Motor Control PCB

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What is a motor control board?

A motor control center (MCC) is an assembly to control some or all electric motors in a central location.
It consists of multiple enclosed sections having a common power bus and with each section containing a combination starter, which in turn consists of motor starter, fuses or circuit breaker, and power disconnect.

motor control board
motor control board work

How does a motor control board work?

How does a motor speed controller work? All 4QD controllers work by switching the battery connection to the motor on and off around 20,000 times a second using a technique called pulse width modulation [PWM]
The motor averages these pulses out, as this rate of switching is too fast for the motor to detect.

What is motor control example?

Fine motor control is the coordination of muscles, bones, and nerves to produce small, exact movements.
An example of fine motor control is picking up a small item with the index finger (pointer finger or forefinger) and thumb.

The opposite of fine motor control is gross (large, general) motor control

motor control example

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Motor Control PCB

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Motor Control PCB

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Motor Control PCB

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Motor Control PCB

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Motor Control PCB: The Ultimate FAQs Guide


Motor control PCB is an essential in our daily lives. This type of PCB serves a great role in the operation of a myriad of devices we depend on every day.

Any propulsion system, including electric cars, airplanes, fuel pumps among others, virtually depend on motor controller circuit board to operate efficiently.

This guide will answer some of the importance you may be having on motor control PCB.

Let’s dive right in.

Can You Use Motor Control PCB In All Types Of Motor Controller?

A motor control PCB is the heart of any motor controller device. It helps in regulating the motor speed, torque and equipment output.

There are 4 primary types of motor controller that must incorporate motor control circuit board:

  • AC Motor Controllers

Also known as adjustable frequency drives, variable speed drivers, or AC inverters, AC motor controllers alter the input voltage to motors. The attain this by modifying the frequency of energy going into the motor, thus regulating the torque and speed.

  • DC Motor Controller

DC motor controllers, similar to AC motor controllers, also change input power. They alter the input current to direct current output, and regulates the speed and torque of the motor efficiently.

  • Servo Motor Controller

A servo motor controller alters the input power through regulation of the source of current to required current, pulse, or frequency output. These motor controllers are perfect for specific applications.

Servo motor controllers are ideal for use in motion control applications, particularly in construction and manufacturing sectors. They control motor speeds, torques, and positions.

  • Stepper Motor Controllers

Figure 1 Stepper Motor Controller PCB

Stepper Motor Controller PCB

Also called motor indexer, this motor controller type regulates input power through adjustment of source of current to stepped current output. Stepper motor controllers are also perfect for construction and manufacturing industries.

Similar to other types of motor controllers, stepper motor controllers regulate the speed, torque and position of the motor.

Which Are The Main Components Of Motor Control PCB?

Generally, an inverter-based motor controller PCB system comprises of a:

  • Digital Part (Microcontroller)
  • Control Part (IC Gate Driver)
  • Comparator For Protection
  • Op-Amps For Sensing Current And Other Temperature And Current And Sensors
  • Power Stage (Established On MOSFET And IGBT Devices)
  • Low-Voltage Power Supply
  • Some Voltage Regulators.

Figure 2 Block Diagram of Components of Motor Control PCB

Block Diagram of Components of Motor Control PCB

What Are The Principle Of Operation Of DC Motor Controller PCB?

There are three key principles by which motor controller PCB device operates:

H Bridge Circuit (Direction controller)

H bridge circuitry, which features four switches regulated in pairs, is the simplest mechanism of controlling DC motor.

When the circuit closes either of the switch sets, they complete the circuit instantly and eventually power the motor. Motor controller PCB with H-bridge may control the motor speed as well.

Figure 3 H Bridge Motor Controller Circuit Board

H Bridge Motor Controller Circuit Board

Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) Circuit (Speed Controller)

PWM circuitries vary the motor speed through simulating a reduction or increase in voltage supply. Pulse width modulation is simple and affordable to implement, an attribute that facilitates continual regulation of the speed of motor.

Here, the motor control PCB incorporates variable speed drive controllers, which operate by relaying cyclical impulses to the motor. These pulses make the coil inductance to cause binding smoothing effect.

Variable Resistance (Armature Controller)

This is another mechanism of modifying the speed of DC motor, where you vary the input current either via field or armature coil.

