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Automating a Linear Actuator

Automating a Linear Actuator

Automating a Linear Actuator

Hi guys,

I am trying to make a system that drives an object in and out at a set a time automatically. The speed, power and precision does not matter. What matter is programming it to automatically move in during a set time and retract and then later repeat the process all by itself.

I, however, have no experience with actuators or even know how to program once I get my hands on one. What exactly will I need besides the actuators itself? I did a little digging and I probably will need a control board, relay, and time switch but I"m not entirely sure. Any help or direction will be greatly appreciated.

RE: Automating a Linear Actuator

You can buy the whole thing in a box:


You will learn more, >and spend more<, by studying all the catalogs and operation/install manuals that you can get from such a search, and buying or making components separately.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Automating a Linear Actuator

What about stopping point? Does that matter?

RE: Automating a Linear Actuator

Thanks for the replies.


That's actually what I am looking for. Earlier I was searching "programming linear actuator" but it didn't produce the same results like I did with "programmable."

The only problem is that most of the programmable actuators offer are above 300$. I am, however, looking at Firgelli which looks it can be under 200$ but I would like to see if I can buy the parts separately.


Stopping point doesn't matter but I would like to keep the stroke short, so about under 6 inch.

I can find rather cheap liner actuators on ebay but I would need to find the correct micro-controller to program. I will research around some more to see what I need.

Thanks for the help.

RE: Automating a Linear Actuator


You are right. A crank slider did cross my mind because I can just 3d print the parts but I still need it to activate on a timer. I'm not sure how difficult it would be to make a programmable though and run on some sort of motor. I believe that a linear actuator seems to be right direction but I am open to suggestion for an alternative mechanism.

RE: Automating a Linear Actuator

I'd think some sort of control of the stopping point would be needed. If you're relying solely on flow rate and a timed "ON" period you run the risk of the actuator eventually hitting its end caps.

I'd suggest a small PLC. It will give you outputs to drive a valve and also programmable timers. There are also inputs if you decide to incorporate limit switches.

RE: Automating a Linear Actuator

Again assuming your lack of details would allow something as simple as an off the shelf 24 hour lamp timer and just power the motor from a wall wart plugged into the timer.

RE: Automating a Linear Actuator

Or use a tiny compressor, a directional valve, and an air cylinder. I believe they even have pneumatic switches that you can place along the cylinder to cause automatic reversals.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Automating a Linear Actuator


I guess the best example I can give you is that it needs to push against a door and close it at a certain time. It just need it to do this task once just for an experiment. That's really the best example I can give you that's close to what I am doing.


I looked at air cylinders and they are rather cheap. It seems like mcmaster sells it. Are these easily programmable with a micro controller or does any one have experience with these?

One of my colleagues has given me a cheap arduino hardware for me to use. Thank you all for the advice. Not sure when I will actually have the chance to finish this since this is just a side project but I will let you know the results ;)

RE: Automating a Linear Actuator

Just once for an experiment? Ebay is your place for this. You could even use something like a tire for your air source.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Automating a Linear Actuator

once? can you move the object with your hand?

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