Sunday, 18 April 2021

Stepper Motor Actuators - What Are They And How Do They Work?

What is a stepper motor actuator?

You're likely familiar with linear actuators, which use a rotary motor to produce motion in a straight line. Standard actuators are powered by a brushed DC motor. A stepper motor actuator is functionally similar to a standard linear actuator, but the drive motor, rather than a standard DC motor, is a stepper-style motor. 

A stepper motor is a type of electric motor that operates on a pulsed current. The full rotation of the motor is divided into a number of 'steps'. Stepper motors are much more precise than standard electric motors as they can be commanded to turn and stop at any of the steps around it's rotation.


Why use a stepper motor actuator?

Stepper motor actuators are more complicated than standard DC actuators and require a stepper controller to drive the motor. Generally, stepper motors are used in applications that require high-precision and low force. If you require very precise movement and are not as concerned with force, than a stepper motor actuator may be the best choice for your application.


Actuonix stepper actuators    

In recent years, we have seen an increasing demand for actuators with a higher accuracy than our standard models can achieve. While different brands have offered stepper actuators for some time, they tend to be high-cost, high volume products that are less accessible to product developers, entrepreneurs and OEMs. 

We saw that there was room in the market for a highly-accurate actuator that could be shipped within a day and wouldn't break the bank. This is why we designed the S8 and more recently, the P8 stepper lines. 

The S20 is based on our popular L12 actuator. Similar in appearance, we have replaced the L12 DC motor and gearbox assembly with a NEMA 8 stepper motor.

Our newest stepper line, the P8 is an entirely new design from the ground up. With a body that is slightly smaller than our PQ12, it is our most compact actuator. We wanted to design a product that would meet the evolving needs of OEMs and product designers. 


Why choose Actuonix stepper actuators?

We take pride in the development of high-quality products that are cost-effective. We test every single actuator we sell before it leaves our facility and that helps us keep our quality and customer satisfaction high. If it doesn't meet our standards for quality, we don't ship it. It's that simple.

Our sales staff are available five days per week to assist you with your questions and help you find the right actuator for your next product or project.





Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Introducing Our New P8 Line Of Stepper Motor Actuators

At Actuonix, we pride ourselves on offering the widest variety of affordable micro actuators available anywhere. Our actuators drive the motion element of some fascinating and useful products. We regularly add new products to our lineup as the needs of our customers evolve.

In recent years, more of our clients have been asking for affordable motion solutions that have a higher accuracy than our standard products found in the L12, L16, PQ12, P16 and T16 lines. This lead us to develop the S20 line of stepper actuators. The S20 is built off of our popular L12 platform, and while highly accurate, is still too large for some projects.

For some time now, we've been working on a stepper actuator that is smaller than the S20, and even the PQ12 actuator, to fit into the tightest applications requiring high positional accuracy.


Introducing the Actuonix P8 line of stepper actuators






We’re proud to announce that our new P8 line of stepper actuators is now officially available in our store!


The P8 is a rod-style actuator that is a completely new, unique design. The body of the P8 is physically smaller than both our S20 stepper actuators as well as our PQ12 actuators. The P8 offers high-accuracy positioning in a super compact package that is perfect for applications where space is limited and high-accuracy is required..


The P8 is available in five different stroke lengths: 10mm, 25mm , 50mm, 75mm and 100mm to ensure that the proper stoke length is available to suit your application.



Stepper actuator driver

If you don't already have a plan for how you will drive your stepper actuator, we recommend the Pololu TIC T825 Stepper Driver Board.

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 which actuator is the right choice for your application, give your knowledgeable sales team a call! Our product experts can help you decide what the best linear motion solution is for your needs.
Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Automotive Applications for Linear Actuators

The automotive industry is both growing and rapidly changing. Manufacturers and hobbyists alike are always on the hunt for new ways to automate functions while keeping development costs low

Linear actuators can be found performing many functions in modern vehicles including cars, RVs and heavy equipment. Linear actuators perform some of the most basic functions of modern vehicles behind the scenes including applying parking brakes, opening and closing vent doors to direct your heat and A/C, opening and closing windows, power tailgates, sliding doors and more. Automotive actuators range from tiny devices integrated into other components through to large actuators that open your SUVs tailgate.

Linear actuators are also becoming popular with enthusiasts who want to add a custom motion element to their vehicle or restore a lost piece of functionality. A common example of this is using actuators to open flip-up headlights that once were controlled by a vacuum system. 

