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Silicon Labs Reference Design Helps Developers Get Motors Spinning In Less Than Five Minutes

Silicon Labs (NASDAQ: SLAB), a leader in high-performance, analog-intensive, mixed-signal ICs, today introduced a brushless dc (BLDC) motor control reference design featuring ready-to-use hardware and software for sensorless BLDC applications using Silicon Labs’ C8051F85x/6x microcontrollers (MCUs). Silicon Labs’ new reference design provides a comprehensive, system-level solution that accelerates embedded development for a wide range of motor control applications including remote control helicopters, motorized 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.

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. In addition, the motor control graphical user interface (GUI) gives developers greater flexibility and ease-of-use 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.

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