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Silicon Labs launches reference design for sensorless BLDC

08 Nov 2013

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Silicon Labs has rolled out a brushless dc (BLDC) motor control reference design that includes hardware and software for sensorless BLDC applications using the company's C8051F85x/6x microcontrollers (MCUs). The new reference design serves as a solution that can improve embedded development for various motor control applications in various areas such as remote control helicopters, motorised 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. The company said the design can get motors working in less than five minutes.

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 C8051F85x/6x MCU-based 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, according to the company. The motor control graphical user interface (GUI) also provides flexibility 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 suited for BLDC applications because of its best-in-class analogue performance, small footprint, and other features optimised for motor control designs. The 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' C8051F850-BLDC-RD motor control reference design is now available and priced at $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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