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Automate your DC linear axis in 10 minutes with D3 Dryve!

Brushed DC motors are considered the easiest motors in terms of control. If adequate voltage is applied on the terminals and the poles are energised, rotation is initiated.

Unfortunately, motion control applications are a little more complex than that. Velocity, as well as output current,  needs to be adjustable. Ease of use has to be taken into consideration by installing external buttons or joystick for direction control and safety for people and machinery requires limit switches to stop potential overshooting of the system.

Traditionally, a PLC has to be introduced with an experienced programmer to sort all of the above. This not only increases cost but commissioning and troubleshooting of the system requires expert knowledge.
Motion control is tricky, a simple to use motor requires expert knowledge to perform a controlled A to B motion.

Can this system be more streamlined and even avoid the use of a PLC altogether?
Yes it can! Let's see how we can do all of the above with no PLC in 10 minutes with the igus D3 Dryve Controller.

D3 Dryve is a compact controller designed for ease of use and to help people automate their system with no prior programming knowledge required.

Let's see what is required to start automating you brushed DC system.

  • 24Volts and up to 2.5Amps Power Supply
  • Linear axis powered by DC Motor 
  • Pair of inductive or mechanical NC limit switches (optional)
  • 2 external NO push buttons or 2-Position Joystick (optional)
  • Connection cables

All of the above can be wired directly on the D3 Dryve system and you can start moving your motor. d3_b121947ed9aee54cfde080dcab1808db14079eff.png

Let explore the D3 Dryve Terminals and understand how they work.


The first two terminals (X1.1, X1.2) are the motor terminals. Two cables from the two terminals of the DC motor have to be connected.Make sure all connections are tight.

The power supply terminals(X2.1, X2.2) are the two terminals where the D3 Dryve is powered from.
This has to be DC power. 24VDC and Ground (0V) are wired to the controller from your power supply.

Limit switch right, is the terminals where your limit switch has to be connected. The limit switch has to be a normally closed PNP, limit switch
The voltage output is where the limit switch is powered 24VDC from the D3 controller.
Because we are using a normally closed switch the signal input will be provided 24VDC from the limit switch when the switch is NOT energised. When the carriage of the linear module triggers the limit switch, the power to the signal input will be 0V. Monitoring this change, the controller will stop the motion, and it will not allow the user to command any further movement to the same direction of the limit switch. Only movement to the opposite direction will be allowed.

Same goes for the Limit switch left but for the opposite direction of movement.

The last two pairs of inputs can be used to wire NO push buttons to initatie the left and right motion. For example, if the application requires the user to operate the linear axis from a distance*, external push buttons or a joystick can be wired.

*Maximum length of cables is 3metres due to EMI. Bigger lengths have to be tested to confirm functionality.

This was an overview of the connection terminals of the D3, let us look at the external buttons dip switches and LED indicators.


D3 Dryve has directional buttons (S1, S2) already installed on the housing, to allow for quick testing of the system, and allowing users to operate the motors without having to purchase third party components.

The Force Limit potentiometer (P1) can be used to limit the current provided from the controller to the DC motor. This enables the control of various size motors with the same hardware up to 2.5A. Useful note: Current (Amperes) in DC motors is proportional to the torque, hence the name Force Limit.

Set Velocity Potentiometer (P2) is used to control the speed of the motor rotation. This is achieved through PWM (Pulse Width Modulation)

To explain PWM in simple terms, with the P2 potentiometer you control the duty cycle or how fast the voltage is being switched ON and OFF. If the power is ON and OFF for the same period of time this equals a 50% duty cycle and the motor runs with roughly 50% speed.


Note 1: PWM is one of the most efficient methods of reducing the voltage supplied to an electrical device.
Note 2: Voltage in DC motors is proportional to the maximum speed that a motor can reach.

And last but not least, the versatility of this controller is hidden into its simplicity. The Dip Switches on the side can be used to:

Select the type of motion

The D3 Dryve incorporates two different types of motion:

Jog motion, where the motor is powered as long as S1, S2 or an external directional button is pressed and stops when the button is released.

Tip Motion, where the motor operates when the S1, S2 or an external directional button is pressed momentarily and continues the movement until

  1. A limit switch is triggered
  2. Force limit is exceeded
  3. The opposite directional button is pressed.

Enable different acceleration profiles:

Acceleration profiles will be required in applications where the product can be damaged from jerky movement. This can be liquids such as toxic chemical solutions where spills can result in human or equipment damage.

Currently up to 5 pre-defined acceleration rates can be selected by following a simple guide outlined in the manual attached.


Limit Switch/ Force Limit Control

Another option from the dip switches, that increases the freedom of design, is the limit switch control when set to block travel, this allows the D3 to be used, without limit switches.

To do that the D3 incorporates the force limit potentiometer and a force limit sensor but it needs a quick calibration on the user side.


NOTE: This operating mode is only suitable for drives/motors which, with their own torque, cannot damage the mechanical structure of the axis! Powerful drives with incorrectly adjusted force limitation may damage or destroy the mechanical structure of the axis!

For a detailed guide on how to calibrate the force setting please read the attached manual.

More settings and features are being introduced with our dryves, for latest information please visit D3 Dryve

To purchase the dryve please search RS Stock No.(179-8511) at the RS homepage.


  1. What power supply can I use with the D3 Dryve?
    -The power supply needs to be 24volts and at least 2.5Amperes, RS Stock No.  (042-8445)
  2. Can I control steppers, Brushless DC or bigger capacity motors with D3?
    -D3 dryve can only operate DC brushed motors, but the D1 controller can control all of the motor types mentioned with much higher power output, for details visit
  3. What type of limit switches can I use with D3 Dryve?
    -The limit switches can be a 2 or 3 wire inductive or mechanical.
    The type has to be PNP NC (normally closed)
  4. What type of external push buttons joystick can I use?
    -Push buttons or joystick can be momentary or self-locking.
    The type has to be NO (normally open)
  5. How many DC motors can the D3 Dryve control?
    -One DC motor per controller
  6. Can I use relays to control the external buttons inputs?
    -Yes, this can be achieved by using NO relays and switching them from a higher control to achieve the left or right movement
  7. Can I power the X4.2 input directly to achieve directional movement and save buying cables and relays?
    -No, the X4 inputs can be used from a higher system by potential free contacts only.
  8. Can I mount the D3 dryve in a DIN rail cabinet?
    -Yes, just ask for the AK-DCCON-D3-0001 adapter kit from igus
  9. Where can I find the operating manual of the D3 Dryve?
    -Attached, in RS site, and for the latest manual always visit
  10. Are there any tutorials?
    -Yes, please visit our YouTube learning channel where you will find video tutorials and wiring guides, below is the first in this series of tutorials.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article regarding the D3 Dryve!
Following this article will be an introduction to the igus D1 Dryve motor controller.

If you enjoyed this article like it and comment any questions you might have or contact igus UK directly at 01604 677240



Electro-mechanical background with interest in motion control and automation, DC, EC, Steppers! Low Cost Automation Engineer at igus, UK.
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