External stepper devices for Helicon Remote

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Helicon Remote 2.x
is capable of controlling external stepper motors and macro rails.

If a compatible device is connected, Helicon Remote sends stepping commands to the external device instead of camera lens.

Use of external steppers allow you to achieve the following goals:

  1. Precision: macro rails can move focusing plane by tiny steps of about 0.01 mm. Custom build setups can give even better precision.
  2. Reliability: camera lens sometimes ignores focusing commands due to mechanical issues. Stepper motors never miss steps.
  3. Linearity: the movement of focusing plane made by camera lens are not linear. Steppers make equal steps.
  4. Custom applications: you can use steppers to shift or rotate object instead of camera or rotate knob of the microscope.

Current version of Helicon Remote supports the following devices:

  • StackShot macro rails
  • Trinamic stepper motors


Trinamic stepper motors

We develop and test Helicon Focus with Trinamic PANDrive PD3-110-42-232 drive. It is a compact and strong stepper motor with max torque of 0.49N-m and stall protection.

See technical data sheet for more details.

Most probably other Trinamic motors are also compatible with the program as they have the same programming interface. We will add information about compatible motors later.

Trinamic PANDrive PD3-110-42-232 costs $200-250 and can be purchased online from the following stores.


  farnell.com PD3-110-42-232
  conrad.de PANDRIVE 42MM, RS232, 0.50 NM
  semiconductorstore.com PD3-110-42-232


You will also need an USB-RS232 converter ($30-40) to connect motor to computer.

  farnell.com FTDI - USB-RS232-WE-1800-BT
  ftdichip.com USB-RS232-WE-1800-BT_0.0

You may find similar converter in computer shops. Please make sure that the converter is based on FTDI chip, otherwise the program will not be able to find it.


You will also need power supply with voltage from 12V DC to 28V DC and max current of 1.5A or more. Almost any power supply for laptops conform with these parameters.

Click the image below to see how to wire USB converter and Trinamic motor.


StackShot macro rails

StackShot is an electronically controlled macro-rail. See complete description here: http://www.cognisys-inc.com

Non USB version of StackShot is $475.The USB version of StackShot costs $525.00

This includes the StackShot controller with USB, the stepper motor enabled macro rail, the AC adapter (US, EU, AUS, or UK), and a 2m motor cable.