ODrive Documentation

High performance motor control

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Getting Started

Table of contents

Hardware Requirements

You will need:

Wiring up the ODrive

Make sure you have a good mechanical connection between the encoder and the motor, slip can cause disastrous oscillations or runaway.

All non-power I/O is 3.3V output and 5V tolerant on input, on ODrive v3.3 and newer.

Wiring up the motors

Wiring up the encoders

Connect the encoder(s) to J4. The A,B phases are required, and the Z (index pulse) is optional. The A,B and Z lines have 3.3k pull up resistors, for use with open-drain encoder outputs. For single ended push-pull signals with weak drive current (<4mA), you may want to desolder the pull-ups.

Image of ODrive all hooked up

Safety & Power UP

Always think safety before powering up the ODrive if motors are attached. Consider what might happen if the motor spins as soon as power is applied.

Downloading and Installing Tools

Most instructions in this guide refer to a utility called odrivetool, so you should install that first.


  1. Install Python 3. We recommend the Anaconda distribution because it packs a lot of useful scientific tools, however you can also install the standalone python.
    • Anaconda: Download the installer from here. Execute the downloaded file and follow the instructions.
    • Standalone Python: Download the installer from here. Execute the downloaded file and follow the instructions.
    • If you have Python 2 installed alongside Python 3, replace pip by C:\Users\YOUR_USERNAME\AppData\Local\Programs\Python\Python36-32\Scripts\pip. If you have trouble with this step then refer to this walkthrough.
  2. Launch the command prompt.
    • Anaconda: In the start menu, type Anaconda Prompt Enter
    • Standalone Python: In the start menu, type cmd Enter
  3. Install the ODrive tools by typing pip install odrive Enter
  4. Plug in a USB cable into the microUSB connector on ODrive, and connect it to your PC.
  5. Use the Zadig utility to set ODrive driver to libusb-win32.
    • Check ‘List All Devices’ from the options menu, and select ‘ODrive 3.x Native Interface (Interface 2)’. With that selected in the device list choose ‘libusb-win32’ from the target driver list and then press the large ‘install driver’ button.


We are going to run the following commands for installation in Terminal.

  1. If you don’t already have it, install homebrew:
    /usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"
  2. Install python:
    brew install python
  3. If you get the error: Error: python 2.7.14_2 is already installed, then upgrade to Python 3 by running:
    brew upgrade python
  4. The odrive tools uses libusb to communicate to the ODrive:
    brew install libusb
  5. Now that you have Python 3 and all the package managers, run:
    pip3 install odrive


  1. Permission Errors: Just run the previous command in sudo
    sudo pip3 install odrive
  2. Dependency Errors: If the installer doesn’t complete and you get a dependency error (Ex. “No module…” or “module_name not found”)
    sudo pip3 install module_name

    Try step 5 again


  1. Install Python 3. (for example, on Ubuntu, sudo apt install python3 python3-pip)
  2. Install the ODrive tools by opening a terminal and typing sudo pip3 install odrive Enter
  3. (needed on Ubuntu, maybe other distros too) Add odrivetool into the path, by adding ~/.local/bin/ into ~/.bash_profile, for example by running nano ~/.bashrc, scrolling to the bottom, pasting PATH=$PATH:~/.local/bin/, and then saving and closing, and close and reopen the terminal window.


ODrive v3.5 and later
Your board should come preflashed with firmware. If you run into problems, follow the instructions here on the DFU procedure before you continue.

ODrive v3.4 and earlier
Your board does not come preflashed with any firmware. Follow the instructions here on the ST Link procedure before you continue.

Start odrivetool

To launch the main interactive ODrive tool, type odrivetool Enter. Connect your ODrive and wait for the tool to find it. Now you can, for instance type odrv0.vbus_voltage Enter to inpect the boards main supply voltage. It should look something like this:

ODrive control utility v0.4.0
Please connect your ODrive.
Type help() for help.

Connected to ODrive 306A396A3235 as odrv0
In [1]: odrv0.vbus_voltage
Out[1]: 11.97055721282959

The tool you’re looking at is a fully capable Python command prompt, so you can type any valid python code.

You can read more about odrivetool here.

Configure M0

Read this section carefully, else you risk breaking something.
There is a separate guide specifically for hoverboard motors.

1. Set the limits:

Wait, how do I set these?

In the previous step we started odrivetool. In there, you can assign variables directly by name.

For instance, to set the current limit of M0 to 10A you would type: odrv0.axis0.motor.config.current_lim = 10 Enter

Current limit
odrv0.axis0.motor.config.current_lim [A].
The default current limit, for safety reasons, is set to 10A. This is quite weak, but good for making sure the drive is stable. Once you have tuned the oDrive, you can increase this to 60A to increase performance. Note that above 60A, you must change the current amplifier gains. You do this by requesting a different current range. i.e. for 90A on M0: odrv0.axis0.motor.config.requested_current_range = 90 [A], then save the configuration and reboot as the gains are written out to the DRV (MOSFET driver) only during startup.

