Matching controllers to motors - a beginners guide

Choosing the right controller for your application can be a complex business.

Already chosen a motor?

If you have already chosen a motor for your application then you should have a good starting point with the electrical specifications of the motor. It is always best to choose a controller which has more power than the motor can use as using a controller with less power can often result in damage to the controller and will also not get the full performance range from the motor. Once you have looked at the motor drivers which meet your electrical requirements it is then time to think about what features you require.

Not chosen a motor?

If you haven’t chosen a motor why not read out FAQ post on Choosing A Motor.

Zikodrive S+ (ZDSP) Stepper Motor Controller vs ZD2 Stepper Motor Controller

For this example, let’s assume you have picked a small NEMA 23 stepper motor which outputs 0.65Nm torque and requires an input current of 1.5A at 12v. Both the ZDSP and ZD4 controllers can handle this power level but they have different features which may have an impact on your choice. The ZDSP offers microstepping up to 1/16th microsteps whereas the ZD4 can go up to 1/128th microstepping. The ZDSP features a 24 bit speed resolution whereas the ZD4 has a 20 bit speed resolution.

In practice the key to making the right decision is to prioritise the performance features which are most important to you. If you needed exceptional positional accuracy and smoothness from your motor then the ZD4 Stepper Motor Driver would be the most useful. However, if finding and maintaining an accurate speed was the most important factor then you would be better with the ZDSP Stepper Motor Controller.

Physical Restrictions?

Never forget to check the physical sizes of a controller and think about how this might impact on your application.


Electrical and power ratings are fundamentally the most important factors. After that, think about what key performance features you are looking for. If in doubt, feel free to contact us to discuss