I love Ferris wheels. For me, the bigger and higher the Ferris wheel, the better. I love their slow, controlled, graceful spinning. They are big wheels spun and controlled by a big motor. The Ferris wheel derives its name from civil engineering inventor George Washington Gale Ferris Junior who created it for the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition.
The last time I traveled to Chicago with my wife, I took her to Navy Pier to ride the Ferris wheel. I took her up at night when the city was ablaze in the beauty of the lighted skyline. Sitting high atop the Ferris wheel and looking over the night skyline of downtown is a perfect way to literally sweep your wife off her feet.
I have four daughters. The second daughter’s name is Jessie. Jessie and I are alike in a lot of ways, but not about Ferris wheels. Ferris wheels have never been her favorite thing. To her, they are big, scary, rickety, and did I mention big? When Jessie was around five-years-old, our family went to a carnival. Her older sister and her friend were amused by the lights, sounds, and the enormity of the Ferris wheel. Her sister begged my wife and me to let these three ride the Ferris wheel themselves, unaccompanied by adults. Jessie pretended to feel the same amount of excitement.
The three of them got into the cart and took off—slowing disappearing into the sky with my wife and me watching from below. Jessie watched as we turned into the size of ants below. The cart rocked back and forth as the others swung their legs and arms out of the cart with glee. Jessie clung to the railing in front of her. All she could picture was that movie scene from Mighty Joe Young when the Ferris wheel burst into flames with a little boy stuck at the tippy top. The gorilla came out of nowhere and was the only one who could climb up to save him! JESSIE WANTED DOWN! IMMEDIATELY!
She begged her sister and her friend not to move a millimeter and started yelling for the conductor to get her down. Getting off the ride, she practically kissed the ground. She quickly ran over to me and explained how terrible, unsafe, and unamusing the experience was.
But me, being dad, grabbed her by her hand and took her back on the Ferris wheel to get her over the fear. I was thinking that maybe with me by her side to encourage her and steady her, she would get over it and not add another phobia to her list. Now an adult and married, Jessie is still afraid of Ferris wheels.
While I cannot control people’s fears from spinning completely out of control on a Ferris wheel, as an engineer I can help people stay in control by accurately controlling spinning motors. Electric motors convert electricity into mechanical energy. They do so by applying an electric field—either AC or DC—to magnets, thereby creating an electromagnetic field. An excellent design employing high-quality motor drivers—the electronic components responsible for controlling the electric currents applied to motors—ensures electric motors perform for their application.
STMicroelectronics (ST), a pioneer in the field of motor and motion control, provides an extensive range of motor drivers covering the requirements of stepper motors, brushed DC motors, and brushless DC motors with a wide range of voltage and current ratings (Figure 1).
Figure 1: STMicroelectronics is a market leader in the design and manufacture of motor drivers. (Source: STMicroelectronics)
ST offers a comprehensive range of motor drivers, covering all motor types, under their STSPIN Motor Drivers product family. The STSPIN Motor Drivers support three common motor driver categories:
The STSPIN Motor Control family provides industry-leading motor drive performance integration and efficiency in a variety of applications. A complete ecosystem of evaluation and development tools supports developers in the design phase and shortens time-to-market.
I am no expert on Ferris wheel motors. However, I do know that all motor categories mentioned previously are found ubiquitously throughout our lives in industrial, office, home, and city applications. Let us look at some of the ways motor drivers help out.
Engineers can use the STSPIN Motor Drivers to satisfy the design requirements of a variety of applications (Figure 2).
Figure 2: The STMicroelectronics STSPIN Motor Control Infographic details the STSPIN Motor Drivers' main applications. (Source: Mouser)
Perhaps like me, you enjoy riding big Ferris wheels. On the other hand, you might be more like my daughter and consider it a crazy adventure well-worth avoiding. Regardless of your view, electric motors help make the world go round, and the precise spin and control provided by STMicroelectronics STSPIN Motor Drivers help us all to enjoy the ride.
Paul Golata joined Mouser Electronics in 2011. As a Senior Technology Specialist, Paul contributes to Mouser’s success through driving strategic leadership, tactical execution, and the overall product-line and marketing directions for advanced technology related products. He provides design engineers with the latest information and trends in electrical engineering by delivering unique and valuable technical content that facilitates and enhances Mouser Electronics as the preferred distributor of choice.
Before joining Mouser Electronics, Paul served in various manufacturing, marketing, and sales related roles for Hughes Aircraft Company, Melles Griot, Piper Jaffray, Balzers Optics, JDSU, and Arrow Electronics. He holds a BSEET from the DeVry Institute of Technology (Chicago, IL); an MBA from Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA); an MDiv w/BL from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Fort Worth, TX); and a PhD from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Fort Worth, TX).
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