Installing a linear actuator can be a cost-effective solution to your motion problem while avoiding the issues that come with using weak rotary servos, complicated drive systems or super expensive micro actuators.

automotive actuators



We enjoy seeing our products integrated into automotive projects. Some of the more common installations we see include:
  • Replacing vacuum-actuated pop-up headlights on classic cars
  • Installing electric pop-out rear windows on older cars
  • Engine idle control for PTO operations
  • Engine idle control for high-performance vehicles
  • Electric interior elements such as glove box or hidden compartments
  • Air intake vent control
  • Motorcycle windscreen automation
  • Electric parking brake conversions

Our 'S' series actuators are ideal more many automotive installations as they're controlled by a simple 2-wire system using reversing polarity. This allows you to use a wide variety of latching or momentary switches, depending on your needs.

If you're considering a adding a custom motion element to your project vehicle, or developing an automotive product that requires linear motion, we would love to hear about your project.

Starting from the planning phase, Actuonix will stick with you every step of the way.. When you choose to install Actuonix Motion Devices in your vehicle, you're choosing a product that's designed by our team in Canada and backed by more than a decade of experience. There are an increasing number of cheaply-made, offshore clones of our products on other sites, but when you buy genuine Actuonix actuators, you're getting an original Canadian design. 
Sunday, 3 January 2021

10 Different Options For Controlling Linear Actuators




If you're new to linear actuators, you might not realize that there are many different options for linear actuator control. Long gone are the days where all you could get was a simple 2-wire device that operates via reversing polarity. Those are still available of course but manufacturers are offering a variety of different input modes to cater to hobbyists, arduino enthusiasts as well as the technical needs of equipment manufacturers.

Below you will find ten different options for controlling linear actuators. This list is intended to give you an overview of what's possible for linear actuator control. It's not exhaustive, there are other options out there but these are the ones that will work for most people.


Rocker Switch

actuator rocker switch

The rocker switch is a great option for basic control of 2-wire linear actuators. You can use either a latching or momentary DPDT switch to move your actuator in and out. Rocker switches are ideal for automotive and heavy equipment applications where 12V power is readily available.

Push Button

push button linear actuator

Similar to the rocker switch in functionality, the lighted DPDT push-button switch is a little more stylish and is great for applications where you want the control to really stand out.

Wireless Remote Controller

remote control linear actuator
If you want the ability to extend or retract your actuator from a distance, our Wireless Remote Control kit is for you. It features a range of up to 100 meters and is ideal for situations where you need to control your actuator at a distance. Opening locks, opening gates and compartments are some examples of where the wireless remote might com in handy.

Photocell

linear actuator arduino

If you're an arduino user, you can use it with a photo sensor to extend or retract your actuator based on the amount of light available. This is great for chicken coops. You can automatically close your chicken coop door at night and open it in the morning, saving yourself the hassle of leaving the house to do it manually.


Potentiometer

linear actuator potentiometer

P series actuators can be controlled with a sliding or rotary potentiometer via our LAC board. This is ideal for applications where you need to select a certain point along the actuator's travel and have lots of control over position.

RC

RC Linear Servo

R series linear servos can be controlled via a standard RC receiver. This means that adding functionality to your RC car boat or drone is as simple as plugging an R series linear servos into an unused channel on your receiver. This opens up a wide range of options for customization from retractable landing gear, grabber arms, sail adjustment and more.


PWM

Using P series linear actuators with an LAC board, you can control the actuator with a single digital output pin from an external microcontroller.  The desired actuator position is encoded as the duty cycle of a 3.3 Volt, 1 kHz square wave on LAC connector X6 pin 5, where the percent duty cycle sets the actuator position to the same percent of full stroke extension. 100% duty cycle represents full extension, and 0% duty cycle represents full retraction.


USB

If you want to control your actuator from your computer, we've got you covered. Our USB configuration software allows you to send commands to your actuator right from your Windows computer. This can be useful for product development and testing where you have a computer nearby and want to be able to experiment with different settings on the fly.


4-20 mA Interface Mode

This is one of the five control modes supported by our LAC board. This mode is compatible with PLC devices typically used in industrial control applications. Most consumers won't use this option so I won't go into detail here. For more info on how to use this control mode, see our LAC board data sheet.


Timer Relay

Linear actuator timer
If you need your actuator to extend or retract for a specific period of time in seconds, minutes or hours, then you can use a timer relay to accomplish that. This is useful for applications where you need something accomplished on a regular cycle and want to keep your cost down and avoid arduino programming.

