# Building and testing the motor circuit

Hi everyone.

In the last post I showed the circuit diagram for the vibration motor, and most importantly I tried to actually spell out how and why the circuit is the way it is. Here I will be doing some good ol’ fashioned science, and test if the circuit works as I theorized in the last post. I need to do this because I’m not entirely sure that I’ve got everything right about the circuit.

Here’s the implemented circuit:

Top view

Details.
EDIT: there’s a mistake in this circuit, see here

For example, more than one friend expressed doubts on my statement that the transistor can’t draw more current than that’s available from the 5V paired with the resistances. The resistances would be the 33Ohm resistance + the resistance opposed by the motor.

The code driving the Arduino while I do the measurements is very simple:

### Measurements

First, let's measure the voltage drops across the key nodes in the circuit. I want information on:

1. The relationship between the Voltage from the 33Ohm resistor and the motor, so that I can figure out what’s the motor’s resistance.
2. What’s happening to the transistor’s voltage.
3. What happens when I change the duty cycle of the PWM.
So, I am going to measure voltage across the 33Ohm resistor, the motor, and the transistor (and the whole circuit for reference).

Voltage drop in volts, USB powered Arduino
PWM duty cycle 0% 50% 100%
Across 33Ohm resistor 1 1.8
Across motor 1.4 2.8
Across transistor (collector-emitter) 4.8 2.4 0.03
5V pin to GND (whole circuit) 4.8 4.77 4.7

It seems like the Arduino doesn't deliver the full 5V when attached to my laptop USB port. I was curious to see if that was because of the USB power or that was just the voltage that the Arduino could deliver independently from the power source. For this reason, I repeated the measurements powering the Arduino with a battery.

PWM duty cycle 0% 50% 100%
Across 33Ohm resistor 1 1.9
Across motor 1.4 2.9
Across transistor (collector-emitter) 4.96 2.4 0.04
5V pin to GND (whole circuit) 4.96 4.94 4.91

So it seems like that when my Arduino is powered via USB, it doesn't deliver the full 5V from the 5V pin. It gets very close when it is powered by four 1.5V batteries.

Now, I want to know how much current is flowing through the circuit when I change the PWM duty cycle. This way I can test my hypotheses that:

1. the transistor can't deliver more current than the one which is available from the 5V branch
2. I can't use the full range of the PWM duty cycles, as if the transistor is multiplying by 100 its base current, then once reached a certain duty cycle, there will be not enough current from the 5V branch to satisfy the multiplication, and from that duty cycle on the current will just be the maximum current.
Here the results.

Current in milliampere (same for USB powered and battery).
PWM duty cycle 0% 50% 100%
Current in mA 28 56

### Discussion of the measurements

First, let's discuss the voltage drops.

From the measurements it seems that the voltage drop across the motor is more or less 1/2 more than that across the 33Ohm resistance. That means that the motor resistance is more or less 50Ohm. Which is quite far from the 75Ohm terminal resistance stated in the datasheet. So, either the terminal resistance is not what I think it is, or other factors are in play in determining the resistance of the motor.

Another surprise from the measurements is that I didn’t think about the resistance in the transistor when calculating the voltage drops in the circuit in the last post. What I discovered is that the transistor acts like a variable resistor.

Now for my hypotheses in the last post. Let’s repeat them for clarity.

1. The transistor can’t deliver more current than the one which is available from the 5V branch.
2. I can’t use the full range of the PWM duty cycles, as if the transistor is multiplying by 100 its base current, then once reached a certain duty cycle, there will be not enough current from the 5V branch to satisfy the multiplication, and from that duty cycle on the current will just be the maximum current.

The 1st hypothesis is supported by observation, while the 2nd turns out to be false.
While it seems it is true that the transistor can’t draw more current than what’s available from the 5V branch, apparently the whole range of duty cycles can be used to modulate the current flowing through the Collector-Emitter. A 100% duty cycle lets more or less all the available current flow, whereas a 50% duty cycle lets half of it flow. I’m not sure why this is, I’ll have to read more on transistors.
By the way, to collect more evidence on the fact that the transistor can’t let more current than the one that’s available from the 5V branch, I repeated the measurements without the motor, so that the only resistances in the 5V branch were the 33Ohm resistor and the transistor. As expected, with 100% duty cycle, the transistor just lets all the available current through (and not more).

In the next post, I’ll plug the ultrasonic sensor in and I’ll experiment a bit with it, showing you some code in the meantime.
I’ll keep you posted!

BAT NAVIGATOR
arduino bat navigator