Retired!

This is a retired product, but fear not as there is a newer, better version available: ROB-11876

Creative Commons images are CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Retired RETIRED

This product has been retired from our catalog and is no longer for sale.

This page is made available for those looking for datasheets and the simply curious. Please refer to the description to see if a replacement part is available.

Replacement: ROB-11699. The new revision uses the Allegro A4988 in place of the Allegro A4983. This page is for reference only.

Description: The Big Easy Driver, designed by Brian Schmalz, is a stepper motor driver board for bi-polar stepper motors up to 2A/phase. It is based on the Allegro A4983 stepper driver chip. It's the next version of the popular Easy Driver board.

Each BigEasyDriver can drive up to about 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 35V, 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, a heatsink is recommended for loads approaching 2A/phase. You can find the recommended heatsink in the related items below.

Note: The arrow indicators on the current adjustment potentiometer is backwards. Keep this in mind if you're adjusting the current limits.

Note: This product is a collaboration with Brian Schmalz. A portion of each sales goes back to them for product support and continued development.

Features:

  • Bi-polar Microstepping Driver
  • 2A/Phase Max
  • Max Motor Drive Voltage: 35V
  • On-board 5V/3.3V Regulation

Documents:

Comments 84 comments

  • I assume these can be used anywhere, not just in New Orleans.
    (Just had to get the joke in).

  • Sorry, I still prefer the pololu version, which is almost half the price, and ¼ the size.
    This board does have some extra features over the pololu driver:
    1. Open source.
    2. Extra capacitor on the motor voltage supply, which you have to provide externally for the pololu driver.
    3. Mounting holes (pololu’s driver is designed to be plugged on top of another board).
    4. On-board voltage regulator that allows to drive the chip from the motor supply and select 5V or 3.3V for the VCC.
    5. Option for screw headers.
    6. On-board pull-up/pull-down for the MS1 and ENABLE pins. Though you can get pololu’s A4988 driver, which has an internal pull-down on MS1.
    7. Defaults to 1/16th step instead of full-step (whether this is a plus or a minus is a matter of taste).
    8. SparkFun red ™.
    Whether any of this is really necessary, or worth the extra $12, is for you to decide.
    @SparkFun: It would be nice if you add the relevant heatsinks to your product line, so we don’t have to look elsewhere.

    • Your item by item list helped me to decide to pick up 3 of these Big Easy Drivers. I’m no expert so I appreciate that you detailed some of the differences. I would say you should probably be comparing the Pololu version to the regular ol' Easy Driver (http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10267). They appear to have a more similar feature set?

      • The regular ol' EasyDriver uses a different chip with a much lower maximum current rating. They’re not actually the same driver.

  • A friend purchased the Big Easy several months back, and I just got around to hooking it up for him. Following the user manual wiring instructions (A+, A-, B+, B-, Pwr, Gnd, Step, Dir, Gnd) and using a simple Arduino stepper driver program, I am getting the BED LED to light, but no movement or noise are coming from the stepper motor. I adjusted the current-limit pot through it’s full range, to no avail. The voltage coming out of Vcc is 3.29 V, as it should be (I soldered the bridge for 3.3V logic).

    I hooked the same stepper motor up to an Easy Driver that I have using the same configuration, and it worked perfectly. This rules out the stepper motor, Arduino, power supply and code as culprits. I don’t have any reason to suspect the breadboard, and I gave all my wiring a wiggle to ensure it wasn’t a poor connection. No luck.

    Does anyone have any idea of what else it might be? Is it possible that the board was Dead on Arrival? Thanks for any and all help!

    • I’m having the same problem with a board I bought a year and a half ago. Did you ever find out what it was? Was the board bad?

      • What power supply are you using? Are you using the example code from the design website?

