I’m working at a project which involves 3 stepper motors that are driven by A4988 drivers. I have read that I have to connect an 100uf capacitor in parallel with the motor power supply that goes to the driver, but do I have to use a capacitor for every driver, or only 1 capacitor because the drivers are connected in parallel to the same 12v power supply.
There are two purposes of such capacitor:
- first it supply power for short peaks in demand, so effectively enabling the 12V power source supply much more current for short time, than it can support over long time and so the driver have more stable power and works generally better. Also it protects the driver from noise of other parts.
- the other is protect all other parts from voltage drops and noise caused by the driver. It is recomended to have capacitors as near as possible to any IC/driven circuit for this reason.
So basically - if you have good power source, you can often get away even without such capacitors. But if you power also logic from the same source, it is already better to have some capacitors on power lines where posssible. Escpecially if you expect some noise around (like having motors near or lines to motors in paralel with other lines ...). Depends how much you care and how critical you see the project. Hobby project just for fun can go even without capacitors and be all good. Good industry projects have capacitors always everywhere.
I had project, where it worked even without capacitors (laser printer), but now I would place some there in any case near each driver, just to be sure. 100uF is really good capacity, enables for lot power. But if you use any other value (which you have more ready), it should not hurt too. It is not about if it would work or not, it is more about if it ensures, that it would work flawlessly even in bad conditions even under unexpected conditions and would not have "sometimes strange problems, which disapear spontaneously during debugging".
Also note, that for improving power are good high capacity electrolytes. For preventing noise are much better ceramic (which are fast, even if they have a lot smaler capacity) and so many people put both there (like 100uF electrolyte and 100nF ceramic in paralel).
Short answer: Do as you want, it would probably work anyway. I personally would place big+small capacitors near each driver.