Electric linear actuators are widely appreciated by numerous engineers for the great automatization they give for various spheres where implemented. Their use provides remote control in addition to the extensive range of adjustments offered along with each single linear motion device. But what provides even more technological conveniences to this mechanism is the appropriate microcontroller attached to linear actuator to operate it smoothly.
Microcontrollers or simply controllers are microchips for electronic devices control. In general, the microcontroller is the brain that receives information about the linear actuator performance and accordingly transmits control signals to the actuator and decides how, when, how fast, and how often it should operate.
In the world of automatization, 12V actuators are extremely popular when it comes to their joint implementation. This is due to the voltage required by a microcontroller. In most cases, 5.5V will be pretty enough to supply the microcontroller with energy. In terms of circuitry, a microcontroller is a single-chip computer, which includes a processor, random access memory (RAM), read-only memory (ROM), and peripheral devices interfaces. There are many different microcontrollers varying in processor type, memory size, memory type, and circuit interface composition, etc. here are the most common circuits of the microcontrollers:
- digital and analog input / output ports (GPIO);
- I / O interfaces, such as UART, I²C, SPI, CAN, USB, IEEE 1394, Ethernet;
- pulse width modulators (PWM);
- built-in flash memory arrays;
The ARM, AVR, and PIC microcontrollers, which are used in industrial control systems, CNC machines, modern consumer devices, and various gadgets, are widely spread nowadays.
On the basis of AVR microcontrollers (rarely ARM) works the popular Arduino hardware computing platform. This device is a microchip with an Atmel ATmega microcontroller, all the necessary wires and additional devices, a voltage regulator and a USB-UART bridge. All platform pins are located on the edges of the microchip and are usually already equipped with connectors.
The main Arduino models incorporate an 8-bit ATmega microprocessor. In general, for most projects using Arduino, such a weak processor is enough. There is also a version based on the 32-bit ARM Cortex M3 (ATMEL SAM3U), but so far it has not received enough distribution among enthusiasts. The most popular version of the Arduino Uno is based on the ATmega328 microcontroller. It has 15 GPIO ports, including 6 PWM. The microcontroller is equipped with 32Kb of flash-memory and 2KB of RAM. The clock frequency of the processor is 16 MHz.
An external programmer device is not required for programming the Arduino microcontroller since the boot loader is already built in into the microcontroller. In addition, the microchip has a USB-UART bridge, which allows downloading sketches using a standard USB interface. This pushes Arduino microcontrollers a few steps forward when comparing with other its analogs.
The code for the Arduino is executed in the Processing / Wiring language, which has the C++ syntax. For the code compilation and uploading it to the controller, the freely-distributed Arduino IDE web editor is used.
Thanks to these two features, Arduino has become the most common platform for newbies among electronics developers. The cost of the cheapest Arduino Uno microchip varies between $15 to $20.
12V Linear actuators controlled with Arduino can serve pretty long and perform its duties up to a few times longer than when controlled by any other microcontroller. This strength and precise performance in combination with Progressive Automations electric linear actuators are capable to bring the unseen technical specifications and effectiveness. Electric linear actuators connected to Arduino microcontrollers are nowadays widely used for various automatization purposes at different engineering fields like machine building, real estate, home automation, banking, at factories, and at the military bases. The great level of adjustability and precise work make this technology leading at the automation market.