programming electric linear actuators
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  1. #1
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    Default programming electric linear actuators

    Let me put this out there first: I have never posted under this topic before. I am basically clueless to robotics and automation so please forgive my ignorance. I'd like to ask a very specific question but I haven't the foggiest idea where to begin so I'm just going to wing it.

    Anyways, I am trying to use an electric linear actuator to push glass tubes off of some rollers and into a tray. I watched a video and see how they work but I need to know how to program the stroke length, have it automatically reverse at that set stroke length and then time it to repeat this process every X seconds.

    If the answer to my inquiry requires a thorough explanation beyond a simple forum response I'd be happy with any links you could send me to that would help me figure this out.

    Thank you all very much in advance.

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    It really depends on the actuator. Some manufacturers provide complete systems that you can program, while others require that you get separate controllers. Did you already choose one, or are you still in the product selection phase?

    I've worked with Firgelli actuators and their customer support is pretty good.

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    The actuator likely isn't a complex device, just + voltage to extend, - voltage to retract. You need a controller. Maybe you have one, which type? If not look into a plc. Automation direct makes some inexpensive ones and the software is free. They should have some videos to get you started programming. You likely also want sensors so the controller knows when the actuator hits the different positions

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    As others have mentioned, it's entirely dependent on your actuator. Some are simple, dumb devices that move until an external controller takes away the voltage. Some are smart, like from companies like Animatics, where the control software can reside in the motor itself. For the smart motor variety the programming is unique to the motor brand - they all use proprietary command sets. Whether you use the former or latter depends on your application. You need to decide whether your application warrants stepper or servo, if you already have an external controller, what communication protocol you want, etc.

    And a simple air cylinder with flow controls and pneumatic switches might do the trick. It gives you less control but might be simpler and cheaper to implement.

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    I think the most expensive actuators we have dealt with were 50mm stroke units for which we programmed a 5-term servo algorithm based on a theoretical model provided by the actuator manufacturer.

    Move and settle accuracy to +/-5 picometers . . . 4 axes of control for an electron beam microscope that operated in a vacuum ran just over $1million.

    On the flip side - a 50mm stepper actuator with Jog+ and Jog- commands from a Chinese supplier for under $100

    The two actuators above had nothing remotely close to any commonality but they were both electrically controlled linear actuators. The OP needs to provide more information.

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    IAI, animatics/moog, festo...probably a dozen others build integrated actuators.
    Typically they are programmed from a pc using fairly simple software provided by the manufacturers.
    Pick one with good tech support.
    As with all things, there is a wide range of price/capability/support.

    The programming of these devices is really simple.
    The hardest part is always getting the comm link running.


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