How to Control a Linear Actuator with Arduino


Some Words About Arduino and Linear Actuators

Arduino is a specific open source community\company\project in one which specializes in microcontrollers, the building and programming of them. Arduino also offers kits which can be put together by the people who will be using them. What is an Arduino microcontroller? They are small controllers of microchips and boards which allow for remote control of certain pieces of equipment. These microcontrollers are both digital and analogue, meaning that they can be used for a wide variety of equipment, regardless of whether or not that equipment is digital or analogue itself. These microcontrollers can be used with linear actuators, as a means of controlling them.

Linear actuators 12v are actuators which turn the circular motion which is normally produced by an electric motor into linear motion, i.e. motion which occurs in a straight line. Actuators are pieces of equipment which are used in more and more industries because of their simplicity and their overall superiority to the older technology.

An additional reason for 12 volt linear actuators being so popular is that they are endlessly customizable, with huge numbers of additions and replacements for the different types of jobs which the actuators are used for. One of these customizable items is a microcontroller, and using an Arduino to control a linear actuator allows for the actuator to be used in equipment which would be difficult to access by hand, as it can be given remote commands through the controller.

What is an Arduino Microcontroller?

Like other hardware designed by Arduino, the microcontrollers have a number of microprocessors installed in them to help connect the linear actuator and Arduino. All boards have pins and processes which, as said above, allow them to access equipment which is analogue as well as equipment which is digital, allowing them to interface with as many other circuits as possible.

The microcontrollers come pre-programmed with a specific loader program; this allows for better linear actuator control with Arduino because it simplifies the process of adding programs which actually control the equipment. All microprocessors have their own operating system, and they all come with a standardized USB port to move programs from a computer over onto the microprocessor itself. Newer versions of the processor are installed with Bluetooth technology, to give another method of uploading the necessary programs onto it.

Microprocessors are very tiny computer processors which have the entire CPU power of a computer loaded onto one integrated circuit to control the equipment, in this case to control the linear actuator with Arduino. It is a multipurpose circuit (or collection of circuits) which uses binary data to run information and produce output.

What do you Need for Controlling a Linear Actuator with Arduino?

Arduino is more complicated than might first be assumed: instead of simply connecting a motor, particularly a large one, to the pins which are on the board, users have to control the current load very carefully. There is the possibility of using a motor drive or an H-drive, but when specifically using Arduino linear actuator control, there are two other possibilities to consider as well. One is to use a relay to directly control the current which is going into the actuator itself; the other is to create a closed loop by using a very specific 12v actuator called a feedback actuator. The feedback actuator works by allowing the equipment used to control the shaft position.

The relay board method of control is simpler, and therefore most likely easier for the majority of linear actuator users. So long as the relay board itself has SPDT relays, this simple guide is enough to create a method of control of a linear actuator using an Arduino microprocessor:

  •  The SPDT relay should have three relays:
    • Common (COM)
    • Normally open (NO)
    • Normally closed (NC)
  • Users will need two separate relays for linear actuator control with Arduino, as this allows for the actuator to start, stop, and change direction
  • The normally closed relays are connected to the 12v DC, while the normally open relays are connected to the +12vDC
  • To split a wire in two, use a junction, or use a specifically picked out jumper wire
  • The two actuator wires are connected to the relay two at a time

Process of Controlling Linear Actuator with Arduino

Relays control how and where an actuator moves, and work by activating electromagnets through which a current can be controlled. Arduino linear actuators have this process followed by a switch being pulled to allow the current to be properly channelled across to the opposite relay.

The two channel relay system works best when it comes to Arduino linear actuator control. The relays should have pins numbered up to eight, depending on the model, and all relays require at least 5v of power to function properly.

Connect the power supply to the relay, and line it up with the VCC and GND pins. Connect each IN pin to its corresponding Arduino pin – this will ensure that the relay works correctly when powering the actuator.

Connecting the pins properly is essential in this case, as if they are coupled up incorrectly, the power will switch between pins which are different to the normal set-up. Remember:

  • power will connect between NC and COM if the IN pin is not connected
  • power will connect between the NO and COM terminals if the IN pin is connected to the GND pin.

However, it should also be remembered that connecting directly to the IN pin will mean that the power will connect between the NC and COM pins too.

In this case, the linear actuator Arduino code should like the example below:

linear actuator arduino code


Linear actuators are becoming more prevalent in various industries and technological fields, so more and more technology is being constructed around them and their use.

Arduino linear actuator control is something which many people ask for because the level of control it gives users of linear actuators. Microprocessors are a way of combining the entire CPU part of a computer onto a single circuit, or a group of them, allowing the user to connect linear actuators with remote controls, with processors, and otherwise give themselves greater control over the ways in which an Arduino linear actuator moves while doing the job it was designed for.

While there are numerous ways for microcontrollers to connect with linear actuators for Arduino, the two way relay system which is described above is one of the easiest and most convenient for people who are setting up their actuators, as it offers multitude of ways for power to reach the actuator and the microprocessor, allowing both to do their jobs as correctly and efficiently as possible.

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