In this instructable we will be building a simple circuit that will allow us to control a solenoid using the popular physical computing platform arduino. I became interested in controlling solenoids for robotic music applications. A similar circuit can be used to control a motor or other devices that require more current than the arduino can provide directly from its output pins.

Since the solenoid requires higher current than the arduino can provide we will be using an alternative power source for the solenoid (a couple batteries) and will be "driving" it with a TIP120 transistor.

The circuit we're using can be found online here. This instructable draws from the excellent documentation in Tod Kurt's bionic arduino workshops.

Build time was exactly one-beer. Excluding the arduino and computer you use to program it, we are using less than $10 in parts. Ok!

Step 1: Parts

• Arduino board
• USB cable for programming and powering the Arduino
• Breadboard
• Some jumper cables
• A 1K resistor
• TIP120 transistor (TIP102 will also work fine)
• 1N4004 diode (1N4001 also works)
• Some batteries and connectors for solenoid power
• A solenoid with leads to connect to the breadboard

Step 2: Building the circuit - power connections

USB powers the arduino, the batteries power the solenoid. A jumper grounds the two together.

Step 3: Building the circuit - transistor time

 When the transistors labeled side is facing up the legs (from left to right) are B, C, E: Base, Collector, Emitter.

We will connect the output pin of the arduino to the Base leg of the transistor through a 1K resistor.  The Collector leg of the transistor will be connected to the ground leg of the device we are driving (our solenoid).  The Emitter leg is connected to the ground channel of our circuit.

Step 4: Building the circuit - connecting the solenoid

The "ground" leg of the solenoid is connected to the collector leg of the transistor.  The "power" goes to the high voltage power channel (from our batteries).  I put "ground" and "power" in quotation marks because none of the solenoids I've ever used have been polarized so it doesn't matter which lead is connected to ground and which goes to power.  

The diode connects the power channel to the solenoid-ground-leg/transistor-collector-leg, preventing the kickback voltage from damaging the circuit.  The diode is polarized and should be oriented with white/sliver stripe on the power channel side of the connection.

I'm using a pull-type solenoid rated for 12 to 24 volts (got it here), which has plenty of kick.  You'll need some kind of spring to pull the shaft back out after it's been pulled in - I used a small length of insulated wire wrapped around the shaft to create a makeshift spring.  In a different sort of configuration one could use gravity to pull the shaft back out (but you'd need some of stopper to prevent the shaft from falling all the way out).

Step 5: Program arduino and enjoy

Now just program the Arduino to drive the appropriate output pins and enjoy.  I've connected the transistor to pin 13 so I can see the built-in LED work in time with the solenoid.  The sketch I've used is a simple modification of the "Blink" sketch where I've reduced the on time to 80 milliseconds, which is more than enough time to pull the solenoid all the way in.

