Sunday, 1 March 2020

How To Limit Travel On Linear Actuators Without Adjustable Limit Switches

Though we carry more micro-linear motion products than anybody, there are times when our customers have a stroke-length requirement that can't be met with an off the shelf product. While some larger actuators come with adjustable end limit switches, this isn't practical on micro actuators.

There are however, several ways to adjust the stroke of your micro actuator.

The ability to adjust the stroke of an electric linear actuator for greater precision is incredibly useful. There are hundreds of applications that might require a custom stroke including:
  • Micro robotics applications
  • Opening and closing drawers and cupboards for home automation
  • Animatronic displays
  • Industrial or medical applications with tight tolerances
  • Automotive customizations
  • RC applications such as air brakes, landing gear, flaps or retractable canopies

There are some linear actuators with adjustable end-limit switches, most are non-adjustable. I'm going to walk through what you can do to get the custom stroke linear actuator that you need.

There are three ways to adjust the stroke of a linear actuator.
  • Adjust the actuator's extension and retraction
  • Adjust only the retraction
  • Adjust only the extension.
Before you get started with a custom linear motion system, consider whether it might be easier to modify your project. 

Sometimes simply adjusting a mounting point could net you the same result as any of the below solutions. If you're sure that you need the ability to adjust your actuator's stroke, keep reading.

What Are limit Switches?

There are many different types of linear actuators.  The simplest of these (such as our S series) have internal end-limit switches. These switches simply stop the actuator by cutting off the power when it reaches it's end of stroke when retracting or extending.

There are both adjustable and non-adjustable limit switches, with the non-adjustable type being far more common.

If an actuator does not have end-limit switches, or another means to shut down power at the end of it's stroke, damage to actuator is certain to occur as it will keep trying to drive until it burns out the motor or causes some other physical damage to the device.

Stall Protection

Stall protection is a feature found on Actuonix "R" and "I" series micro linear actuators, as well as "P" series when used with our Linear Actuator Control Board. This gives you similar functionality to an actuator with adjustable end limit switches.  The difference is that while end limit switches cut the power to the motor, inhibiting further movement in one direction, stall protection is a safety feature that kicks in when the motor 'stalls' or meets a certain amount of resistance.

If you need a linear actuator with a custom stroke length, you have options. You don't necessarily need a linear actuator with adjustable limit switches. Below are 5 options to get the custom stroke you need.

1. Use an LAC (Linear Actuator Control) board

adjustable end limit switches


Using a "P" series actuator with an LAC board increases the functionality of the actuator. One of the features it offers is the ability to set custom end-limits on both ends of the stroke. It's as simple as turning two pots to the desired position and then disconnecting and reconnecting power to the board. 

The LAC board is not only simple to use, but it's affordable. When you buy a "P" series actuator, we offer the LAC board for 1/2 price, which is only $20. For most applications, this is going to be your best bet for setting a custom stroke length.

2. Use an RC radio

Our "R" series linear servos, are a direct plug-and-play replacement for rotary hobby servos. If you're  controlling your project via RC, you can set custom end of stroke limits in most modern radios. I use a Spektrum DX8 and it offers this functionality.

3. Install an external limit switch kit

linear actuator with adjustable limit switches

An external limit switch kit is a small mechanical switch that will either make or break a connection when contacted by the actuator at a certain point.  You to set custom end limits on an "S" or "P" series actuator. It's inexpensive and relatively easy to install. If you need help installing an end limit switch kit you can find the data sheet here.

4. Use an arduino

This might work well for you if your project is already using Arduino. It's more complicated than simple limit switches or even using an LAC board. I won't cover this in detail here as there are several ways to accomplish custom end-limits with Arduino and that's a whole article on it's own. For support using Arduino with micro linear actuators, I highly recommend signing up for the forums at Trossen Robotics.  There are lots of great, helpful Arduino users over there.

5.  Order a custom product

If you need a large quantity of actuators, it would be a big task to install limit switches on them all. We can help you out by building you a custom micro linear actuator with limit switches set to your specifications.

This would require a quantity order of at least 500 units. If you need a lot of actuators for an OEM product than this is a great, cost effective way to get the custom stroke that you need.

The point is that you have options. You don't necessarily need a linear actuator with adjustable limit switches to achieve your desired stroke. You can get the same result several different ways. The options listed above are the simplest and most cost-effective for most individuals and companies.

If you have any questions about using a micro linear actuator with a custom stroke feel free to contact our sales department weekdays from 7:30am to 3:30pm.