There will be change in output shaft speed with change in coils current. Variable resistors can alter the current to enable you increase the motor speed.

Which Are The Common IC Packages For Motor Control PCB?

Here are the common IC packages you will use in motor control PCB manufacturing:

TSSOP And QFN Packages

TSSOP packages come in rectangular shape and utilize 2 rows of pins. The TSSOP packages applied in motor control PCB assembly often feature a massive bare pad underneath the package. The exposed pad helps in heat dissipation from the package.

Figure 4 TSSOP Package for Motor Control PCB

TSSOP Package for Motor Control PCB

On the other hand, QFN packages refer to leadless packages with pads about the exterior edges of the device. They also have bigger pad at the center of the package that helps in heat dissipation from the die.

QFN Package

QFN Package

To dissipate heat from QFN package, you must make a properly-soldered connection to the bare pad. Often, the exposed pad is at ground potential, therefore, you can attach it to the ground plane of motor control PCB.  Basically, thermal vias are located in the pad section directly.

Leaded Packages

Ordinary leaded packages, such as SOT-23 and SOIC packages are usually employed for low-power motor control PCB devices. To optimize the power dissipation capacity of the packages, apply “flip-chip on lead-frame” structure.

In this construction, you bond the die to the metal leads utilizing solder and copper bumps without using bond wires. This facilitates conduction of heat from the die via the leads to the motor control circuit board.

Figure 6 Flip-on-Chip Leadframe Construction

Flip-on-Chip Leadframe Construction

To optimize thermal performance, attach wide copper areas to the leads carrying high current. Typically, the output, ground, and power pins are connected to copper areas on motor controller PCB.

Flip-Chip QFN Packages

FCQFN packages resemble conventional QFN packages. However, rather than utilizing wire bonds for die to pads connection, you flip the die upside-down and attach to pads below package directly.

FCQFN Package

FCQFN Package

You can locate the pads adjacent to the heat-producing power elements on the die. Therefore, they are usually placed as long stripes rather than small pads.

The Flip-Chip QFN packages utilize copper bumps rows on the die surface that are eventually fixed to the leadframe.

Flip-Chip QFN Construction

Flip-Chip QFN Construction

How Do You Solder Exposed Pads Of IC Packages In Motor Control PCB?

QFN and TSSOP packages feature a big exposed pad underneath them. Linked to the back of the die, this pad helps in the transfer of heat from the IC package.

Therefore, it is essential you solder the pad properly to the motor control PCB to effectively dissipate heat.

The opening within the stencil used for depositing solder paste for the exposed pad is not usually designated on the IC package datasheet.

Normally, SMT process engineers apply their own rules on the quantity of solder to deposit and pattern type to employ on the stencil.

When one opening with size equal to the pad is used, you will deposit large quantity of solder paste. This can lead to lifting up of the package because of surface tension when the solder melts.

Another challenge is solder voiding (gaps or cavities within solder areas). Solder voiding takes place when the volatile flux component vaporizes during the process of solder reflow. This can result in forcing of solder from the joint.

To solve these problems, for exposed pads over ~2 mm2, the depositing of paste is usually in various small circular or square areas. Portioning the solder paste into smaller segments enable volatile flux constituents to more effortlessly escape without dislodging the solder.

What Are The Component Placement Guidelines For Motor Control PCB ICs?

Component placement instructions for motor control PCB ICs are the same as those for other power IC types. You should install bypass capacitors as close to power pins of the package as practical, with bulk capacitors positioned nearby.

Many motor controller PCB ICs utilize charge-pump capacitors and/or bootstrap, which you also need to place close by the IC package.

Why Is Thick Copper Layer Ideal For Motor Control PCB?

While featuring a continuous, broad plane minimizes thermal resistance, copper thickness on the plane is equally important in motor control PCB thermal performance.

Increasing the copper plating thickness on the circuit board reduces the plane’s effective thermal resistance.

Copper makes an excellent heat conductor, hence, in terms of thermal management, you should have more copper area on your motor controller PCB.

Thick copper, like 36 microns (2-ounce) foil, is better in heat conduction than thinner copper. Regrettably, thick copper is considerably costly and challenging to attain fine geometries with.

