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Description: The Big Easy Driver, designed by Brian Schmalz, is a stepper motor driver board for bi-polar stepper motors up to a max 2A/phase. It is based on the Allegro A4988 stepper driver chip. It’s the next version of the popular Easy Driver board.
Each Big Easy Driver can drive up to a max of 2A per phase of a bi-polar stepper motor. It is a chopper microstepping driver which defaults to 16 step microstepping mode. It can take a maximum motor drive voltage of around 30V, and includes on-board 5V/3.3V regulation, so only one supply is necessary. Although this board should be able to run most systems without active cooling while operating at 1.4-1.7A/phase, a heatsink is required for loads approaching 2A/phase. You can find the recommended heatsink in the related items below.
Note: This product is a collaboration with Brian Schmalz. A portion of each sales goes back to him for product support and continued development.
Based on 25 ratings:
3 of 3 found this helpful:
The product itself seems to work great, but be very careful about placing the recommended heatsink should you need it!
I had the heatsink square on the IC, but being a little larger than it probably should be this places it overhanging the (relatively) high voltage resistors near the coil hookups. It ran fine like this at 12V, but as soon as I took it to 24V I got a nice lightshow as it arced through the heatsink and into the IC.
Sparkfun was great about it and offered to replace it for me, so all is well, but I wanted to make sure that people are aware that this can happen. When the replacement comes I’ll make sure to bias it towards the low voltage resistors.
1 of 1 found this helpful:
Very easy to use. All pins are clearly labeled. Set the voltage to 3.3V… connected a microprocessor and wrote a quick control routine. Powered up the unit and adjusted the current up until the motor was stepping. I was able to prototype a project in short order. Thanks.
2 of 2 found this helpful:
It worked fine on first try. It does get very warm when using it with the 57BYGH420 (125 oz-in 2 amps per phase) stepper motor - even with the added heatsink.
There is an error in the sparkfun Big Easy Driver Hookup Guide. On page three the MS1 through MS3 pins are specified as having 100K pull down resistors. In fact it has pull up resistors. Thus if these lines are left unconnected the default step mode would be sixteenth step - not Full step (as it would be if the resistors really were pull down instead of up).
1 of 1 found this helpful:
The Big Easy Driver (v1.2) is exactly that. Use the sketch from GitHub, or from the original site. Used 12vDC source (wall-wart style) and coaxial-M jack to provide power for the driver. Works well with even a smaller stepper that is/was included in the RadioShack Motor Pack for Arduino. This stepper (2730767, 5VDC, 1:64) is a bit non-standard, but is a bipolar configuration with the two coil-centers joined as pin 5. Color coding seems non standard, but resistance testing verifies the proper set of 4 pins for attachment to Coil-A and Coil-B on the Big Easy. Adjusted drive current to minimum, anticlockwise rotation to reduce heating of the stepper motor. The Big Easy is, and runs COOL.
Wiring two of these up to an xy table (WaveDynamics from eBay), controlling with Arduino at the moment but may switch to a faster system (MicroMite or CUI32Stem) if I need to. These driver boards are elegantly simple to use - well done Brian Schmalz!
This is my third BED and I am just as impressed as always! Easy to use, very handy indeed. I love the potentiometer so i can use it with a variety of steppers. I’m sure I’ll be buying a few more in the future. I would recommend this to anyone looking to drive a stepper motor for your project.
I ordered this to replace one that I had ordered last Fall, but had been damaged.
Super simple. Using a couple to drive steppers for a white board plotter.
Bought for drive a high torque stepper motor but : 1. easy to get heated but area is too small to install heat sink. 2. Pin(B-) is not functioning after turned on by several times.
If you don’t have a heat sink that fits, you can cut a piece of aluminum to fit and mount it using the mounting hole on the side of the board and some thermal tape. That would be a simple diy heat sink to fit.
No problems! Works perfectly as described. Would be nice to add a heat sink easier though.
I’m able to use the driver in a 33C environment without having to worry about it overheating.
It works as designed.
We’re developing a stepper motor driven valve positioner. Our first scan for available driver boards located ones way too big and way too expensive. Then we found the Big Easy board. Perfect size and cost. We popped two of them on our breadboard until we finally wired it correctly - our fault but it didn’t cost an arm and a leg and now we have it running smoothly. This will definitely be in the BOM for our new product.
I had the exact same experience as Member #408477 below, I just wish i had read his/her review first.
Got it up and working with a knock off Arduino Leonardo in short order, and ran it off a computer power supply at 12v to test with a small nema17 motor. I but the heat sink on, connected to my larger Nema 23 Motor and connected a 24V power supply. using the test sketch, Motor ran one direction and then right as it started to run the other way, I got a nice bright flash and smoke. It appears it shorted out to the high voltage side nearest the large capacitor. That was a short lived $20…
BEWARE - If you use the recommended heat-sink, PLEASE keep it away from the output side of the IC.
Works great and does exactly what is says it can do. The chip does get hot, but that’s expected as I’m running a motor at about 1.5A per phase. Other than that it was really easy to set up and use with my arduino. I would definitely recommend this board as a controller if you want a simple way to control your stepper motor.
I have not been able to get it to work
Sorry to hear that. These are usually rock-solid. If you contact our tech support team, they should be able to help you get it straightened out.
I’m using this with the 125 oz/in stepper that is available on Sparkfun and while the driver worked great from the start it does get quite hot. I got the heat sink for it and I highly recommend that if you’re using a bigger motor.
Also, do yourself a favor and get the screw terminals. I just soldered some pins in and started experimenting with my motor. That worked just fine until the whole contraption was dragged off the table by the motor that had vibrated to the edge. In the process some of the wires may have gotten pulled a little loose, the end result being that it looks like I killed the driver.
Addendum: As it turns out I didn’t kill the driver but I would still recommend getting the screw terminals. At the very least, don’t solder your pins on in the downward position thinking that you’ll be able to plug it into a breadboard. The overhang needed for the screw terminals causes at least one side to cover all the remaining holes on a standard 5-hole row.
Using it to drive the 125oz.in SparkFun motor (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10847) from an Arduino Uno. Easy to assemble, set up, and use. 0 problems. Note though that the driver itself does get hot, depending on the current the motor is sinking. Can still drive this motor fine (didn’t measure current but had enough juice to lift a phone book off the ground, so a few pounds), but for larger motors you may want to get a heatsink.
i bought these for my first robotics project ever. i was able to get them up and running fairly easily with all of the resources available on sparkfun and elsewhere online. sparkfun customer service has also been awesome for me.
We are using a these to control a stepper motor attached to a needle valve. The drivers work great and are exactly the same design & components as another (branded) driver. The jumper vias are super-useful when you want to stack and mount the boards (as we did).
Did not work.
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