Powering Motors

Motors need a lot of energy, especially cheap motors since they're less efficient.

Voltage requirements:

The first important thing to figure out what voltage the motor is going to use. If you're lucky your motor came with some sort of specifications. Some small hobby motors are only intended to run at 1.5V, but its just as common to have 6-12V motors. The motor controllers on this HAT are designed to run from 5V to 12V.

MOST 1.5-3V MOTORS WILL NOT WORK or will be damaged by 5V power

Current requirements:

The second thing to figure out is how much current your motor will need. The motor driver chips that come with the kit are designed to provide up to 1.2 A per motor, with 3A peak current. Note that once you head towards 2A you'll probably want to put a heat-sink on the motor driver, otherwise you will get thermal failure, possibly burning out the chip.

You can't run motors off of a 9V battery so don't waste your time/batteries!

Honestly, for portable we recommend you use a big Lead Acid or multiple-AA NiMH battery pack - use 4 to 8 batteries to vary the voltage from about 6V to 12V as your motors require

If you don't have to take your project on the go, a 9V 1A, 12V 1A, or 12V 5A will work nicely

99% of 'weird motor problems' are due to having a voltage mismatch (too low a voltage, too high a voltage) or not having a powerful enough supply! Even small DC motors can draw up to 3 Amps when they stall.

Power it up

Wire up your battery pack to the Power terminal block on the right side of the HAT. It is polarity protected but still its a good idea to check your wire polarity. Once the HAT has the correct polarity, you'll see the green LED light up

Please note the HAT does not power the Raspberry Pi, and we strongly recommend having two seperate power supplies - one for the Pi and one for the motors, as motors can put a lot of noise onto a power supply and it could cause stability problems!

This guide was first published on Jan 27, 2015. It was last updated on Jan 27, 2015. This page (Powering Motors) was last updated on May 20, 2019.