Generally, 34 microns (1- ounce) copper is standard, particularly for circuit boards having 0.5mm pin pitch or lower. For external layers, you can use ½-ounce copper that can be plated up to thickness of 1-ounce.

Solid copper planes utilized on the inner multilayer motor control PCB layers disperse heat well. Nonetheless, because these planes are usually located in the middle of the circuit board stack-up, heat may be trapped within the PCB.

To disperse heat from the planes, you can add copper coverage on the external PCB layer.

Additionally, you can place many vias to stitch, or connect the areas that trap heat to the internal planes.

On two-layer motor control PCBs, dispersing heat may be more challenging because of presence of components and traces.

Therefore, it is necessary to provide more solid copper having perfect thermal interconnections to the motor control circuit board.

Placing copper pours on either external layers and joining them using several vias helps disperse heat through sections cut by parts and traces.

Why Are Multi-Vias Preferred For Motor Control PCB?

In motor control PCB design, multiple vias are normally utilized for high current interconnections between layers. Using multi-vias is not only essential in high current connections, it also helps in low parasitic grounding.

It is important to give correct quantity and dimensions of via to attain low resistance and prolonged reliability. Generally, the via diameter ought to at minimum be the trace length.

When utilizing copper plane as trace, you should locate the multi-vias near the current’s entry or exit from the component pins.

Figure 9 Motor Control PCB Assembly

Motor Control PCB Assembly

What Is The Recommended Trace Width In Motor Control PCB?

You must correctly size the width of motor control PCB traces. This is because of its large input and output current (surpassing 10A in certain instances).

Wider traces have lower resistance therefore, you should size traces to ensure there is no excess power dissipation within the trace resistance.

Excessive dissipation of power would lead to heating of the traces to unallowable temperatures.

The IPC-22211 is the common standard used by PCB designers to establish the right trace width.

This standard features charts that display the needed cross-sectional area of copper for different current levels and permissible temperature rise.

You can convert this area to trace width at specific copper layer thickness.

For instance, a trace conducting 10A current within a 1-ounce copper layer ought to be only above 7mm wide to attain 10 degrees Celsius temperature rise.

At current of 1A, the trace width should be 0.3mm. Due to this, it might be impossible to conduct 10A current via motor control PCB IC pad with a width lower than 1mm.

It is crucial to note that the recommended trace width in IPC-22211 is applicable to long motor control PCB trace with constant width.

You can conduct much larger current via a short segment of motor controller PCB trace without negative effects.

This is possible when they are interconnected to a larger copper area or trace.

This is because the short, thin board trace has low resistance. Moreover, any heat produced they generate is absorbed by the broader copper areas that function as heat sink.

Why Should You Have Wider Traces In The Inner Layers Of Motor Control PCB Than In Outer Layers?

Traces embedded within the inner layers of motor control PCB are not capable of dissipating heat as efficient as those on external layers. This is due to the poor heat conduction ability of the insulating substrate.

Therefore, traces within the inner motor control PCB layers need to be roughly double the width of those on the exterior layers.

What Are The General Routing Guidelines For Motor Control PCB Design?

Observe the following general routing tips when performing motor control circuit board design:

  • Ensure the gate drive traces are broad and short in length as practical. Begin with 20 mils trace width for a minimum of 1 oz copper, but you can add more if needed by high currents.
  • Route the switch node trace and signal trace of high-side gate as close as practical. This reduces loop area, inductance, and chances of noise due to dv/dt switching.
  • Avoid using right-angle motor control PCB traces. A 90-degree curve in a board trace serves as impedance and could lead to reflection in the current.

When there is switching in the motor phases, the sharp curves may cause electromagnetic interference (EMI) problems.

Circular bends are perfect but might not be applicable in actual motor control PCB designs. Therefore, obtuse angles are the ideal alternative for corner routing.

  • Transition vias to pads, especially from narrow to thick board traces on pins at the output. The teardrop method minimizes the thermal strain of signal transition.

The technique also prevents traces crack and makes them stronger mechanically. The teardrop method applies if you are moving from small signal to thru-hole pad.

  • Route motor control PCB traces in parallel sets if routing about an object. Doing so helps in avoiding discontinuities and differential impedance as a result of split traces.

This technique is crucial for signals of current-sensitive amplifiers.

  • Position passive PCB components in the signal path, like ac-coupling capacitors or source-matching resistors, and close to one another.

