How to control a linear actuator with an Arduino
Controlling a linear actuator is fun and easy. They’re really strong and can be used for all kinds of things: raising your TV out of a hidden pocket; crushing your enemies; or building an RC backhoe or dump truck. I did this entire project in about 20 minutes for around $150 CAD.
Linear Actuator Circuit Parts
- a Progressive Automation PA-14-6-50 actuator. It’s a 12 volt, 5 amp electric piston with a 6″ stroke rated for 50lb of push or pull and moves up to 1.18″/s.
- An Arduino UNO
- A Polulu VNH5019 motor driver, rated for 12v5a.
- A 12v5a power supply.
- A female power plug
- A soldering iron
- A small flat-head screwdriver
Linear Actuator Circuit Assembly
The board comes with screw terminals and male/male headers unattached. I used my trusty Solomon SR-998 soldering iron to attach them. The board has four large holes for wires that are not the right spacing for the screw terminals. Immediately next to the large holes are pairs of smaller holes that work perfectly.
I then attached the rest of the components. Here’s a simplified circuit diagram.
The female power plug screwed into GND/VIN on the VNH5019 so I could unplug the power supply with ease. You could put switch in here for an E-stop.
The Arduino is powered from the USB connection. For this demo you have to have the USB and the 12v5a power connected. The Arduino can handle 12v so you could get a 12v6a power supply and power everything without a USB. I wanted to keep this simple, but feel free to discuss it in the forums.
Linear Actuator Code
I carefully read the VNH5019 instructions before I made my purchase. You’d do your homework too, right? Right. That’s how I knew what to put in the Arduino code.
Get the code here: https://github.com/MarginallyClever/vnh5019_linear_actuator/
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