        • I’m using the 12V line on this power supply: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11296

          The code isn’t the exact same, but close enough. I’m using a Netduino instead of an Arduino, but the code is pretty much the same: turn a pin off then on, sleep for 1 ms, repeat. I do this for 2000 steps, then reverse the direction. I’ve been able to verify that the voltages coming out of the Netduino step and direction pins are good, and that the power coming into the BED is good (12V, 2A). A friend and I did some other testing, and noticed that the 3v/5v jumper was connected (it came from Sparkfun this way). I would think that this means that it expects a 5v input as well to control the logic, so we tried hooking it up to the 5v line off the Netduino, but still no dice. The power light on the BED comes on, as expected, but there’s absolutely no output going to the motor. Any ideas?

  • Could someone help me out with some trouble shooting. I am getting code to run the motor, but it is very erratic. Even when i send no signal to the board the stepper “chirps” or clicks every 1 second, and the led flashes brighter every one second. am i missing something obvious?

    • It sounds to me like your BED is going into thermal overload. Try reducing the current limit to your motor (put a volt meter on the TP1 via and measure it as you turn the current adjustment pot - set to about .4V or so) and see if you get the same behavior. Even if the chip isn’t really getting all that hot, it could be detecting a shorted out motor coil. What is the coil resistance as seen by the BED for each coil? You are using a bipolar stepper, right?

      • I know it has been a while, but i thought i would give an update. The problem was definitely the current limit. Once i backed it off to an acceptable level the stepper started to work great. Thanks for the help!

      • Brian, I’m running into a similar problem, which I notice only happens when my the driver chip reaches about 110C. The power supply is at 30V and ~0.6A. When I back down to about 0.5A everything is smooth again.

        I’m currently using a uni-polar stepper from Sparkfun which is rated at 2A (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10847).

        Any thoughts on what could be happening? I’ll be using the motor in a high torque application and was hoping to gather the full 2A & 35V of power.

        Many thanks in advance.

        • You won’t be able to get 2A out of the BED even though the chip is rated to 2A. You can get close though - every combination of power supply, motor, and current pot setting will be a bit different, but I’ve been able to get north of 1.4A/phase with a heatsink and fan on the BED. I think there are different types of boards that you could put this driver chip on to get the 2A/phase.

          One thing to note is that the power supply current of .6A does NOT mean you’re putting 600mA/phase through the motor. You’re putting way more than that through the motor. See Q3 and Q4 in the EasyDriver FAQ here : http://www.schmalzhaus.com/EasyDriver/[http://www.schmalzhaus.com/EasyDriver/]

          *Brian

  • Is it possible to dynamically change the stepping resolution whilst the motor is running? It would be useful to be able to use a lower resolution at higher speeds so as to improve torque.

  • Can someone recommend a suitable power supply for this controller? I need something that can feed up to 2A at up to 35V, preferably a switched unregulated supply.

  • I can’t get this to work with my 125 oz Stepper Motor. When I use the test code off of the big easy driver site ( http://www.schmalzhaus.com/EasyDriver/Examples/EasyDriverExamples.html ) the motor grinds but doesn’t move. I have all the hard wear set up properly to the best of my knowledge.

  • here is an other video for a jig a fixture model that i pirined in a Rapid prototyping machine from Stratasys, the Fortus 400mc.

    the model is designed in Catia V6 and it helps all of us to have a full control of each step or microstep.

    Have a look.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2_ZFLXod0g&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    if you like to follow me on Twitter please do so at : @Lbilalis

  • is there anyone can show us how to fit the heatsink on the back?

    what is all these pins on the back? are all ther connected together or if i apply a heat paste and a heasink i will sort some of the pins under the board?

    please clarify or at least give us a picture or small video demonstration.

    I’m not asking to fix it for me. But the component cost lots of money and will be difficult for you if you have an unsatisfied customers.

    thanks a lot.

    • Heatsink goes on driver chip. Use heat-sink paste that has adhesive - voila!