I hope that this list has given you a better idea of the options you have when it comes to linear actuator control. 



Sunday, 7 June 2020

Why Choose Actuonix Motion Devices?



micro linear actuators


The leader in micro motion since 2005.


Actuonix Motion Devices (formerly Firgelli Technologies) has been a leading manufacturer of micro linear actuators and servos since 2005. All of our products are designed from scratch, by our in-house team of engineers. We pride ourselves on providing affordable, quality micro-motion solutions to a wide variety of industries.

Whether you're designing a new product for an OEM company or customizing a scale RC model, we're confident that we can offer you the right linear motion solution for your project.

More Strokes, Gearing Options and Control Options

With over 160 different models, we have the widest variety of products in the industry. We offer strokes ranging from 10mm-300mm and forces up to 67lbs. In addition, we have 4 different series of actuators with different options for control. 

This means that whether you're using an RC receiver, an arduino, VEX, a custom controller or simple reversing polarity, we've got the right actuator for your project. Need something to work with a PLC or your DAQ? We've got you covered there too. You don't need to waste time trying to make the wrong product work for your application.

We're constantly developing new products in an effort to better serve our customers. In the last three years we have released a line of track actuators, our IOT servo shield to open up new means of controlling our actuators and most recently, a line of stepper motor actuators.

Additionally, we are constantly updating our existing products in an ongoing effort to make our actuators even better. Good enough is never good enough at Actuonix.

Quality

With more than a decade in business, our engineers are world-class professionals at developing linear motion devices. Constantly on the hunt for new ways to improve on design and functionality, our products are load-tested to failure to make sure that everything we sell lives up to your expectations. 

We also test every single actuator for quality before it leaves our facility to make sure that you're getting a device that will last.

Outstanding Service

Actuonix offers customer service by email or phone from 7:30am-3:00pm PST. Our trained sales and support staff know our products inside and out and will help you choose the best device for your application.

Custom Actuators

Actuonix Motion Devices offers a custom linear actuator design service. With a minimum order quanitity of 500 units, we can make customizations such as:

  • Adding your choice of electrical connector
  • Modifying the length of the connection wire
  • Changing the position of the limit switches to adjust stroke
  • Fitting the product with a custom rod tip attachment to suit your project
  • Fitting a custom gear ratio motor to change the speed/force
  • Using custom lubricants for low temperature operation

Bulk Discounts

We also offer our customers bulk discounts for orders of more than 10 actuators, as well as student discounts for actuators that are shipped to an educational facility. Are you on a FIRST robotics team? Our line of linear actuators is FIRST compliant to get your machine moving for the next competition.

Shipping

We ship worldwide via UPS or Fedex, and are happy to use your account with another carrier if you prefer. Orders leave our facility between 1pm and 3pm weekdays. For in-stock orders, we try to ship same-day

With a knowledgeable team and products that have stood the test of time, we're confident that Actuonix is the right choice to make your project move. For more information, contact us today!


Thursday, 30 April 2020

Things to Consider When Selecting a Linear Actuator Manufacturer

micro linear actuator manufacturerSelecting a linear actuator manufacturer can be a critical part of the product design process. Building a relationship with a high-quality manufacturer that you can rely on can save you major headaches down the road.

How can you tell that an actuator manufacturer is the type of business that you can build a long-term relationship with? I've listed a few questions below that you should consider when selecting a supplier.



Do they actually manufacture their products?

This is critically important, especially in the actuator industry. There are several companies that are not producing their own products, rather, relabeling products purchased offshore and selling them under their brand name.

While there's nothing unethical about this practice, there are some major disadvantages to purchasing from this type of company including:


Pricing

You are going to pay more for the product. The company in the middle needs to make a profit. If you're buying in quantity, you should consider whether you're getting your products from the source, or from a reseller.


Quality

Quality control can be an issues if you're not buying directly from the manufacturer. The company in the middle is depending on the manufacturer to produce and ship good products. While this may not be an issue, it's wise to ensure that they at least test their products prior to shipping them to customers.


Customization

A reseller is unlikely to be able to offer much in the way of modification or custom actuators. If they didn't design and build it, it's unlikely they they will be able to help you much with regards to customization.


Reputation

How long have they been in businses? Can you depend on the company to be around in the years to come for service, support and future orders?


Do they have a broad range of products?

You want to get your product to market quickly. It's important to work with a manufacturer that offers a broad range of products in different sizes, force capabilities, stroke lengths and control options. This both enables you to try different devices to decide what will work best for your application, and makes it less likely that you will need to have a custom product designed.


