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i'm just starting out with electronics and Arduino's and was wondering about the extent of an Arduino's ability. Will i eventually be able to program and power very high voltage/current requiring devices such as a full sized fan motor? Also at what point would i not be able to use normal wires, components and breadboards due to a high current/voltage (not sure which one would break them).

I know these are total noob questions but thanks in advance!

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Arduino Uno

First, never use too high voltages on GPIO pins of an Arduino. if you want to know, search for 'absolute maximum current' or 'absolute maximum voltage'. Probably any pin of an Arduino is about 5 V (plus some headroom).

External power

So since your fan will use more voltage high likely, you are not lost, in contrary, you should use a separate power source (giving the voltage you need for the fan), and use either a relay, or a transistor or MosFet. Than you can program it with a 5 volts pin and control a much higher voltage device (your fan).

Wires

Do not send high voltages/currents through breadboards and jumper wires neither. Use separate wiring, and you can check tables using AWG (thickness of wires) to see how much current they can support. Note that I say current, not voltage. The voltage will drop depending on the length of the wire and the size, so calculate that you have enough voltage at the end of the wire.

Safety

Also for safety, do not forget a fuse, and remember that the external power source and all wires have the same voltage as the fan, which may kill you if you touch them.

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  • Thanks for the in depth answer! The fan was just an example but could you go into a bit more detail in programming a fan? How would i connect it to the Arduino? i couldnt just attach it to pin 11 or whatever and pretend its a servo motor so how would you go about doing something like this? Jun 2 '19 at 21:33
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    I don't know how your fan works, first find out in the datasheet or description what the protocol is (just adding power on it? use a relay), some work with PWM (use a PWM signal and transistor/mosfet), if it is a servo motor, than you might need additional components, like a servo motor driver, check for examples, there are plenty on internet). Jun 2 '19 at 21:36
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arduinos, and microcontrollers in general, handle only very small ammounts of current, and they work at what is called 'logic level' voltage, usually much lower than 'line' voltage or 'mains,' which is your wall outlet. in general an arduino will put out 30-50 mAh per pin, and max of about 200mAh combined. again, the total ouput for the entire board is a max of about 0.2 amps. the idea is that the pins are pulled high or low (+5 or ground) depending on the logic of the programming. these signals trigger logic level components to act, usually mosfets/transistors and relays turn higher loads on/off

basically, you dont want to power even a single led without a current limiting resistor. its just a microcontroller after all

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