  • I see in the manual, that it says: “If your BED uses .11 ohm sense resistors (all v1.2 and above BEDs): The range of the pot produces maximum motor currents from around 0mA (fully clockwise) to 5A (fully counterclockwise). Now, the driver can’t supply 5A, so the full range of the pot won’t be used. A Vref of 1.76V will result in a motor current of 2A.” Question = Does that mean that if you turn the pot fully to the 5A position, that the driver can’t handle this (driver would burn out) or that is just won’t allow more than 2A (the driver would be fine, but there is no affect when turning the pot from the 2A position through the 5A position)? Thanks!

    • The potentiometer will limit the output current to 2 Amps max.

      For your consideration: The SupplyVoltage\WindingResistance= OutputCurrent

      For more information read the Schmalzhaus.com web page.

  • I just received my Big Easy Driver and am ready to experiment with it (I’m new to this stuff). Why are there duplicate pins on the board? For example, there are two sets of “GND” and “M+” pins; each with different spacing between pairs. Is one set spaced for headers and the other for an alternate connection? Thanks.

    EDIT: Never mind; found the answer. The Easy Driver Manual reads:

    “Hook Up: The BED has holes for both .100 headers as well as 3.5mm screw terminals. Either or both can be used to connect to the BED however you want. You can put female or male headers in the .100” holes or solder wires directly to the holes.”

  • I just received the Big Easy Driver and two of the 3.5mm screw terminals. Also a heat sink in case I’ll ever need that. In playing with the screw terminals, I see they fit nicely, but obviously I need to order more of them. I want to play with the Big Easy while waiting for fresh parts to arrive, but I do not want to “temporarily” solder in pinheaders because desoldering them can get messy. Can I just use the existing 2 screw terminals, seated on the board, but left unsoldered until more terminals arrive in the mail? It looks like the terminal posts have contact with the hole plating, so they should conduct even without solder. Likewise, I’m thinking of just sticking two ordinary pin headers in the PWR and GND holes but not soldering them in. I’m not sure this will work reliably…I’ll see.

  • Power led is on but no move on the motor. ( same setting worked perfectly before) Maybe I’ve done something to the driver? Is there a way to find out whether I’ve damaged it?

    I’m unhappy. I like this piece a lot.

    Thanks Aaron

  • i really do not understand why you dont have enough stock for these!!!! also i have noticed that you dont have a good stock for components that get dissapeared in one day. You only order few of those and then you just forget to update the stock.

    This is not a good marketing. Does not make the people to hurry to get them before the others. this makes the people checking your thoughts and how you work here.

    I’m having difficulties to understand you. I have checked lots of the components you have in stock that really people are desperate to get, and you only have stock 10 or 20 items. This is really rediculus.

    I feel sorry sometimes for myself. It is not your fault obviously.

  • In two incidents, I’ve ran the BED just fine for weeks, however after a certain point it just completely stops working. Anyone having the same issue?

    • I’ve been running it at 12V, 1.5 Amps, way below what it’s rated for.

      • Any chance there could have been an intermittent connection between the BED and the motor?

        Also, 1.5Amps/phase is more than I can get out of the BED with a heatsink and fan. So if you run at that current, you may be operating near the max thermal situation for this design.

        *Brian

  • Sweet. This is my first roasted electronic component! Now to figure out what I did…hahaha. I hooked up a 30V, 830mA adapter (seems reasonable) and started messing with the cur adj pot when the fireworks started.

    • Did you discover what happened?

      • Well, I have now totaled 5 boards. Not sure that each problem was the same, but some things I’ve learned on the way.

        Power the board up for the first time with the POT turned all the way down, then once you have the M+ and GND hooked up, measure the voltage on the TP1 pin and adjust the POT up until 0.4v (recommended somewhere else), and make minor adjustments from there to optimize motor performance (sound, power). This is my new recipe for getting set up.

        Well connected grounds to the bottom of the board M1,M2,M3 (if you wish to pull these down) and GND are essential for avoiding “noise” on the digital pins, which can cause chatter/erratic movement.

        I think I blew one of my chips when I reset the board (unless it was a coincidence), so I won’t be doing that again. I have used 12v 1.0A and 30v 1.0A power supplies for this and they both work great. Some of my applications need the 30v.

