Servos, What Are They?

servoIn the modern world we appear to be addicted to gadgets and addicts are getting younger. In the consumer economy having possession of of the newest item is a badge of status. One area of technology which is increasingly becoming part of consumer products is robotics. While robots in industry are still expensive consumer robotics are getting increasingly affordable and correspondingly the relative components much cheaper. Unfortunately numerous components of robotics are still costly and folk becoming involved in hobbyist robotics has to be careful and learn as much as possible to avoid expensive errors. One component often associated with robotics are servos but what are they?

Finding information about servo motors and drives online can be difficult and even if you find it the language used is commonly over complicated and difficult to understand. Commonly the information is related to industrial applications. This is commonly the case in the field of motion control and servos.

Servos are crucial elements in robots but they are also components in such items as radio controlled vehicles. Servos are devices which have a shaft (a rod which can be placed at specific angles using a coded signal. By changing the coded signal the servo will alter the angle of the shaft accordingly.

Even though Servo motors are rather small they have incorporated control circuitry and they are incredibly powerful packing enormous torque. All of this power is controlled by just three wires, one for earth and the other two for power and control.

And Now For The Technical Stuff

Unfortunately I cannot avoid being a little technical here, but stay with me and you might find that you comprehend the concept.

As well as the control circuit servo motors feature a component called a potentiometer (a variable resistor) which is connected to the output shaft. The potentiometer helps the control circuit to measure the current angle of the servo.

Normally servos control angular motion up to about one hundred and eighty degrees, a few servo motors go further but to go beyond two hundred and ten degrees is near impossible and servos feature a mechanical stop which is built into the main system to prevent it.

The Servo Drive

A servo drive is used to power servo motors. By altering the electric current sent to the servo motor the drive enables proportional control. Because the level of power applied to the motor is proportional to the amount of distance it moves extremely precise movement is possible.

Servo motors are used in diverse areas of industry such as CNC machining, factory automation and robotics. Although these servos are commonly huge they can also be much smaller for using in consumer products and consumer robotics systems such as Lego Mindstorms.

If you a looking to purchase industrial servo motors, or need specialist help and advice contact Goodwin Electronics.

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