From light theremins to toothbrush timers the 555 timer is an extremely versatile component, for beginner and advanced projects alike. We’ve previously shown how to drive DC, servo, and stepper motors with simple 555 circuits. Now with our latest Weekend Project, MAKE Technical Editor Sean Ragan re-imagines the 555 as the brain of an all-in-one controller he calls the Dial-a-Speed: One Motor Controller to Rule Them All.

Watch how he put it together:


The stacking and layout of this build is both challenging and incredibly rewarding. We’re still wowed by its design.

The possibilities of the 555 are many. There’s a reason an estimated billion of these ICs have been manufactured annually since its introduction in 1971. As one user chimed in,

I love working with 555 timer. In 1988 I built a simple timer using the 555 to automatically flush some antique urinals in a public school. My basic circuit design came from Getting Started In Electronics by Forrest M. Mims, III. Power supply used the LM7812 transistor. Also used a photo-resistor & 12-volt lamp to keep pin one of the 555IC from re-triggering during the time cycle of my appliance command module’s one minute minimum time cycle, which was operated by a Tandy Command Center ~ which was programed by the Tandy TRS-80 COCO-II computer. That computer had a whopping 64K memory lol

We’ll be showing how to apply the potential drive of the Dial-a-Speed in another upcoming Weekend Project, but for now if you have your own 555 stories to tell, share them in the comments below or email us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear your story and you could be featured here on the MAKE blog!