Control 6 Servos with Battery Pack?

I'm considering using an Arduino Uno for a final year (secondary/high school) project. I need to control 6 servo motors, with each of them only needing to move a few degrees (no more than 5).

Forgot to connect back to ground pin in this rough diagram

The examiner will only be turning my device on for literally 2 or 3 minutes (if even). Is it viable to use an arrangement of AA or AAA batteries to power these servos externally for this short period of time or will I have to use a wall power supply (provided I supply the Uno separately)?

Any help is appreciated.

All depends on how much current your servos require and age and how much current the batteries can supply.

AA batteries will be OK for your application, but you will need 4 of them and the Arduino and Servos need a common GND connection. How will you be powering the Arduino ?

@UKHeliBob Probably have to use the DC power jack to power the Arduino as I think it's just simpler for the examiner (I can't be there to help, of course).

@Paul_KD7HB Also just to add that they are HS-311 servo motors in case you've come across them before. The ones I'm supplied should be new.

Then 6 times the current requirement for one.

It has been very common for years to power servos in model airplanes with a pack of four AA rechargeable batteries (which also power the receiver for the radio control). A few minutes of use on lightly loaded servos should be no problem.

Something that may be more problematic is feeding the power through a solderless breadboard - the contacts in the breadboard are not intended for high current.

What voltage range will the barrel jack accept ?

4xAA alkaline batteries can supply 2 Amperes, and will power 1 or 2 servos if fresh. It is extremely unlikely that they will power six. NiMH(*) AA batteries might be able to do so, but don't count on it.

A breadboard will not handle that much current either, as the tracks will burn.

(*) much lower internal resistance


Something that may be more problematic is feeding the power through a solderless breadboard

Would using a copper stripboard solve this problem?

@UKHeliBob On the Uno? I believe around 9-12V. But according to what I've read, it isn't great for powering anything on the board.

@jremington Would you suggest using something like a wall power supply for this then?

For six servos working at once, the power supply must be able to supply more than 6 times the servo stall current, as each servo draws the stall current every time it starts moving. It does not matter that it might move "just a few degrees".

If you don't follow this rule, you will end up with an uncontrollable mess of twitching and jerking servos.

What is the stall current for your servos? If you can't find it, post the servo model number, or a link to where you bought it.

6 x Hitec HS311s should be o.k. with 4 x AA NiMH rechargeables e.g. Eneloop or similar provided they are not very heavily loaded. And as NiMH are only 1.2V nominal so 4.8V for 4 they will also run the Uno via its 5V pin (NOTE: 5V pin not Vin or the barrel connector)

Alkaline batteries are nowhere near as good, not even Duracells despite what the bunny might say.


@jremington Servo Model SIte Apologies that I can't give you the info directly, I'm not really good with this stuff. Hopefully the link with help.

This might have a glaringly obvious answer, but will that eliminate the need for externally powering anything if the Arduino is also being powered by the batteries?

The HS-311 product page clearly states that the stall current is 800 mA.

So, to be safe, use a 4.8 to 6V, 5A (minimum) power supply for the servos.

You will need to solder the power connections, or use a servo power distribution PCB with solder or screw terminals for the power supply connections. A breadboard certainly will not work.