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 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 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 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 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.
Thursday, 4 July 2019

In depth with the UVSRC

Actuonix Motion Devices is a proud sponsor of the University of Victoria Submarine Racing Club, a design team based out of our home territory of Victoria, British Columbia. Ahead of their international competition in Washington, D.C., Team leader Liam Scott-Moncrieff was kind enough to provide some insight into the program and the team’s season so far.

Can you tell us a little bit about the program and the history of the club at UVic?

The UVic Submarine Racing Club (UVSRC) is an undergraduate engineering design team at the University of Victoria. UVSRC is UVic's youngest design team, having made their debut at the European International Submarine Races (eISR) 2018 in Portsmouth, UK, with their submarine 'Chinook'. eISR 2018 was a huge success, with Chinook taking fourth place out of 18 teams.

The club is composed of a team of 15 core members and 20+ contributing members, including students from mechanical and electrical engineering, computer sciences, business and even history. The team is split into 6 sub-systems dedicated to one aspect or design feature. The students get to apply the knowledge gained in class to designing and manufacturing a real-life project. The project is funded through grants, donations and sponsorship from within the university and external businesses.

What’s new for this year?

This year, UVSRC is competing at the 19th International Submarine Races at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Washington D.C. with 'Chinook II', a new and improved version of last year's hull.

Chinook II, like Chinook I, is a flooded, human-powered submersible vehicle. It measures 11'9" long and is 2'2" at its largest diameter. The pilot floats prone in the vehicle and pedals to turn a pair of couter-rotating propellers. The submarine is controlled by a pair of rudders and dive planes at the stern. These are controlled by the pilot through a cable linkage to a steering column at the bow. Chinook II has integrated SCUBA tank and regulator for the pilot, as well as a secondary safety tank and emergency pop-up buoy. While last year's fibre-glass hull was retained, several significant improvements have been made to make Chinook II faster and more nibble in the water.

Firstly, the steering system was completely overhauled. Where previously there was an assembly of cut and drilled bar stock there is now a precision-machined alignment frame from our sponsor Rainhouse Canada. The frame holds the shaft bearings in alignment with the hull and, with the help of two u-bar connector joints, allows the rudder and dive-plane pairs to move together in perfect alignment.

This new steering system is complemented by brand new control surfaces. These control surfaces are thinner yet stronger than last year's, thanks to their caste-resin over waterjet frame construction. They use biomimicry, taking inspiration from the blue whale, whos' fins' have bumps and dips along their leading edge, called 'tubercles'. These tubercles have been shown to reduce the stall angle and increase lift at low speeds while keeping drag low. Initial testing has demonstrated excellent performance and we are hopeful these will give us an extra edge at the competition.

Last year's propeller blades have also been swapped out for larger and stronger blades. The new blades are constructed from a 3D printed plastic core, allow for an ideal, high efficiency shape. Internal blind holes the length of the blade allow two steel struts to be embedded inside, giving them excellent bending and shear strength. This is further complimented by a carbon fiber skin, making the blades rigid and durable. These blades have greatly increased the power the pilot can transmit to the water, allow us to accelerate faster and reach higher speeds.

Finally, troubles maintaining a consistent depth at last year's competition has lead to the introduction of an electronic depth controller. This controller will automatically regulate the submarine's depth, allowing the pilot to concentrate on pedalling hard and steering straight. The controller works by reading the water pressure using a high-accuracy piezo-resistive pressure transducer. This pressure value is compared to the desired depth and run through a control algorithm, which sets the dive plane angle to keep sub at its ideal hydrodynamic depth.

How are you utilizing Actuonix micro linear actuators in the project?

The actuation is done using a linear actuator and accompanying control board kindly provided by Actuonix Motion Devices. The device was chosen for it's high strength and ability to be easily and reliably waterproofed over a rotary servo. The actuator is mounted in a watertight enclosure and actuates a precision-ground steel shaft. This shaft passes through a double o-ring barrier out into the wet exterior, where it connects to a lever-arm linkage that drives the dive plane shaft. This is favourable to a servo motor as it does not require additional gearing and does not experience bending forces from the control surfaces that could compromise the o-ring seals.

What are your goals for this season’s competition?

We are hopeful that these key improvements will allow us to perform better and go faster than last year, and with luck and some fast pedalling, make the podium at ISR 19. This would be a huge accomplishment for us at the more competitive American event. Making the podium in just our second year of operation would be an excellent testament to the hard work and talent of UVic engineering students, and would give us the energy and inspiration to continue innovating, improving and learning.

A big thanks to Liam and the UVSRC team for taking the time to get us up to speed with their project. We’ll have an update incoming with the results from Washington!

For more information on the UVSRC team visit
Friday, 15 March 2019

Arduino Day 2019

March 16 is Arduino Day 2019! With over 600 events in more than 100 countries, Arduino Day is meant to bring users together to share experiences and learn more about the open source platform.

The schedule of official events, including a live stream of an 'Ask Me Anything' with Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi from company headquarters in Milan, can be found here:

And you can follow along on twitter via the #ArduinoD19 hashtag.

Actuonix + Arduino

Actuonix has a full line-up of Arduino-compatible linear actuators and servos. Our R-Series actuators have been designed specifically to work with the Arduino Servo Library and are available in a full compliment of stroke lengths and gearing options.

For more on our Arduino-compatible products vistit the Actuonix Website.

