Can A Raspberry Pi Run A Stepper Motor? [A How-To Guide]

Raspberry Pi computers are prized for their customizability and their sheer versatility when it comes to programming and creating small computers for carrying out specific tasks.

Raspberry Pi computers are also similarly prized for their compact size and shape that makes them easy to carry around from place to place. 

Can A Raspberry Pi Run A Stepper Motor? [A Guide]

However, this means that there can be some degree of conflict when it comes to installing certain things onto the motherboard, as it becomes a matter of balancing this customizability with the unit’s portability.

As such you may be scouring the web to find out whether a Raspberry Pi can work with certain other components.

Today we are going to walk you through how to run a stepper motor with your Raspberry Pi and what you’ll need to do it.

Can A Raspberry Pi Run A Stepper Motor?

Luckily, yes, a Raspberry Pi computer can be used to run a stepper motor, and many people choose to run their own using these small computers.

In order to run a stepper motor using your Raspberry Pi computer, you will need to purchase an appropriate HAT, which allows hardware to be attached directly to the top of the motherboard, allowing the hardware to draw power from the motherboard itself. 

A single HAT on a Raspberry Pi computer will generally be more than enough to power up to 64 stepper motors!

This is a very significant number and helps to make a Raspberry Pi one of the best possible computer options when looking for a controller to use with your stepper motor ensemble.

What Is The Difference Between A Stepper Motor And A DC Motor?

One of the major differences between a stepper motor and a DC motor is the size of the two units.

DC motors tend to vary massively in size and can be very large or very small depending on what is needed from them.

Stepper motors, on the other hand, tend to usually be much larger, and you would be hard-pressed to find one that is significantly small.

This makes them much less portable, hence why many people wonder if they are compatible with Raspberry Pi computers.

What Do You Need In Order To Run A Stepper Motor With A Raspberry Pi?

In order to run a stepper motor with a Raspberry Pi computer, you will of course need to make sure that you have a HAT that you can directly install atop the motherboard of the Raspberry Pi. 

You will also need the Raspberry Pi computer itself. Try to grab a Raspberry Pi with plenty of power to make the motors run.

Alongside the computer itself, try to grab a Micro-SD card that has the Raspberry Pi OS installed on it, as this will allow you to run the code that allows you to power the stepper motors that you hook up to it.

How Do You Get A Stepper Motor To Run Using A Raspberry Pi?

Once you have physically installed the chosen number of stepper motors that you want to power with your Raspberry Pi, all you then need to do is run the correct program that is responsible for making the motors rotate. 

Raspberry Pi Stepper Motor

Step 1 – Update Your Raspberry Pi OS

The first thing you should do every time you intend to make changes to your Raspberry Pi is to update the Raspberry Pi OS to its latest version.

This ensures that the computer is running at its best, which allows it to install all of the appropriate programs and any updates. 

To update your Raspberry Pi, head to the command terminal and enter ‘sudo apt-get update’, which should then be followed by ‘sudo apt-get upgrade’, which will cause the upgrade to be installed before rebooting the system. 

Step 2 – Get The HAT Working

Once your Raspberry Pi has been updated, you will need to make sure that it can run the HAT that powers the fans. To do this, you will need to allow I2C communication.

To do this, head to the configuration menu, which is found on the user interface of the Raspberry Pi OS.

From there, simply find the preferences tab, and then look for the tab under that that reads “Interfaces”. From here, you will be able to enable I2C communication. 

Once you have done that, rest the unit to lock the changes in.

Step 3 – Download The Right Packages

Head to your terminal, and download the packages that can run the motors. Head to the terminal and enter the command:

“Sudo apt-get update

Sudo pip3 install adafruit-circuitpython-motorkit’

Once you have the packages installed and running on the computer, you can now use the interface to enter in specific code to get specific results from the motor.

We recommend heading to the internet to find the perfect codes for the perfect motor speed. 

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To Wrap Up

As you can now see Raspberry Pi computers can be used to run stepper motors, but you will need to make sure that you have the right HATs installed, as well as the correct packages installed into the computer to ensure that they will be able to spin as required.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can Raspberry Pi Control A Motor?

Yes. Raspberry Pi computers can be made to run all kinds of programs and peripherals like motors. 

How Much Power Can A Raspberry Pi Handle?

The most power that a Raspberry Pi computer can output is around 1.2 amps of power. This is enough to power small devices. 

How Much Voltage Can A Raspberry Pi Handle?

Raspberry Pi motherboards will fry when supplied with power over 3.3 volts! 

Erik D

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