Variable Speed Motor Automation

hi all, haven't got an arduino (yet) I've got an idea for a project and research today has led me to here, i was wondering if anybody who has an arduino could advise me if i'm in the right place for my idea.

Basically I have a motor at the moment, the motor can work on 1 of 5 speed settings. The speed setting is currently controlled by a device much like a dimmer switch, you rotate the wheel to change the speed setting.

What I want to do is cut out the manual aspect. I would like to be able to program the motor to change speed settings to a pre determined program. I.e Speed 1 for 5 seconds, speed 3 for 4 minutes, speed 2 for 10 minutes, speed 5 for 10 minutes etc, the program would work kind of on a timeline but not based on our actual 24 hour clock, just a sliding timescale where once activated it starts at 0:00, sets a speed for that time period and then stays at that speed until it reaches the next landmark programmed on the timeline

(eventually the reprogrammable timeline would be an app with a pretty and straight forward ui etc)

So i hope i explained what the project is properly, i'm new to diy projects as you can probably tell heh. Would an arduino be suitable for what I want in my project?

Much will depend on how the manual control works. If it is a single pole 6-way switch then you should be able to emulate the switch with relays.

Any hints about what voltage and current the motor runs on?

hi John,

to see the gubbins I would have to take the machine apart which I'm not sure I want to do until I know I can commit to this project (i.e if im gonna break something, I want to be sure I have a project in place to fix it / ammend it!) But if need be I will take the machine apart to see the gubbins as i'm pretty enthused about the project (or I could send via pm the product links and any pictures required... this is a project of a mature nature so I don't really want to publicly post images of the product in case any kids use this forum)

The machine was built for use in Europe I believe, I have a socket adaptor to run it from UK mains if that helps?

after some quick research online I can confirm the product was made for the U.S. - Operates on A/C power, 250 volts mains powered, (EU converter plug required)

Perhaps this discussion will provide some useful background:

Arduino to control Sybian or other Sex Machine

to see the gubbins I would have to take the machine apart which I’m not sure I want to do until I know I can commit to this project (i.e if im gonna break something, I want to be sure I have a project in place to fix it / ammend it!)

Is your plan to move the speed switch with a motor, so you don’t have to take it apart? That probably could be done with a servo motor or a stepper motor. Otherwise, you can’t get started, or know if it’s even feasable without taking it apart an figuring-out how it works… Even after you disassemble it, you may not be able to figure-out how the speed control works…

If the speed control operates smoothly (like a volume control) a small servo motor could work. (It reqires less electronics than a stepper motor). You’ll just have to figure-out how to attach the motor-shaft to the speed-control shaft. If it’s a multi-postion switch, a stepper motor is probably best. You’ll need to measure (or estimate) the torque required to turn the switch, and then select an appropriate stepper motor and stepper-motor driver-board.

Operates on A/C power, 250 volts mains powered, (EU converter plug required)

Without knowing otherwise, we have to assume that there is 250V going through the switch. You can’t connect that much voltage directly to the Arduino, and you need isolation for safety. Relays are the eaisest way to get isolation and a relay is a (electrically operated) switch, so it’s the perfect replacement for a manually-operated switch. Although there are rotary relays, finding one that matches your rotary switch would be impossible or too expensive, so you’d have to use multiple “normal” relays.


wow that thread was a handy thread to have lying around, this project is for a machine similar to a sybian, though the function is slightly different than what that girl wanted from it, i just want to be able to program the missus machine so when i'm away from home working we can play without her having control on the speed function (she prefers having no control on it..obviously when i'm home that's not a problem!).

I assumed it would be a relatively straight forward thing to switch over from manual control to automated, but having read all that it seems i have a heck of a lot more reading to do! thanks for the pointers...I wonder if the OP on that thread ever got the idea working.


Currently the motor speed is controlled from like a 'dimmer switch' which is in a handset. the handset wires back to the machine

so at the very bottom of its rotation, the machine is off. rotate it a lil bit it comes on at speed 1, a little bit more speed 2 etc. What i'm hoping to be able to do is be able to automate the speed change to some degree, that is to say, have a program written out dictating speed change after x mintues to speed y etc, then to speed z after x more minutes etc etc. once the program is started it would switch on the machine and adjust speeds accordingly. I'd want to be able to change the program from time to time altering the timing and what speed setting to switch to etc, to keep things interesting, i'm hoping the arduino will work for hosting the program and sending the commands to the motor to change speeds.

edit -

DVDdoug i just re-read your post, i thnik i missed the subtle brilliance of what you said first read through. Are you suggesting using a secondary motor controlled by (possibly an arduino) to move the existing manual control? essentially leaving the original machine and its control as it is, and using a secondary device to move the control... I like that, that sounds totally straight forward and not something mentioned on the ealirer query similar to this that john referenced. It also seems the easiest way to revert back to manual control (i.e. just remove the secondary device) for when i'm home or when she does want manual control