Basic Servo Control for Beginners

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Contributors: El Duderino
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Introduction

From simply sweeping an object back and forth to adding steering to your robot or R/C car, hobby servos are a great way to add some motion to your next project. Servos allow you to easily control the speed, direction and position [1] of the output shaft with just three wires!

Short video Demo of Servo Control

This tutorial covers a few different ways to control servos along with a project demonstrating how to control a servo from an external input. We will cover some basics of controlling servos with one example that requires no programming at all. Then we will control the servos with code using the Arduino IDE and Python. Feel free to jump to the example you would like to work with depending on the parts and code environment you prefer.

Recommended Reading

Before going through this tutorial, you may want to check out these related guides to get familiar with the concepts and parts used in the examples:

Pulse Width Modulation

An introduction to the concept of Pulse Width Modulation.

Motors and Selecting the Right One

Learn all about different kinds of motors and how they operate.

Hobby Servo Tutorial

Servos are motors that allow you to accurately control the rotation of the output shaft, opening up all kinds of possibilities for robotics and other projects.
Note: Output shaft positional feedback is only available on standard (closed-loop) servos. We cover that in more detail in the next section.