AB-023 : Miniature Motor Driver Resource

Overview

Welcome to our Motor Driver Resource section. Here we have suggested some chips that are suitable for driving our motors and linear resonant actuators. Please note this is a simple guide and you should always refer to the product’s datasheet for accurate ratings and design advice.

Whilst most DC motors are essentially driven by the same principle (by applying a DC voltage), these chips boast a host of different features. Some accept analogue inputs, others PWM or I2C, H-bridges will enable you to easily change the direction of rotation and haptic drivers are specially designed for haptic feedback applications. We’ve split our guide into the following categories:

Transistors

Transistors act like an electrical switch, enabling a low current or low voltage source (like a microcontroller) to drive a motor. By closing the switch the transistor can connect the motor to a suitable power supply where it has access to sufficient voltage and current. They can also be used with PWM signals to vary the level of voltage.

There are different types of transistor, here we suggest two MOSFETs; one n-channel (switch closed with high voltage at the base) and on p-channel (switch closed with low voltage at the base). Thousands of different devices exist, far too many to list here. We have previously used the ones below in-house.

Manufacturer Product Code Type Output Range Link
ON Semiconductor MGSF1N02L n-channel 20 V, 750 mA ON Semiconductor Website
ON Semiconductor NTR4101 p-channel 20 V, 3.2 A ON Semiconductor Website

H-Bridges

Built using 4 transistors, H-bridges enable you to easily reverse the polarity of the applied voltage to change the rotation direction. This makes them great for gearmotor applications, or anything where you might want need to rotate the motor both ways.

You can either build it yourself using the MOSFETs above with a reference circuit or purchase a single discrete chip.

There are many different types of design, including ‘half bridges’ and ‘dual H-bridges’. The chips below are all full H-bridges and a couple are ‘dual’ (can drive two motors). Again, there are many more available.

Manufacturer Product Code Type Output Range Link
STMicroelectronics L298 Dual Full Bridge Driver 46 V, 4 A STMicroelectronics Website
STMicroelectronics L6201 DMOS Full Bridge Driver 60 V, 5A STMicroelectronics Website
Texas Instruments DRV8837 ( / 38 / 39) Full Bridge Driver 11 V, 1.8 A TI Website
Texas Instruments DRV8832 ( / 30 / 33) Full Bridge Driver 6.8 V, 1 A TI Website
Texas Instruments DRV8800 Full Bridge Driver 36 V, 2.8 A TI Website
Freescale MC33886 Full Bridge Driver 40 V, 5.2 A Freescale Website
Allegro MicroSystems A3908 Full Bridge Driver 5.5 V, 500 mA Allegro Website
Allegro MicroSystems A4973 Full Bridge Driver 50 V, 1.5 A Allegro Website

Vibration Motor Driver IC

There is a small selection of components that are specifically designed to operate vibration motors with a simple on/off drive pattern. They operate in a similar method to the transistor chips above, but provide a different output voltage to the supply voltage – much like low-dropout voltage regulator (worth researching).

When using batteries, the supply voltage will vary depending upon the battery’s level of charge – when using a transistor this results in a varying performance from the vibration motor. These ICs will enable you to achieve consistent vibration motor performance across the entire battery range.

Some are fixed and some are adjustable, but most can be controlled by PWM to vary the speed.

These can, of course, be used to drive normal DC and gearmotors too as they output a DC voltage, however, some of them are specifically branded for the vibration motor market. Some users will get better performance from the H-bridges listed above or Haptic Feedback Chips, so be sure to check these other lists.

Manufacturer Product Code Type Output Range Link
ON Semiconductor NCP5426 TSOP-5 2 V, 150 mA ON Semiconductor Website
Maxim MAX1749 SOT23 6.5 V, 120 mA Maxim Website

Haptic Feedback Chips

These are the most complex chips in this section. Many of them are able to drive both eccentric rotating mass vibration motors and linear resonant actuators, have a variety of drive methods, include a range of impressive additional features and some even store haptic waveforms – all on a single component.

For top-end haptic feedback performance, you will need one of these devices along with a high-performance haptic actuator.

Manufacturer Product Code Type Output Range Link
Texas Instruments DRV8601 ERM / LRA 5.5 V, 400 mA TI Website
Texas Instruments DRV2603 ERM / LRA 5.5 V TI Website
Texas Instruments DRV2604L ERM / LRA 5.5 V TI Website
Texas Instruments DRV2605 ERM / LRA 5.5 V TI Website
Fairchild Semiconductor FAH4820 ERM 3.6 V, 500 mA Fairchild Website
Fairchild Semiconductor FAH4830 ERM 3 V, 500 mA Fairchild Website
Fairchild Semiconductor FAH4840 LRA 2 V, 200 mA Fairchild Website

Brushless Motor Driver

Our brushless motors (vibration and normal) are more difficult to drive compared to the brushed DC varieties above. They are electrically commutated, which means the driver activates the different internal coils depending upon the position of the motor to maintain a constant direction of rotation. Of course, the benefit is a greatly improved lifetime as the precious metal brushes (which wear out) are removed.

All of the chips below are sensorless brushless vibration motor drivers and may require some external components, typically 3 resistors between the driver outputs and motor terminals. Note the 910-101 does not require an additional driver as it already has an internal IC.

Manufacturer Product Code Type Output Range Link
Texas Instruments DRV11873 Sensorless 12 V, 1.5 A TI Website
Texas Instruments DRV10866 Sensorless 5 V, 680 mA TI Website
NXP TDF5140A Sensorless 20 V, 800 mA NXP Website