Placing parts in parallel leads to broader spacing of traces. Staggering components of motor controller PCB is not recommended since it forms narrow areas.

  • Independent ground for digital and analog sections of circuit is among the easiest and most efficient noise suppression techniques.

Figure 10 Component Placement on Motor Control PCB

Component Placement on Motor Control PCB

Why Should You Incorporate Thermal Vias In Motor Control PCB?

Vias refer to small plated holes often utilized to lead a signal trace of motor control PCB from one layer to the other.  Thermal vias are formed in the same manner, however, they are intended to convey heat from one board layer to the other.

The correct application of thermal vias is vital dissipation of heat on the motor controller PCB, but you must consider various manufacturability issues. There is thermal resistance in vias, which implies they experience some temperature drop as heat move through.

Therefore, the vias need to be big and have more copper area within the hole as much as practical.

Remember that thermal vias must not have thermal reliefs, and you should connect them to the copper areas directly.

How Do You Prevent Solder Wicking In Motor Control PCB?

There exist a number of ways to minimize solder wicking in motor control circuit board.

One method is using extremely small via holes in order to ensure that the solder volume wicked in the holes remains negligible. Nevertheless, small vias experience more thermal resistance, thus you require more to attain the equivalent thermal performance.

The other technique is via tenting on the back of the motor control PCB. This entails eliminating the opening in solder mask found on the back so that the via is covered by the solder mask.

The via will be plugged by the solder mask when the via hole is narrow; hence, solder cannot wick across the board.

What Are The Pathways Of Dissipating Heat Produced Within The Motor Control PCB?

An important consideration for motor driver thermal performance is the pathways which heat generated inside the device can dissipate.

Three primary paths for heat to go from the die into lower temperature environments are:

  • Encapsulation Material
  • Bond Wires
  • Thermal Pad

Figure 11 Motor Control PCB Heat Dissipation Pathways

Motor Control PCB Heat Dissipation Pathways

Using these three paths as examples, the thermal pad is the most efficient path for heat to go from the device, followed by the encapsulation material, and finally the bond wires.

The technology used in the thermal pad integrated circuit package creates a low thermally resistive path from the die to external copper planes. Therefore, the thermal pad can efficiently conduct a large amount of heat away from the die.

The thermal pad poured underneath the driver should be large enough to cover the entire area of the thermal pad, and still include a large surface area on other parts of the PCB.

The thermal pad should also be tightly bound to the bottom ground plane with several thermal vias placed directly underneath the thermal pad.

Connecting both the top and bottom ground planes to the thermal pad of the driver significantly improves the amount of heat dissipated in a PCB design. For this reason, these planes should be made as large as possible in the layout.

Is EMC Compliance Essential In Motor Control PCB Design?

EMC compliance should be key consideration if designing new motor control PCB applications. It helps in reducing project costs and cycle times and avoid resources wastage to retrospectively resolve EMC concerns.

Moreover, whilst good motor control PCB layout will entail same manufacturing costs to substandard ones, expenses related to corrective operations can be high.

Therefore, you should take precautions during implementation phase of hardware design to regulate effect of electrostatic discharge, electrical fast transients, and electromagnetic emissions.

Since the motor control circuit board handles high voltages and currents, the power stage arrangement is vital.

Furthermore, the board layout should include various elements, like circuitry areas, track widths and lengths, and correct traces routing.

This is in addition to optimized configuration of the several system components and power sources within the PCB area.

You need to first focus on minimizing the EMI problems and over-voltage spikes because of parasitic inductance through the PCB traces.

Also, make sure that you correctly conduct the electrical fast transients (EFT) noise introduced via the system’s supply lines.

Moreover, via supply voltage or external ground far from sensitive components such as IC gate drivers or microcontrollers.

This is because it can result in bit faults in digital circuitries and lead to poor signal integrity within analog circuits.

Failure to ensure these may lead to false current readings, inadequate protection, overvoltage signals, unwanted fault signals, and unusual input PWM signals. All these problems might cause temporal loss of normal functioning and even perpetual motor control PCB damage.

Lastly, you should prevent electrostatic discharge (ESD) inducing conditions that may permanently destroy components.

You do this by applying hardware solutions such as optimized PCB layout, low-pass filters, clamp and protection diodes.

