How to Control a DC Motor to Run in Both Directions

Introduction: How to Control a DC Motor to Run in Both Directions

About: Hi all, I'm a college student in the copenhagen technical college. I'm currently working with 3D printers and I'm building my own RepRap.
Those H-bridges are very useful and smart, but if you just want to control the direction of the motor with a switch (manually), there is a much simpler and cheaper alternative.

This little circuit is perfect for newbies. I've known this circuit for several years now, but I didn't got the idea of posting it until now.

Step 1: Parts Needed

The parts, you need to make this can be found in any electronic store, or even lying around in your workshop (if you have any).

You'll need:

  • A DC motor.
  • A Double pole a.k.a. DPDT switch. preferably one with a center OFF position, so you can control the motor like this: Forward, stop and backwards.
  • A Power supply that suits the specs of the motor (has the voltage and amperage as the manufacturer of the motor recommends). In my case it was 2 AA batteries.
  • A Batteryholder (if you use batteries).
  • Some wire.

Step 2: Assemble It

I don't think, this could be easier. Just follow my pictures.

Step 3: Applications

When I learned to make this circuit (I think I was 9 years old) I made a simple, little car that could drive forwards and backwards.

Now all you newbies out there: go make some creative with this circuit and post some pictures of it.



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    56 Discussions


    What are the green and silver items in the materials here? Are they jumpers?

    Also, is the circuit all soldered together? Apologies for stupid questions. I'm a noob!


    Simple yet effective, thanks ??

    I had to laugh (at myself) when I saw this. I built a 3 motor, laser spirograph, but you only get the full effect when you control the speed and direction of each motor independently. I design and build a lot of high tech nerd toys, yet this concept has eludeded me for longer than I'm going to It's so simple. whoda thunk it! Thank you so much. Now if I can just figure out that "2 switches for one bulb" voodoo in my kitchen. LOL!

    2 replies

    Hey you learn something every day. It just wasn't your day..


    2 years ago

    Could you hook up 2 DC motors and if so how?

    It is a childish project. When wanted motor in both direction then suggestion for DPDT switch is given.

    wow that is really simple! when I tried to do something like that I used heaps of diodes and sh1t like that but this works even better. Too bad I dont have a three-way switch like that on in my workshop anyway...

    2 replies

    for some reason I thought i would need a servo and micro controller to control the direction of something thanks so much

    Thank you so much, too.
    My problem now is, that I want to switch an AC motor.
    But you mentioned this was for DC motors only. Is there a chance to get it work for an AC, too?
    This would be genious..
    It must me possible to invert the signal similarly ... don't you think so? (i want to control a vacuum cleaner at lower voltage -- i.e. 40 V - 120 V instead of 230 V)
    Hope someone can help me noob.

    Thank u..!
    This helped me very much..!

    Good clear instructable. This is a question rather than a comment: can this be 'scaled' or 'beefed' up to switch a 12v starter motor running off a car battery ? Much higher currents - I'm trying to build a boat trailer 'tractor' . Thank you.

    2 replies

    Thanks for the clear instructions! This has really helped me. I am building a robot for my son with some spare parts that I got for RC Tanks . We are trying to build this as cheaply as possible and this has really helped! Thank You.