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Big Easy Driver

Replacement:ROB-11876. We've fixed a few silk screen errors on the next rev of this board including an incorrect current adjustment arrow indicator, go check it out! This page is for reference only.

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 A4988 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.


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

Big Easy Driver Product Help and Resources

Core Skill: Soldering

This skill defines how difficult the soldering is on a particular product. It might be a couple simple solder joints, or require special reflow tools.

2 Soldering

Skill Level: Rookie - The number of pins increases, and you will have to determine polarity of components and some of the components might be a bit trickier or close together. You might need solder wick or flux.
See all skill levels

Core Skill: Robotics

This skill concerns mechanical and robotics knowledge. You may need to know how mechanical parts interact, how motors work, or how to use motor drivers and controllers.

2 Robotics

Skill Level: Rookie - You will be required to know some basics about motors, basic motor drivers and how simple robotic motion can be accomplished.
See all skill levels

Core Skill: Programming

If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.

2 Programming

Skill Level: Rookie - You will need a better fundamental understand of what code is, and how it works. You will be using beginner-level software and development tools like Arduino. You will be dealing directly with code, but numerous examples and libraries are available. Sensors or shields will communicate with serial or TTL.
See all skill levels

Core Skill: Electrical Prototyping

If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.

3 Electrical Prototyping

Skill Level: Competent - You will be required to reference a datasheet or schematic to know how to use a component. Your knowledge of a datasheet will only require basic features like power requirements, pinouts, or communications type. Also, you may need a power supply that?s greater than 12V or more than 1A worth of current.
See all skill levels


Looking for answers to technical questions?

We welcome your comments and suggestions below. However, if you are looking for solutions to technical questions please see our Technical Assistance page.

  • Tritaris / about 10 years ago / 7

    Was watching the 6th episode of The Blacklist and saw this board at the beginning of the show. Used in the prop bomb.

    • a_cavis / about 10 years ago / 4

      You know what they say. Big Easy Driver: It's the bomb

    • Colin_C / about 10 years ago / 1

      I totally caught that too! Sparkfun's boards stand out like a sore thumb.

      Funny that they picked this of all things.

  • Member #141211 / about 10 years ago / 3

    I had the same experience, mine smoked then caught a fire!

    • Member #454110 / about 10 years ago / 2

      It's good to know I'm not alone in this! BTW, this is a video of my second Big Easy Driver catching fire: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDM_-eSjJQo

    • TD Gonzales / about 10 years ago / 1

      Yeah I bought one last fall and hooked it up. It twitched out and didn't work. I assumed that 12V wasn't enough so I got a 32V 2.5A PSU. I plugged it in and smelled the smoke. Not sure if it was user error or just bad luck...

  • Member #451501 / about 10 years ago * / 3

    Hi. I bought 4 of these board. I just burned one and I really don't understand why. I hade one motor connected and I simply powered the board with 24 V/DC and it burned. Did anyone have the same problem?

    • Member #454110 / about 10 years ago * / 1

      Yes, I have the same problem. I just burned two. With the standard Easy Driver, my setup worked and still works. I have no idea why that happened. My Big Easy Drivers that caught fire (literally) are built 1/10/12. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

      • Sorry to hear about this issue. Please contact our tech support team at techsupport@sparkfun.com. They'll need your order number, but can get more information and hopefully help determine what the issue is that you are running into.

  • Bpaton / about 10 years ago / 1

    This driver board was used as part of a bomb making montage on episode six, season one of the Blacklist TV show. At approximately 20s into the episode someone is soldering something to the board. Turns out the bomb is dirty (radioactive) bomb.

  • joshl / about 10 years ago / 1

    this board is garbage. i've gone through three of these with a former senior scientist in robotics at a national lab. stick with the 293's and 298's.

    this problem isn't just with this product... i've had problems with other boards. sparkfun's product development philosophy is that it's okay to make money on products that haven't been fully fleshed out at the expense of their customers. but the fact is, this is not okay.

    i'll buy breakout boards, but boards developed or endorsed by sparkfun are off the table for me.

    sorry sparkfun, i like you but your engineering sucks.

    • I'm sorry to hear you've had such a poor experience. If you have particular feedback on any designs, we'd be thrilled to get your feedback and take a look at any possible revisions that need to be done for boards. We go through several rounds of prototypes and test all of our boards before they are shipped to customers and do not intend anyone to flush out errors for us. With embedded electronics, it is difficult to design for all possible applications of a product, but again, if we ever get feedback regarding possible design improvements, we take it very seriously. Please let us know what we can do to help!