        I see in other posts that a fair amount of people burn these boards up. It would be great to see more documentation on how to avoid this.

  • Hello I am using a big easy driver with an arduino uno for a dolly project. Everything works fine with a regulated power supply 12V/2.2A for the BED and USB power for the Arduino. Now, I would like to use a single 3s Lipo, 11.1V/2200mAh, to power everything. What are my best options? The BED’s Vcc 5V output appears to be just below Arduino’s power specs. Powering the Arduino with the LiPo directly might be just above the recommended specs and a lot of battery power will end up in heat, as a charged Lipo supplies 12.6V.

    Thanks for your advice.

    • Well, I would get one of those little 5V switchers (LM7805 replacements) and use that to power the Arduino from the LiPo. You can use the LiPo to power the BEDs directly - and it is true, some of the power will be wasted as heat in the LDO that provides the 5V to the A4988 driver chip on the BED, but that heat is nothing compared to how much power will be dissipated by the A4988 and motors when the coils are on.

      *Brian

      • This isn’t asked to be jerky; do you know if these are these shipping with the A4988 or the A4983?

        • Not jerky at all. :-) I do not know if they’re shipping with the A4988s yet, but if not, they should be very soon (according to the last e-mail I had with SparkFun in the summer). I’ll check with them right now.

      • Thank you very much for your prompt help and advice to a novice in this field, this is greatly appreciated! Cheers from the Swiss Alps Juerg

  • I have 2x BED and all of a sudden one of them appeared to die. The light on it is much more dim than my other driver.

    Any ideas?

    • If you disconnect the motor and the other connections and only have the GND and M+ connected, does the LED return to full brightness?

  • Been in electronics for many years, and never seen an odd package arrangment as this BED, thermally speaking. Is one to heat sink both the bottom of the board and the top of the chip? It would be nice to buy an off-the-shelf heat sink for this board, but none exists. What are other users using for heat sink(s)?

    • As you can see in the related products section below, SparkFun does sell a heatsink that will work for this board. https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11510 It’s a ‘stick on’ heatsink, and you can put it on the top of the driver chip, or on the bottom of the board. Either will help considerably if you are generating a lot of heat. I designed the board for pretty good thermal performance on its own, but also have the ability to add a heatsink if you need to.

  • So if I’m running a 1.7A stepper should I use the heat sink?

    • It all depends upon what you set the current limit pot to. If you are using microsteps, and your motor (M+) voltage isn’t high enough, you may need to dial down the current limit pot to get accurate and even microsteps. So it will really depend upon how you are going to use the board, what voltage, what motor, etc. Also, the chip will shut down if it over-heats, so you won’t damage it with heat. If you are having heat problems, you’ll know and can then buy a heatsink or add a fan.

  • Can this driver be used with a unipolar stepper?

    • Unfortunately this board is only a bi-polar stepper motor driver. Remember that if you have a 6 or 8 wire stepper motor, you can wire it in bi-polar mode and use it with the BED.

    • Can I connect the VCC BED output to Vin pin to power up my Arduino board? Is 85mA enough to keep my Arduino working?

    or

    • If I’m using a jack power supply to run my Arduino, Can I use the Vin pin to power up the BED (M+)? Should I use a decoupling capacitor?

    Which choice is better?

    Thanks folks

    • Both will work. Which is better will depend upon your exact situation. If your M+ voltage is pretty low (like 10V or under) then you can use the VCC output of the BED to power the Arduino. But keep feeling the small chip on the BED (the voltage regulator) to see if it gets too hot.

      But I suggest using the Vin pin of the Arduino to power the BED if you are using a jack to supply power to the Arduino. That spreads out the heat load better on the regulators.

  • How do I get the 20% discount (educational) on 8 10735 Big Easy Drivers

  • Having some issue with this board. I’m using an arduino and an ROB-10846. Have copied the designers example arduino code and connection photos but all i get is erratic movements from the stepper throughout the range of the current pot.. I’m using a 12v 2.5A power supply. Any ideas what might be causing this? Am i missing something?

