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DC motor control: Welcome to the jungle

· 2 min read
Simon Baudry

Let's talk about my early days with DC motors.

I will never forget that day. I'm sentimental, but it was a rainy Sunday afternoon late January. I was around 11 years old, and I was sitting at my desk, and, most of all, I was intensely bored. The light was fading from the only window in my room, and the air was almost gloomy, save the pale circle of yellow light from the desk lamp: Sunday blues before Monday School.

What dark instinct drove me to grab that old radio-controlled toy car in my left hand and that chewed screwdriver in the other, I don't know. But since this time, my life has changed. And in the same time, the life of many of my electronic belongings was shortened.

A few cuts in my fingers later, I held my first DC motor. Next to me, the wreck of the toy car lay cracked-open on my desk, its plastic housing was torn apart, and its inside wires and electronic boards were spreading on the ground. And then the marvel happened; grabbing a 4.5V battery (the flat one I enjoyed so much to put my tongue on, a genuine scientific measure to test its life). I managed to join both wires to each pole of the battery without hoping that anything would happen.

But then the motor made a sudden bounce, and with a sharp sound, the small shaft energetically spun at once. I was so startled that I dropped anything on my desk, disconnecting the motor from its power supply. Yes, I know that you can hear that soft music is rising, the music of the great revelations (see below). It was now loudly resonating in my head; I tried the experiment repeatedly, and my mind was growing with expectations of gigantic and complex machinery I was about to build with this cutting-edge material and this newly acquired knowledge. But first, I had to inform my parents what a huge discovery I had just made and what a genius their son was.

Well, long story short, when I discovered the joy of electronics later at engineering school, it was a hard landing. Nevertheless, electric motors always stayed close to my heart.

Yes, controlling motors is complex. It's a deep jungle with savage inhabitants and weird names. But this jungle can be transformed into a kind of a public park, even a nice garden, with a little bit of work, of reading, and of jungle-clearing.

In our following posts, you will discover how to take control of your DC motors and make them adaptable according to your needs.

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Start learning how to control DC motors with this article: How to stop being controlled by your DC motor: reverse the roles! Part 1

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