Arduino PID motor speed controller – Casual demo (part 1/2)

Posted on 2016-09-12 at 14:03 in Videos by Robbi-985.

I threw this together from an old toy’s motor, old printer’s iR sensor, pizza box and some other things, to try out the PID controller algorithm after discovering it on Wikipedia and seeing that there was pseudocode, meaning that I didn’t have to get a PhD in mathematics to be able to read the crazy-looking formulas that Wikipedia seems to be so fond of. There’s a strobe light in this video.

I had planned to screen-capture my program while recording but completely forgot to at the time, so please try to survive my camcorder pointing at my laptop screen…

[Watch in HD]

Here, the PID controller is trying to keep the motor at a precise speed (and get it there as quickly as possible). It doesn’t work well half the time because the L298 (H-bridge), responsible for switching power to the motor, doesn’t seem to like making the motor brake. That means it speeds up much more quickly than it slows down, which the algorithm doesn’t like (it’s designed for linear systems) – it basically ends up trying too hard to slow down, resulting in a big undershoot. I might be able to somewhat compensate for that in code.

I might try this with a Sabertooth motor speed controller (as used in my old singing motors project) in place of the L298, which can certainly force a motor to stop spinning, but the Sabertooth gives such a boost to the motor to get it up to speed that 90% of the PID’s job becomes redundant… Oh well, at least it’d be able to hit any given note without me having to calibrate it first like I did with the singing motors. By the way, that’s why this system measures speed in Hz – I originally intended for it to play music like a new kind of “singing motor”.

Originally, I planned to use a 3-pin computer fan instead of this motor, using the tachometer pin to measure the speed, but that required me to have a common ground for the motor and the tachometer, and I didn’t have the right components available (I only had N-channel MOSFETs, but I needed a P-channel MOSFET). So I ended up throwing my own motor assembly together and using an N-channel MOSFET only (could only turn power on/off, not brake), which the PID system didn’t like. I thought the L298 would fix that problem, since it’d allow the PID system to reverse power to the motor and brake it, but it turns out it’s too weak to have much of an effect after all… =/

Part 2/2 will show it running at full speed (with a more powerful PSU), show a much more naïve speed controller algorithm for the lulz, and just clear up a couple of details.

2 Responses to Arduino PID motor speed controller – Casual demo (part 1/2)

  1. Richard Weinberg says:

    where do I go to download your code? I’d love to look it over.

    • Robbi-985 says:

      I’ve not uploaded it anywhere yet, but I might eventually, especially if I revisit this little project.

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