<p>where can I buy this solenoid? I am European</p>
<p>I'm doing a project in school and need to operate three solenoids independent of each other. Is there a way to manipulat this setup to do that? Can anyone please help me with that?</p>
<p>Yes u can do that.above shown procedures is for one solenoid,similarily you have to use same circuit for controlling 2 or more solenoid indiviually.use three transistor and make the three circuit indiviual.just u have to use same power supply for all the three thats all</p>
<p>you could use relay for each solenoid. and control those relay with arduino.</p>
<p>Please, I need your help, I am Using the TIP 122 and is hot when the circuits is On, same with the Solenoid, this is normal? or I need to do something?<br><br>Thanks for your answers</p>
This circuit is used to substitute a relay board???
Can look at the codes? Ryply asap.
<p>Nice project..! Do you have any code of solenoid lock or Unlock? please....!</p>
<p>I want to use the pneumatic cylinder at slightly higher switching speeds. Can I use the IN4148 diode? The solenoid valve that I am using works at 24V DC. </p>
Did you minded, if i see your schematic?
Hello - we are currently using your instructions as a reference tool for a project and are confused at the discrepancy of the Arduino board vs the Arduino One board.
<p>i need coding for this above video</p>
<p>Hello, the solenoid i'm trying to control has 3 pins. where should i connect these pins? thanks!</p>
<p>I'd be interested to know as well. I've you figured out how to wire it?</p>
<p>*Have you? (late night typing)</p>
<p>I know this question is a month old, but it might be usefull for other people.</p><p>In valves like these, you have 2 parallel and 1 perpendicular pins. The parallel ones need to be connected to your output driver. It doesnt matter which pin gets the positive/negative or live/neutral. The perpendicular pin is for grounding.</p>
Thanks for the reply :)
I believe that is a solenoid valve for water.
<p>Thank you, this is very helpful to us newbies. </p>
<p>How do you modify the code in order to run twice a day?</p><p>Every 12hrs for exaple for watering plants needs to stay open for 2 mins and repeat?</p><p>What is the difference if i use a relay instead a transistor?</p><p>Thank for sharing</p>
<p>I've used this circuit many times now to control solenoids but also to control motors via pwm. Good Stuff - Thanks for Sharing!</p>
<p>Can this be accomplished without usb power?</p>
<p>when the solenoid is active, it tends to heat a lot, what do you do with yours?</p><p>thanks!</p><p>marC:)</p>
<p>when the solenoid is active, it tends to heat a lot, what do you do with yours?</p><p>thanks!</p><p>marC:)</p>
Could an arduino control nine solenoids (though only one would be in use at any time)? I was thinking how much work it would be to make an automated whack-a-mole out of http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/1270/
<p>See this link, maybe can helpyou.</p><p>sonidiario.tumblr.com/post/35689237364</p>
<p>how many solenoid valves can i trigger using ardunio......i am using it to make programmable fountain.</p><p>plzz rply soon</p>
<p>Maybe this link can help you.</p><p>sonidiario.tumblr.com/post/35689237364</p>
<p>I have done all the steps, but with a TIP126 transistor and a IN4007 diode... when I connect the batteries to the breadboard, the solenoid opens, but nothing related with the Arduino seems to work... what can I do? Is it because of the different diode or transistor?</p>
<p>Hi Kvnn,<br>I have the same problem, have you found a solution?</p><p>Thanks<br>Mike</p>
<p>I had the same problem because I had connected the diode to the GND rails rather than the SOLENOID V+ rail. </p>
<p>This was very helpful! Thanks!!</p>
<p>Nice tutorial, thanks for sharing it.</p>
<p>hello..i aldy connect all the components correctly..but when i turn on my power supply..my arduino suddenly give error..i am using 24V solenoid..and using labview interface with arduino..is it happened because the power supply is unstable?when i measure the power supply it gives 32V instead of 24V..</p>
<p>TIP122 will also work ??</p><p>thanks!<br>marC:)</p>
<p>how many solenoid valves can i trigger using ardunio......i am using it to make programmable fountain.</p><p>plzz rply soon</p>
<p>Great tutorial. If I want to control two solenoid a do I need two of everything here?</p>
yes, two of everything (transistor, diode, resistor...). then just use another output pin on the arduino.
Thanks for the reply! Can I use the same breadboard for both or do I need two of them?
<p>You can use one breadboard, just use two different rows.</p>
<p>Nice little tut.. Would be nice to have a little schematic though :)</p>
Hi, <br>I have a question. I am trying to create a self watering cabinet. I have bought brass solenoid valve which requires 12V DC to open. Now I would like to control this with my Raspberry Pi. Could I use the same method for my 12V brass solenoid? <br> <br>This is the valve: http://www.voc-electronics.com/a-29507043/home/brass-liquid-solenoid-valve-12v-1-2-npt/
Hi , <br>i have the same project,, but my solenoid only push and is difficult to get back .. <br>could you please post here the program code that u write to control the solenoid .. <br>thanks in advance
That does not sound like it is an issue with your code. You need a spring or some other mechanism to pull the solenoid back. The solenoid can only pull in one direction so you'll need something mechanical to pull it back in the other direction. In this example I used a coiled up piece of wire to function as a spring pulling the shaft back out.
Hi <br> <br> I purchased a solenoid valve . i want to control it from my arduino. I did not get <br>TIP 120/102 transistor. I got TIP 122 only. Can that be an alternative yo TIP 120? If yes is there any change i need to make with the above circuit? Please reply asap. <br> <br>Regards
Which pin is the 1K resistor in. Is that pin 13?
Is there any difference between any of the three GND plugs on the Arduino?
would you be so kind to point out exactly the type of insulated wire for the springs? im having the same problem, i need to fabricate springs for my solenoids...
How do you control how long the solenoid stays open? Thanks!

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