Friday, 24 January 2020

Cheap Linear Actuator | How To Buy Inexpensive Actuators

At Actuonix, we take pride in producing inexpensive linear actuators that are built to a high standard of quality. Our low-cost line of micro linear actuators is the result of years of product development and incremental improvement. 
Unlike some linear actuator companies, we don't buy our products from mass-manufacturers and re-brand them. We design every product from scratch, build and test prototypes and adjust our designs over and over to make sure that by the time our products reach the customer, they're going to get the job done.
Actuators aren't an investment that you make at the drop of a hat. It takes time and effort to find affordable linear actuators that meet a high standard of quality and can stand the test of time. At Actuonix Motion Devices, every single actuator that we sell is thoroughly tested before leaving our facility. We do this so that we can maintain a high standard of product quality, while still producing the cheapest linear actuators on the market.
If you want even more ways to save money on your next purchase of linear actuators, there are a few ideas listed below.

How To Get Cheap Actuators

1. Buy in bulk

linear actuators bulk

Everybody knows that buying in bulk is one of the best ways to get a discount. Linear actuators are no exception. At Actuonix, we're pleased to be able to offer bulk pricing to customers that order our products in quantities of ten or more.
If your business is in the market for actuators, consider amalgamating several product purchases into one.  The more actuators that you buy per transaction, the greater discount we can offer you. We're also willing to work with you to further reduce your cost by bulk-packaging your actuators and/or not shipping you items that you may not use such as the mounting hardware kit that comes standard with all of our products.

2. Student Discounts Are Available

College and university students may be eligible for an educational discount on Actuonix products. This discount is available on orders that are shipped to an educational facility. Providing engineering students with affordable linear actuators is just one way that Actuonix is committed to giving back to the engineering community. Students in other programs maybe eligible for discounts as well.

3. FIRST Robotics Team

Did you know that Actuonix linear servos are permitted for use in FRC builds? You can use our devices in this year's robot build. And as a FIRST Robotics team, you're eligible for a discount on our products. You can contact our sales department for more information.


FIRST robotics actuators

4. Become Part Of Our Build Team 


cheap actuators

Over the last 13 years in business, Actuonix has sponsored dozens of projects from all around the world. We sponsor a variety of projects including unique robotics, RC and Arduino builds. If you're interested in having your next project considered for sponsorship by Actuonix, check out this page for more info.


Frankly, when it comes to cheap linear actuators, there's just not much out there. There are several companies selling products that they've bought wholesale from companies like Alibaba and re branded. You never know what you're going to get with that type of product, and neither does the seller, because they didn't design and build it.
When you buy a low-cost micro linear actuator from Actuonix, you're getting a device that was imagined, designed, prototyped, tested and improved upon by our in-house team of engineers right here in Western Canada. In addition, you're getting a company with more than a decade of experience delivering reliable, affordable motion devices. Don't settle for less, install Actuonix in your next project.
Thursday, 5 December 2019

Custom Linear Actuators

Custom linear actuators

Updated for 2020!

Do you need a custom linear actuator for your next product or project? Actuonix Motion Devices can help. We pride ourselves on manufacturing the largest selection of affordable micro actuators available. Even still, we regularly get requests from customers who require a custom actuation solution that is outside of our regular range of products.

If your applications parameters dictate a custom actuator configuration, no problem. Our team of in-house engineers can work with you to customize a product that will suit your needs.



Custom Linear Actuators That Meet YOUR Specifications

At Actuonix, we manufacture all of our products. Unlike some of our competitors, our team of engineers designs every piece of our actuators from our headquarters in Western Canada. Because we control the entire production process, we can alter our designs to suit your needs.

Do Custom Electric Actuators Require A Minimum Order Quantity?

Yes, we require a minimum MOQ of 500 for basic actuator modifications. The MOQ may be more or less depending on what your particular needs are. Below are some examples of customizations that we can produce with a minimum order quantity of 500 units.

Change Electrical Connector

There are many different styles of connectors out there. If you're ordering a large number of actuators for your design, it might be worth having us customize a cable for you, rather than adapting your project to match the cables that we install on stock actuators.

Installing a custom linear actuator cable to match what's already available on your device will save you time and money.

Longer Or Shorter Connection Wire

Not only can we change the cable, we can also customize the length of the cable. Whether you want your cables to be 5 inches or 50 inches, we can work with you to produce a custom cable that will work for your application.

Combining a custom cable length with a custom plug can make the motion component of your design much easier to manage.


Modifying Limit Switch Position

Our internal limit switches are non-adjustable on stock actuators. That said, there are other ways to limit the stroke of your actuator that might work for you. These include using an LAC board, an external limit switch kit, or controlling your actuators via arduino.

If your requirements meet our minimum order quanitity and you want to limit the stroke without the use of external switches or an LAC board, talk to our sales team about modifying a stock product to your specifications. We can have the limit switch position modified at our factory.

Shortening Actuator Stroke 

If simply limiting actuator travel wouldn't work for you, and you need a device with a physically shorter stroke than what we offer, we can do that as well.

