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Silicon Labs intros BLDC motor control reference design

Posted: 08 Nov 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:BLDC motor control  reference design  embedded 

Silicon Labs has announced a brushless DC (BLDC) motor control reference design featuring ready-to-use hardware and software for sensorless BLDC applications using the firm's C8051F85x/6x MCUs. The C8051F85x/6x MCU-based motor control reference design claims to offer a comprehensive, system-level solution that accelerates embedded development for a range of motor control applications including remote control helicopters, motorized toy cars, electronic speed controllers, PC and electric fans, electric tools such as cutters, shears, mowers, nail guns and staplers, and small appliances such as mixers, grinders, toothbrushes and vacuum cleaners.

As embedded system designs continue to increase in complexity and development schedules grow tighter, reducing development time is a key consideration in MCU selection for motor control applications. The motor control reference design makes the developer's job easier by providing cost-effective hardware and production-quality firmware for quick evaluation and deployment in cost-sensitive BLDC applications, stated the company. In addition, the motor control GUI gives developers greater flexibility and ease-of-use when controlling and understanding BLDC motor operation, and access to production-ready motor control source code helps to expedite the design-in time.

The sensorless BLDC motor control reference design uses a C8051F850 MCU to control a BLDC outrunner motor (typically found in toy helicopters) mounted on the motor mount board. The powertrain board contains gate drivers, power MOSFETs, a current sensing resistor as well as resistor dividers to attenuate motor phase voltages so that they can be measured by the C8051F85x/6x MCU. The MCU board contains a C8051F85x/6x MCU, as well as buttons to start/stop and change motor direction and reset the MCU. The MCU's PWM output drives the gate drivers on the powertrain board. The MCU board also contains an operational amplifier (op-amp) to amplify the current sensing voltage so it can be measured by the MCU.

The C8051F85x/6x family is geared for BLDC applications because of its best-in-class analogue performance, small footprint and other features optimised for motor control designs. The cost-effective, high-performance 8051-based MCU spins the reference design kit's 6-pole motor at a maximum speed of 50,000rpm. The C8051F85x/6x MCU family also helps developers reduce overall system cost by eliminating the need for external components such as a crystal oscillator, voltage reference, level shifters, temperature sensor and other discretes.

Silicon Labs' sensorless BLDC reference design is designed to give developers a productive, comprehensive "out-of-box" experience, providing everything needed to get a motor spinning in less than five minutes. The reference design includes the C8051F850 MCU control board providing the intelligence to drive the motor and associated peripherals; powertrain board with gate drivers and power MOSFETs; Turnigy 450 Series 3800kV BLDC outrunner motor attached to a motor mount board; CD with application notes, production-ready motor control firmware source code and software tools including a motor control GUI; complimentary Keil PK51 development software with unrestricted licence (an approximate value of $2,500); and power supply and USB cable.

Silicon Labs' C8051F850-BLDC-RD motor control reference design is available for $164.99. Samples and production quantities of Silicon Labs' C8051F85x/6x MCUs are also available. MCU pricing in 10,000-unit quantities begins at $0.40, and high volume pricing starts at $0.30.

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