By “Stepper drivers” I’m referring to those little modules that are mounted on top of the controller baseboard holding the printer’s CPU.
The CPU on the baseboard is responsible for fetching the g-code and subsequently pars it into motion and such, making the printer do its thing. However, stepper motors are entirely analog devices, requiring voltages and currents applied to them in a timely manner to make them do their thing. A surprisingly complex task. This has led to the construction of so-called stepper driver modules; the subject of this article.
Stepper drivers are controlled by the CPU through simple digital signals – and a few of them also feature more complex serial comms for ‘advanced setup’. The idea is to encapsulate the whole analog/timing/sequence thing into a blackbox with an easy-to-use interface offered to the CPU.
Popular stepper drivers come in a de facto formfactor resembling a 16-pin DIL package.
Analog setup – connecting the wires
Digital setup – preparing for operation