We have done this type of actuator customization for many customers in the past and know the process inside and out. 

Custom Rod End Attachments

All of our micro linear actuators (with the exception of our NXT and T16 lines) come with the stock clevis end tip. You will also find a threaded end tip inside the included hardware kit. Most of our clients are able to make one of these tips work for them. If however, you require a different means of attachment, we can work with you to design an end tip that will integrate seamlessly into your design.

If you don't require a large enough quantity for custom actuator production, you can manufacture your own end tips to suit your needs.

The internal thread on the shaft is M8 x 1.25.


Fitting A Motor/Gearbox With A Custom Gear Ratio

Do you need a custom speed or force spec that is not available in our stock products?

Though our line of electric actuators comes with a variety of gearing options, there are others available. We can work with our motor supplier to provide actuators with a custom gear ratio to better suit your force and speed requirements.

Changing Lubricants To Facilitate Low-Temp Operation

If you are planning on operating our miniature actuators in an extreme environment, you may need to order devices with a custom gear oil to facilitate low-temperature operations. The stock gear oil works well in a wide range of temperatures but can become too thick when subjected to extremely low temperatures.

In addition to the linear actuator customizations mentioned above, we can make more significant design alterations up to and including designing a different clamshell, or an entirely new product. The minimum order quantity for major customizations begins at 2000 units.

If you're looking for an affordable custom actuator for your next product design, you're in the right place. Nobody can match Actuonix's selection of actuators. And if none of our 168 stock models work for your application, we can design something within your budget that will.

We want to you get the right micro linear actuator for your needs, at the an affordable price. That's why we included a complete mounting hardware kit with every actuator we sell. Other companies charge $8-10 for just the hardware kit. 

Contact us today to learn more about our custom linear actuator solutions.


Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Introducing Our New Line Of S20 Stepper Actuators!


For years, Actuonix has been providing affordable motion solutions to OEM designers, inventors, builders and hobbyists of all types. We’re proud that our products have been the backbone of some truly amazing projects. From animatronics, RC construction and 3D displays to complex medical devices, prosthetics and automotive applications, our actuators have served a wide range of clients. They’ve even been to space!

We’re always reaching for more. We want to serve more people, be involved in more projects and offer affordable motion solutions to those for whom we haven’t been a fit in the past. When we first started developing actuators over a decade ago, we wanted to offer a solution that would serve the widest range of customers at an affordable price. As this business has grown over the years, we have released new products to appeal to different builders.

One of the main pieces of feedback that we receive from some customers is that they wish we offered a product that offered a higher positioning accuracy than our current offerings.

We hear you. In fact, our new line has been in development for . Our engineers have been hard at work ensuring that our new line is the best it can possibly be. And the best part? As with all of our products, it’s affordable for OEM designers and hobbyists alike.


Introducing the Actuonix S20 line of stepper actuators




We’re proud to announce that our new S20 line of stepper actuators is now officially available in our store!

The S20 is a rod-style actuator that is built off of our popular L12 platform. Unlike our other actuators which use a DC motor and gearbox, the S20 line has a NEMA 8 motor mounted directly to the actuator shaft. The S20 offers high-precision positioning in a very compact package that is ideal for mounting in tight spaces.

The S20 is available in four different stroke lengths: 15mm (0.59"), 30mm (1.18"), 50mm (1.97") and 100mm (3.93") to ensure that we offer a stepper actuator solution that will work with your design


How to drive a stepper actuator

For those who need a means of driving their stepper actuator, we are now offering a TIC T825 Stepper Driver Board by Pololu.

The Pololu Tic family of stepper motor controllers makes it easy to add basic control of a bipolar stepper motor to a variety of projects. These versatile, general-purpose modules support six different control interfaces – USB for direct connection to a computer, TTL serial and I²C for use with a microcontroller, RC hobby servo pulses for use in an RC system, analog voltages for use with a potentiometer or analog joystick, and quadrature encoder for use with a rotary encoder dial – and offer many settings that can be configured using Pololu's free configuration utility (for Windows, Linux, and macOS). This software simplifies initial setup of the device and allows for in-system testing and monitoring of the controller via USB (a micro-B USB cable is required to connect the Tic to a computer).


Still have questions?

If you’re not sure whether or not a stepper actuator is the right choice for you, give us a call! We can help direct you to the best actuator for your project or for incorporating into your product design.
Friday, 25 October 2019

2019 FIRST Robotics Sponsorship Winners

Each year, Actuonix Motion Devices offers five sponsorship opportunities to FIRST Robotics teams. While applications started out a little slow this year, I'm pleased to say we received a flurry of responses right before the deadline.

It was a challenge to choose winners this year. All of the teams that applied show great potential and we're looking forward to seeing what each and every one of you builds in the year to come.

