PWM Dimmer/Motor Speed Controller

Posted on Feb 7, 2014

This is yet another project born of necessity. It`s a simple circuit, but does exactly what it`s designed to do - dim LED lights or control the speed of 12V DC motors. The circuit uses PWM to regulate the effective or average current through the LED array, 12V incandescent lamp (such as a car headlight bulb) or DC motor. The only difference betwee

PWM Dimmer/Motor Speed Controller
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n the two modes of operation is the addition of a power diode for motor speed control, although a small diode should be used for dimmers too, in case long leads are used which will create an inductive back EMF when the MOSFET switches off. The photo shows what a completed board looks like. Dimensions are 53 x 37mm, so it`s possible to install it into quite small spaces. The parts used are readily available, and many subsitiutions are available for both the MOSFET and power diode (the latter is only needed for motor speed control). The opamps should not be substituted, because the ones used were chosen for low power and their ability to swing the output to the negative supply rail. Note that if used as a motor speed controller, there is no feedback, so motor speed will change with load. For many applications where DC motors are used, constant speed regardless of load is not needed or desirable, but it is up to you to decide if this will suit your needs. First, a description of PWM is warranted. As the pot is rotated clockwise, the input voltage changes linearly with rotation. At first, the voltage is such that the comparator output is just narrow spikes, which turn the MOSFET on for a very short period. Average current is low, so connected LEDs will be quite dim, or a motor will run (relatively) slowly. As the input voltage coming from the pot increases, the MOSFET is on for longer and longer, so increasing power to the...

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