Hobbyist Uses For Linear Actuators

Hobbyist Uses For Linear Actuators

Anna Sapiga
Anna Sapiga
PA Engineer

Looking for some linear actuator ideas for hobby automation?

For the home hobbyist who likes building and inventing, knowing about linear actuators is a must. Actuators are simply mechanisms that convert energy into movement along a straight line. A regular motor differs from a linear actuator in that a motor creates rotational movement. There is a device available for every conceivable use by a hobbyist.

The Many Roles

An actuator may be driven by an electric motor, or by mechanical means. Screw jacks are a kind of linear actuator powered by simple mechanical means. An actuator powered by an electrical motor has many possible uses. These kinds of mechanisms can be used for opening doors, hatches and lids, like a dog or chicken coop door, or an aquarium lid. They can also be incorporated into garden machinery for spreading manure, and in devices for planting seeds.

They can convert energy to straight-line motion for opening gates, dampers and valves, and many home hobbyists are finding places to add actuators to these kinds of components. One company has recently developed a mechanism for retracting TVs into the ceiling using a linear actuator. An enterprising hobbyist might make use of linear actuators for creating their own TV ceiling retractor mechanism.

Hobbies for Mini Linear Actuators

Mini actuators are found inside computers for the operation of disk drives and other functions. Some enterprising hobbyists are dissecting their old electrical equipment and retrieving these actuators for use in other projects. Mini actuators are defined as being an actuator that has a capacity of lifting one pound or less. One growing use of mini actuators is in the field of robotics. Recycled mini actuators can be converted for use by students and other enthusiasts who are working out problems in robotic development.

Another place in the home shop where they can be applied is in drill press tables. Moving a drill press table up and down to accommodate work using mechanical means can be inaccurate and taxing for the machine user. A well-placed actuator can make this task more precise and easier to accomplish. A small actuator can be adapted to an existing drill press making table adjustment fast and accurate.

Hobby Uses for Heavy-Duty Actuators

Heavy-duty actuators are used in lifts for tilting and pivoting heavy components. New vehicle lifts using them to rotate a vehicle onto its side, or even flip it over for accessing the underneath, are now available for the average auto mechanic to purchase. They are capable of precision movement of up to 100 tons and can come in handy for a home hobbyist for projects like retractable roofs for a home observatory, or home-built retractors for swimming pool covers.

The world of actuators is undergoing rapid development and new types are continually coming on the market. If you are a home hobbyist building anything that needs straight-line motion, there are actuators of all sizes and workloads available. Mini actuators and heavy-duty actuators are on the market to get your project off the drawing board and into action.