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Where to start with arduino controlled electromagent

flybynight

Nov 3, 2012
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Hello all,

I wish to create an electromagnet which is controlled by something like an arduino. The magnet will have to turn on and off quickly, since it is going to be used in a musical context.

An example of such a thing can be found here http://www.christianblom.com/home/works/al-khowar

I really have no idea where to start with this. I am not obviously looking for a complete how to guide, but some pointers in the right initial direction would be very gratefully received. I am programming the software in pure data, and that is my background, not electronics. I have yet to have done any electronics work.

Is there a good guide on making electromagnets that can be controlled by arduinos? Is there any basic electronics literature or information that I should read up before starting?

Many thanks for the reading this very basic question.
 

CocaCola

Apr 7, 2012
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There is really nothing to controlling the magnet with any micro, you just need to interface the magnet with a transistor or FET capable of handling the current drawn by the magnet and some flyback protection...

Google up interfacing a relay to an Ardunio, same principles you will just need larger transistors/FETs since the magnets will be larger than the ones in the relay...

Note that if you go with Arduino and want to exploit the whole Arduino software backend that makes it popular you will need to program in the native C like language...
 

(*steve*)

¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd
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Jan 21, 2010
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You have three totally separate issues:

1) making/buying the electromagnet

We can't really assist at all with this with the information you've given us. Buying one is probably the surest bet.

2) switching it on and off using the arduino

There are plenty of pages on the web that show you how to turn things on and off. Depending on the load that your electromagnet is, you might use a transistor, a mosfet, a relay, etc.to switch it on and off.

Because an electromagnet is a highly inductive load, you will need to take precautions to ensure that the voltage spikes generated when it is turned off don't destroy stuff. This is also fairly standard.

3) writing the software.

I'll assume (3) isn't going to be an issue.
 

flybynight

Nov 3, 2012
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Thanks so much both those responses where really useful. I need to now research bits of information from both of your responses, since much of the terminology I am unfamiliar with.

Steve you are absolutely right, despite know what I wish to do, I am aware I have not provided enough information for comprehensive answers to my questions. This is because I am not actually sure what is required, but you 3 points are most helpful in me getting there.

Will report back this week after further research. I have a much better idea of what to type into Google now.

Thanks again :)
 

BobK

Jan 5, 2010
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The magnet will have to turn on and off quickly, since it is going to be used in a musical context.
Quickly is an imprecise word. In our world quickly could mean measured in nanoseconds. It would not be used to describe what I saw on that video :)

Bob
 

flybynight

Nov 3, 2012
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Quickly is an imprecise word. In our world quickly could mean measured in nanoseconds. It would not be used to describe what I saw on that video :)

Bob

Hehe, this a good learning experience, hopefully my terminology will become more accurate.

However from just watching the video I would still be challenged to know with accuracy the amount of time that the magnet was turned on for. I suppose we are talking in the region of one second, rather than anything remotely close to a nano-second.
 

CocaCola

Apr 7, 2012
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However from just watching the video I would still be challenged to know with accuracy the amount of time that the magnet was turned on for.

That is all dependent upon the action needed... 1 second is a huge amount of time, if you just want to tap a bell, a few 100ms is probably more than enough in that case... But, like anything there are reasons for a long or short pull, it all depends on the desired outcome... If you for example wanted a good solid hit on a bass drum 1 second would probably be more in line to get a good solid 'thud' out of the hit...
 

flybynight

Nov 3, 2012
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That is all dependent upon the action needed... 1 second is a huge amount of time, if you just want to tap a bell, a few 100ms is probably more than enough in that case... But, like anything there are reasons for a long or short pull, it all depends on the desired outcome... If you for example wanted a good solid hit on a bass drum 1 second would probably be more in line to get a good solid 'thud' out of the hit...

Once again, thank you! :cool:
 
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