    • Have you tried slowly changing the current adjustment pot as you are stepping? Normally that will make quite a difference, and could smooth things out a lot. Also, many people don’t get a good ground between all of the boards in their system and it ends up causing noise on the digital inputs. Something to check.

  • Has anyone made a fritzing part for this?

  • I bought this stepper motor (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/9238) and now am struggling to change the microstep resolution. As I understood from the manual the default value is full step with MS1, MS2, and MS3 disconnected. And if I, for example, want to make only half step I need to add 20k Ohm resistor between MS1 and bottom ground (from microcontroller). Am I right about this?

    My other concern is about where to solder the cables from the above mentioned stepper motor. I soldered them in this sequence: red, green, yellow, blue to the upper As and Bs. Then I realized on the other side of the board that those are called Coils, while the next row of As and Bs is called Motor. Where should I connect my stepper motor. It works when is connected to Coils, but I cannot control the microstepping (or I am doing it wrong : ) Thanks for advices.

    • If you look at the copper patterns on the back of the board, or if you look at the schematic, you will see that the “Motor” and “Coil” connectors are electrically the same. I simply put down two footprints - one for 3.5mm screw terminals, and one for .100" headers. You can use one or the other or both. One coil of your motor goes across the A pins, and the other coil across the B pins.

      Also, if you look at the schematic, you will see that MS1, MS2 and MS3 are all pulled up on the board by 20K resistors. This means that if you don’t connect anything to those pins, it will be in 1/16th microstep mode. To change the mode, simply pull one or more of those pins to ground. Don’t use a resistor, just pull them directly to ground.

  • I have a problem to even start with BED. I can’t solder anything to it. I have a lead free solder and it just falls off. I see that Screw Terminals 3.5mm Pitch (2-Pin) are recommended for it, but if I’m not mistaken I still need to solder them to BED. Any ideas?

    OK, problem solved. Just use a solder with higher temperature.

  • Is this version 1.2?

  • Is there any way that changing the motor supply voltage while the motor is running would spike unexpected loads into the driver and blow the chip? I have a benchtop power supply and I was trying to get the motor to spin faster by increasing the voltage (from 25V –> ~30V) and it quickly overheated and went into thermal shutdown. Once it cooled, the light came back on but resistance tests showed a blown driver chip.

    I was using SF’s stepper ROB-10846

    • I have never had any problems moving the input power voltage around as the stepper is running. That isn’t to say it’s not possible, just that, in my tests with my lab power supply, going from 6V up to 30V and back does not produce any problems for me.

  • Hi, The easy driver has a warning about “connecting or disconnecting a motor while board is powered will destroy the chip”.

    Does this issue exist with the big easy as well? Or is it protected.

    Thanks.

    • While the BED is much, much better protected in this regard than the Easy Driver, it is still possible to damage the driver chip if you break any of the connections with a powered motor.

  • Hi, CAn I use a switching power supply 24v dc 3A, with big easy driver directly?. I have a printer power supply AC input 100-220v - 50-60Hz

    Regards.

  • My application is mobile and will be running off 12V batteries. My question is will the Bigeasydriver be less or more efficient that the Easydriver if adjusted down and assuming they are running small steppers? The reason I ask is I would prefer to have headroom with Bigeasydrivers for future applications, but if there is a noticeable efficiency difference between the two under the same load then I can not sacrifice the battery life.

    • It might be best to look at where your steppers are most efficient. Typically the are most efficient at a specific voltage. I’d start there.

  • To: EmbeddedMan

    I finally have 3 of Big Easy Drivers and have them drive my small DIY CNC Mill. It works great, however I want to switch to lower micro-stepping to increase torque of my steppers.

    I get the resolution table, but what do I exactly do on MS1, MS2 and MS3 to change their current value to (L)ow? I presume that I need to connect them to Ground, but I’m not sure.

    Can you please confirm or clarify it if I’m getting it wrong.

    Thanks.

