Instructables

Standing Linear Actuator; powered by Modtronix

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Picture of Standing Linear Actuator; powered by Modtronix
Some context surrounding the project:

This Linear Actuator was designed for company use; so due to the context of this Instructable, no information will be discussed of the products: they are prototype systems. However I am free to discuss the Linear Actuator itself and how it was built. In addition, I knew that the members of Instructables would appreciate the project.

As I write this, the project is completely finished. I will discuss the Mechanics portion and then the Electrical portion.

How could an Instructables Member benefit from this?

This project demonstrates a practical, sturdy and robust method of lifting and pushing heavy objects; the featured Linear Actuator for example, only stands about 10 inches tall, however it can lift up to 54 pounds! (See the calculations page for the conclusion of this)

This strength is accomplished at a modest price as well; the featured model cost less than $100, not including the electrical. However the electrical is easily emulated through any Micro-controller and simple pieces. 

The Instructable even provides suggestions to alternatives for the more intimidating components of the project.




 
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Step 1: Mechanics

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Specifications for the project:

There were some mechanical obstacles to overcome when designing the robot. The specs for the project were:
  • The robot had to push down and lift up a sealed container to close and open. The weight of the lid  on the container does not close the container on its own.
  • The project needed to be very robust and strong. It had to run hundreds of times every night.
  • The robot shouldn't be ridiculously expensive to create.
  • The sealed container did not have to be opened all the way. A couple inch gap would be sufficient.
  • The robot needed to hold the bottom of the container down while lifting the lid open. The friction in the seal is enough to lift the entire container.
Because of these goals, a Linear Actuator seemed like an appropriate solution. Although slow, they are very strong, and can exert force in either direction linearly. If you are not familiar with Linear Actuators, the animation below may help clarify (the .gif may not animate if you currently have the video above in the middle of playing, even when paused):



Learn more about Linear Actuators here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_actuator

Unfortunately, they are fairly expensive to purchase on their own: roughly $130. Also this Instructable inspired me to build my own:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Making-a-Powerful-Linear-Actuator/

List of Mechanical Parts:

The design was simple enough so I broke out the pencils and paper; returning to my primitive experiences in drafting.

See the draft document for the design of the linear actuator. The pieces were professionally machined, welded and painted.

Guiding Rails

The shaft on a Linear Actuator (Shuttle, I'll call it) needed to remain in place and couldn't spin, otherwise the threading would never pass through the nut on the shuttle. So Guiding Rails were implemented in the design. The Guiding Rails hold the shuttle from spinning. They are covered in wheel bearing grease.





DC Motor Diagram provided by Servocity: http://www.servocity.com/html/90_rpm_precision_gear_motor.html
Here's what I did with one I made:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHVccChPRII
so you used the same M10 threaded rod for the actuator itself? Is it possible to control your linear actuator with an infrared remote (using a transmitter / receiver) like this? : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLodZGNvV9k
N.fletch (author)  iridiumobsidian1 year ago
I didn't use a "M10" threaded rod, you can see all the parts I used in the Instructable. My Linear Actuator is the same as the other Linear Actuator in the sense that they use the same mechanics; not that they use the same parts or even look the same.

You could control the Linear Actuator with absolutely anything you wanted, including an IR Remote. Ladyada has a good tutorial on using IR receivers in your projects; here: http://learn.adafruit.com/ir-sensor/using-an-ir-sensor
Could you please clarify on what kind of power supply would be needed in order to actuate this linear actuator? Is it AC or DC? For practicality purposes,I intend on avoiding household current altogether for my standing linear actuator & have it powered by batteries only & controlled by a Basic Stamp microcontroller. Is the linear actuator the same design from this link?: http://www.instructables.com/id/Making-a-Powerful-Linear-Actuator/
N.fletch (author)  iridiumobsidian1 year ago
I used a 12 volt DC power supply for my Linear Actuator, so I could get as much power from my DC motor as I could.

The link you provided is what inspired me to build my own Linear Actuator. Overall, they are the same.
godfish1 year ago
Wow, this is great and well thought out.
N.fletch (author)  godfish1 year ago
Thanks! I was proud of it.
That pretty cool! But why didn't you use an off the shelf linear actuator?
N.fletch (author)  TedRobotBuilder1 year ago
Thanks for reading!
A bunch of small advantages made me build one:
It was roughly twice as expensive to purchase one; plus by building my own I can cater its form to my application; it's also more fun building one from scratch.