Introduction: Stepper Motor Basics - 5 Wires Unipolar / Bipolar Motor

About: Made the kessel run in less than twelve parsecs.


The basics on how stepper motor, stepper controller, and stepper driver work.

NOTE: There are slight differences on how the different variant of stepper motors work (i.e. the 4 wires, 5 wires and 6 wires stepper motors). So do check out my other instructable videos on these motors to learn more.

Stepper Motor Basics - 4 Wires Bipolar Motor

Stepper Motor Basics - 6 Wires Unipolar / Bipolar Motor


Stepper motor is an impressive piece of engineering. Instead of making full turns like a normal motor, stepper motor make steps, one small degree at a time. It is commonly used in photocopy machines, printers, CNC machines, robotics, etc where precision motion (steps) and controls are needed.

Stepper motors fall into 3 main categories namely Unipolar, Bipolar, or Hybrid (Unipolar + Bipolar).

  • A Unipolar stepper motor must be driven in Unipolar mode;
  • A Bipolar stepper motor must be driven in Bipolar mode;
  • A Hybrid stepper motor can be driven in Unipolar or Bipolar mode.


  • Although in reality there are several set of coils in a stepper motor forming what is known as a phase, for understanding purposes it is best to imagine that there are just 4 coils in a stepper motor.
  • If any one of the coil is energized, the motor will make one step, then stays in that place (after 1 step is completed).
  • In order for the motor to complete one full revolution, it needed to make multiple steps. The coils need to be energized in the proper sequence to achieve this.
  • Check out the video to see how everything works.