1061 User Guide

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Getting Started

Welcome to the 1061 user guide! In order to get started, make sure you have the following hardware on hand:

Next, you will need to connect the pieces:

1061 0 Connecting The Hardware.jpg
  1. Connect the RC servo motors to the Phidget.
  2. Plug in a power supply using the barrel connector.
  3. Alternatively, you can connect a power supply into the terminal block. Be sure to observe correct polarity.
  4. Connect the Phidget to your computer using the USB cable.

Now that you have everything together, let's start using the 1061!

Using the 1061

Phidget Control Panel

In order to demonstrate the functionality of the 1061, the Phidget Control Panel running on a Windows machine will be used.

The Phidget Control Panel is available for use on both macOS and Windows machines. If you would like to follow along, first take a look at the getting started guide for your operating system:

Linux users can follow the getting started with Linux guide and continue reading here for more information about the 1061.

First Look

After plugging the 1061 into your computer and opening the Phidget Control Panel, you will see something like this:

1061 Panel.jpg

The Phidget Control Panel will list all connected Phidgets and associated objects, as well as the following information:

  • Serial number: allows you to differentiate between similar Phidgets.
  • Channel: allows you to differentiate between similar objects on a Phidget.
  • Version number: corresponds to the firmware version your Phidget is running. If your Phidget is listed in red, your firmware is out of date. Update the firmware by double-clicking the entry.

The Phidget Control Panel can also be used to test your device. Double-clicking on an object will open an example.

RC Servo

Double-click on the RCServo object, labelled Servo Motor Controller, in order to run the example:

1061 Servo Example.jpg

General information about the selected object will be displayed at the top of the window. You can also experiment with the following functionality:

  • Motor calibration options are provided. You can change the minimum and maximum pulse widths for your RC servo motor in the appropriate boxes. You can also change which position these pulse widths map to.
  • The SpeedRampingState checkbox lets the 1061 know whether or not to take the Acceleration and Velocity values into account when moving the RC servo motor.
  • Use the Position slider to change the target position and move the RC servo motor.

Current Input

Double-click on the Current Input object in order to run the example:

1061 CurrentInput Example.jpg

General information about the selected object will be displayed at the top of the window. You can also experiment with the following functionality:

  • Modify the change trigger and/or data interval value by dragging the sliders. For more information on these settings, see the data interval/change trigger page.

Technical Details


An RC servo motor can be instructed to move to a desired position by the controller. Internally, it monitors the current position, and drives the motor as fast as it can until it reaches the desired position. This is a very cheap and simple way to control a motor. It has some limitations though - there is no way for the controller to know the current position and speed of the motor. Applications that want smooth movement suffer from the aggressive acceleration.

The 1061 is able to address some of these limitations. Instead of sending the desired position immediately, the 1061 sends a series of progressive positions according to acceleration and velocity parameters. In most applications, this dramatically smooths the operation of the servo, and allows reasonably precise control of position, velocity and acceleration. The 1061 has a built in switching regulator - this allows it to efficiently operate from a wide voltage range (6-15VDC), and maintain proper power to the servo motors even if the power supply is varying. This built in voltage regulator will not operate if your power supply is undersized.

For more information about servo motors and controllers, check out the Servo Motor and Controller Primer.

Current Sense

The 1061 continuously measures the current consumed by each motor. The current roughly corresponds to torque, making it possible to detect several scenarios.

  • By monitoring for no current, it’s possible to determine if the servo is not connected. It may not be possible to distinguish between a servo at rest and a servo not attached.
  • Stalled motors can be detected, by monitoring for the maximum current possible with your motor.
  • The position limits of the servo can be programmatically determined by moving the servo until it stalls against the internal or external stops.

The 1061 specifications state that the board is suited to a maximum 1.6A continuous draw per channel to a maximum of 12A for the whole board. There is no overcurrent shutoff on a per channel basis though, only for the whole board. This means that technically you could put 12A through one channel if you had a big enough servo or were short circuiting one of the channels. This would burn out the current sensing electronics very quickly. As a result, monitoring the current levels in your code is a good idea as you can implement a safety shutoff yourself.


