Diodes for Stepper Motors

A project log for Pick-and-Place Machine

A custom-built pick-and-place machine running OpenPnP.

lanceLance 02/11/2021 at 17:151 Comment


To add protection against high voltage spikes damaging the stepper motor drivers, it is recommended to add diodes to the motor output.  There is documentation on this at the Smoothieware site, however, I found there were some inconsistencies that led to some confusion.

The Documentation

You can find the information about adding diodes to the stepper motor drivers at the bottom of this page:

Smoothieware troubleshooting page

That page also links to a write up on the diode installation which I provide here for convenience:

Diode installation reference

The Confusion


The documentation recommends using a TVS diode for protection.  The first thing to note is that there are unidirectional and bidirectional TVS diodes.

First Point of Confusion

The documentation contains a link to the bidirectional diode.  The pictures show a unidirectional diode (there is a cathode mark on one end).

Second Point of Confusion

The link in the documentation is for a diode on Digikey.  The pictures on Digikey show a unidirectional diode on the pages for both the bidirectional and unidirectional diode.  The products are correct, but the images are wrong for the bidirectional diode.  To further complicate things, the description does not spell out which is the unidirectional diode and which is the bidirectional one.  You have to read the datasheet and compare it to the part numbers.

Sorting it Out

After some research and testing, I concluded you need the bidirectional version.  This is the version that has the "C" in the suffix.  The links for Digikey and Mouser are provided below.

Digikey Original Diode

This is the link from the documentation.

Documentation diode link

Digikey Equivalent Replacement Diode

This has the same ratings as the diode in the documentation link.  Its picture is correct so it is less confusing.

Digikey equivalent


Mouser equivalent


jandsblackburn wrote 04/07/2021 at 11:44 point

This was a very useful  article and yes I was confused when reading the Smoothieware article. Received my P6KE30CA diodes this morning. I take it that by being bidirectional  it doesn't matter which way round they are installed.



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