Note: The motor current and the current drawn from the power supply is not the same in general. You should not look at the power supply current to see what is going on with the motor current.

Ok, so tell me how it actually works then…

The current in the motor is only connected to the current in the power supply sometimes and other times it just cycles out of one phase and back in the other. This is what the modulation magnitude is (sometimes people call this duty cycle, but that’s a bit confusing because we use SVM not straight PWM). When the modulation magnitude is 0, the average voltage seen across the motor phases is 0, and the motor current is never connected to the power supply. When the magnitude is 100%, it is always connected, and at 50% it’s connected half the time, and cycled in just the motor half the time.

The largest effect on modulation magnitude is speed. There are other smaller factors, but in general: if the motor is still it’s not unreasonable to have 50A in the motor from 5A on the power supply. When the motor is spinning close to top speed, the power supply current and the motor current will be somewhat close to each other.

Velocity limit
odrv0.axis0.controller.config.vel_limit [counts/s].
The motor will be limited to this speed. Again the default value is quite slow.

Calibration current
You can change odrv0.axis0.motor.config.calibration_current [A] to the largest value you feel comfortable leaving running through the motor continuously when the motor is stationary. If you are using a small motor (i.e. 15A current rated) you may need to reduce calibration_current to a value smaller than the default.

2. Set other hardware parameters

odrv0.config.brake_resistance [Ohm]
This is the resistance of the brake resistor. If you are not using it, you may set it to 0. Note that there may be some extra resistance in your wiring and in the screw terminals, so if you are getting issues while braking you may want to increase this parameter by around 0.05 ohm.

This is the number of magnet poles in the rotor, divided by two. To find this, you can simply count the number of permanent magnets in the rotor, if you can see them.
Note: This is not the same as the number of coils in the stator.
If you can’t see them, try sliding a loose magnet in your hand around the rotor, and counting how many times it stops. This will be the number of pole pairs. If you use a magnetic piece of metal instead of a magnet, you will get the number of magnet poles.

This is the type of motor being used. Currently two types of motors are supported: High-current motors (MOTOR_TYPE_HIGH_CURRENT) and gimbal motors (MOTOR_TYPE_GIMBAL).

Which motor_type to choose?

If you’re using a regular hobby brushless motor like this one, you should set motor_mode to MOTOR_TYPE_HIGH_CURRENT. For low-current gimbal motors like this one, you should choose MOTOR_TYPE_GIMBAL. Do not use MOTOR_TYPE_GIMBAL on a motor that is not a gimbal motor, as it may overheat the motor or the ODrive.

Further detail: If 100’s of mA of current noise is “small” for you, you can choose MOTOR_TYPE_HIGH_CURRENT. If 100’s of mA of current noise is “large” for you, and you do not intend to spin the motor very fast (Ω * L « R), and the motor is fairly large resistance (1 ohm or larger), you can chose MOTOR_TYPE_GIMBAL. If 100’s of mA current noise is “large” for you, and you intend to spin the motor fast, then you need to replace the shunt resistors on the ODrive.

Note: When using gimbal motors, current_lim and calibration_current actually mean “voltage limit” and “calibration voltage”, since we don’t use current feedback. This means that if you set it to 10, it means 10V, despite the name of the parameter.

If using encoder
odrv0.axis0.encoder.config.cpr: Encoder Count Per Revolution [CPR]
This is 4x the Pulse Per Revolution (PPR) value. Usually this is indicated in the datasheet of your encoder.

If not using encoder

3. Save configuration

You can save all .config parameters to persistent memory so the ODrive remembers them between power cycles.

Due to a known issue it is strongly recommended that you reboot following every save of your configuration using odrv0.reboot().

Position control of M0

Let’s get motor 0 up and running. The procedure for motor 1 is exactly the same, so feel free to substitute axis0 wherever it says axis0.

  1. Type odrv0.axis0.requested_state = AXIS_STATE_FULL_CALIBRATION_SEQUENCE Enter. After about 2 seconds should hear a beep. Then the motor will turn slowly in one direction for a few seconds, then back in the other direction.
What’s the point of this?

This procedure first measures your motor’s electrical properties (namely phase resistance and phase inductance) and then the offset between the motor’s electrical phase and the encoder position.

The startup procedure is demonstrated here.

Note: the rotor must be allowed to rotate without any biased load during startup. That means mass and weak friction loads are fine, but gravity or spring loads are not okay. Also note that in the video, the motors spin after initialization, but in the current software the default behaviour is not like that.

Help, something isn’t working!

Check the encoder wiring and that the encoder is firmly connected to the motor. Check the value of dump_errors(odrv0) and then refer to the error code documentation for details.

Once you understand the error and have fixed its cause, you may clear the error state with (dump_errors(odrv0, True) Enter) and retry.

