pwm 01

Posted on Feb 7, 2014

A commercial motor controller is more than simply a circuit to alter the speed of the motor and we have a `guided tour` of controller features which explains simply most of the features incorporated into modern controllers and why they are needed. To control the speed of a d. c. motor we need a variable voltage d. c. power source.

pwm 01
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However if you take a 12v motor and switch on the power to it, the motor will start to speed up: motors do not respond immediately so it will take a small time to reach full speed. If we switch the power off sometime before the motor reaches full speed, then the motor will start to slow down. If we switch the power on and off quickly enough, the motor will run at some speed part way between zero and full speed. This is exactly what a p. w. m. controller does: it switches the motor on in a series of pulses. To control the motor speed it varies (modulates) the width of the pulses - hence Pulse Width Modulation. Consider the waveform above. If the motor is connected with one end to the battery positive and the other end to battery negative via a switch (MOSFET, power transistor or similar) then if the MOSFET is on for a short period and off for a long one, as in A above, the motor will only rotate slowly. At B the switch is on 50% and off 50%. At C the motor is on for most of the time and only off a short while, so the speed is near maximum. In a practical low voltage controller the switch opens and closes at 20kHz (20 thousand times per second). This is far too fast for the poor old motor to even realise it is being switched on and off: it thinks it is being fed from a pure d. c. voltage. It is also a frequency above the audible range so any noise emitted by the motor will be inaudible. It is also slow enough that MOSFETs can...

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