I'm looking for a broadly applicable solution, one that can be adapted to a variety of projects.
I'm currently working on several projects that each require controlling devices ranging from 800mA to 2A from an Arduino Uno. One controls stepper motors, one controls 12vdc solenoid actuators, and one controls 12vdc pneumatic valves.
The Arduino monitors a button, and each time the button is pressed it triggers the solenoid actuator. Because the Arduino is unable to source the current required by the solenoid, a seperate power supply is required with the Arduino controlling a switch (relay, transistor, etc.) that allows the higher current to pass. For the stepper motor, the layout is more complex as there would need to be four pins controlling four separate switches (to maintain interoperability of the circuit). The relay controls an air valve and requires 12vdc as well.
I'm trying to figure out how to use a single circuit that can be used in each of these applications (and any future projects) that involve controlling higher current devices than the Arduino pins can handle.
Prototyping speed, standardized components, and low cost are the driving factors. Switching speed, useful life, and noise are also important.
Is there a breakout board, circuit, or component that can be connected to an Arduino pin and used to control a high current device? Ideally with a software controlled potentiometer so that the resistance for different projects could be set in the sketch itself.