Need help getting started?We have compiled resources to help you get started with adding motion to your next Arduino-based project, which you can find here:

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Cosplay In Motion

We’re always fascinated to see how our products are used in the real world. Adding motion to your projects has never been easier and applications are becoming more varied everyday. This fall we were introduced to Anna Stephens and her wonderful cosplay costumes. We caught up with Anna, aka doki_doki_cosplay on Instagram, to find out more about the world of cosplay and her latest project, articulated wings powered by Actuonix actuators and Arduino.

Thanks for taking some time with us, Anna. How long have you been interested and participating in cosplay?

I started getting interested in cosplay when my library’s Anime Club had a festival where you could cosplay, at which point I started to research what cosplay was. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2017 that I mark the start of my cosplay career. That is when I became truly invested in making my own cosplays from scratch and even competing in cosplay competitions.

Musical eternal moon wings are DONE! electronics and all! They have two linear actuators from @actuonix hooked up to one ardunio uno board (yes surprisingly they make linear actuators that can be controlled by ardunios!) I made the code myself from a base code of a servo sweep. I used cheap costume wings as a base and covered them in turkey rounds each adorned with a gold rimmed swaorvski that I hand placed. They also have fairy LEDs hidden within the down feathers! The uno board connects to a small power bank with a on off push button that I added for easy access. All in all I'm very proud of these especially for my first pair of wings and my first pair of electorinic wings! Musical eternal moon will be debuted Saturday of @animeiwai

72 Likes, 5 Comments - Doki Doki @ CCR (@doki_doki_cosplay) on Instagram: "Musical eternal moon wings are DONE! electronics and all! They have two linear actuators from..."

How often are you creating new ideas and designs? How many events do you attend each year?

I create a new cosplay every time there’s a new convention I want to go to. Most of the time if I’m making a cosplay it’s because I’m competing in a cosplay competition. I’d say I go to roughly about 5 to 6 conventions a year, I average going to a new one about every 2 months which gives me a good amount of time to make a stellar cosplay.

How does judging work in your competitions? Are there specific points awarded for technical aspects or is it more of an overall impression?

It varies from competition to competition but typically you have anywhere from 3-5 minutes to explain the entire process of how you made your cosplay. I usually go head to toe and you also have to present progress pictures of you making your cosplay and a reference picture.

I choose to bring a portfolio of everything including reference pictures, categorized in progress pictures, fabric swatches and more! It honestly depends on the judge and what they look for, to my knowledge I don’t know the exact scoring system since it’s not like we get scoring cards at the end of the competition but judges typically like you to show a variety of skills. For example, 3D printing, hand beading, LEDs, tailors and more. The most important thing is that you show a mastery of those skills you’ve displayed.

How many of your projects involve electronic components, is this something that you’ve added to your repertoire recently?

Nearly all of my cosplays involve some sort of electronics. Mostly LED’s which is what I’m known for in the cosplay and competitive cosplay community. Recently I did start adding linear actuators, the ones from actuonix to be exact.

How did you get the idea to have your Musical Eternal Moon wings move? What were the challenges involved in making this work?

As a competitor you’re always looking for the next big thing that will wow the judges and it had always been a dream of mine to make articulated wings, or even just a large pair of wings.

After much research - because there are several ways to articulate wings - I settled on the idea of doing it electronically with linear actuators. Only one problem though: most conventional linear actuators require soldering in order to power them, which I for one am not particularly good at.

I always look for a “back door” for things when I can’t find an immediate solution and that’s what I had to do here. I was browsing Google and I came across Actuonix and they had linear actuators that could be hooked up to an Arduino board, which in my case I knew I could use jump cables to connect and plug a power source into the Arduino. So, problem solved, no soldering required! Actuonix is really a life saver and I don’t think I would have been able to make these wings without them.

You mentioned that you learned to code Arduino for the project, was that something that was intimidating to learn? Now that you have experience with the platform are you looking forward to using it in the future?

Oh yeah definitely it was very intimidating, but like I mentioned before I always look for a “back door” with things in cosplay and when I learned that I could use a base code and alter it from there it became a whole lot simpler. It also helped me learned the basic “language” of coding which does help me going forward.

And yes I’ve been experimenting with other mediums on the Arduino like the Adafruit Neopixel library. I’ve always used add-ons or pre-programmed LEDs to light them up but now I’m slowly learning how to do it myself from scratch!

Do you have any resources to share with other cosplayers and makers that want to get into adding electronics to their projects?

Well in the great words of Yaya Han one of the world's most famous cosplayers “practice your Google fu”. Google will become your best friend - I’m all self taught electronics-wise - it’s as simple as getting creative with your searches. The internet is at your disposal along with a wealth of knowledge, you just have to discover it!

Big thanks to Anna for taking the time to give us some insight into the world of cosplay. We love to see what the world is doing with our actuators. If you have a project you’d like to share please reach out to us via Twitter, Instagram or Email.

Monday, 10 December 2018

YouBionic One

It’s been some time since we checked in with our friends at YouBionic and boy have they been busy! The Italian company made a splash with its bionic wearable hand and augmented human arm and has recently announced its latest project, the YouBionic One.

Continuing on the path of utilizing additive manufacturing, the 3D printed parts are combined with a series of Actuonix micro linear actuators to create a fully functional upper-torso robot.

Impressive in its own right, paired with Boston Dynamic’s Spot Mini, the end result is an incredibly capable robot which could have far reaching applications in personal, commercial and industrial spaces.

For more on YouBionic’s projects check out the latest from 3D Printing Industry and


Youbionic adds 3D printed bionic arms to Boston Dynamics robot dog SpotMini

Want to build your own YouBionic One? The 3D Printing files and instructions are available on the YouBionic store for $179 USD.