This year's winners of our $500USD financial sponsorship are:

Team 6377 'Howdy Bots'

Team 6832  'STEAMex'

This year's winners of our three $250USD product sponsorship are:

Team 13201 'Hazmat'
Team 469 'Las Guerrillas'
Team 6829 'Ignite Robotics' 

Thank you to all of the team members, mentors and parents who took the time to apply. Please keep an eye open for more sponsorship opportunities next year!
Monday, 14 October 2019

4 Different Types Of Linear Actuators

Linear actuators are much more common than many people realize. In fact, many motion-enabled products these days contain linear actuators. From consumer products to robotics, automotive and aviation, we’re surrounded by actuators all the time.

Just a modern vehicle alone can have dozens of actuators. Many functions that are controlled by the simple push of a button, are actually being driven by an actuator behind the dashboard or under the hood.

What is a linear actuator?

A linear actuator is simply a device that uses energy to create motion in a straight line. That energy can be compressed air, electricity, vacuum or pressurized hydraulic oil. Many applications require a device that can move things straight in and out, and that’s how linear actuators became popular.

Electric linear actuators take the rotary motion created by a standard electric motor and convert it to linear motion. This makes it simple to make objects slide,


There are several different types of linear actuators that you will find on the market. Each has their own merits and drawbacks. I’m going to walk you through the different types of actuators available and look into which types of use are appropriate for which product.

Electric

Electric actuators are very common. They come in a variety of different styles and designs, shapes, sizes and price points. In fact, just navigating electric linear actuators can be a daunting task. The most common types of electric linear actuator are lead-screw, belt-drive and rack and pinion.

Benefits of electric linear actuators

Electric linear actuators (both large and micro) are well-suited to applications that require relatively slow, steady and precise movement. They tend to be more cost-effective than other types of actuators as well.

Another benefit to using electric actuators is you have a wide variety of control options, ranging from simple switches to remote control, arduino-powered and even IOT wifi enabled. If you want the widest array of options regarding control, electric is probably the best way to go.


Additionally, installation of electric actuators is relatively simple when compared to other types of motion devices. Some actuator manufacturers even provide a mounting hardware kit with their devices to make installation a breeze.

Pneumatic

Pneumatic actuators use compressed air, rather than an electric motor, to enable motion. Pneumatic actuators are less precise than electric, and are best suited to applications that require only two positions, rather than a range of positioning options.

Pneumatic actuators range in price but are generally inexpensive. Pneumatic actuators can be found mostly in industrial settings where access to compressed air is readily available.

Hydraulic

Hydraulic actuators use pressurized hydraulic oil to create movement. They can be counted on for precise, powerful movement but do not tend to be fast. Hydraulic actuators can be found in commercial environments that require a great deal of force such as heavy equipment, fabrication, and manufacturing.

Next time you pass an excavator or backhoe, have a look at the big cylinders that lift the boom. Those are just large hydraulic actuators!

Vacuum

Vacuum actuators are similar to pneumatic actuators, but rather than using compressed air to create the motion, they use vacuum created by a vacuum pump.

Vacuum actuators are common in automobiles as engines create vacuum that can be easily utilized to create motion. They can also be found in HVAC, industrial and other applications. Vacuum actuators are generally not used at the hobbyist level.

How to choose a linear actuator

When it’s time to decide on a linear actuator for your application, it’s important to first have a look at what you need the actuator to do. For example:



  • How far do you need the actuator to travel?
  • What is the expected load on the actuator?
  • How long do you need the actuator to last?
  • What is your price range?


Also consider what type of movement you’re looking for. Do you need something that will quickly move from one point to the next, or are you looking for consistent, steady movement?


If you’ve answered these questions, and still aren’t sure what type of actuator you need, you can feel free to send an email to our sales team. They would be happy to help you find a motion device that’s right for your needs. If we don’t have the product, we can direct you to somebody who will.


You can also check our product descriptions and datasheets on our product pages to help guide your decision.


At Actuonix, we carry the largest selection of micro linear actuators available anywhere. Every single one of our products was designed by our team of engineers just outside of Victoria, BC, in Western Canada. We don’t rebrand actuators that can be found on Chinese websites. Everything that we sell, we designed from the ground up. Head over to our website to check out our full product offerings.




Wednesday, 18 September 2019

FIRST Robotics Sponsorship 2019



It's that time of year again!  Applications are now open for the Actuonix FIRST Robotics Sponsorship Program.

Actuonix Motion Devices is a proud supporter of FIRST and will be offering five team sponsorship oppourtunities in 2019: 2 financial sponsorships of $500 USD and 3 product sponsorships of $250 in-store credit.

For more information, eligibility criteria and application form, click here.

The submission deadline is October 15, 2019 and winners will be notified no later than October 21, 2019.