Speed can be varied by either changing the voltage or pulsing the motor. Most computer controlled DC motors are pulsed. Pulses of a fixed voltage are sent to the motor, usually by an Electronic Speed Controller or ESC. A pulse of 1.5 ms causes no motion. Wider pulses cause faster spinning in one direction. Shorter pulses cause faster spinning in the opposite direction. Eventually, an overstressed ESC stops pulsing and turns one wire on and one wire off, depending on the direction.
This means that when the next electromagnet is turned on and the first is turned off, the gear rotates slightly to align with the next one. From there the process is repeated. Each of those rotations is called a "step", with an integer number of steps making a full rotation. In that way, the motor can be turned by a precise angle.
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