Testing/Prototyping with NEO motors

Is there any simple way to power the NEO motors for prototyping? Last year we ended up basically wiring everything up with CAN wiring and writing code to test the NEOs in our confiuration. Is there a jumper setting on the Spark MAX or some other electronic device that can take 12V power in and basically run a NEO at full speed without having to involve a laptop?

1 Like

If you use the spark max client you can send power to the NEO without having to write code, it has it all built in already. It will require a laptop though.

1 Like

You can also use a PWM servo tester like this to run the Spark Max:

1 Like

Perfect. Ordered.


The nice thing about using a Laptop and USB with our client is in additional to simple control, you can also do full closed loop control and tuning directly with graphical feedback. So for example if you’re trying to drive a shooter wheel prototype and want to run at a fixed RPM, you can tune and run that all through the PC Client.


I understand. For certain situations I (mechanical engineer) want to just be able to “make it go” the easiest and quickest way possible. For more detailed testing I will give client + USB a shot.

Thanks for the speedy response!

Can you control multiple NEOs simultaneously using this method?

you can run the spark motor controllers with a basic pwn input so any micro controller or servo tester out there will work.

There are many options if you switch the controller to PWM. First Choice has something like the one franklima260 showed us. However, you do need to use the spark max to run them. They will not work without the Spark Max and all the cables connected (including Hall Effect Sensor, or at least that was the lesson that took us a week and multiple calls to Rev to learn).

You should try the client+usb soon. You may be pleasantly surprised. Plus you probably already have a USB-C cable and SparkMax in the lab, no waiting for a pesky 3rd party servo tester…

I suspect I know the answer to this one, but I’m hoping someone will verify since they’re on our FIRST Choice list: If we run a Max with PWM, is it going to remember anything we tuned over USB or will it just run akin to a brushless CIM (without the smarts)?

So would you hook this straight up to the MAXes to power them? Is there some other way to easily give them power? I understand how to control the controller output via USB but not how to actually give the motor controller itself power for the motor.

Yes you can, though right now the interface only supports changing the values of one at a time (i.e. you must switch controllers before changing that controllers setpoint). We do not support setting up followers in the GUI at this time.

How do you do that?

how about a model R/C radio and receiver?

Would this work?

That’s the plan for your bot :slight_smile:

1 Like

yup that will work with the spark max over pwm

yup those will work. Be aware though depending on the setup you may not get full reverse or full forward. Some controllers you can set the limits while others just give you what they give you and you are expected to calibrate the esc to their output but you can’t do that with the spark max esc so you need a setup where you can adjust the center point and if you need full range need adjustments on the controller for those as well. It will work though.


I have some Arduino-based code that drives up to 4 NEOs via PWM using 4 potentiometers for speed and 4 center-off DPDT switches for direction (the intent there is to stop the motors if no one is actively setting a direction).

I’ll post it up on gihub later today and update this thread in case anyone is interested. It’s not hard to do and pretty useful.

– Chris Herzog - Joliet Cyborgs #4241