Sorry if this is a newbie question, but I'm really struggling with this and I can't seem to figure it out.

I've been learning Arduino for a while, and for my next project I'm attempting to build a drone. When I tested the motors that I purchased before, they seemed to work fine using the PWM pins and I saw no need for a motor driver.

However, now, a week later, the PWM pins are much too weak. I've set them to OUTPUT mode and HIGH.

Should the basic digital output pins be able to run fairly small drone motors like mine?

Thank you for your help! :)

  • 2
    "Should the basic digital output pins be able to run fairly small drone motors like mine?" - lol, no, I don't think so. Before powering any electronic component, you should make really sure, that you don't exceed current limits. I guess you haven't checked, how much current your motors draw? It will save you a lot of frustration to be very careful and always check current limits first. And ocrdu is also right with the flyback diode.
    – chrisl
    Jan 18, 2021 at 20:41

1 Answer 1


The Absolute Maximum is 40mA per pin, but you shouldn't go even close to that; max. 20mA per pin is about where you want to be. Total current (all pins) shouldn't exceed 200mA.

Only you know what current your "fairly small" motors pull, but you may have fried a few IO pins.

Also, you need flyback (or maybe bidirectional TVS) diodes and a few capacitors on your motors to keep noise and inductive kick-back away from your pins. Motor driver modules often have these installed, but your Arduino pins don't. Inductive kick-back can easily kill IO pins also.

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