Changing a Stepper Motor in a Game Console

Stepper motors are used in many everyday applications that many people may not even realize. Some of the main uses of stepper motors are for electronics like computers and game consoles. Stepper motors were introduced into gaming machines in the late 80’s and quickly replaced the traditional mechanical reel. The reels were now being consistently stopped by the stepper motor, these stops were predetermined by the console’s computer. By using a stepper motor in a console the machine can produce faster, smaller payouts, which can drastically change the gaming experience. Today digital machines are beginning to take over the stepper motor, however, gaming consoles with stepper motors continue to remain operational.

Like any machines, gaming consoles have a tendency to break down. Parts often need to be replaced and in many cases will need regular maintenance. Many people may not know how to replace parts to their machine, which means just throwing it out, and buying something new. There’s no need to replace your machine, if you can fix it for cheap.

Once you have your machine apart it will be time to determine what type of stepper motor you will need. There are many step motors available on the market, and finding the perfect fit is essential. First it is helpful to determine what type of stepper motor it is. Next, find the torque requirements, along with the machine usage. Finally, you will need the size and any other physical characteristics, such as wire settings.

There are three primary types of step motors that should be used in your gaming console. The first is the permanent magnet motor, which have relatively large step angles. The next is the variable reluctance motors, these have an excellent torque to inertia ratio. The hybrid motor operates in both permanent magnet and variable reluctance motors which provides higher torque. When selecting one of the following step motors for your console make sure to pick one that is the same size and weight of the previous one. Make sure to check the torque of the stepper motor. It should be higher, or equivalent to the previous step motor.


George Leger has a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, worked in private industry pioneering surface-mount technology and in government research labs for twenty years, published several papers on surface-mount technology, co-authored papers published in national symposiums on accelerator technology, was past president of SMTA and an adjunct professor at the community college level, holds a patent, and is a certified microchip design partner, serving as a consultant to many companies developing electronic circuits.

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