DC Motor Speed Controller

This circuit takes advantage of the voltage drop across bridge rectifier diodes to produce a 5-position variable voltage supply to a DC fan or other small DC motor. It is not as efficient as a switch-mode circuit but it has the virtues of simplicity and no switching hash. The four full-wave bridges are connected so that each has two pairs of series diodes in parallel, giving a voltage drop of about 1.4V, depending on the load current.

Circuit diagram:
DC motor speed controller circuit schematic
DC Motor Speed Controller Circuit Diagram

The rotary switch should have "make before break" contacts which should be rated to take currents up to about an amp or so. For higher currents, higher rated bridge rectifiers and a suitably rugged rotary switch (or solenoids) will be required. If you want smaller voltage steps, you could use the commoned AC inputs on the bridge rectifiers to give intermediate steps on the speed switch.
Author: Stephen Butcher,