Can they offer customization options?

If there isn't an off-the-shelf product available to suit your needs, can your manufacturer work with you to customize an actuator for your application, or even produce an entirely new device?

A quality company will be able to work with you to develop a custom linear motion solution for your needs.


Are they willing to offer volume discounts?

Now more than ever, companies are looking for ways to save money. When considering an actuator manufacturer, make sure to look into their volume discounts. A good manufacturer should be willing to offer some level of volume discount to high-volume customers.If you're buying actuators by the tens, hundreds or thousands.

At Actuonix, we will go out of our way to earn your business. We can work with you to find ways to reduce your costs including:
  •  volume discounts
  •  bulk packaging
  •  eliminating included accessories that you don't need

Documentation

You're probably going to need more information to integrate an actuator into your design. A reputable actuator supplier should be able to offer you datasheets, 3D files and drawings to assist you both before and after your purchase.

Actuonix Motion Devices offers all relevant documentation for our actuators right on the product page. You don't need to ask us for the info as its all right there for you.


Do they offer other, relevant products?

Can they offer controllers, switches, wires, alternate end-tips, remote controls and other means of controlling their products? What about control boards, power supplies and linear slide rails?

An actuator is the heart of your linear motion assembly, but you may need other, relevant products to make your project come to life and sourcing things from multiple suppliers makes more work for you. Make sure that your manufacturer can offer all of the linear motion components you need.


Do they stand behind their products?

We all know that it's infuriating to purchase a product and have it stop working shortly after. This experience can be made much worse if the company who sold you the product refuses to stand behind it.

Defective Actuonix actuators are rare as we test every single device for quality before shipping it out to the customer. We also offer a 180 day warranty to protect you against defects.


How is their reputation?

As with any purchase, you want to ensure that you're buying from a business with an established track record of quality products and great customer service. This is why you need to check into a company's reputation prior to purchasing from them.

What's their rating on Google? Do they have a rating on Facebook? Do they have any testimonials from existing clients, particularly volume customers?

Online reviewers can be harsh, and unfortunately, unhappy customers are often more likely to review than satisfied ones. That said, look for themes in reviews. Are there a lot of issues with quality control? Unavailable customer service reps? Do they sell on other platforms such as Amazon or Ebay?

At Actuonix, we take pride in our high level of customer service and customer satisfaction. If you're in the market for micro actuators for your product, we would be happy to help by working with you to find a cost-effective solution to your linear motion needs.

Contact us today for more details.
Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Servo Actuators vs. Linear Actuators - What's The Difference?

If you're searching for a linear motion solution for the first time, you might find yourself a little bit confused that there are several different terms used to describe what appear to be identical products: linear actuator, servo actuator, linear servo and several others. 

This can be confusing and my aim here is to clear it up and help you understand what is meant by 'actuator' vs 'servo'.


It's important to know that other than the connection cable, all of the differences are internal. Linear actuators and linear servos are indeed identical when viewed from the outside. They function exactly the same way, in and out.

So what's the difference between an actuator and a servo?

An actuator operates in the same manner as an electric motor. When power is applied, the motor will spin, and when power is removed, the motor will stop. Actuators are exactly the same. They are simple devices that only recognize on or off. They are incapable of position control on their own.

A servo actuator is different in that it can receive a command to go to a specific position, and then act on that command. It's not a simple power on-power off equation. A servo can be told what to do and then do it on it's own.

servo actuator

Though they look the same, they're actually quite different in how they function. This makes them ideal for different applications.


Actuators are ideal for projects and situations where what you need is the same range of linear motion all the time. You can apply power and it will extend until the end-limit switch shuts off the power. Reverse the polarity and the same will happen in retraction.


Linear servos are ideal for more complex applications where you need the device to respond to an external command for a certain position. This is how standard RC servos work.

A linear servo must have 3 or more wires. Power, ground and a signal wire to tell the servo what position it should go to.

Looking at the pictures below, it's easy to understand how some might be a little confused.



servo actuators

So to summarize, an actuator is a simple device that can not complete a task without being told to do so, and a servo actuator is 'smart' in that it can accept an input signal and go to that position on it's own.


It's actually fairly simple, but this distinction can cause some confusion. I hope this article has helped you understand the difference and hopefully give you the foundation you need to choose the best device for your application.


Need some help choosing the correct device for your next project? Give our sales department a shout, they would be happy to help you!