    • Yup, you got it right. They will default to HIGH if you leave them disconnected, so you can then pull them to ground by just connecting them with a wire to ground. You can then use the table in the driver data sheet to see what microstep value you’ll get with any combination of MS1, MS2 and MS3

    • Or to anybody else who played with micro-stepping options…

  • I have successfully hooked up my nema23 1Amp/phase motor to your easydriver. It seems to be working fine with your driver. It’s fantastic. I’m actually running it on an arduino with a program called dragonframe.

    but…

    1. Heat - The stepper motor and the chip get too hot to touch. It will let me draw about 2.4 amps (or maybe more, scared to go any higher on adjustment), but it gets white hot. So i dialed it back to 1 amp or so. And my stepper motor and driver is still hot! I let it run for about ten minutes and everything seemed fine. Should I be worried about burning the chip or stepper? or can it stay crazy hot?

    2. Noise - There is a high pitch noise, coming from my stepper or driver (hard to pinpoint, they are so close in prox). The noise changes pitch when I adjust amps on the driver. How can I get rid of this annoying noise?

    Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    • Further experimenting

      1. heat - continues to be very hot to touch.

      2. noise - disapears when turned all the way up on amps. The driver pulls about 2.3 amps at max with this stepper (24v bi-polar). I’m just worried about the chip or stepper burning out. It made it through another ten minutes of testing. Heat sink?

      I’m planning on having this device on all day while doing stop motion projects.

      • Yes, if you’re pulling that kind of power, it will get plenty hot. Don’t lick it for too long. You can use little heatsinks, or fans, to cool the driver, motor, or both. Don’t worry about damaging the driver chip - it is protected against over temp. Just worry about melting nearby plastic and burning fingers. Are you sure you really need that much torque? If not, a smaller motor, lower current adjust, or lower input voltage will all help to reduce the temp.

        The noise is due to the chopping circuit oscillating near the audible range. As you found, changing the motor current can sometimes help eliminate the noise. Also, changing motors (even the same size/voltage, but a different model, or from a different manufacturer) can have a big effect too.

  • I’ve connected the ROB-10847 stepper motor and suplied the controller with 5v threw the M+ and GND terminals and the power light turns on, I’ve also conected the stepper to the A and B terminals and sent the correct pwm signal but the motor doesn’t turn. Any idea why? Do you know of any site where I can find support?

    Thanks

    • The problem was the 5V supply, adding a 12V made it work fine. Thanks

    • You can e-mail me directly at brian_schmalz at yahoo d0t com if you want. In answer to your question, you’ll need to give the BED more voltage than 5V if you want it to run. At least 7V for a minimum probably, but 12V is much better.

      *Brian

  • I trying to hook up the ROB-10847 stepper motor with to this driver board and use an Arduino to control the steps. Any ideas on a recommended power supply to power this board?

  • I am operating the EasyDriver with an Arduino. Is there a feedback method on the EasyDriver to tell me when the stepper motor reaches a stopping point, and the motor cannot turn anymore? {This is my very first blog post by the way}.

    • Welcome aboard, it’s good to have you here! There’s aren’t any feedback inputs on the EasyDriver (though I suppose you could make use of the enable input in a pinch). What most people do is to run limit switches to unused digital inputs on the Arduino, and write code to continuously monitor those inputs and stop the motor if a switch closes.

  • Will Sparkfun be using the A4988 on the next batch of these boards?

  • Sparkfun, are you expecting to receive another batch of the BED’s? I would like to order more than the single board that is left remaining.

    • SparkFun will build more of these boards as the quantity gets low. They will add it into their build schedule (and probably already have). The only issue is how long it takes for the next set to get built and tested.

  • FYI - just in case it’s not clear - there are holes for .100" headers, as well as 3.5mm terminal blocks on all of the I/O and power connections. Even though it looks like you can’t get a 6-pin terminal block across the top (four motor plus two power) it does fit just fine.
    So don’t buy 5mm terminal blocks, buy the 3.5mm ones instead. (SparkFun, you may want to update your Related Products list with this info.)


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