What Are The EMI Sources In Motor Control PCB?

Electromagnetic interference is the disruptive electromagnetic energy transferred from one electronic gadget to the other, it can be:

  • Conducted if propagated through a power line
  • Radiated emission if transmitted via free space

The typical EMI sources in motor control PCB devices include:

  • Microcontrollers
  • Power regulators
  • Transmitters
  • Electronic discharges
  • Analog amplifiers
  • Transient power components like switching power supplies, lighting, and electromechanical relays.

In microcontroller-based system such as motor controller PCB, the clock circuit normally produces the highest wide-band noise.

Though all electronic circuitries are receptors of EMI transmissions, control, reset, protection, fault and interrupt lines are the highly critical signals.

The major EMI source in motor control PCB applications is normally the switch-mode power supply (SMPS).

It regulates transient high voltages and current in square pulses form having high dv/dt and di/dt rates.

The waveforms are exceptionally nonlinear and hence feature high harmonics content. With many frequency components, the signals comprise of what is usually known as noise.

The noise can easily be radiated or conducted into surrounding motor control PCB circuitries, leading to their malfunctioning.

You can employ soft switching techniques and snubbers to reduce the electromagnetic interference from the SMPS.

What Are The Features Of Motor Control PCB Layout That Have Major Effect On EMI?

The crucial layout structure aspects that have substantial impact on electromagnetic interference are:

  • PCB: choose the size, type and number of layers (usually cost driven) of PCB
  • Grounding: choose the grounding topology that is directly linked to PCB selection.
  • Signals: determine what kinds of ground, power and control signal will be there for the required motor control PCB functionality.
  • Coupling Paths (Crosstalk): establish the preferred signals exchanging technique between functional blocks (trace routing). Also determine whether most of the lumped components of motor control PCB circuit board will be thru-hole or SMD.
  • Component Placement And Orientation: identify large parts or those that need heat sinks since they might have placement limitations and need special treatment.
  • Shielding: When other techniques of regulating EMI do not meet your EMC limits or objectives, consider how you may apply shielding to the PCB.

How Do You Minimize Ground Impedance In Motor Control PCB?

Dedicating large board areas to ground and interconnecting components to these sections through the shortest paths possible reduce impedance to current flow. As a result, this decreases ground impedance.

You can minimize resistance and inductance by utilizing broad, short motor control PCB traces. This technique is ideal if you cannot establish immediate interconnection to ground plane.

What Are The Electrical Specifications Of Motor Control PCB When Placing Your Order?

Here is how to specify motor control circuit board to your PCB manufacturing:

  • Maximum Output Voltage: The PCB output, which should conform with the motor system.
  • Rated Power: The highest level of power the motor can utilize.
  • AC/DC Supply Voltage: The AC/DC input voltage range for efficient operation.
  • Continuous Output Current: The current the motor control circuit board will often carry without surpassing the heat limit.
  • Communication Standards: For example, parallel and serial interfaces.
  • Bus Types: Comprise of industry-standard architecture, advanced technology attachment, etc.
  • Peak Current Output: The highest practical current output for short duration.
  • Motor Controllers: There frequency range from 50 to 400 Hz.
  • Single/Three Phase Inputs

What Are The Applications Of Motor Control PCB?

There are limitless applications of motor controller PCB in the following fields:

  • Consumer Electronics
  • Robotics
  • Manufacturing
  • Automobiles
  • Military among others.

Let’s look at some specific motor control PCB applications:

  • Consumer fans

They are a perfect choice to utilize in fans due to their energy-efficient operation.

  • Pumps

Manufacturers are incorporating DC motor control PCB to power pumps. This is due to their exceptional response whilst moving and ability to vary speed.

  • Modern Electric Bikes

Current electric bikes incorporate DC motors. For that matter, DC motor controller PCB device found application in the back and front wheel hub to produce the necessary power and torque levels.

  • Kid Toys

Since the toys need varying levels of speed and movement, integrating motor control PCB allow them to satisfy the requirements.

  • Modern Electric Vehicles

DC motors are perfect for electric cars. Therefore, EV manufacturers are using motor controller PCBs to ensure energy efficiency and longevity.

For any questions or inquiry on motor control PCB, contact us now.

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