Make Video Podcast: Robot Motors – Steppers and Encoders


Stepper motors and motors with encoders are the muscles of robots.

Stepper motors have a magnet in them and a set of electromagnets push and pull them around. Motors with encoders have a disc at the end with lots of little bars and an eyeball that counts how many bars have passed.

Watch the video to see what they look like on the inside. Robot making is hard if you don’t know what you’re doing, I was lucky enough to stay up all night last night until daybreak with some robot-making friends and we got my computer set up to talk to the Make: controller and made an LED go on and off. More about the robot making get-together I went to in tomorrow’s robot installment.

You can watch the embedded flash movie above, or you can download the mp4, or you have it all done automatically for you by subscribing in itunes for free. – Link

14 thoughts on “Make Video Podcast: Robot Motors – Steppers and Encoders

  1. Monkey_Butler says:

    That was possibly the most idiotic explanation of motor encoders and stepper motors i’ve ever had the misfortune to see. Instead of destroying motors, a careful disassembly and use of some low end technical terms would have been better. it was confusing and not at all insightful.

    very very bad

    my panda is crying because of you bre

  2. says:

    bre, you really ought to invest in a vise… holding a grinder and the part is just foolish. Also, they way you were digging with the screwdriver TOWARD YOUR HAND made me cringe. You’re going to lose a hand. If you’re going to be demonstrating things, at least have the forethought to demonstrate basic safety.

  3. BicknellStudio says:

    Lighten up folks!! That was great fun, especially for those of us who usually learn the exact same way – take apart first, then ask questions!!

    As far as the free grinding, looks like Bre had good control going there, and most of us who are honest enough to admit it have been a bit careless with the tools now and again (although I personally draw the line at freestyle sawing practices!!). ;-)

  4. Bre says:

    We’re on this journey together and I invite you all to come on the adventure and add your wisdom and knowledge.

    I could find very little information about encoders on the internet. If you’re an encoder expert with a webpage, point me there!

  5. Tek465m says:

    There’s lots of information out there, you just need to ask the right phrases. Try searching “Gray code”, “Shaft or rotary encoder”, or “Mouse encoder”.

    The shaft encoder is basically a feedback device. Depending on how you set it up it can tell you: Shaft position, speed, and direction.

    Otherwise, I also have to agree with the safety aspect. If your going to post a video, at least edit out the unsafe practices. Didn’t you ever take a shop class?

    Learning can be fun, but not when it includes a trip to the ER!

  6. Bre says:

    Noted: I’ll edit dangerous tool practices out of future videos.

  7. minxit says:

    Well done and fab movie,
    I used to drive a stepper moter on my c46a a long time ago and hav’nt kept the way i did it linking the i/o ports to the stepper moter steps ? can you help.
    There was a projects book which i used but can not find and no doubt is now out of print.
    All the best

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