This tutorial is for the now ancient V1 Motor shield. Chances are you have a V2, check out the tutorial This tutorial is for historical reference and previous customers only!

DC motors are used for all sort of robotic projects.

The motor shield can drive up to 4 DC motors bi-directionally. That means they can be driven forwards and backwards. The speed can also be varied at 0.5% increments using the high-quality built in PWM. This means the speed is very smooth and won't vary!

Note that the H-bridge chip is not meant for driving loads over 0.6A or that peak over 1.2A so this is for small motors. Check the datasheet for information about the motor to verify its OK.

To connect a motor, simply solder two wires to the terminals and then connect them to either the M1, M2, M3, or M4. Then follow these steps in your sketch

  1. Make sure you #include <AFMotor.h>
  2. Create the AF_DCMotor object with AF_DCMotor(motor#, frequency), to setup the motor H-bridge and latches. The constructor takes two arguments.
    The first is which port the motor is connected to, 1, 2, 3 or 4.
    frequency is how fast the speed controlling signal is.
    For motors 1 and 2 you can choose MOTOR12_64KHZ, MOTOR12_8KHZ, MOTOR12_2KHZ, orMOTOR12_1KHZ. A high speed like 64KHz wont be audible but a low speed like 1KHz will use less power. Motors 3 & 4 are only possible to run at 1KHz and will ignore any setting given
  3. Then you can set the speed of the motor using setSpeed(speed) where the speed ranges from 0 (stopped) to 255 (full speed). You can set the speed whenever you want.
  4. To run the motor, call run(direction) where direction is FORWARD, BACKWARD or RELEASE. Of course, the Arduino doesn't actually know if the motor is 'forward' or 'backward', so if you want to change which way it thinks is forward, simply swap the two wires from the motor to the shield.
#include <AFMotor.h>

AF_DCMotor motor(2, MOTOR12_64KHZ); // create motor #2, 64KHz pwm

void setup() {
  Serial.begin(9600);           // set up Serial library at 9600 bps
  Serial.println("Motor test!");
  motor.setSpeed(200);     // set the speed to 200/255

void loop() {
  Serial.print("tick");;      // turn it on going forward

  Serial.print("tock");;     // the other way
  Serial.print("tack");;      // stopped

This guide was first published on Aug 27, 2012. It was last updated on Aug 27, 2012.

This page (Using DC Motors) was last updated on Aug 27, 2012.

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