The 1061 does not know the current position of the motor on its own. If your motor is free to move, and is not being driven beyond the physical limitations of the motor, the position returned to your application will be very close to the position of the motor.

Using the 1061 with Continuous Rotation Servos

A continuous rotation servo is a servo motor that has had its headgear-stop removed and potentiometer replaced by two matched-value resistors. This has the effect of allowing the motor to rotate freely through a full range of motion, but disables the motor’s ability to control it’s position.

When using the 1061 with a servo motor modified in this way, the position control in software becomes the motor’s speed control. Because the two resistors that replace the motor’s potentiometer are matched in value, the motor will always think its shaft is at center position. If the target position in software is set to center, the motor will believe it has achieved the target and will therefore not rotate. The further away from center the target position is set to, the faster the motor will rotate (trying to reach that position, but never doing so). Changing the value above or below center changes the direction of rotation.

Using the 1061 with Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs)

Electronic Speed Controllers are commonly used in RC hobby planes, cars, helicopters. It’s a controller that accepts a PWM input signal, and controls a motor based on that signal. The ESC accepts power from an external source, normally a battery pack.

ESCs can be controlled by the 1061, but the vast majority of ESCs on the market will destroy the 1061 if they are plugged in without modification. In a hobby RC system, the ESC is responsible for regulating some of the battery current down to ~5V, and supplying it to the radio receiver. An ESC designed to the power the receiver will advertise that it has a Battery Eliminator Circuit (BEC). When you plug an ESC into the 1061, the 1061 is acting as the radio receiver. The 1061 was not designed to be powered by the devices it controls, and the voltage regulator on the 1061 will self-destruct if a device tries to power it. If the center pin from the 3-wire servo connector between the 1061 and the ESC is disconnected, the BEC on the ESC will not be able to power the 1061, and the voltage regulator will not fail.

How the ESC inteprets the PWM signal and controls the motor is a function of the ESC. Higher end ESCs can be configured based on the application.

The hobby RC market has transitioned to Brushless DC Motors (BLDC). As you select an ESC, watch that the battery voltage input matches that of your system, and the type of motor controlled is what you have. Brushed DC and Brushless DC Motors are completely different, and require different controllers.

Wiring layout is critical with ESCs. The currents to the motor and on the ground return can be enormous. If these currents end up travelling back through USB cables, the system will not be stable. Some ESCs are optically isolated (OPTO) - a big advantage that reduces interference.

Synchronization of Multiple Servo Motors

Many applications call for several servo motors operating in unison - for example, operating a CNC table, or a robot arm. Highly precise synchronization of multiple servos using the 1061 is not possible, as the sequencing will be affected by the real-time performance of your operating system. Each servo is controlled as a independent unit, so there is no way of arranging for a particular action to happen to all motors at the same time. Typical jitter can be 10-30ms.

Connecting your Servo Motor to the 1061

1061 0 Pins.jpg

The pins on the 1061 are labelled B R W on the board:

  • B for Black is the Ground
  • R for Red is 5V
  • W for White (or Yellow depending on your servo motor) is the Data Line

If you need to use a servo motor with a higher power requirement than the 1061 can provide, you can cut the red and black wires on the Phidget cable and solder them to the power and ground of an external power supply. If you do this, make sure you disconnect the red wire from the 1061, because reverse current from the external power supply could damage the servo controller board.

What to do Next

  • Software Overview - Find your preferred programming language here to learn how to write your own code with Phidgets!
  • General Phidget Programming - Read this general guide to the various aspects of programming with Phidgets. Learn how to log data into a spreadsheet, use Phidgets over the network, and much more.
  • Phidget22 API - The API is a universal library of all functions and definitions for programming with Phidgets. Just select your language and device and it'll give you a complete list of all properties, methods, events, and enumerations that are at your disposal.