".  If you always first reassign the current location to be 0 before doing a relative seek, then you will never overflow the counter.  For example, if your application requires always seeking forward 500 locations, you would send the string

     "0=500s"

instead just sending the string "500s".  This will force the counters to never be able to overflow.

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