How can I regulate duty time and frequency of 555 timer output with 2 potentiometers?

  • \$\begingroup\$ By steering the charge and discharge currents. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 18:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ i'm so nooby i know that i need control capacitor charging time and discharge time with those resistors... maybe someone can draw schematic? i googled a lot and just founding duty cycle regulators or freq.. but no one in same layout. \$\endgroup\$
    – Klasik
    Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 18:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ So then examine the two and put them together. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ i think its impossible :) to duty cycle used 7 - discharge as output... in freq... using 3 output as output \$\endgroup\$
    – Klasik
    Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 19:00
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Ouch, @Klasik, please use capitalization to make your comments easier to read. \$\endgroup\$
    – JYelton
    Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


Using two pots to adjust the frequency and duty cycle is easy, but there may be interaction between the controls. The simplest method is to have one pot for charge and another for discharge, with diodes steering the current between them. To change duty cycle you turn one pot up and the other down. To change frequency you adjust both in the same direction. That's a lot of interaction!

You can rearrange the pots so one controls duty cycle and the other changes frequency, but there will still be some interaction. Here's a circuit which has minimal interaction and provides a duty cycle range of about 2~98%. The practical frequency range is only about 3:1, and is quite sensitive at the low end.


simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

However there is a way to get wide frequency range with 0~100% duty cycle and no interaction, using the same number of parts! It uses the 555 as a triangle wave generator, and an opamp or comparator to control the duty cycle.


simulate this circuit

  • \$\begingroup\$ My son has asked for some help with a school project, building a dc motor controller. We decided to use the lower of the two circuits. We got it working as displayed, but cannot get the duty cycle to 0- it is stuck on the low end at 160 uSec. Top end is fine at 99% duty cycle. Only changes are elimination of R1 to set the frequency at 1kHz and using a UA741CN Op amp in lieu of the MCP601. I have tried reducing the value of R5, with no effect! Any ideas? \$\endgroup\$
    – user218517
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 20:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user218517: Your biggest problem is the 741 opamp. It is simply not designed to work from a 5V power supply -- it requires a minimum of 20V for proper operation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 21:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't get how this setup can set the duty cycle in so wide range. If I get it correctly, the voltage on the positive input of the opamp can be set between 1/3 - 2/3 Vcc. To be able to set the duty cycle in range 0-100% I would expect this voltage between 0 - Vcc. \$\endgroup\$
    – Katona
    Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 20:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ As the pot voltage changes it crosses the triangle wave at a different height, which equates to a larger 'on' time as it moves towards the apex. Above 2/3Vcc the PWM is fully on, and below 1/3Vcc it is fully off. The pot voltage only has to cover that range, which is why R3 and R4 are there (otherwise the pot would only be effective in the middle of its range). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 22:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I have no electrical engineering background, but does that mean the triangle wave alternates in the 1/3 -2/3Vcc range and not in 0 - Vcc? \$\endgroup\$
    – Katona
    Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 11:09

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