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Multiphase Motors


A less common class of permanent magnet or hybrid stepping motor is wired with all windings of the motor in a cyclic series, with one tap between each pair of windings in the cycle, or with only one end of each motor winding exposed while the other ends of each winding are tied together to an inaccessible internal connection. In the context of 3-phase motors, these configurations would be described as Delta and Y configurations, but they are also used with 5-phase motors, as illustrated in Figure 1.5. Some multiphase motors expose all ends of all motor windings, leaving it to the user to decide between the Delta and Y configurations, or alternatively, allowing each winding to be driven independently. 

Control of either one of these multiphase motors in either the Delta or Y configuration requires 1/2 of an H-bridge for each motor terminal. It is noteworthy that 5-phase motors have the potential of delivering more torque from a given package size because all or all but one of the motor windings are energised at every point in the drive cycle. Some 5-phase motors have high resolutions on the order of 0.72 degrees per step (500 steps per revolution). 

Many automotive alternators are built using a 3-phase hybrid geometry with either a permanent magnet rotor or an electromagnet rotor powered through a pair of slip-rings. These have been successfully used as stepping motors in some heavy duty industrial applications; step angles of 10 degrees per step have been reported. 

With a 5-phase motor, there are 10 steps per repeat in the stepping cycle, as shown below: 

Terminal 1 +++-----+++++-----++ 

Terminal 2 --+++++-----+++++--- 

Terminal 3 +-----+++++-----++++ 

Terminal 4 +++++-----+++++----- 

Terminal 5 ----+++++-----+++++- 

time ---> 

With a 3-phase motor, there are 6 steps per repeat in the stepping cycle, as shown below: 

Terminal 1 +++---+++--- 

Terminal 2 --+++---+++- 

Terminal 3 +---+++---++ 

time ---> 

Here, as in the bipolar case, each terminal is shown as being either connected to the positive or negative bus of the motor power system. Note that, at each step, only one terminal changes polarity. This change removes the power from one winding attached to that terminal (because both terminals of the winding in question are of the same polarity) and applies power to one winding that was previously idle. Given the motor geometry suggested by Figure 1.5, this control sequence will drive the motor through two revolutions. 

To distinguish a 5-phase motor from other motors with 5 leads, note that, if the resistance between two consecutive terminals of the 5-phase motor is R, the resistance between non-consecutive terminals will be 1.5R. 

Note that some 5-phase motors have 5 separate motor windings, with a total of 10 leads. These can be connected in the star configuration shown above, using 5 half-bridge driver circuits, or each winding can be driven by its own full-bridge. While the theoretical component count of half-bridge drivers is lower, the availability of integrated full-bridge chips may make the latter approach preferable. 

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