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Here is the board I am using, http://alphazeroelectronics.com/slimboard/index.htm I dont know how to connect a 9v dc solenoid to the output pins of the microcontroller. They say I need a relay or a transistor. What exactly are relays and transistors and what will I use with this type of circuit? Please help me. Thanks!
And got the following answer:
A relay is a switching device using an electromagnet, which attracts a steel armature plate attached to the contacts when it is energised and so changes over the contacts. A spring returns the contacts when the coil is de-energised. There is no electrical connection between the coil and the contacts, and it can switch AC. A transistor is an electronic switching device. It has no moving parts (unless you count tiny charged particles!) and can switch very quickly, and typically needs only a tiny amount of current to switch it -- but there is an electrical connection between the switching signal and the "contacts". Whenever you pass a small current from base to emitter, a larger current is allowed to flow from collector to emitter. The ratio of collector current to base current is called the gain. A transistor can only pass current in one direction, so it's only suitable for switching DC. A microcontroller's output pins cannot supply enough current for a relay. You would need to use a transistor to switch a relay to switch the solenoid so you might as well just switch the solenoid directly with a transistor. Use a BC337 transistor connected as follows: 1K resistor from microcontroller output pin to base of transistor. 100K resistor from base to 0V. Emitter to 0V. One end of solenoid to +9V. Other end of solenoid to collector of transistor. 1N4007 diode with cathode to +9V, anode to collector. The 1K resistor limits the current into the base of the transistor. The 100K resistor makes sure the transistor turns off when the microcontroller output is off. The transistor switches the solenoid. The diode protects the transistor from damage caused by the kickback from the solenoid (whenever you interrupt the current through a coil, you get an induced voltage as the magnetic field collapses. This is trying to push a current the same way as it used to be flowing; the diode will catch this and steer the current through just the coil).
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