I’m trying to create a custom indirect actuator, that is controlled by a microcontroller, for a custom robotics project.

I have selected motor and gears (according to Fd = W = T2*pi) so that the actuator should be able to push with around 46N of force (10N over what I require to make up for any losses or forces, such as friction, efficiencies of gears, etc).

I want to be able to tell the instantaneous stroke of the actuator and the force it is exerting at any time.

But the solution I'm hoping for should be cheap and easy to implement, as we are hoping to send our finished robotics design into mass production.

My initial approach: was to use a rudimentary potentiometer/voltage divider. Connecting the wiper to the microcontroller will allow me to see the position of the wiper with respect to the conductive strip. Could I use this potentiometer to also calculate dynamic force?

If I constantly poll the wiper while the actuator is active, I could get two position values and the time between them. This would give me an instantaneous velocity value. Doing the same thing again would give me a second value which I could use to find the instantaneous acceleration.

The problem with this is the mass. I have read that actuators have an “effective mass/weight” – a value that is usually incorporated somehow in the datasheet. However, my actuator would be a custom design therefore there is no datasheet accessible for this.

Can anyone please help me figure out the effective mass/weight of my actuator? Or if you have any other approach please do let me know.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Thank you for reading.

  • $\begingroup$ I think it would be very helpful, if you added a sketch and some details. $\endgroup$
    – NMech
    Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 5:19
  • $\begingroup$ Hi, Thank you so much for your reply. I would be happy to add a drawing or some more information about this. Can you kindly specify what I should expand on? $\endgroup$
    – gunter
    Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 9:38


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