Piker4X Stepper Driver

John C. Kleinbauer supplied me with the circuit board for the "Piker 4X" Stepper Motor Controller. I would highly recommend John's products! John shipped my order VERY quickly and I received it in record time. His plans are very good, and well thought out. Check out John's excellent web site for additional information.

The Piker 4X Board was as difficult to assemble as John indicated. The board has traces very close together that requires extremely good soldering and troubleshooting skills. After completing the assembly I checked, and found several shorts. Shorts were fairly easy to find and repair with a solder sucker or solder wick. I would recommend checking between each solder connection with its neighbour with a continuity checker. Also make sure to check for shorts on the +5V line. After you have rung out the circuit you can apply power. I would recommend installing a 0.5A fast blow fuse on the +5V power input line. This will protect the powersupply incase you missed something.

Constructing the Piker 4X took a couple of hours to insert components, solder, and test.

I have decided to insert the Piker 4X into a small project box I had kicking around. The board fits with a little room to spare. The extra room will be taken up by connectors and wiring. There is a considerable number of wires coming in/out of the Piker 4X. I have decided to use 5 pin DIN connectors for all I/O to the machine. The power hookup will use a standard molex IBM power supply connector (fastened inside the case with polyurethane glue). The power supply is an old IBM PC/Clone supply that I have slightly modified. I have installed a switch inside the case instead of having it on a pigtail wire that was originally designed. Only one set of wires for the +5/+12V supplies are used, so I removed the extra wires. The +5V/+12V/Gnd lines from the supply to the controller were wrapped in electrical tape (just for looks really).

Converted Power Supply!

Note all the "extra" cables that I have carefully removed from the supply. These supplies typically have two cables/connectors for the motherboard, a switch, and at least four assessory cables (I used only one of these).

Inside Case
This is a shot of the case with the top removed. Inside you can see a terminal block for connecting the power supply, a small fan to cool the transistors, a multitude of wires going to the 5 pin DIN connectors, and the power connector.

Outside Case
After completing the electrical/electronic section of the project, I stopped to consider potential problems. I was particularly worried about a short or some other unforseen problem blowing up my workstation. Since 486's are cheap these days I went out and bought an old one. The parallel port is on an easily replaced card just in case...

To further keep my peace of mind I wanted to test all the functions of the Piker 4X board prior to hooking it up to the steppers and switches. I figured it would actually save time in the long run to have a system test that could be easily run. Out came the old programming books and BINGO, I now have a complete system test (I used to be a Test Program Set Engineer) for the Piker 4X. The test program will detect LPT ports, limit switch inputs, X, Y, Z, and W outputs (step, rotate, rotate fast). Now I feel comfortable hooking the cables up!

If I were to do it again, I would:

  • Enclose power supply and Piker4X board into one large case
  • Utilized dedicated cables coming through strain relief grommets to terminal blocks
  • Install current limiting resistors inside the case
  • Install a power on light or indicator
  • Perhaps increase the voltage to the steppers ($$)

    That concludes the Piker4X construction info.