This tiny breakout board for TI’s DRV8838 motor driver can deliver a continuous 1.7A (1.8A peak) to a single brushed DC motor. With an operating voltage range from 0V to 11V and built-in protection against reverse-voltage, under-voltage, over-current, and over-temperature, this driver is a great solution for powering a small, low-voltage motor. The carrier board has the form factor of a 10-pin DIP package, which makes it easy to use with standard solderless breadboards and 2.54mm perfboards.
Texas Instruments’ DRV8838 is a tiny H-bridge motor driver IC that can be used for bidirectional control of one brushed DC motor at 0V to 11V. It can supply up to about 1.7A continuously and can tolerate peak currents up to 1.8A for short durations, making it an ideal driver for small motors that run on low voltages. The DRV8838 is a great IC, but its small, leadless package makes it difficult for the typical student or hobbyist to use; the breakout board gives this driver the form factor of a 10-pin DIP package, which makes it easy to use with standard solderless breadboards and 2.54mm perfboards. Since this board is a carrier for the DRV8838, we recommend careful reading of the DRV8838 datasheet. The board ships populated with SMD components, including the DRV8838, and adds a FET for reverse battery protection.
Motor and motor power connections are made on one side of the board and logic power and control connections are made on the other. The driver requires a motor voltage between 0V and 11V to be supplied to the VIN or VM pin and a logic voltage between 1.8V and 7V to be supplied to the VCC pin; the logic voltage can typically be supplied by or shared with the controlling device. The VIN pin is the reverse-protected motor supply input and is the recommended point for connecting motor power. However, driver performance will start getting worse when the input voltage to the reverse-protection circuit is below a few volts, and 1.5V is the lower limit of where the VIN pin can be used. For very low voltage applications, the motor supply should be connected directly to VM, which bypasses the reverse-protection circuit.
The DRV8838 offers a simple two-pin PHASE/ENABLE control interface, where the PHASE pin determines the motor direction and the ENABLE pin can be supplied with a PWM signal to control the motor speed. The PHASE and ENABLE control inputs are pulled low through weak internal pull-down resistors (approximately 100KΩ). When the ENABLE pin is low, the motor outputs are both shorted to ground, which results in dynamic braking of a connected motor.
The SLEEP pin can be driven low to put the driver into a low-power sleep mode and turn off the motor outputs, which is useful if you want to let the motor coast. The SLEEP pin is pulled high through a 10 kΩ pull-up resistor on the carrier board so that the driver is awake by default; the quiescent current draw of the board will be dominated by the current through this resistor when the pin is driven low to put the driver to sleep. In most applications, this pin can be left disconnected or can serve primarily as a way to enable coasting. For applications where a low-power sleep mode is desirable, the 10kΩ pull-up resistor can be removed or the logic voltage (VCC) for the driver can be dynamically supplied by a digital output of your microcontroller.
- H-bridge motor driver: can drive one DC motor.
- PHASE/ENABLE interface (one pin controls direction and another controls speed).
- Under-voltage lockout on the logic supply and protection against over-current and over-temperature.
- Reverse-voltage protection on the motor supply.
- Can be used to control the N20 50:1, N20 298:1 and Plastic gearmotors.
- 1 x DRV8838 Single Brushed DC Motor Driver Carrier.
- PCB Length: 12.7mm.
- PCB Width: 10.16mm.
- PCB Height: 3mm.
- The DRV8838 datasheet recommends a maximum continuous current of 1.8A. However, the chip by itself will typically overheat at lower currents. In our tests, we found that for most combinations of logic (VCC) and motor supply (VIN) voltages, the chip was able to deliver 1.8A for between 30 seconds and a few minutes before the chip’s thermal protection kicked in and disabled the motor outputs; a continuous current of 1.7 A was sustainable for many minutes without triggering a thermal shutdown.
- When both the motor and logic voltages are low (on order of a few volts), the driver will start overheating sooner and the maximum achievable output current will be reduced. For example, in our tests with VIN and VCC at 2V, the maximum continuous output current of the driver dropped to around 1.4A, and drawing 1.8A from the chip caused it to overheat in a few seconds.
- The actual current you can deliver will depend on how well you can keep the motor driver cool. The carrier’s printed circuit board is designed to help with this by drawing heat out of the motor driver chip. Our tests were conducted at 100% duty cycle with no forced air flow; PWMing the motor will introduce additional heating proportional to the frequency.
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