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Looking for ACTUATOR / CONTROLLER suggestions.

Discussion in 'Sensors and Actuators' started by anixon, Sep 16, 2013.

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  1. anixon


    Sep 16, 2013
    Hi Guys,

    I'm fairly new to electronics. I've used an arduino board in a physics lab and have some experience with NXC. Anyways, I'm on my own project now and I need some directions for components. What I need:

    LINEAR ACTUATOR with variable travel between 0-3" approx. So can't just be an open close system, I'd need it to have the ability to stop at a position because I want the controller to be able to have a real time incremental movement from a sensor. It will need to pull about 8-10lb force.

    CONTROLLER that can be flashed and programmed from a regular computer. Not picky about what sort of sdk or assembly language is used. It has to be able to take variable inputs from a push sensor and then move the actuator in stages based on the amount of pressure. I.E. for every 0.1" the push sensor travels, the actuator should expand/contract 0.5" or some other fixed ration programmed in.

    Both parts need to be relatively compact. Can someone point me in the direction of what kinda of parts, brand/model, where to buy, etc? I'm really at the starting point here and don't know where to get this stuff.

    Thanks so much!
  2. Fish4Fun

    Fish4Fun So long, and Thanks for all the Fish!

    Aug 27, 2013
    Hrmm, let's have a go @ this.

    First, do you plan to build or buy the linear actuator? Regardless, what kind of accuracy & or resolution do you require? What is the project budget? How fast does the actuator need to move? Are you REALLY looking for a linear actuator like this: or are you wanting a small table like this (frequently referred to as a stage)? What type of power supplies are available (mains//battery//etc).

    What you have described could be a $10k microscope stage, or a $10 can opener. There is little reason to discuss the control system until you have fully defined the requirements, but one simple system might be to use the cheap & readily available 28BYJ-48 Stepper motors with a ULN2003 driver connected to a lead screw controlled by an Arduino. Another simple answer might be to use a servo from the RC hobby to push/pull whatever it is you are trying to move. But you really haven't given enough information for a more detailed response.


    CDRIVE Hauling 10' pipe on a Trek Shift3

    May 8, 2012
    Fish, Archimedes was a great mind. ;)

  4. Solidus


    Jun 19, 2011
    Just my addition -

    For position sensing, you can either use a servo setup (where the motor is synchronized to a potentiometer which exports an analog value dependent on position) or you can use a software runtime that maintains a log of position and position changes.

    Resolution for 3" traverse isn't much of an issue, for 3" spans one can obtain lower than 5 mil CNC precision for very cheap. It's only when you start playing with large distances that it becomes infeasible, mainly due to first and foremost, backlash, and also warp, bend, roll, pitch, etc. - transient shifts in the mechanical components away from their ideal state.

    But the question remains - do you need that level of precision?
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