  1. Type odrv0.axis0.requested_state = AXIS_STATE_CLOSED_LOOP_CONTROL Enter. From now on the ODrive will try to hold the motor’s position. If you try to turn it by hand, it will fight you gently. That is unless you bump up odrv0.axis0.motor.config.current_lim, in which case it will fight you more fiercely. If the motor begins to vibrate either immediately or after being disturbed you will need to lower the controller gains.
  2. Send the motor a new position setpoint. odrv0.axis0.controller.pos_setpoint = 10000 Enter. The units are in encoder counts.
  3. At this point you will probably want to Properly tune the motor controller in order to maximize system performance.

Other control modes

The default control mode is unfiltered position control in the absolute encoder reference frame. You may wish to use a controlled trajectory instead. Or you may wish to control position in a circular frame to allow continuous rotation forever without growing the numeric value of the setpoint too large.

You may also wish to control velocity (directly or with a ramping filter). You can also directly control the current of the motor, which is proportional to torque.

Trajectory control

While in position control mode, use the move_to_pos or move_incremental functions. See the Usage section for details
This mode lets you smoothly accelerate, coast, and decelerate the axis from one position to another. With raw position control, the controller simply tries to go to the setpoint as quickly as possible. Using a trajectory lets you tune the feedback gains more aggressively to reject disturbance, while keeping smooth motion.

In the above image blue is position and orange is velocity.


<odrv>.<axis>.trap_traj.config.vel_limit = <Float>
<odrv>.<axis>.trap_traj.config.accel_limit = <Float>
<odrv>.<axis>.trap_traj.config.decel_limit = <Float>
<odrv>.<axis>.trap_traj.config.A_per_css = <Float>

vel_limit is the maximum planned trajectory speed. This sets your coasting speed.
accel_limit is the maximum acceleration in counts / sec^2
decel_limit is the maximum deceleration in counts / sec^2
A_per_css is a value which correlates acceleration (in counts / sec^2) and motor current. It is 0 by default. It is optional, but can improve response of your system if correctly tuned. Keep in mind this will need to change with the load / mass of your system.

All values should be strictly positive (>= 0).

Keep in mind that you must still set your safety limits as before. I recommend you set these a little higher ( > 10%) than the planner values, to give the controller enough control authority.

<odrv>.<axis>.motor.config.current_lim = <Float>
<odrv>.<axis>.controller.config.vel_limit = <Float>


Use the move_to_pos function to move to an absolute position:


Use the move_incremental function to move to a relative position. To set the goal relative to the current actual position, use from_goal_point = False To set the goal relative to the previous destination, use from_goal_point = True

<odrv>.<axis>.controller.move_incremental(pos_increment, from_goal_point)

You can also execute a move with the appropriate ascii command.

Circular position control

To enable Circular position control, set axis.controller.config.setpoints_in_cpr = True

This mode is useful for continuos incremental position movement. For example a robot rolling indefinitely, or an extruder motor or conveyor belt moving with controlled increments indefinitely. In the regular position mode, the pos_setpoint would grow to a very large value and would lose precision due to floating point rounding.

In this mode, the controller will try to track the position within only one turn of the motor. Specifically, pos_setpoint is expected in the range [0, cpr-1], where cpr is the number of encoder counts in one revolution. If the pos_setpoint is incremented to outside this range (say via step/dir input), it is automatically wrapped around into the correct value. Note that in this mode encoder.pos_cpr is used for feedback in stead of encoder.pos_estimate.

If you try to increment the axis with a large step in one go that exceeds cpr/2 steps, the motor will go to the same angle around the wrong way. This is also the case if there is a large disturbance. If you have an application where you would like to handle larger steps, you can use a virtual CPR that is an integer times larger than your encoder’s actual CPR. Set encoder.config.cpr = N * your_enc_cpr, where N is some integer. Choose N to give you an appropriate circular space for your application.

Velocity control

Set axis.controller.config.control_mode = CTRL_MODE_VELOCITY_CONTROL.
You can now control the velocity with axis.controller.vel_setpoint = 5000 [count/s].

Ramped velocity control

Set axis.controller.config.control_mode = CTRL_MODE_VELOCITY_CONTROL.
Set the velocity ramp rate (acceleration): axis.controller.config.vel_ramp_rate = 2000 [counts/s^2]
Activate the ramped velocity mode: axis.controller.vel_ramp_enable = True.
You can now control the velocity with axis.controller.vel_ramp_target = 5000 [count/s].

Current control

Set axis.controller.config.control_mode = CTRL_MODE_CURRENT_CONTROL.
You can now control the current with axis.controller.current_setpoint = 3 [A].

Note: There is no velocity limiting in current control mode. Make sure that you don’t overrev the motor, or exceed the max speed for your encoder.

Watchdog Timer

Each axis has a configurable watchdog timer that can stop the motors if the control connection to the ODrive is interrupted.

Each axis has a configurable watchdog timeout: axis.config.watchdog_timeout, measured in seconds. A value of 0 disables the watchdog functionality. Any value > 0 will stop the motors if the watchdog has not been fed in the configured time interval.

The watchdog is fed using the axis.watchdog_feed() method of each axis.

What’s next?

You can now:

If you have any issues or any questions please get in touch. The ODrive Community warmly welcomes you.