A stepper motor, also known as step motor or stepping motor, is a brushless DC electric motor that divides a full rotation into a number of equal steps. The motor’s position can then be commanded to move and hold at one of these steps without any position sensor, as long as the motor is carefully sized to the application in respect to torque and speed.


Permanent magnet motors use a permanent magnet (PM) in the rotor and operate on the attraction or repulsion between the rotor PM and the stator electromagnets.

Variable reluctance (VR) motors have a plain iron rotor and operate based on the principle that minimum reluctance occurs with minimum gap, hence the rotor points are attracted toward the stator magnet poles.

hybrid synchronous are a combination of the permanent magnet and variable reluctance types, to maximize power in a small size.


A unipolar stepper motor has one winding with center tap per phase. Each section of windings is switched on for each direction of magnetic field. Since in this arrangement a magnetic pole can be reversed without switching the direction of current, the commutation circuit can be made very simple for each winding. Typically, given a phase, the center tap of each winding is made common: giving three leads per phase and six leads for a typical two phase motor. Often, these two phase commons are internally joined, so the motor has only five leads.


the windings can be identified by touching the terminal wires together in PM motors. If the terminals of a coil are connected, the shaft becomes harder to turn. One way to distinguish the center tap (common wire) from a coil-end wire is by measuring the resistance. Resistance between common wire and coil-end wire is always half of the resistance between coil-end wires. This is because there is twice the length of coil between the ends and only half from center (common wire) to the end. A quick way to determine if the stepper motor is working is to short circuit every two pairs and try turning the shaft. Whenever a higher than normal resistance is felt, it indicates that the circuit to the particular winding is closed and that the phase is working.

Bipolar motors have a single winding per phase. The current in a winding needs to be reversed in order to reverse a magnetic pole, so the driving circuit must be more complicated, typically with an H-bridge arrangement (however there are several off-the-shelf driver chips available to make this a simple affair). There are two leads per phase, none are common.

This entry was posted in Basics, Basics, Notes, Tools and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>