RageBridge

RageBridge is a no-frills and robust dual-channel DC motor controller for robotic and vehicular drivetrain applications. It can supply 30 to 40 amps per side continuously, dependent on cooling conditions. An ultra-wide (8 to 50 volts) input range maximizes versatility and allows it to be used in many different systems. It can operate as two independent motor control channels, or a “mix” option can be selected which allows “single stick” operation. A large and fully isolated heat sink base allows you to attach it to a metal chassis for even better thermal performance.

This product is no longer available. Check out RageBridge 2!

Quick Specifications

Voltage Input Range
12 to 36v nominal (8 – 50v absolute limits)
Continuous Current
30A True Continuous (40+A with fan cooling)
Maximum Current
Up to 90A Constant-Current Mode Limited
Switching Frequency
32kHz
Braking
Synchronous rectification with regenerative braking
Logic Power 5V @ 150mA
Inputs 2x R/C for drive signals
1x R/C for invert/reverse control
1x Mixing mode selecting header
Size 4.5″ x 2″ x 0.8″
Weight 3.5oz without wires or connectors
Heat Management
Aluminum heat spreader plate

Options

RageBridge can be purchased in 2 configurations:

  • With Wires for users that want plug-and-play. 6″ long 14 gauge wire pigtails are pre-soldered to the board.
  • Without Wires for advanced users that want maximum customization. No wire pigtails are pre-soldered.

Product Gallery

Documentation

Source files for this product are available under the CC-BY-SA unless specifically outlined within the source file:

More Information

Architecture

RageBridge is a dual H-bridge allowing control of up to two DC brush motors independently, integrated onto a single board. The switching topology of RageBridge is known as “synchronous rectification“. In this method, the motor is always being alternately powered and then braked.

While it may sound unnecessarily complicated, it significantly decreases heat dissipation in both motor and power MOSFETs because current is never just being burnt off as heat for a portion of the switching cycle.

The bidirectional current flow means the battery supply gets recharged when the motor is undergoing braking, with energy supplied from the kinetic energy of the moving drivetrain or actuator. This translates to an increase in run time of a few percent in most cases.

Because RageBridge was designed to replace two single-channel controllers, the two H-bridges must be externally wired to the same battery input. This also means you can run two different voltage systems off the board if your design requires it!

Component Selection

RageBridge uses 8 massive TO-263-7 “DĀ²PAK” MOSFETs from International Rectifier. The reason these large, more expensive FET packages were chosen was because of robustness.

While many modern DC motor controllers advertise 30A continuous current, they often use only 1 small power SO-8 or D-PAK transistor per leg of the H-bridge! Such small packages, no matter how well heat sunk, will always have worse thermal overload transient properties. The same amount of transient heat energy will heat them up far more, simply due to less mass of metal.

The 8 power MOSFETs are heat sunk through the board onto copper planes. With no heat sink or additional airflow, RageBridge has demonstrated continuous 30A performance. And unlike most DC motor controllers around, that 30A rating is a…

True Continuous Current Rating

Controller current ratings are one of the most black magic filled arts out there. Instead of describing in detail how other DC motor controllers obtain their “ratings”, RageBridge will have several temperature-versus-time graphs for example loads generated and publicly provided, like the one below:

There’s just no arguing against hard data! Chances are, your load will mimic one of the test cases enough for you to understand the suitability of RageBridge for your specific application. For most situations, however, RageBridge should be considered a 30A motor controller, and that is a rating which can be trusted.

Constant Current Limiting

RageBridge differs again from most DC motor controllers in how it handles motors that are bigger than it should be driving!

  1. The vast majority of controllers simply do not have any protection. That means a sudden short, drivetrain lockup, or motor failure will destroy the controller as it tries to flow the motor stall current. Sizing a controller to handle motor stall current is very impractical and expensive, often resulting in controllers being many times bigger than they need to be.
  2. Many popular DC motor controllers today advertise “overcurrent protection”. But often, they mean is the controller will shut down upon a certain current threshold, and often requires a power cycle or the load to drop to zero before enabling again. This means that under heavy acceleration, your robot or vehicle might just turn off all of a sudden, leaving it (or you) stranded. Once again, the controller has to be many times overrated in order to handle the load.

RageBridge features an innovative hysteresis-based current limiting scheme where there is a true output current ceiling. The motor output current is sample 1000 times every second, and if it is over the threshold, the output voltage is reduced each cycle until the current falls under the limit.

This results in a fluctuating output voltage whose average magnitude is just enough to maintain the maximum current. The sampling rate is fast enough to prevent a sudden motor stall from damaging the controller in most cases, and can even delay motor burnup significantly.

A known maximum current also aids in the design of drivetrain and manipulator components. Because every DC motor produces a certain amount of torque (Ft-lb or Newton-meters) per amp of current drawn, the motor will be producing a known maximum torque. RageBridge can therefore simply mechanical design significantly and aid in choosing components better suited to the task.

It is important to note that the maximum current may cause slightly slower acceleration in drivetrain applications, compared to an unprotected controller. For light devices, the effect may be minimal or totally negligible. For heavier devices with higher powered motors, acceleration may be noticeably ramped.

The Bottom Line

RageBridge is a dual-channel DC brush controller designed for R/C systems which drives motors at 30 to 40 amps all day, anywhere from 8 to 50 volts, with no fancy frills.