  • Member #480551 / about 10 years ago / 1

    I am looking to use three of these with a GRBL-arduino setup. It appears that will work ok per the GRBL documentations. However, I am wondering if I could change this up and get a parallel breakout card and then use these with a LinuxCNC/EMC2 setup. I am trying to be flexible in the design so I could move to LinuxCNC if I need the extra complexity. Anyone had experience in either of these configurations?

  • Member #467600 / about 10 years ago / 1

    my big easy driver worked great for about a day. then the motor would just "stuter" when pulsed by the mega. have sent an email to sparkfun tech support. hope they can help

  • Member #429262 / about 10 years ago / 1

    Does this driver works whit any dc motor or just stepper motors?

  • Member #462390 / about 10 years ago / 1

    I bought this driver with the ROB-10846 motor. I am running with a plc to control step and direction. I hooked them up and had to play with the amp potentiometer. One I got that dialed in it ran like a champ. I have been running continuously for 8 hours and still all good.

  • Sigurd / about 10 years ago / 1

    Need one of these, but after reading the comments I'm not sure if I dear try. What it the best way to secure microcontrollers from beeing fried from one of these? Octocouplers?

  • Member #445722 / about 10 years ago / 1

    Mine went silently. But took my uno with it. 12V DC down one of the io pins! Sparkfun is being really good about the whole thing though. Got to give them Kudos for that! Thanks guys for the great customer service. Much appreciated!

  • Member #450756 / about 10 years ago / 1

    hi, might be a stupid question but it says the max motor drive voltage is 35V but if i have a larger psu then that will it burn the driver out? if so up to what input voltage can it accept?

  • evildemonic / about 10 years ago / 1

    I've managed to burn up two of these so far. Using a +5VDC 2A supply for the logic (shared with an ATMEGA88), and a +24VDC 7A supply for the motor power. Never unplugged the motor while powered. The first one made an audible pop before dying, after working normally for about an hour. The second one the A4988 chip caught fire while the ATMEGA88 was toggling it's enable sleep and reset pins. Anybody have a similar issue? I'm left scratching my head trying to figure out what happened...

    • gabe / about 10 years ago / 1

      Are you connecting the big easy driver's VCC pin to the 5V/2A supply? If so, that's your problem. The VCC pin is an output - there's an onboard regulator that regulates the motor supply power down to 5V. If you connected them together, the onboard regulator was fighting the 5V/2A supply and ultimately lost out.

      • evildemonic / about 10 years ago / 1

        On the second one, I think you are right. The first one I didn't hook up anything to the Vcc pin, but it failed in a different way. The second one, the regulator has failed, so I'm sure that's how I fried it...good point!

        • gabe / about 10 years ago / 1

          Glad I could help point you in the right direction for the second one. Good luck figuring out the other one!

  • Member #449048 / about 10 years ago / 1

    Can I uses a 555 timing circuit as a pulse signal for this board or do I need something a lot more sophisticated like a pic micro chip?


    • M-Short / about 10 years ago / 1

      You should be able to do that. You can do a lot more with a microcontroller, but if you just need a steady pulse than a 555 should work fine

  • Member #441724 / about 10 years ago / 1

    Recently I just bought a Big Easy Driver and a stepper like this https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10847. I connected 4 stepper wires(green, black, red and blue) to the BED. Then I connected to M+ and Gnd 12v. Also I ran a simple arduino sketch

    void setup() {
    pinMode(8, OUTPUT);
    pinMode(9, OUTPUT); digitalWrite(8, LOW); digitalWrite(9, LOW); }

    void loop() { digitalWrite(9, HIGH); delay(100);
    digitalWrite(9, LOW); delay(100);

    But the stepper didn't move or even jittered. I measured a voltage on AA and BB headers and it was equal to zero.

    What I did wrong or it is a problem with BED?

  • jochefo rdz / about 10 years ago / 1

    I was really wondering how do I know the current im using to drive the motor?

    • Member #445722 / about 10 years ago / 1

      Measure the voltage from TP1 to GND on the board. It's in the manual. here's an excerpt:

      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. The equasion for this relationship is Itripmax = Vref/(8 * Rs) Where Itripmax is the maximum current delivered to the motor, Vref is the voltage on TP1, and Rs is the sense resistor value.

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