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How to connect a solenoid to a receiver?

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Sam Taylor 103/05/2017 21:01:25
11 forum posts
2 photos

Hi, I'm currently doing a project at university where I'm building a remote controlled glider with retractable wings. Part of the wing deployment mechanism uses a solenoid which needs to be controlled by the transmitter (preferably using channel 5 or 6, which are switches). However I'm having trouble trying to get the solenoid working.

The 6V solenoid I'm using has 2 wires; red and black. When I touch the ends of the wires onto the positive and negative terminals of my receiver nothing happens. I tried this for channels 5 & 6, and flicked the switches on the transmitter and still nothing happens.

Am I missing a key component here? I haven't yet joined the solenoid wires to my JR connector, but surely this shouldn't make a difference? Because no wires are connected to the control pin on channels 5 or 6 on the RX is this the cause of my problem?

Please note I'm using a 6V battery.

Any help would be much appreciated!

(I would upload a picture of the components I'm using by I don't know how)

Frank Skilbeck04/05/2017 07:55:01
4937 forum posts
114 photos

Sam, you can't just plug a solenoid into the Rx, the Rx pins are basically ground, +ve and position signal, you need to build a circuit that takes the signal position and then actuates the solenoid. I built a few relay operated switches from kits many years ago, for use with brushed motors but don't have any circuit diagrams, but I found this on the internet which may help.

Frank Skilbeck04/05/2017 07:57:13
4937 forum posts
114 photos

BTW, if designing and building the switch isn't part of your project, you can buy off the shelf switches that do the same job, see here for instance.

Denis Watkins04/05/2017 08:02:59
4702 forum posts
135 photos

Frank beat me to it Sam

Nice project, and this is the basis of robototics

Basically do as Frank says, set up a powered solenoid circuit ready to do its job, with your 6v supply

This is then setup, via an electronic on/off switch connected to channel 5 or 6 at your receiver

Keep asking questions and update your progress

Martin Dance 104/05/2017 08:03:55
221 forum posts
33 photos

If Frank's suggestion is a no go I guess you could use a suitable ESC. I'm guessing that the solenoid is only powered in one direction with a spring return.Choose an ESC with a suitable current rating.

Former Member04/05/2017 08:28:11
756 forum posts

[This posting has been removed]

Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator04/05/2017 08:53:25
15748 forum posts
1460 photos

Yes, you need a receiver operated switch which, in turn, actives the power supply to your solenoid.

Hobby King do such a receiver operated switch - see here. We have used these before and they work well. That should sort things out for you. smile


gangster04/05/2017 10:17:49
1084 forum posts
29 photos

nThere are many options here. If you wish to build something for your project rather than buy a ready made switch there are plenty of circuits on the web to do this. Back in the day before fancy esc etc it was common place for people to want to switch motors lights etc. Check out rc project pages and look on the model boat pages. Those boat guys love to switch sirens lights pumps etc etc Far more imaginative than us flying sorts

Sam Taylor 104/05/2017 10:23:53
11 forum posts
2 photos

Thanks for all the replies! It isn't a requirement to design and build my own circuit, so one of those receiver operated switches would be ideal. I assume with this that you plug the receiver controlled switch into the RX and then solder the ends of the solenoid wires to the matching ends of the switch?

gangster04/05/2017 10:37:38
1084 forum posts
29 photos

Sam. I have just reread your post. You refer to nothing happening when you connect the solenoid to the positive and negative terminals of the receiver. Those should be permanently live. The third terminal is a varying pulse width signal and it is that that changes when you move a stick or switch on the tx. If your solonoid does nothing connected to the ref and black wires you will need to investigate the solenoid first

Plummet04/05/2017 10:50:15
1429 forum posts
41 photos

Something to consider.

Solenoids take either no current or sometimes a lot of current. The last thing that you want is to flatten your radio receiver battery in flight, So if you do use a solenoid then it would be wise to run it from a separate battery from the radios. To hold the wings in position the solenoid will need to be energised all the time (unless you have some sort of locking mechanism.) Thus a lot of current may be needed for a long time.

Might a better solution be to have a small motor driving a screw thread with a 'slug' on it that does not rotate, and so will move along the thread. A rod attached to the 'slug' moves the wings. This has the advantage that the wings will stay in place without the need for any electric current.

Of course - if you were doing that then you might use a servo anyway - but this might not be worth as much credit for your project.

Good luck


Sam Taylor 104/05/2017 10:54:20
11 forum posts
2 photos

I was under the impression that without a switching circuit of any sort, the solenoid won't move when I touch the red and black wires to the pos. and neg. terminals of the RX channel I want to use?

Sam Taylor 104/05/2017 10:59:39
11 forum posts
2 photos

Thanks Plummet. I wasn't sure whether I needed to use a separate battery or not. The solenoid will need to be energised for around 20-30 seconds. I'm connecting 4 servos to my RX as well, so with the solenoid as well I guess this will draw a lot of current?

​In terms of connecting the receiver controlled switch to the solenoid with an external battery, is there any wiring diagrams explaining how to do this?

​Unfortunately it's too late to start changing the design, so I'm going to have to stick with a solenoid. The finished glider needs to be handed in next week!

Dickw04/05/2017 11:09:04
837 forum posts
104 photos
Posted by Sam Taylor 1 on 04/05/2017 10:54:20:

I was under the impression that without a switching circuit of any sort, the solenoid won't move when I touch the red and black wires to the pos. and neg. terminals of the RX channel I want to use?

The pos and neg terminals on the RX are permanently energised, so should power your solenoid. Does the solenoid work if you connect the red and black wires to a battery? If so, it shoukld also work on the pos and neg of the RX.

Thr RC Switch comes with a connection diagram - a copy here.


Sam Taylor 104/05/2017 11:15:36
11 forum posts
2 photos

Dick, the solenoid doesn't move when I connect the red and black wires directly to the red and black terminals of the battery.

​here is a picture of the equipment I've got at the moment (TX out of shot)


gangster04/05/2017 11:21:36
1084 forum posts
29 photos

Unless you have got something fancy that you are not telling us about all a solonoid is is an electromagnet and will work with pos and meg of sufficient woltage connected to it. Might be a good plan to concentrate on getting the solonoid to work and do what you want it to do otherwise all the switches in the world might not help. I would expect a six volt solonoid to work on 4.8 volts but you can safely run the receiver on 6. However check the spec of the servos on the web not all like 6v. This however will not matter if you are using a separate battery for the solonoid. But get that solonoid working on a battery without the receiver first

gangster04/05/2017 11:23:46
1084 forum posts
29 photos

Ah just seen picture. You have got a 6volt pack so no probs there

Sam Taylor 104/05/2017 11:31:32
11 forum posts
2 photos

Would this thing be suitable for operating the solenoid remotely?


Ben B04/05/2017 11:36:32
1476 forum posts
4 photos

Nope. That's designed to be inline from the battery pack to the receiver to switch it on and off (hence the connections to the battery / rx).

Denis Watkins04/05/2017 11:51:08
4702 forum posts
135 photos

One of these Sam

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