If your motor has three windings, typically connected as shown in the schematic diagram in Figure 1.1, with one terminal common to all windings, it is most likely a variable reluctance stepping motor. In use, the common wire typically goes to the positive supply and the windings are energized in sequence.
The cross section shown in Figure 1.1 is of 30 degree per step variable reluctance motor. The rotor in this motor has 4 teeth and the stator has 6 poles, with each winding wrapped around two opposite poles. With winding number 1 energised, the rotor teeth marked X are attracted to this winding's poles. If the current through winding 1 is turned off and winding 2 is turned on, the rotor will rotate 30 degrees clockwise so that the poles marked Y line up with the poles marked 2.
To rotate this motor continuously, we just apply power to the 3 windings in sequence. Assuming positive logic, where a 1 means turning on the current through a motor winding, the following control sequence will spin the motor illustrated in Figure 1.1 clockwise 24 steps or 2 revolutions:
Winding 1 1001001001001001001001001
Winding 2 0100100100100100100100100
Winding 3 0010010010010010010010010
The section of this tutorial on Mid-Level Control provides details on methods for generating such sequences of control signals, while the section on Control Circuits discusses the power switching circuitry needed to drive the motor windings from such control sequences.
There are also variable reluctance stepping motors with 4 and 5 windings, requiring 5 or 6 wires. The principle for driving these motors is the same as that for the three winding variety, but it becomes important to work out the correct order to energise the windings to make the motor step nicely.
The motor geometry illustrated in Figure 1.1, giving 30 degrees per step, uses the fewest number of rotor teeth and stator poles that performs satisfactorily. Using more motor poles and more rotor teeth allows construction of motors with smaller step angle. Toothed faces on each pole and a correspondingly finely toothed rotor allows for step angles as small as a few degrees.
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